Let’s leave Theresa May on her sofa saying: “Over the past few days, people have been asking me how I made such a spectacular balls-up of Brexit” – or something like that. Let’s leave her talking to Labour through teeth so gritted you can hear the clenching ten feet away. And let’s take refuge again in television.
Two episodes in, Line Of Duty is all hurtling confusion as expected, while Fleabag ends tonight having neatly dodged any bad second series bullets.
Writer Jed Mercurio is up to his usual head-spinning tricks in Line Of Duty. We are already deep in a blizzard of barked-out acronyms, tense interviews and deeply doubtful characters. No one knows who to trust in AC-12 and we don’t have a clue either.
Is DS John Corbett (Stephen Graham) really a deep undercover cop or has be gone so deep he’s popped out the other side with blood on his hands? Is he a rogue cop undermining a criminal gang; or a gang criminal undermining his old employers in the force?
Is Corbett “a straight arrow… carrying all of this on my own?” as he tells Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) after temporarily kidnapping him; or he is a bent arrow in it for “money, power, respect” as he tells Lisa McQueen – and is she straight, bent or something in between; is she an undercover cop too or just a young woman on a gangster training scheme?
All these questions and more: does Arnott have a king-sized wardrobe to contain all those natty waistcoats and is he trying to out-waistcoat Gareth Southgate? And behind all those questions lies the big one: is Ted Hastings really the king-pin bad guy after all or is he just under pressure because of the divorce papers he won’t sign and his money troubles?
There was a fleeting moment last night when Adrian Dunbar did a spot of shifty eyeball work that made him look as suspicious as hell. Is he really rotten – or has Uri Geller been bending the lot of them after using his ‘powers’ to burst the pipes in the House of Commons?
With Arnott having been secretly talking to Corbett, Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) casts him a super suspicious glance across that open-plan office where none of the planning is open. Does she think he’s up to something; is she up to something (no sign of that yet this series, but the uncertainty is the only certainty here)?
Line of Duty works because the all-pervading doubt is combined with an acronym-pelted plot that never pauses for a second.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge serves up what is said to be the last-ever episode of Fleabag tonight. Sian Clifford, who plays Fleabag’s miserably put-upon sister Claire, told BBC Breakfast that this was it, no third series – only “this beautiful, perfect ending”.
Two helpings? That doesn’t seem a lot for something so good. But John Cleese famously stopped at two with Fawlty Towers – and that’s long been preserved in the dusty hall of treasured things.
According to the advanced material, Fleabag bids farewell with the wedding between Fleabag’s hopeless Dad (Bill Paterson) and Olivia Colman’s monstrous step-mum. Two family conflicts are promised, alongside a show-stopping turn from Andrew Scott as the priest Fleabag has been pursuing.
In the penultimate episode, as the inevitable happened and Fleabag got her heavenly man, she reached out and deflected the camera lens – a moment of coyness from a woman much given to endless disclosure.
I’ve loved Fleabag from first moment to last (unless Waller-Bridge changes her mind: she did say there’d only ever be one series) and will be sorry to see her go. What a dark delight: funny and sad, gentle and furious, and a hymn to being allowed to fail. And, in the inverse world the show inhabits, Fleabag is the failure who still comes out on top, especially in comparison to her miserably successful sister with her endlessly creepy husband.