Line Of Duty’s much-anticipated sixth series came to its conclusion on Sunday night with the identity of the elusive criminal ‘H’ finally unmasked.
Viewers were noticeable underwhelmed to learn that the elusive criminal was DSU Ian Buckells, who had been originally imprisoned after appearing to have been framed by Davidson due her being blackmailed by the OCG.
However, the episode’s end failed to offer any resolution on whether the fan-favourite team of DI Steve Arnott, DI Kate Fleming and Superintendent Ted Hastings would return, ending on the revelation that the team has ‘never been weaker.’
At last! Line Of Duty’s much-anticipated sixth series came to its conclusion on Sunday night with the identity of the elusive criminal ‘H’ finally unmasked
Having learned of Hastings’ impending retirement, Steve is clearly torn on whether to pursue fears that he could be H, and after confiding in Kate, admits he’s been involved in John Corbett’s widow Steph.
After AC-12 discovered the OCG’s workshop, they found a strong box hidden under the floor, which is revealed to contain an array of weapons used in murders investigated by Hastings and his team, including the gun that shot and killed Gail Vella, and the knife that slit the throat of DS John Corbett, who was killed by the OCG in series five.
It’s the breakthrough that the team have been waiting for, as the box finally proves that Carl Banks was responsible for Vella’s murder before being killed by the OCG himself.
Shocking: Viewers were noticeable underwhelmed to learn the identity of the elusive criminal, as the series ended on an ambiguous note
After weeks of incessant emails, Steve is finally called in for a meeting with Occupational Health, who note that while he hasn’t broken the law through his excessive painkiller use, he should take time off from his duties.
To no surprise, Arnott refuses, but does agree to hand over his fire-arm, and comes to clean to Hastings about his drug use. To his, and the viewers’ surprise, Hastings doesn’t dismiss him, simply saying: ‘I’m glad you’re getting some help.’
Despite fans’ theories that Thurwell had to be alive, it is revealed that he was killed in the previous episode, and had actually been dead for several weeks when his body was found after being strangled.
DC Chloe Bishop, also reveals that any communication involving Thurwell and the OCG had been re-routed through Spain from a device in the UK, meaning the fourth man was definitely still amongst the corruption team.
Who is it? It was at least revealed that the so-called fourth man was actually DSU Ian Buckells, who had been originally imprisoned after appearing to have been framed by Davidson
After being imprisoned for her own corrupt behaviour, Davidson is taken away in a police van under the ruse she’s being interviewed at Hillside Lane, but in reality it’s the same criminal who strangled Lakewell several weeks earlier.
It’s clear that H is involved in the attempt to kill Davidson, as the order for her transfer boests the same ‘definately’ misspelling, as well as the forced signatures of Fleming and DS Chris Lomax.
Luckily AC-12 reach the van in time to rescue Davidson, and vow to get her into witness protection if she comes clean on H’s identity.
Jo is clearly reluctant to give up the man in charge of the Order who kept her hostage for so many years, and so AC-12 opt to return their investigation to former Chief Superintendent Patrick Fairbank but find nothing in his cell.
Once again Fairbank claims he ‘doesn’t remember’ anything related to Davidson or the OCG, with a clearly-frustrated Hastings storming out of the interview.
Proving to be the clue that will crack open this decade-long mystery, Bishop spots the same ‘definately’ spelling inside a written note found in the records related to Lawrence Christopher’s murder.
The case was being investigated by Vella before she was murdered, having learned that the botched work corrupt police officers meant no one was ever charged with the racially-charged crime.
As AC-12 debate whether to go public with the information, Hastings finally confesses to Kate and Steve about the mystery bag of money he gave to John Corbett’s widow Steph, admitting he gave her the cash as a kind-hearted gesture.
He also fiercely denied revealing Corbett’s identity as an Undercover Officer to the OCG, which eventually lead to his death.
Regardless, the written note finally sets the stage for the most important police interview in the show’s history, with the stage set at last for Hastings to confront the criminal H who has caused so much havoc in AC-12.
The so-called Fourth Man is then revealed to be Buckells, despite perceptions hinting he was easily-manipulated and thus the perfect target for Davidson as she did the OCG’s dirty work.
It seemed the copper was far smarter than first thought, as he’d been exchanging messages with Davidson about his criminal behaviour.
Despite his bumbling exterior, it all seemed to be a ruse, as he declared: ‘I’m only the one whose made total mugs out of you lot!’ by revealing they’d have to offer him immunity or Witness Protection if they wanted him to co-operate.
Pointing out that H doesn’t officially exist as the investigation into corruption had been quashed, he insisted Tommy Hunter was still the leader of the OCG and since his death the system had simply scattered.
Despite this, it’s clear Fleming and Arnott want to keep looking into the investigation, and open an enquiry to finally get a conviction for Christopher’s murder, but Carmichael is less convinced.
The episode concludes on an uncertain note, with Hastings coming clean about revealing Corbetts status as an UCO after vowing to appeal his forced retirement, before leaving with the AC-12 team, and on-screen text noting that their powers to curb wrongdoing in the force have never been weaker.
Davidson enters Witness Protection, while it appears that if Buckells gains immunity, none of the evidence for corruption will be heard in court, meaning the entire investigation will have been for nothing.
Anticipated: Given the show’s record-breaking viewership, fans hoped that the finale would answer all their burning questions, including the identity of the elusive ‘H’
Mere hours before the episode was due to air, both stars Vicky and Martin paid tribute to the show’s fans and their co-stars on social media, though neither post appeared to dispel fans’ concerns that series six could be the last.
Given the show’s record-breaking viewership, fans hoped that the finale would answer all their burning questions, including whether DCI Thurwell could still be alive after his body was supposedly found in last week’s episode and whether DCS Carmichael is the elusive fourth man.
Another mystery that has stemmed from series six was the £50,000 that Steve discovered in John Corbett’s wife Steph’s house, after being given the vast amount by Hastings himself.
Confronting Steph about her husband’s ‘life insurance,’ she insisted the money had been invested in a hairdressers, leaving many fans wondering whether she could be involved in an OCG after her husband worked undercover for a crime group in series five.
Having seen its ratings increase throughou its eight-year run, series six kicked off with a record-breaking 15 million viewers tune in for its opening episode in March, and since averaged between 12 and 13 million viewers.
The preview episode of the finale was shrouded in secrecy by the BBC, with TV insiders and journalists given a plethora of passwords to access the show.
A source said: ‘Staff were under strict instructions to keep character and plot revelations under strict lock and key.
‘Friends and families of the key actors also kept schtum on letting slip on any show details.’
An even longer wait: Like many shows, series six was hit by several delays due to the Covid pandemic, with filming in Belfast halted back in March 2020, just days before the UK was plunged into lockdown
Ahead of the sixth series finale, feared by many to be the show’s last hurrah, fans got a glimpse of the episode through an action-packed trailer, complete with a police standoff, the return of balaclava men and the discovery of a written note with THAT ‘definately’ misspelling.
However, despite the huge success of the BBC show, Martin Compston revealed the BBC drama could be coming to an end sooner than everyone thinks.
Martin – who previously revealed that executive decisions about the series are ‘above his pay grade’ – cast doubt on the show’s future during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show.
Speaking on Saturday’s show, Martin, 36, said: ‘We won’t come back just for the sake of it. That’s for sure. We’ll come back if there’s a story to tell.
‘If it ends well maybe sometimes it is best to leave it. But genuinely we don’t know.’
The admission comes after Martin teased that fans will get some ‘big answers’ during the finale, and admitted he believes it could be the ‘perfect ending’ to the police drama.
Speaking on the Shrine Of Duty podcast, Martin confessed that he thinks Sunday’s episode could be the best way to wrap up the ‘story arch’ – but he refused to rule out another series.
When quizzed on whether viewers will learn who the illusive ‘H’ is, Martin said: ‘I wouldn’t quite go the Jo Davidson no comment route – but what I will tell you is I think there’s a lot of pay offs coming this Sunday.
‘There’s a lot of big answers and it’s deserved, people have stuck with us for a long time, so there comes a point where the story arch comes to an end.’
Like many shows, series six was hit by several delays due to the Covid pandemic, with filming in Belfast halted back in March 2020, just days before the UK was plunged into lockdown.
Production was finally able to resume in September that year with strict safety guidelines, including the use of studio sets as opposed to real locations, regular testing measures.
Filming for series six finally wrapped in November, with bosses later confirming it would be seven episodes as opposed to the usual six.
‘The perfect ending’: The admission comes after Martin teased that fans will get some ‘big answers’ during the finale, and admitted he believes it could be the ‘perfect ending’ to the police drama