LINE of Duty viewers are convinced Ian Buckells’ suspicious smirk at the end of last night’s finale means there is more drama to come.
The hapless detective was revealed as criminal mastermind H after his dodgy spelling implicated him in a series of corrupt and violent crimes.
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But the revelation was met by widespread disappointment from fans who felt he wasn’t capable of coordinating such intricate plots.
As he was led to his cell after an intense grilling from Ted Hastings, Kate Fleming and Steve Arnott, Buckells produced a smarmy smirk.
It led many to believe he is simply taking the rap for a higher power – possibly unlikable cops Patricia Carmichael or Philip Osborne.
One viewer to write on Twitter: “I don’t think this is the last series. That smirk of Buckells at the end! And we don’t even know how Ted, Kate and Steve are going to continue with their lives. I don’t think Bucklles is H. And I still don’t believe that Carl Banks killed Gail Vella.”
Another posted: “Someone’s pulling the strings and this whole thing is much bigger than Buckells – the smirk on his face in the final shot shows it !!!
A third said: “The smirk from Buckells at the end would suggest this is far from over… Roll on series 7.
While a fourth typed: “I don’t think Ian Buckells is H… he’s a cog. Carmichael is in deeper, Osborne wants to sweep it under the carpet, Ted is appealing enforced retirement, Buckells smirk at the end…. series 7?”
Bungling Buckells, played by Nigel Boyle, has been hiding in plain sight for years.
Supt Ted Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar, seemed to speak for the nation in expressing how much of an anti-climax it was that Buckells was the arch-villain.
In an interview with the corrupt cop, AC-12’s chief said: “All the time we were sitting here thinking we were chasing a criminal mastermind, but no . . . your corruption was mistaken for incompetence.
“As you made your way through the ranks there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t turn your hand to as long as the price was right, that’s the top and bottom of it.
“You rose through the ranks alright, leaving a trail of blunders behind you, how some people can fail upwards beggars belief.”
The twist raised the prospect of more corrupt coppers who have yet to be revealed. Both Mercurio and the BBC previously said they would prefer to wait for audience reaction before deciding whether to write more episodes.
Line of Duty’s sixth series put a number of suspects in the frame.
They included Det Chief Supt Patricia Carmichael, played by Anna Maxwell Martin; the Chief Constable Philip Osborne, played by Owen Teale, and retired Det Chief Insp Marcus Thurwell, played by James Nesbitt.
But Carmichael took a back seat, Osborne was barely seen and it was confirmed Thurwell was dead at his Spanish villa.
Instead AC-12 deduced Buckells was their man after discovering he repeatedly mis-spelt the word definitely as “definately” in both his police reports and the laptop-typed communications with gang bosses.
They also found he had a clandestine company in the Cayman Islands with £3million in the bank.
Det Insp Fleming said: “I’ve worked with you three times now.
“It was always the same crap suits, dad cars, I mean you never put your hand in your pocket when it was your round.”
Supt Hastings reckoned: “Over the years we have investigated all manner of motives, but the most mundane, base motive of them all is plain simply greed.”
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The climax was at odds with the complex storyline featuring the murder of investigative journalist Gail Vella and botched probes into VIP paedophile networks.
Buckells revealed how there were several OCG splinter groups and said: “I just pass on the orders.”