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It’s possible to ‘get’ the Line of Duty finale and still be disappointed

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Sunday’s finale hasn’t gone down well with many viewers (Picture: BBC/World Productions/Steffan Hill)

*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Line of Duty*

When Line of Duty viewers tuned in on Sunday night, the last thing they were expecting from the series finale was 60-minutes of chin-stroking social commentary.

The episode had flashes of the show’s usual brilliance, but viewers were largely left disappointed after Ian Buckells was revealed as H, with many hoping for a grander conspiracy at the heart of the police service to be unravelled.

Rather than trying to recapture the brilliance of the high-octane series showdowns like the perfect ‘urgent exit required’ finale from series three, the episode instead was preoccupied with reflecting the true nature of corruption in the corridors of power.

The reaction to the finale has been an interesting one, with fans seemingly split into two camps – those were left underwhelmed by it all, and the others who have been smugly pointing out that the finale’s detractors simply ‘missed the point’.

But those of us who did think the episode fell flat didn’t miss a thing. We simply felt that it felt incongruous compared to what came before.

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Ian Buckells was unmasked as H on Sunday (Picture: BBC/World Productions)

The message of the finale was pretty hard to miss – we even had Ted Hastings ramming it home with a fire and brimstone speech about ‘standing up for accountability’ and ‘caring about truth and integrity.’

Many of us received it loud and clear, and still feel like we’d ‘lost a shilling and found a penny’.

We realise that Buckells’ bumbling rise to a position of power in the police serves to illustrate a wider societal issue. We realise that it reflects the reality of corruption, which is not perpetuated by suave, Svengali-like operators, but by inept and greedy individuals who fail upwards into positions of power. Some fans have also theorised that it’s at least partly influenced by a certain figure at the heart of government.

Line of Duty has raised the bar for cop dramas in the UK over the past nine years, but it has never really been the show to hold a mirror up to society. It’s been a big, rip roaring, diesel-sucking Sunday night drama, providing some of the most crowd-pleasing telly we’ve ever had on British television. It’s a cop show with heroes and villains and, occasionally, wee donkeys too.

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The sixth series of the show has received mixed receptions from fans (Picture: BBC/World Productions)

Sunday’s episode was admirable in its intentions, but such grandstanding has never been Line of Duty’s strength before, and the series six finale – which could well be the last ever episode – felt like an odd time for it to change tack.

There’s the issue of the H reveal itself, too. The entire fifth and sixth series have hinged around the hunt for this elusive copper. It’s been the premise propelling the show’s later instalments along, keeping it going like the clappers for years now. But if the point was that it’s not particularly important who the person was at all, rather the nature of corruption itself, then why set it up as a straightforward manhunt in the first place?

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Ted hammered home the episode’s message on Sunday (Picture: BBC/World Productions/Steffan Hill)

The show was never about accuracy or parables. In fact, it’s been asking us to suspend out disbeliefs in the name of entertainment for years, and we’ve willingly obliged in our millions.

It required us to take a huge leap of faith after Dot’s dying declaration in morse code ‘revealed’ a fourth man in addition to Dot, Derek Hilton and Gill Biggeloe. At that point the show turned into a whodunnit of sorts, and the audience invested in droves.

Was it realistic? No. Did anyone care? Absolutely not. But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what a ride it was.


But some people commenting after seeing the public’s reaction on Sunday seem to be under the impression that we’ve been watching the most accurate and understated politically-motivated drama on television for the past nine years, and it’s simply not the case.

Jed Mercurio was attempting to do something different with the episode, and he said afterwards that he knew it ‘wouldn’t appeal to everyone’. There are of course millions, though, who were left craving a finale that did try to please everyone. And who can blame them?

Disappointed fans didn’t miss the point after the credits rolled on Sunday, and there’s nothing wrong with preferring the idea of an all-guns-blazing, Mother of God-inducing thrill ride like we’ve seen before.

Instead, the Line Of Duty might have just missed an opportunity to create something which will resonate with viewers for years to come. Ultimately, we got a forgettable ending, which felt out of step with one of the best British shows in decades.

Line of Duty is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Credit: Original article published here.

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