Tuesday, October 5, 2021

TV review: In The Line of Duty: season 6

Created and written by Jed Mercurio

ChinoKino score: B+

Review by Allan Tong

Chances are you're reading this because you've watched the previous five seasons of this hit U.K. cop serial, but if you haven't, then I advise you do. Otherwise, you'll be scratching your head with references to all the past "bent coppers" who have graced this excellent series.

For newbies, In The Line of Duty centers on Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (called "AC-12") who ferret out bad cops in unnamed Anytime England (though the series is filmed in Belfast). In each season, AC-12 chase high-level officers who are in cahoots with an organized crime group who remain in the shadows. AC-12 is the triumvirate of Steve Arnott, an honourable and dedicated cop, Kate Fleming who's just as virtuous but risks going undercover, and their hard-ass but honest boss, Ted Hastings. Each season sees a new cop that AC-12 investigate. In season six, it's Joanne Davidson played by the ever-reliable Kelly Macdonald. For veteran viewers, season six is the latest and perhaps last (as of this writing).


[spoiler alert] So, Davidson is supposed to lead AC-12 along the trail to catch the top corrupt dog within the police force, a goal that's been building since season one. The established pattern of past seasons plays itself out with Davidson: at first, she appears to be a good cop but soon exposes a shadow side. Personal secrets arise that we know have a direct link to crime. Turns out Davidson is deeply conflicted, torn between her loyalties to the police force and the criminal gang. Finally, the resolution exposes the puppetmaster pulling her strings.

Duty is a great show, because it keeps audiences guessing about the targeted cop, but never reduces the cop to a cardboard villain. These are complicated characters and eventually the bad guys gain our sympathy despite the betrayals they inflict on fellow cops and the public. Also, each episode ends on cliffhangers that leave viewers salivating, throwing several red herrings in our path, while the season arc keeps building as the stakes rise.

Season six follows the same formula, but the execution this time is a little off. [spoiler alert] A personal relationship between colleagues Davidson and Kate is hinted at, but never milked for conflict. In one episode cliffhanger, the bad guy corners Kate after Davidson sets her up, but Kate then turns on the bad guy and saves Davidson. Problem is, we never see this, just the aftermath in the next episode and the viewer is left wondering what the hell happened. In past seasons, the final episode has been explosive and gripping. We're talking late-night binge-watching at its worst (or finest), driven by superb writing at the hands of creator/showrunner Jed Mercurio, and sharp performances by AC-12 leads Martin Compston (Steve), Vicky McClure (Kate) and Adrian Dunbar (Ted). However, season six's Big Revelation in episode 7 is a big, Is that it? 

The climax appears to leave the door open to a season seven, but really the opportunity to wind up the entire narrative was here, so it was a missed opportunity. Still, season six contains enough thrills to be essential viewing to fans.

In The Line of Duty season 6 premieres in Canada on Hollywood Suite and Broadcast on Oct. 7.

No comments:

Post a Comment