Plot: A police convoy is about to transport a high profile, high value witness protection asset and to ensure things go off without a hitch, the assigned officer even calls in for some backup. But even with multiple officers on hand, the convoy is ambushed and almost everyone winds up dead, except for one police officer. While the survival of an officer is good news, the situation is suspicious, as the survivor was called in to assist, then the ambush happens soon after she arrived on scene. So the anti-corruption task force is called in to provide oversight on Detective Inspector Denton (Keeley Hawes), the lone officer who survived the ambush. This means officers Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure) once again have the difficult task of investigating one of their own, but while they’re used to seeing patterns of corruption and unexpected ties, even they aren’t prepared for what they uncover…

Entertainment Value: The first series of Line of Duty was good, but this second series raises the stakes and delivers an even more intense, winding case that proves this is a series to be reckoned with. The show is bumped to six episodes this time around and this is good news, as a lot happens in this season and the narrative needs every minute to make it all happen. These episodes build on the established elements, such as attention to detail and a grounded, more believable approach to police work. This is never more evident than during the questioning scenes, as these feel quite real and are used to such effective ends. The interrogations allow the cast to really shine and even though they’re used for exposition in most cases, the scenes never slow down the pace and manage to keep your attention. As I said in my review of the first series, this more realistic type of police work is bound to turn some off, but I think it is such a nice change and the style is even more refined and polished in this season. But these new episodes also up the ante in terms of narrative depth and big plot moves, throwing in some twists and turns to keep you on edge. These never feel forced or cheap, but organic to this complex case and really liven up the narrative.

This new series offers a new case, but we have some familiar faces back, as the anti-corruption task force agents are the show’s common thread between seasons. In this season, Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure, and Martin Compston return and while the focus is on the new case, we get some good character development as well. I like how we’re able to see these characters gain depth and some small personal arcs, as it makes seeing every episode pay off in small doses, while the larger, more involved arcs play out around our central cast. One element of the first series that stood out was how well developed our lead suspect was, as Gates was given a lot of depth and Lennie James’ performance was terrific. That trend continues in the second series, while Keeley Hawes’ Denton offered the same kind of depth and development. Hawes’ performance is beyond fantastic and she earned a lot of acclaim for her work here. All that praise was well deserved, as she shines in this role and the writing really gives her a lot to work with, once again providing us with a terrific central suspect. This second series is even better than the first, which is no small compliment.

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