Line of Duty episode 2 review: What is Jo Davidson’s game? Who killed Gail Vella? Who is Ryan Pilkington? And why is Steph Corbett back? All the burning questions

More blasts from Line of Duty’s past, our first big interview scene of season 6 and lots of burning questions – we try to explain and examine all the evidence from the latest episode.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 29 March 2021 - 2.29pm
BBC Martin Compston as Steve Arnott in Line of Duty season 6

The Line of Duty universe is getting so rich and expansive, we’ve starting building a spreadsheet of characters past and present to remind ourselves exactly who’s alive, who’s bent and where precisely we last saw everyone.

This week’s episode ramped up the tension after the slowburn and claustrophobia of episode one. It gave us our first big interview sequence of the series (*Beeeeeeeep*), brought back some classic characters (Rascal Ryan! Steph!) and left us gasping for breath with the closing sequence from Kelly Macdonald’s Joanne Davidson.

Desperate for answers? Confused about what is going on in season 6? Or just on the look out for some wild speculation and theories? Here is everything you need to catch-up on from episode two…

Jo Davidson – Bent copper, criminal mastermind or victim?

Kelly Macdonald as Joanne Davidson BBC

Kelly Macdonald is playing an absolute blinder in Line of Duty, juggling a performance which has to simultaneously make us believe she could either be a criminal mastermind orchestrating an incredibly complex cover-up or that she could be another victim of the OCG being blackmailed to do some dirty work against her will.

The closing sequence of the episode revealed both possible sides to Jo’s character. Spitting the word “rat” after she framed Farida with a batch of burner phones left in her flat, showcased the dark edge laying beneath the smooth and calm we’d seen during her interrogation.

But when she was given another burner phone, we saw Davidson alone, having a breakdown in her car, kicking and screaming and clawing at the windows in frustration. Is the new burner phone a signal from the OCG that her work for them is far from over?

Does this mean she’s being blackmailed into covering up the Vella case? That might explain the locks on her door. She could living in fear of the people she’s helping, who might have already given her a warning by doing something to her mother. Hence the wine smashing scene in episode 1.

Why didn’t Jo name Buckells to Hastings and Arnott?

Jo Davidson and Buckells in Line of Duty

It won’t take much for Hastings and Arnott to confirm that it’s Davidson’s boss, the bungling Buckells (Nigel Boyle), who enabled the OCG to frame Terry Boyle with his ‘mistakes’ on the paperwork. So why wouldn’t Davidson name him in her interview?

She could be genuinely covering for him, but she could also be attempting to look authentic and like a loyal copper.

Davidson’s whole interview felt like a performance and it appeared to work at various points in confusing Steve, Hastings and Chloe.

Her willingness to be cooperative and support their suspicions on the Vella case did enough to cast doubt on her guilt – especially when she was able to chuck Farida (Anneika Rose) under the bus. Talking of Farida…

What is going on with Farida?

Farida in Line of Duty BBC

The burner phones mean that she’s definitely being framed, but there’s something about the way she’s behaving that suggests she’s not an entirely innocent party.

The way she was sneaking a look at Jo from around the street corner, with her hood pulled up, the coat slashing. Is this all just the behaviour of someone madly in love?

Also, why was Davidson happy to point the finger at her ex-lover and have her relationship exposed to AC-12? Is was a bold move from Jo, which only cast a big shadow over her for Steve and Ted.

Why did nobody mention the locks on Davidson’s door?

AC-12 got permission to search Davidson’s home, which is when she told them to take a look at Buckells' and Farida’s addresses as well.

The discovery of burner phones obviously got AC-12’s attention, but wouldn’t the person who searched Davidson’s place have mentioned the rather suspicious set of locks on her front door?

A suspect living in a property that’s guarded like Fort Knox feels worthy of mention.

Has Kate 'cooked her goose'?

Vicky McClure as Kate Fleming in Line of Duty season 6

“So that’s how it is. You make the mess and I clean it up.”

Ted wasn’t best pleased with Steve for tipping off Kate about their investigation, which gave Davidson extra time to embarrass AC-12 and delay their operation.

But was this all just a cunning ruse from Kate? If she wanted to convince Davidson that she wasn’t working undercover for AC-12, this might have been the best chance for her to make her loyalties clear.

Fingers crossed this was a double bluff from Kate and she’ll be meeting down an alleyway with Steve again very soon.

Who is Ryan Pilkington and is he the show’s greatest villain?

Gregory Piper as Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty BBC

There have been characters who have committed worse crimes. And there have been plenty of bent coppers in past series. But rotten rascal Ryan is surely the show’s finest ever wrong 'un.

First appearing in season 1, when he was he part of the gang working for Tommy Hunter. The toerag has come a long way since nicking burner phones and putting dead bodies in fridges. In season 5, it was Ryan who tricked and pulled the knife on John Corbett and he’s now the OCG’s inside man – the new Caddy – as a fully trained copper at Hillside Lane.

Ryan might only be on tea and coffee duties, but he’s already handily finding murder weapons left in plain sight and getting the inside track on the Vella case and AC-12’s investigation.

The only problem for Ryan is that Kate and Steve met him before in season 1. Kate recognises the fresh-faced copper, but seeing him in uniform appears to be throwing off her memory about their last meeting in a police interview room.

What did Gail Vella know and who was the guest on her podcast?

AC-12 have already dug up more on the Vella case than Jo Davidson and Buckells have achieved in months, having discovered that her computer was stolen and replaced.

Her killers wanted the investigations she was working on into connections between politicians, police and organised crime shut down. Vella had been covering the various crimes and events we’ve seen in past series of Line of Duty, from Tommy Hunter to Operation Peartree and in a podcast series she was interviewing people with information on all these cases.

Most of the information was wiped, but a couple of seconds of audio remained with a man saying the words: “There's some people you can't challenge.”

Who that man is and who he's talking about could be key to solving the season 6 mystery.

The main theory online is that it was James Lakewell (Patrick Baladi), who was last seen being locked up in season 4. A dodgy lawyer and friend of Roz and Nick Huntley, he went to prison, refusing to divulge any information about ‘H’ or the OCG. Did Vella get him to finally reveal some secrets?

Who is Steph Corbett and why is she back?

Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty season 6 as Ted Hastings BBC

Probably the biggest surprise comeback of the series so far is the appearance of Steph.

John Corbett’s widow is still in contact with Ted and is having some trouble with HMRC after he dropped off that £50k to her in the last series.

Feeling guilty about his role in Corbett’s death, Hastings handed over the big wodge of cash at the end of season 5. But Steph’s investments – a massive TV, all the sports channels – caught the attention of Steve.

Will Steve link this back to Hastings and bring his boss back under suspicion? Or is Steve going to be too distracted by a possible new romance with Steph – the pair were getting on rather well. And Steve wouldn’t be Steve without another tricky romance getting in the way of his investigations.

How will Steve’s painkiller addiction feed into the story?

The show is hammering home the problems that Steve is having with his back and the endless painkillers he’s taking to avoid dealing with it properly.

How this plays into the main storyline isn’t clear. Could it be used to discredit his work and get him struck off the team, or will the physical pain he’s in place him in danger during a high-pressure situation?

Is DS Chloe Bishop Tony Gates’s daughter?

Shalom Brune-Franklin as Chloe Bishop in Line of Duty BBC

It’s a wild theory, but in Line of Duty anything is possible. Speculation is rife on Twitter that AC-12’s newest member DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin) is the same Chloe we saw portrayed by Saffron Davies in season 1 - Chloe Gates.

She’s now going by the name Bishop, but that could be an adopted surname because she doesn’t want to be associated with her father.

Maybe Hastings and Arnott even know about her father. It might explain Hastings’ pointed comments about how she was getting on in episode 1.

If the theory was true, what would it mean for the show? Is she looking for revenge on the AC-12 team who brought down her dad? Or does she want to right the wrongs of her father and bring down some bent coppers?

Or maybe she just happens to have the same first name and this is all a load of baloney.

Can we trust DS Chris Lomax?

Perry Fitzpatrick as DS Chris Lomax BBC

Played by Perry Fitzpatrick, Lomax has been in the series a lot, but has so far given away very little. He doesn’t appear to be involved in any of the plotting going on between Buckells and Davidson, but he’s also shown no sign of questioning his boss about any of the surprising events.

A loyal colleague or another bent copper? He could swing either way right now.

Is PCC Rohan Sindwhani the fourth ‘H’?

Ace Bhatti as PCC Rohan Sindwhani

Sindwhani (Ace Bhatti) is one of the men who Vella was scrutinising with her investigations, so he’s the current hot favourite to be the fourth ‘H’.

A man with plenty of power, who is desperate to keep up appearances about the police being squeaky clean, he’s the polar opposite of Hastings.

For Rohan there’s only one thing and one thing only he cares about, keeping bent coppers out of the news. Could this be because he’s the top dog in the OCG?

Line of Duty Series 6 continues on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Series 1-5 are available on BBC iPlayer.  

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