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After the surefire hit-turned-last episode disappointment of Bodyguard, much was expected from Jed Mercurio’s fifth go at the cop drama that blew all others out of the water. Thankfully he’s brought all the twisting, nerve-shredding explosive drama we’ve come to expect, and then some. Within the first three minutes we have our bad guys, our pulse-racing catalyst event and, crucially, our first corruption suspect.

Line Of Duty - Series 5

The opening episode ramps up the ante not by just a couple of gear shifts, but by replacing a perfectly decent engine with that of a Bugatti. While the opening ambush of a police convoy, complete with balaclava-wearing, machine gun-toting thugs, is a scenario that would elicit horror in any other police drama, it’s these fast-paced, high-stakes scenes that give Line Of Duty viewers a strange sense of glee. This is where we get our kicks. But the real beauty of Mercurio’s showrunning is we’re also enthralled with the police interviews, with the tactic-planning meetings, even the oft long-winded speeches in the AC-12 offices dotted with confusing initialisms like OCG (organised crime gang) and UCO (undercover officer). There is not one moment in the entire hour suitable for a Twitter break, even if you have access to live pause.

All the twisting, nerve-shredding drama we’ve come to expect.

As for our three heroes — Adrian Dunbar’s reliably firm Hastings, Martin Compston’s jumpy but earnest Arnott and Vicky McClure’s committed but often discouraged Fleming — we rejoin them in a place rather at odds with the dramatic action. Hastings, fresh from an investigation into his own shady actions, is facing more relationship issues, while Fleming is feeling frustrated by her new deskbound role after having her ID blown during her last undercover mission. As for Arnott, he’s out of his wheelchair and back on the case but similarly irritated by the bureaucracy of the force.

There’s no time for moping, however, as an information leak to an OCG leads AC-12 to stumble across a secret op, classified even to Hastings. Fleming and Arnott quickly smell a rat and investigate the leak anyway. Now we meet our gang leader, the quietly menacing John Corbett, perfectly played by Stephen Graham.

Line Of Duty - Series 5

After five years, the true marvel of Line Of Duty is that the copious whiplash-inducing twists still never feel tired or expected. Every revelation of an undercover officer’s identity, every development in AC-12’s case and every death of a key player warrants an intake of breath as sharp as when we found out who The Caddy was. This series of Line Of Duty was originally going to be Jed Mercurio’s swansong for Hastings and his team, but fans will be glad to hear it’s now going to continue for at least another year. And by the way AC-12’s investigation is going — with further question marks appearing over each character’s head — it’s probably for the best.

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