Line of Duty—A Killer of a Murder Mystery

Line of Duty (2012-2021),  a multiple-award winning  BBC police procedural, is a gripping crime drama like no other, with a shocking death in episode one, series one (2012), the catalyst for all six seasons which build upon it. This is a killer of a murder mystery. Line of Duty is BBC’s most popular series outperforming both “Dr. Who” and “Downton Abbey.”

Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) is transferred from the anti-terrorism unit to the internal affairs unit   charged with uncovering police corruption—AC(=Anti-Corruption)-12.  DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)), a no-nonsense, highly astute and analytical officer, is assigned by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), to be Arnott’s partner.  Throughout six seasons, AC-12 investigates a different, powerful police officer who has brilliantly subverted detection while deeply embedded with organized crime and drug-dealing, prostitution, sex trafficking, and other heinous crimes.   On the surface, unrelated and discrete criminal acts, the six seasons tie together the corruption of each of these powerful police officers who have implemented an institutionally sanctioned culture of pervasive corruption. 

The first season is the weakest dramatically. However, season one sets the stage for each major character’s arc and finally culminates in season six with the revelation of  the intricate web of deception, coverup and privileged impunity for all the heinous behavior. 

Season three introduces Lindsey Denton (Keeley Hawes).  Here we witness the difficulty of proving someone guilty when the evidence is compromised and the principals on both sides (defense and prosecution) can interpret evidence resulting in believable but opposing conclusions.   The interrogation scenes are gripping and the arguments seesaw back and forth so that the viewer has great difficulty sifting fact from deceit.

Season four takes the interrogation process, the planting of false evidence, and the deceit and corruption to an intensity not usually seen on television.  SIO Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton of “Westworld”), pressured by her boss to solve the case at hand, takes increasingly implausible risks in planting evidence to bring down an innocent but accused perpetrator.

The finale episode of season six– with over 12.8 million viewers on BBC– became the show’s most-watched installment ever for viewers wanting to know who was in charge of the web of corruption that left no department untouched.

Tense, edge-of-the-seat unnerving, and chilling, Line of Duty is arguably one of the best written procedural dramas ever created. Brilliantly acted, with twisted character arcs, Line of Duty is replete with psychological and evidentiary argumentation tightly interwoven in plot and subplots from season to season. This slow-burn thriller will leave you, at times, breathless with its dislocating surprises and flawed characters’ unanticipated behavior.

Availability: Hulu

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