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Blue Lights recap: series two, episode four – no, Tommy, no!
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Blue Lights recap: series two, episode four – no, Tommy, no!

Canning went off-piste and Tommy paid the price. Here’s all the intel on the Shakespearean-titled fourth episode, The Stamp of Nature …

‘That boy takes orders from no one’

As we returned to Mount Eden estate, publican Lee Thompson (Seamus O’Hara) had rapidly ascended to top dog. He persuaded police to return his £30,000 cash by insisting it was charity money raised for a new community centre – nothing a couple of dodgy documents couldn’t back up. With anti-PSNI feelings already running high, it wasn’t good optics to seize it. DS Murray Canning (Desmond Eastwood) noted there was a new player in town – and one you rather fancy to run rings around him.

Henry (Alfie Lawless) with Lee (Seamus O’Hara).View image in fullscreen

Continuing his mission to clean up the community, Lee ordered loyalist gang leader Davy Hamill (Tony Flynn) to leave the estate that he and rival Jim “Dixie” Dixon had ruined with “dirt, debt and drugs”. He vowed to sell narcotics everywhere except his home patch, styling himself as a local saviour. “Better, cleaner, safer” was his vow to sceptical sister Mags (Seána Kerslake). A catchy slogan if nothing else.

While verifying Lee’s paperwork, Aisling Byrne (Dearbháile McKinney) – on temporary transfer from Derry and keen to impress – did some digging and found that nearly all Lee’s minicab drivers were forces veterans. “It’s like a wee private army,” she said. It was certainly being run with military precision, all labelled car keys and choreographed convoys. However, the fact that they were still using Dixie and Hamill’s set-up might prove their undoing. Number plates were noted down. The peelers could soon come knocking.

Gloves off, Tommy floored

Tommy (Nathan Braniff).View image in fullscreen

Under pressure to get results, the increasingly slappable Canning told protégé Shane (Frank Blake) it was time to go rogue. Shane promptly turned into The Shield’s Strike Team – busting into homes and roughing up drug dealers. Tommy (Nathan Braniff) was uneasy about his methods but they yielded results. They learned that every dealer in Belfast collected their merchandise from The Factory Faithful nightclub on Friday nights. Despite Inspector Helen McNally (Joanne Crawford) refusing to authorise an out-of-hours op, Canning ordered Shane and Tommy to change into civvies for a stakeout.

Inside, Lee met Dublin drug baron Fogerty (Charlie Maher) and local go-between Tina McIntyre (Abigail McGibbon) to outline his strategy: turn down the supply for a few months to get the pesky cops off their backs, then move into new markets: “Orders on encrypted messaging apps, coke, edibles, prescription stuff”, delivered fast around the clock with a hefty mark-up, before expanding to towns outside Belfast. “Is he a drug dealer or a CEO?” asked the impressed Fogerty. But is Lee’s secret plan to reduce supply permanently?

There’ll be hell to pay when she gets hold of Murray … Annie (Katherine Devlin).View image in fullscreen

Downstairs, Tommy was sent into the club solo. Looking like the world’s worst raver in chinos and a sweater, he was spotted by Dixie’s enforcer Keith Wylie (Adam Best), who’d sworn payback. No time for Tommy to deploy his kickboxing skills this time. Wylie blindsided him and administered a brutal shoeing. As Tommy lay bloodied, his response colleagues arrived, alerted by girlfriend Aisling. Having put poor Tommy at risk, Canning and Shane escaped in an unmarked car. Tommy should survive but I wouldn’t fancy being in their shoes when Annie gets hold of them. As Stevie (Martin McCann) correctly put it: “Murray Canning, what a prick.”

Charlie Fairhead kept the receipts

In her bid to reopen the chip shop bombing case, crusading solicitor Jen (Hannah McClean) told retired RUC officer Robin (Derek Thompson) that his testimony wasn’t enough. Time to whip out the smoking gun. As an insurance policy when he left Special Branch, he’d smuggled out some documents detailing Troubles-era agents, handlers and ops. “All the dirty wee secrets,” rumbled Graham.

Jen looked suitably trepidatious when he handed her the potentially explosive dossier. As commenter ElvisWaxman pointed out last week, we know security forces made murky decisions when it came to handling informants. What will Jen discover? Will she blow the whistle to assuage her guilt over Gerry’s death? And what exactly is Graham’s game? Jen is dicing with danger.

Patrol pairings played musical chairs

Grace (Siân Brooke).View image in fullscreen

Since Stevie and Grace (Siân Brooke) agreed to “take a beat™”, the response duos had been reshuffled – always fascinating as in-car dynamics change. Grace was now teamed with housemate Annie (Katherine Devlin). When Annie realised Shane had shared their in-bed selfie on WhatsApp and it was doing the rounds (all too plausible, as we know from real-life cases), Annie said she’d deal with it her way – by telling cocky Shane “You’re not even that good”. Attagirl.

Called to a domestic disturbance, they discovered a binge-drinking, Hamlet-quoting ex-English teacher barbecuing his wife’s clothes because she’d left him. Except she hadn’t. Grace’s social worker instincts kicked in. After a heart-to-heart with his long-suffering wife, they arrested the Bard aficionado to teach him a lesson. After longing looks at Stevie and with son Cal not returning her calls, Grace had a tearful end-of-shift moment. Let’s hope we’re heading for an end-of-series reunion with Blue Lights’ resident Star Baker.

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Stevie was paired with Sgt Sandra Cliff (Andi Osho) and in the interminable cue for custody cells – another sign of overstretched resources – they bonded sweetly over their grief for dead spouses. Sandra is still planning to move back to London but surely she’s too good a character to lose? Shush. Quiet, no talking.

Blue Lights lingo decoded

Aisling (Dearbháile McKinney).View image in fullscreen

Aisling ran the cab drivers’ names through Niche (a police records management system) and PNC (the Police National Computer).

Squad car soundtrack

A feast of local music included Derry punkers TRAMP, Belfast indie rockers Beat Up Car, Portadown-born Jealous of the Birds and Belfast dance duo Bicep. We also heard Kris Kristofferson’s cover of Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash.

Line of the week

“So you’re a murder cop with no suspect. You’re a neighbourhood cop with no neighbourhood. You’re an intelligence cop with no intelligence. And you’re in charge of all this. Is that right? Wonderful” – CSI Robinson’s sarky sit-rep.

In our police notebooks

  • Second best line of the week? Rab telling Jonty to “Take that statement and shove it up your bony wee hole”.

  • There’s been grumbling in the comments section that the relationship storylines are making this second series feel too soapy. At least romance took a relative back seat this week.

  • Eradicating Afghanistan’s poppy crop was indeed assigned to British troops as part of the “war against opium”. That went well.

Rejoin us next Monday for the penultimate post mortem. In the meantime, factory faithful, please share your spoiler-free thoughts and theories below …

Source: theguardian.com