(Warning: this article contains spoilers and theories about future spoilers)
One of the consequences of Episode 6, Season 6 of Line of Duty is sudden shortfall in bent coppers. Jo - despite protestations to her bentness - is in prison, where bad things surely await her. So too is Buckells. Pilkington is dead. While theories abound about the bentness of Carmichael, Hastings and even DI Fleming, there's a sudden lack of crooked cops around the Hill to thwart the ongoing investigation into Gail Vella's murder.
If Line of Duty has taught us anything, it's that bentness is everywhere and all-consuming. The unusual behaviour of DI Chris Lomax at the very end of the episode has viewers suspecting the worst ahead of next Sunday's finale: particularly a casual line mentioned to someone on the phone.
Chloe Bishop and Chris Lomax were two new characters to raise eyebrows throughout this season. As we build to the next week's finale, Chloe has only proven herself to be a brilliant detective, connecting many of the dots in the investigation into Vella's murder. Lomax is another story. He's got the vibe of guy who's simply going through the motions. But what if he is far more dangerous?
In the closing minutes of the episode, Kate and Steve arrive at the OCG building and find Lomax on a phonecall. He clearly says 'could be in the Red Lion by eight, nice work' before hanging up.
Now the Red Lion is one of the most common names for boozers in the United Kingdom. But it's also been a very important off-camera OCG viper's pit in Season 6. The Red Lion is the pub where the CHIS was last seen, where Devereaux, the witness who implicated Terry Boyle was sourced and the pkace where Carl Banks bragged about the murder of the Gail Vella before he himself was killed.
Outside of the Red Lion reference, Lomax is certainly less than enthused by Kate's suggestion that he stay on to supervise the digging up of the building's floor. Fair enough, says you, he was looking forward to an afterwork pint with his mates.
But throughout Season 6, Lomax has been a cause for intrigue.
Interestingly, Lomax received a talking-t0 from Kate over lax investigating into the Red Lion pub back in Episode 3.
@Line_of_duty @jed_mercurio @shrinepod @Cparks1976 #LineofDuty6 Regarding ID of who confessed to Alastair Oldroyd... Kate questions DS Chris Lomax who I think is definAtely bent for overlooking the basics and needing to be reminded by "Ma’am’🕵🏼 pic.twitter.com/jhtibeaDBD
— 🌻Roz Hundal🌻 (@RozHundal) April 5, 2021
Lomax got himself on the radar of many Line of Duty sleuths when he protested just a bit too much about having to hand over his phone ahead of the raid at the start of Episode 5.
DS Chris Lomax's face when they had to give up their phones 😂😂 #LineofDuty #PerryFitzpatrick pic.twitter.com/q1eyPP2EmT
— Kim ◇ moustache enthusiast ⚓🍋🏴☠️ (@kimsdewi) April 18, 2021
Chris Lomax being pissed at having to leave his phone behind is still the highlight of last night's episode 😂 #LineOfDuty pic.twitter.com/RbauC6UFYt
— line of duty caps (@lineofdutycaps) April 19, 2021
Lomax's physical similarity to Dot Cottan was the butt of many internet jokes - Craig Parkinson, Dot Cottan himself and presenter of the 'Obsessed With...' podcast said he's always been wary of Lomax because of that likeness.
Lomax is like an Aldi Dot Cottan#LineOfDuty pic.twitter.com/iAah6z7ceu
— Gene McGurk (@magawk) April 4, 2021
This a programme built on red herrings but the casual mention of the Red Lion here seems important. As AC-12 furiously try to identify the Fourth Man (or Woman), it does seem like Lomax stands to play a critical role.