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Desperate Measures

So let’s start with the good news.


After his beating in last week’s episode in a Belfast nightclub during a botched surveillance operation organised by Des Eastwood’s DS Murray Canning, Nathan Braniff’s Constable Tommy Foster was still alive.
Katherine Devlin’s Constable Annie Conlon was on the warpath, though – pulling into the car park of Blackthorn Police Station as if she had just navigated Gambon Corner.

As DS Canning and Frank Blake’s Constable Shane Bradley hunched over a computer preparing their statement, Annie burst into the room like a gunslinger in a Wild West saloon and bellowed: “Getting your story straight, are you?”

As Shane stammered and scrambled around for an explanation, Canning delivered his trademark smirk and poured oil onto a fiery situation by telling her to calm down because Tommy’s injuries were not life threatening.

Then Canning threw a match on it by arrogantly telling Shane: “Mate, you need to put a muzzle on her.”

This resulted in Annie delivering a punch to his face that even Katie Taylor would have been proud of.

Timing is everything, though and unfortunately the punch occurred just as Joanne Crawford’s Inspector Helen McNally entered the room.

“Constable Conlon, my office now!” she roared.

Pulling her aside, she asked her: “What the hell were you thinking? You know, don’t even answer that because, as usual, you weren’t thinking at all. Were you?”

Annie’s apologies fell on deaf ears as Helen reminded her that she had punched a senior officer in the face before sending her home and informing her that she would be in touch in due course.

Meanwhile Tommy was in A&E where he was told one of his facial wounds would require stitches.

Informing Dearbhaile McKinney’s Aisling that a CT scan had revealed nothing, Catherine Rees’ Dr Lambert was subjected to some Stroke City wit from Tommy’s love interest: “What? No brain at all?”

Back in Blackthorn, Canning was being commended on his intelligence gathering by Andrea Irvine’s Chief Superintendent Nicola Robinson, prompting him to observe that not everyone in the station approved of his methods.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” she chirped as they considered what to do next.

Canning told her he wanted to get a better handle on Seamus O’Hara’s ex soldier turned drugs distributor Lee Thompson, speculating that he could be an improvement on the loyalist paramilitary leaders who previously ran the Mount Eden estate.

As if to illustrate this, over in Mount Eden Lee was in The Loyal Pub listening to the story of Kelsea Knox’s Stacey.

Stacey had borrowed £900 from the loyalist gang leader Davy Hamill at Christmas but wound up owing him £1,000 in interest.

Struggling to heat her home, Stacey was stunned when Lee told her her debts were forgiven. He also gave her £200 to pay her gas and electricity bills.

Leaving the pub, Stacey told Lee’s sister, Seana Kerslake’s Mags: “Your brother is a great man.”

Sitting in the living room of Sian Brooke’s Constable Grace Ellis, Annie was beating herself up over her tendency to act on impulse instead of thinking things through.

Fearing she might be on the verge of losing her job, she got a comforting hug from Grace who vowed they would get things sorted.

Inspector Helen McNally tried to do just that in a walk and talk sequence with Chief Superintendent Nicola Robinson, pleading extenuating circumstances on Annie’s behalf.

However her superior insisted Annie needed to face disciplinary action because of the negative message it would send out to fellow officers if there were no consequences for punching DS Canning.

After Helen insisted Canning should also face disciplinary action for recklessly endangering Tommy’s life in an unauthorised operation, she was shocked by the Chief Superintendent’s foul mouthed response.

On the streets, Shane was paired with Grace who blanked the Kenneth Branagh lookalike as they headed out on the beat.

As they set out in their squad car, Shane sheepishly apologised to Grace in a bid to break the ice.

“What for?” she retorted.

“Leaving Tommy on his own or sharing photos of Annie with your mates?”

Insisting he didn’t share any photos of Annie, he was still given short shrift by Grace who told him she just wasn’t interested.

Responding to a call to go to the home of a mentally disturbed man, they found Dave Elliott’s Brendan trashing his living room.

Insisting he could handle it, Shane tried to calm Brendan down by offering him a cigarette, only to be assaulted.

Screaming at Grace to intervene with pepper spray, she held back until Brendan punched Shane.

In the show’s legacy storyline, Charlie Thompson’s former RUC Special Branch officer Robin Graham was out for a stroll clutching a newspaper when a car pulled up.

Crime Ops personnel appeared, informing him he was being taken to Blackthorn police station for breaching the Official Secrets Act.

He was told a search was being conducted of his home because of the dissemination of stolen documents about a 1978 bombing in a chip shop that revealed how it could have been prevented.

As he was carted away to the police station, Robin looked relieved and soon he was joined by Hannah McClean’s Jen Robinson who he engaged as his solicitor.

Shortly after his stint in A&E, Tommy arrived in Blackthorn where he told Andi Osho’s Sergeant Sandra Cliff that his attacker in the nightclub was Adam Best’s loyalist neo Nazi, Keith Wylie.

Puzzled as to how Wylie was still on the streets, Sandra vowed to have him arrested.

Tommy sought Sandra’s permission to look at the video of her husband’s Gerry shooting to help him identify someone else who was in the club.

Running into DS Canning, Tommy was told that Chief Superintendent Robinson was super impressed by his work.

The young Constable was having none of it, though, telling Canning where he could go and whistle Dixie.

Reflecting on the previous night, Lee Thompson and his right hand man, Craig McGinlay’s Craig McQuarrie were acutely aware that the cops were onto them.

Both agreed Keith Wylie was a liability that would have to be dealt with.

Asking where his young nephew Alfie Lawless’s Henry was, Lee sought to track Wylie down and dispense his own form of justice with the young boy present.

Episode 5 of this series also ended with a shocking turn of events.

But was it on a par with last year’s?

Such was the nature of this episode’s cliffhanger, it’s hard to tell.

However there was a definite sense that the episode penned by Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson went up a gear on previous episodes of this series.

The Lee Thompson storyline continued to intrigue, with Seamus O’Hara again acquitting himself well.

Des Eastwood’s Murray Canning also shone, with the up and coming actor really embracing his role of the enemy within.

Brooke, Devlin, McNally, Blake, Braniff, Osho, Irvine, Martin McCann as DS Stevie Neil and Jonathan Harden as Jonty continued to deliver solid performances.

However the legacy storyline remained unconvincing, with the episode’s big reveal proving to be too convenient and sadly predictable.

Under Jack Casey’s direction, though, this was another slick ‘Blue Lights’ episode.

Comparisons are inevitable and Schumacher’s take on policing certainly feels grittier and more unforgiving than ‘Blue Lights’.

Lawn and Patterson’s creation remains an entertaining watch.

However next week’s episode will ultimately show if it can hold its own against Schumacher’s nerve shredding procedural.

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