Line of Duty Series 6 Episode 7: H, The Fourth Man, the End of AC-12 & All Our Questions & Theories

Warning: contains spoilers for the Line of Duty series 6 finale.

Perhaps thanks to the extra half hour of screen time, or perhaps because there was a genuine sense of threads being tied up as AC-12 went into storage for potentially the last time, there are fewer questions left to answer than usual after Line of Duty series six. The finale gave us lots of certainty, and just a few things still to mull over. After you’ve read our weekly episode review, catch up on the post-finale theories and questions below.

So, Buckells was H all along?

He was bent all along, ever since being part of the corrupt team that investigated the racist murder of Lawrence Christopher. But Buckells only stepped into the shoes of ‘H’ or ‘The Fourth Man’ or whatever you want to call the senior corrupt officer coordinating OCG criminal activity, after the death of ACC Derek Hilton at the end of series four. As Buckells tells it, Marcus Thurwell and Patrick Fairbank were working with Tommy Hunter’s OCG until Thurwell left the force and Fairbank retired. Then ACC Derek Hilton and DI Matthew Cottan took over, but after their deaths, Buckells took over from them. When Lisa McQueen and John Corbett were getting orders on their laptop in series five, they were being typed by Buckells, and he was the one who ordered Jo to “get rid of” Kate.

Does this mean CC Osborne isn’t bent?

Technically, that’s still unconfirmed. If you rewatch Buckells explaining the historical chain of command, he lists pairs of corrupt officers who worked with the OCG: Fairbank and Thurwell, Hilton and Cottan… then he’s interrupted by Ted Hastings, who names him as “the last man standing.” Perhaps Buckells was working alone, perhaps he was working in collusion with CC Osborne, we don’t know, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter.  

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What we do know is that, even if Osborne didn’t personally collude in OCG activity, he certainly turned a blind eye to it to protect his own reputation and that of the force. And he conspired to cover up police wrongdoing in the murder of Kareem Ali. He’s a PR-man with no backbone who surrounds himself with cronies. Osborne has done everything in his power to suppress anti-corruption, including forcing Ted to retire, Sindwhani to resign, and dramatically restructuring the department to minimalize its power. He doesn’t have to be working with the OCG to be a villain.

Who ordered the hit on Gail Vella? 

That had to be Buckells and/or Thurwell, with or without the collusion of CC Osborne. All the other murders – Denton, Waldron, Cottan, Hilton, Corbett, Thurwell, Lakewell… were carried out by the OCG in their own interest. The only people who stood to benefit from Vella’s murder were Buckells, Thurwell, and Osborne, to silence her investigation into their corrupt suppression of the Lawrence Christopher murder. 

How did Buckells disguise his IP address?

In the search of Marcus Thurwell’s house in Spain, computer equipment was discovered that had communicated with IP addresses belonging to Joanne Davidson and Lisa McQueen. Buckells’ UK-based laptop was rerouting through this Spanish equipment to throw cyber-investigations off the scent. 

Why did Tommy make Jo think Fairbank was her father?

To control her through fear. Tommy was skilled in grooming young, vulnerable people, and he made up the lie that Patrick Fairbank was the dangerous corrupt copper who’d raped Jo’s mother so that Fairbank could be used as a kind of bogeyman to scare Jo into doing Tommy’s bidding. What an evil piece of work.

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What was under the concrete floor in the industrial unit?

Insurance in the form of murder weapons covered in the blood of their victims and the fingerprints of the killer, or the person the OCG were threatening to frame as the killer. There was the gun Carl Banks had used to kill Gail Vella. There were the knives Ryan Pilkington used to kill Maneet Bindra and John Corbett, and the knife an OCG member had used to kill Jackie Laverty before contaminating it with Tony Gates’ fingerprints while he was unconscious. 

Was Chris Lomax bent?

When Lomax was named as the requesting officer on the forged paperwork extracting Davidson from HMP Brentiss, it looked like he was definitely bent. But then Kate Fleming was named on that same paperwork as the supporting officer for the production order, and we know that Kate is true-blue. So Chris’ name could equally have been forged, meaning that there’s no hard evidence as yet that he’s corrupt. 

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What about Patricia Carmichael?

We didn’t really learn much more about Pat this episode, apart from the fact that – as Buckells accurately detected – she wanted to stay as far from his interview and arrest as possible, so that she could continue to do the CC’s work and pretend that institutionalised corruption doesn’t exist. Is she bent? I wouldn’t say so. Is she only interested in her own career? I would say so. Will she carry the fire? What do you reckon?

Which fan theories were right, and which were wrong?

Speaking to The Caddy himself, Craig Parkinson on a special episode of BBC Sounds podcast Obsessed With… Line of Duty, writer-creator Jed Mercurio confirmed that Chloe Bishop is definitely not Tony Gates’ daughter, calling the idea “preposterous.”

The idea of a character turning out to be the surprise daughter of someone from series one though, clearly wasn’t preposterous, as the fan theory that Jo Davidson would be related to Tommy Hunter proved to be absolutely right. 

In the finale, Chloe poured cold water on the idea that Marcus Thurwell wasn’t really dead when she confirmed that the bodies were officially identified as Thurwell and his wife, who’d been strangled some weeks ago. Dead as el doorknob, amigo.

All the hubbub about Steph being bent/H/keeping Marcus Thurwell in her loft was just hot air too.

Is this the end of AC-12? 

It could very well be. As things were left, Ted was being forced into retirement, and 90 percent of AC-12 staff were going to be redistributed or let go as the units merged into one. Depending on how his medical evaluation goes, Steve could go to work for Jolly Rogerson at Serious Crime. Kate could stay in command of MIT. And Hastings could take up bird-watching and Italian cookery. If it is the end, then at least AC-12 got their man. 

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However, to leave things open for a potential seventh series, Ted has lodged a complaint against his forced retirement, and Kate told Steve that she’d be willing to come back to anti-corruption. So we’ll see. 

Is there going to be a seventh season?

We ponder that in more detail here

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