Plot: Sergeant Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays) is the leader of an elite police squad known as the Armored Response Unit. He is a skilled, proficient officer that holds immense respect from his peers and a resume filled with commendations, praise, and high profile case resolutions. As of late however, he has become a little unpredictable and while he has always been cavalier about pursuit of suspects, his recent actions have put his own men in unnecessary risk at times. In order to get to the bottom of the situation, the anti-corruption task force is brought in and right from the start, it is clear Waldron has no intentions of cooperating with the investigation. As Arnott (Martin Compston) tries to break through Waldron’s impenetrable guard, Fleming (Vicky McClure) takes a more stealthy approach to try to uncover the truth. Is Waldron just a stubborn leader who lets his aggressive tactics go too far at times or is there a deeper, more sinister thread to his recent actions?
Entertainment Value: The second series of Line of Duty was a new watermark for the show, one that would have been tough to match, but this third series makes a valiant effort and delivers some terrific moments. The premise this time centers on the death of a suspect, as the leader of an elite squad uses lethal force, though a pattern of his recent actions suggest a deeper concern. As has been the case in previous seasons, what seems like a fairly contained investigation turns out to have threads that lead all over the place and in unexpected places. I still think the second series is better, but these episodes come close, which is a no small feat. And while each series has told a new core narrative, the anti-corruption task force has some larger arcs at work as well and in this season, some of those begins to pay off in memorable fashion. So if you’ve seen the previous seasons, you will appreciate some of the skilled narrative turns here, as it really cashes in on some of the carefully built developments. The episodes start off hot and don’t let up, so this is a tense and masterful season.
As was the case with previous seasons, a new central suspect arrives and in this case, that is a role handled by Daniel Mays. He is a more than capable performer, but to be honest, he walked into a tough spot, as Keeley Hawes was so excellent in this previous set of episodes. But his work here is terrific and he captures the presence of a natural leader well, which was crucial for this character. Hawes returns as well, which fans have to appreciate, given her fantastic work in the second series. And of course, the anti-corruption task force returns in force, with the usual players back and thanks to the build up of some arcs over the past seasons, we’re able to see them bring some very interesting developments to life. Vicky McClure stands out in particular here, as she is just on point throughout the episodes, while Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston are rock solid presences, as always. Also on the lineup here are Craig Parkinson, Polly Walker, and Will Mellor. This third series might not be quite as good as the second, but it is a great continuation of the anti-corruption task force narrative and for fans of the genre, is well recommended.