Line Of Duty season 6 recap: episode six was explosive, but did you spot this key detail?

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode five, season six of BBC One’s Line Of Duty. Proceed with caution…

Among the fan theories being shared on social media tonight, there’s one that has taken on a life of its own; that DC Superintendent Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) is the ultimate bent copper that Line Of Duty viewers have been searching for. But is she really and truly H?

Well, the penultimate episode of the popular crime drama has given us a lot to chew over, despite all that “no comment” business (thanks for that, Jed Mercurio). 

First things first, we learned that slimy Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) had been shot and killed by our beloved Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure).  Secondly, Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) learned that Tommy Hunter (Brian McCardie) – as in, yes, the former leader of season one’s OCG, and the paedophile who abused young boys in Sands View children’s home – is both her dad and her uncle. So, her mother’s brother (gah!). And, during an epic 29-minute interrogation scene, we also learned that she’s willing to do what she must to protect her pal Kate from harm, too – even if it means putting herself in the firing line.

We also saw Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin) – who is now well and truly the show’s MVP – track down bent copper Marcus Thurwell (that’s Bloodlands star James Nesbitt, to you!). Cue plenty of people on Twitter determining that maybe, just maybe, he’s the same bent copper that Jo had always believed to be her dad. 

The most important takeaway of the episode, though? Well, it wasn’t Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) batting away HR emails about his possible status as a drug addict, or a beaten down Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) all but crying in the elevator, oh no!

Rather, it was Carmichael’s dodgy AF behaviour in the interrogation room.

Think about it; every single time it seemed Jo was about to spill some important information, Carmichael deftly steered her onto another subject. When Ted directly asked Jo who the “fourth man” is, she looked across the desk at Carmichael with terror in her eyes and tearfully uttered her new catchphrase: no comment. And, when she was taken to a holding cell, there were more than a few indications that someone high up in the policing world had given orders for her to be… well, to be silenced, if you catch our drift.

Throw in the fact that someone knew exactly where to find Jo and Kate, and that someone was Jo (she literally had trackers put in all of AC-12’s cars), and you have a recipe for a seriously bent copper (or a Dolores Umbridge-style pencil pusher, we guess).

Essentially, we’ve been left with a whole lot of questions.

Here, Stylist’s digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.

1) Is Carmichael the real H we’ve all been looking for?

Look, she’s quickly replaced the late Ryan as the show’s most hated character, but is there more to it than that? She has Chief Constable Philip Osborne’s image removed from the investigation board, and shuts down Jo’s interview when Osborne’s name comes up… which feels like a red flag, quite honestly.

“We all know Patricia Carmichael is H. Jimmy Lakewell said ‘look beyond the RACE CLAIM to find H’,” tweeted one viewer.

“So take the letters of RACE CLAIM from the letters of CARMICHAEL. What do you get? H. Solved it.” 

2) Will Steve be fired?

We spend most of this episode in the interrogation room, for obvious reasons, but we are given a quick glimpse at Steve’s computer screen, where we learn that our boy is in big trouble. If he doesn’t attend a medical review within five days, he’ll be given a yellow notice and face suspension from duty. Eep.

3) Where the hell is Thurwell?

Look, we know Thurwell is in Spain; that natty Hawaiian-print shirt proves it. But, when local authorities raid the house where he was apparently staying, he’s nowhere to be seen; all the find is two corpses, a man and a woman. 

“La casa está desierta,” one suspiciously familiar-looking officer told Hastings via mic link. 

Does this mean that Thurwell is on his way to the UK, and that Nesbitt will make his much-anticipated LOD appearance next week? Or are we going to have to wait until season seven to meet the corrupt copper?


Jo Davidson in Line of Duty episode 5
Jo Davidson has been revealed as a probable blood relative of OG Line Of Duty baddie Tommy Hunter.

Who is Marcus Thurwell?

As reported on 18 April: Well, Thurwell was a DI back in 1998, and the SIO on the investigation into the murder of Oliver Stephens-Lloyd. When his involvement in a child sex trafficking ring was exposed by AC-12, Thurwell took early retirement and then vanished somewhere in Spain. His current location? Unknown… although we have a feeling he’ll crop up before too long.

What about Lawrence Christopher?

This episode delved deeper into Gail Vella’s (Andi Osho) murder, linking it to the death of young Black architect Lawrence Christopher in police custody. 

As we learned from Chloe’s emotionally charged report, Christopher was attacked by a gang of white youths, and beaten with a lead pipe. Police took him in and failed to diagnose the fatal head wound, racially abusing him while he died in their custody. And the suspects, including Tommy Hunter’s son, were allowed to go free.

Line Of Duty S6 E5: DI Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON)
Will Steve Arnott be able to save Kate Fleming?

Is the Lawrence Christopher case based on a true story?

Many on Twitter noted that the storyline echoed two real life events. Firstly, the 1998 death of Christopher Alder; he was taken into police custody after suffering a head injury outside a nightclub, only to have police officers refuse to get him medical treatment and racially abuse him as he lay dying (none were charged). 

Secondly, the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in a racist attack by a gang of white youths while waiting for a bus.

Why didn’t Ted Hastings bring Ryan Pilkington in for questioning?

Previously, Ted (Adrian Dunbar) was adamant that Ryan should be brought in. This episode, though, saw him prefer to leave the “sprat” in the ocean while he searched for bigger fish… which may or may not have led to Kate’s death at said sprat’s hands.

Does this mean that Ted’s bent, though? Well, that depends.

Is Lee Banks telling the truth about Ted Hastings?

Lee Banks (Alastair Natkiel) tells Arnott that Hastings tipped him off about a rat within the OCG. A rat which, as we all know, turned out to be John Corbett (Stephen Graham). 

Throw in the fact that Ted gave Steph Corbett (Amy De Bhrún) all that lovely money, and you have a pretty compelling case against the seemingly noble officer. 

Who had Gail Vella requested interviews with?

Before her death, the late journalist requested interviews with Ros Huntley, Gill Biggeloe, Lisa McQueen, and Lee Banks, who agreed to talk with her from prison. She completed those interviews, and spoke to the late Jimmy Lakewell, too, but was murdered the night before she was due to speak with Patrick Fairbank.  Why?

Is Kate dead? Really?

Well, this writer is pretty certain that the answer to this one is a big fat resounding ‘no’. After all, the season six trailer shows several Kate-centric scenes we have yet to enjoy – including, at 0:40, a conversation between her and Jo as they wear the exact same clothes they wore in the shoot-out scene.

Then again, Mercurio could’ve filled the trailer with an abundance of red herrings. We wouldn’t put anything past him, at this point…

Is this really the end of AC-12?

As reported on 11 April: Ted has been told he’s got to retire within a month, and that AC-12 is set to be merged with a couple of other departments, with 90% of staff cut.

That being said, though, they do have a month to change things around. And this writer suspects that those calling for the flattening of AC-12 have only done so because they’re scared our favourite anti-corruption officers are poised to blow this case wide open.

And, if they do, surely they’ll be allowed to keep things running, eh?

What did Jimmy Lakewell say to Steve Arnott?

Look, Jimmy sure said something of note to Steve before the convoy was attacked – he even hinted as much during the later interview (“I never talked, right?”). 

It remains unclear, though, what exactly it was that he told our favourite waistcoat-wearing copper. Some have taken to Twitter to suggest that it has a lot to do with CI Osborne (Owen Teale), who attempted to cover up a failed counter-terrorism police raid Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) was involved in back in season one.

“The big characters to watch out for in the coming episodes are Steph Corbett and Philip Osborne. Until then, my whisht remains houled #LineOfDuty,” one tweeted, noting that Osborne appeared in one of the TV reports created by murdered journalist.

And we sure won’t be hearing from Jimmy again, as the OCG sent in Lee Banks (Alastair Natkiel) – aka the career criminal locked up in Blackthorn prison since last series – to dispatch the unfortunate lawyer.

So far, Steve has kept his own mouth shut about whatever it was Jimmy told him, and quite rightly, too! After all, if the corrupt forces lurking in the Met Police were to find out that Gail Vella’s informant had spilled some top secret details to him before his death, then they’d probably be arranging his funeral before too long…

Is Chloe Bishop related to Tony Gates?

As reported on 4 April: When the very first series of Line Of Duty aired back in the heady pre-Covid days of 2012, we were gifted a brilliant bent copper in Tony Gates.

Forced to cover up the activities of an organised crime gang (OCG) as a result of a torrid affair, Tony quickly found himself in very deep water indeed. And, tragically, he wound up taking his own life – much to the despair of his wife, Jools, and his two young daughters, Natalie and Chloe.

A lot of viewers have come to suspect that Tony’s daughter, who was last seen on screen nine years ago, would be roughly DC Chloe Bishop’s age now. But are they really one and the same? And, if so, why as she changed her surname; to protect her identity, or to hide a more nefarious and revenge-fuelled agenda?

Chloe Bishop in Line Of Duty
Many have begun to suspect Chloe Bishop in Line Of Duty.

“Has Chloe Bishop been ‘inserted’ into AC12 by a higher authority (’H’) to get revenge for what AC12 did to her father, DCI Tony Gates?” tweeted one suspicious viewer.

Who is Jackie Laverty?

In episode five of the series, Jackie Laverty (Gina McKee)’s body was found in a freezer belonging to Terry Boyle. And that freezer has now, ever so mysteriously, found its way into the hands of the police.

It’s worth noting, though, that Jackie is the very same woman that the late Tony Gates had his ill-fated affair with way back in S1.

Thankfully, AC-12 has finally made the connection between her death, the OCG and Gail’s murder. 

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Who hired that dodgy witness?

Deborah Devereux (Kerri McLean) – quite possibly the shiftiest bloody witness in the world – claimed that Terry was the man arguing with Alastair Oldroyd, aka the CHIS, in the Red Lion pub. And it was her statement that led to him being pulled into a distressing interview, ushered into a car with Ryan, and nearly driven into a watery grave.

So… who paid her to deliver that false information to the police? Was it Jo, Buckells, the OCG, or a combination of all three? We have no clue, at this point, although we’re becoming increasingly suspicious of Jo by the day.

Is Kate involved in all of this somehow?

Don’t be mad; we love Kate as much as you do, we promise. But… well, she was a little too easily swayed by Jo’s sickly-sweet praise at the end of the episode, wasn’t she?

“Well done, Kate, I needed someone on my team that I could trust completely,” said Jo, nudging Kate ever closer to arresting Buckells. “Who better than an anti-corruption agent?”

Hmm. Hmmmmm.

And just how dodgy is Jo, really?

At this point, we’re going with… very. Especially after that major hint she’s related to none other than John Corbett (Stephen Graham), aka the bent copper who was outed for moonlighting as the ruthlessly ambitious leader of an OCG.

Yes, the very same one who a) had his throat slit by Ryan and b) was married to Steph. Keep up!

Will Steve be fired?

After Steph told Ted about Steve’s surprise visit and his painkiller issue, he decided to organise a surprise drugs test at work. Sure, he excused Steve from the first test and gave him the chance to get clean, but our man relapsed just before his second. 

Will he be fired, though? Well, he has found the money Ted gave Steph, so he has some useful blackmail material to hand if it comes to it later.

Vicky McClure and Kelly Madconald in Line of Duty
Kate and Jo’s relationship is difficult to define in Line Of Duty season six.

Is Kate in deep undercover?

As reported on 28 March: A lot of people have opined that Kate might be working undercover alongside Jo, at the request of (drumroll, please!) Ted himself!

It’s a nice theory, particularly as it softens the blow of Kate betraying our beloved Steve. And it makes sense as to why she’s feeding information back to Jo; she needs to stay close to her, in order to work out what’s really going on.

But… well, it feels just a little too neat a theory, doesn’t it?

Who killed Gail Vella?

We now know that the late Gail was working on an explosive podcast serial, one which would unearth a scandalous link between several high-powered police officials, politicians, and organised crime rings. And, as Ted and Steve inform Jo during a less than civil conversation, someone planted a laptop at the late Gail’s property to cover up any signs of a robbery. 

Essentially, someone broke in, nicked her research, and scarpered… but who? Was it Carl Banks? And, if so, who killed off Carl to get rid of that loose end, eh?

AC-12 reckon Jo arranged the coverup, obviously. And this writer can see why; the evidence isn’t exactly in her favour. But is she just an unwitting pawn in this situation? Could Farida have set her ex up at the behest of someone higher up? Only time will tell, we guess…

And on that note, did Jo keep Farida’s house keys so she could set her up?

They used to live together, Jo advised that AC-12 check Farida’s house, a burner phone mysteriously appeared there, and she referred to her as a rat. You do the math.

Why is Stephanie Corbett back, really?

Steph was introduced in series five as the wife of rogue undercover cop John Corbett (Stephen Graham), and she’s back in this episode… but why? Presumably, someone (our money’s on Steve) is going to uncover the fact that Ted presumably handed her the missing £50,000 that he was given by the OCG when they were attempting to frame him. And, yeah, we suspect that will be a decision that Ted soon comes to regret.

Enough of that, though; did anyone else notice a moment between her and Steve when he left her house? We have a feeling there’s more to this blossoming relationship than meets the eye…

Are Jo and Kate dating now?

Kate doesn’t just go out for a drink with Jo; they arrange to meet up over the weekend, too (although it’s likely that Jo’s arrest could put a dampener on things). 

Is something romantic brewing between the pair? Friendship? Or is this simply a case of two women abiding by that old adage of ‘keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer’?

What is the deal with Ryan?

Ryan is everywhere in this episode. Most telling, though, is the fact that he picks up Jo when she’s released from AC-12’s custody at the episode’s end. Are these two in cahoots?

And who exactly is pulling Jo’s stings?

At the end of the episode, we’re treated to a mysterious sequence in which Jo picks up a box containing a damaged mobile phone. Then, she breaks down sobbing in her car. So what’s her deal?

Well, last week we saw that her house is locked up like a particularly difficult escape room, suggesting she’s at risk from an OCG (Organised Crime Gang). And eagle-eyed fans noticed a photo in the shady officer’s living room, featuring a younger Jo cuddling up to… well, her mother, we assume. So far, so usual living room.

However, it’s worth noting that the woman in the photograph looks an awful lot like Anne-Marie McGillis, aka the former police informant and mother to John Corbett. As in, yeah, Stephen Graham’s undercover copper who turned into full-blown gang member last season before his throat was slit.

Could Jo be John’s… sister? Twin sister, even? And, if so, what does this mean for our ongoing investigation?

Line Of Duty's Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin)
Line Of Duty's Steve is now working with Kate's replacement, Chloe.

What is a CHIS?

As reported on 21 March: Look, if you’re anything like this writer, that unexpected acronym will have pulled the rug out from under your feet in the show’s opening minutes. Don’t worry, though, I’ve got you: CHIS stands for Covert Human Intelligence Source – and their handlers are vital in safeguarding their sources from many serious crimes including terrorism, drugs and firearms offences and child sexual exploitation.

Did Jo prevent the arrest of ‘Ross Turner’?

Now, onto the meaty stuff; thanks to a tipoff from a CHIS (ha!), the police have a new suspect – Ross Turner. Unfortunately, it’s likely a fake name, as there’s no record of Ross Turner anywhere, but they do have an address for him: Flat 4F Beechwood House. 

Line Of Duty season 6: production stills of armed robbery
Jo derailed the arrest of Ross Turner to stop an armed robbery in the first episode of Line Of Duty season 6.

During a high-speed raid on the property, though, Jo spots a suspicious-looking van parked on a wee side road opposite a local betting shop, and requests that Kate check its number plate, SH13 GEK. It quickly becomes apparent that it’s a fake plate, so Jo orders her team intercept the vehicle in order to “prevent risk to the public.”

Her intuition is spookily bang-on; the van is involved in an armed robbery, and her AFOs prove vital in bringing the suspects down. It does mean, though, that her team’s original mission – to seize and arrest Turner – is delayed by up to an hour.

Later, CCTV examined by Ted and Steve shows that the police convoy was moving far too quickly for Jo to have reasonably spotted the parked van. Likewise, she had a very narrow line of sight, as it was just tucked out of the way of the main road – and the armed robbers apprehended have suspiciously clean records.

Throw in the fact that the surveillance team were pulled off duty for three hours due to a paperwork issue, and things look less than rosy for Jo. Could it be that the armed robbery was staged to delay Turner’s arrest?

Who is Terry Boyle?

The man they arrest at Flat 4F Beechwood House isn’t Ross Turner, but an extremely vulnerable Terry Boyle (Tommy Jessop). A quick spin in the police interrogation room confirms that Terry actually resides in the Kingsgate area – just like the late Gail Vella – at Flat B Dorton Villas.

Several things don’t add up, however. Forensics teams deployed to Terry’s actual place of residence, for example, are confused by what they find there. “We’re not finding much evidence of this being anyone’s permanent state of residence, let alone the suspect’s,” one officer tells Kate. “The place is clean. Extremely clean.”

Traces of bleach and other cleaning fluids are dutifully found and reported, too, leading Jo to suggest that someone staged a thorough (and suspicious) cleaning of Flat B Dorton Villas. Weirdly, though, they left a collage of Gail Vella photos pinned to the wall – some of which are coated in what appears to be Terry’s semen. Hmm. 

Then there’s evidence that a freezer was removed from the property, which… well, which obviously confirms that something dodgy took place (we all remember that season one’s Jackie Laverty was in that freezer, right?).

A production still from Line Of Duty 6
Line Of Duty fans are confused as to who Terry truly is.

Kate is also concerned by the fact that Flat 4F Beechwood House – where Terry was found and arrested – shows signs of forced entry, including a damaged chair that had apparently been pushed up against the door handle. She opines that the flat is too nicely maintained for this to have happened a long time ago; Jo, however, insists that it’s “unlikely, but not impossible” that the damage is unrelated to Terry’s being in the flat in the first place.

Then, there’s the gunshot residue and evidence of heroin use at Flat B. Indeed, when Terry is asked directly whether or not he shot Gail (a woman he refers to as a “nice lady”), he becomes visibly distressed – and even more so when they ask him how he knows Carl Banks, who may or may not be related to season five’s Balaclava Men associate, Lee Banks.

Which brings us to our next question…

Who is Carl Banks?

As Kate tells Steve during their late-night drive, her crime scene was covered in prints belonging to Carl Banks. And, when he does a little digging, he learns that Banks has a long criminal history, particularly with regards to firearms – making him a prime suspect in the original line of inquiry for Gail Vella’s murder (that hers was an arranged murder).

Steve’s theory, then? That Carl killed Gail, and that Jo deliberately delayed the arrest of ‘Ross Turner’ in order to allow Banks time to flee.

But then… well, if that was the case, then why did she release Terry Boyle without charge? Surely, if she was trying to find a scapegoat, she’d keep him in police custody for a wee while longer?

Did anyone else pick up on a frisson of sexual tension between Kate and Jo?

They did hold hands and lock eyes for a mite longer than strictly necessary, but… maybe that’s just me. Let’s move on.

Who killed the CHIS?

Look, our poor unnamed CHIS is found dead from a high fall, in a CCTV blind spot, and a number of people reported hearing a scream. He was pushed, wasn’t he? He was pushed… but by who?

And why has Farida reported Jo to AC-12?

It’s easy to assume that Farida is an incensed and jealous ex-girlfriend, looking to get revenge on the woman who broke her heart. Of course it is. But… 

Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson
Kelly Macdonald stars in Line Of Duty season six as Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson.

Well, she’s kind of been bang on the money about a lot of things, too. Firstly, about the fact that the police convoy was moving too fast for Jo to reasonably see the armed robbery taking place. Secondly, that there’s some chemistry bubbling between Jo and Kate (fine, fine – still just me then). And let’s not forget the exact words she says to Steve over the phone, either.

“Our most important witness has been found dead,” she says urgently, tears streaming down her face. “This is too dangerous. You have no idea what’s she capable of, none at all.

“Don’t call me again.”

Could it be that Farida knows exactly what Jo’s been up to and, until now, felt compelled to keep it hidden due to their relationship? Could she be involved herself, somehow?

We guess we’ll have to wait until next week’s instalment of Line Of Duty to find out.

The sixth episode of Line Of Duty season six will air at 9pm Sunday 25 April on BBC One.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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