(Warning: this article includes plenty of spoilers and harebrained theories)
Yet again, Line of Duty ended with a dramatic cliffhanger last night. As we all survive and thrive in the era of binge watching, LOD showrunner Jed Mercurio is intent on leaving watchers up in the air as we chew on their fingernails for an entire week to figure out what's what.
Last week, we were all guessing the identity of Jo Davidson's relative from the DNA match. Turns out the Scottish accent was the giveaway and Jo is a blood relation of Tommy Hunter. This week, the credits rolled just as two distinctly different gunshots fired. Moments before, Kate and Pilkington stood face-to-face in a car park, pointing loaded guns at each other and ordering the other to drop their weapon, as Jo shrieked in the background.
There are many reasons to think that Ryan has come out the worse here. Firstly, there's the small fact that he's taking on Kate Fleming. This has not ended well for other characters in the past.
— tommy1211 (@wehaveagronk) April 18, 2021
But more importantly, there was one bit of information that felt so blatantly wedged in to the dialogue that it must prove crucial.
In the exposition-laden chat moments before, as Kate scrambles to talk Ryan out of executing her, Ryan makes a point of mentioning that his firearm has been workshopped. When asked how he'd dispose of his weapon after killing an officer he says:
Don't have to. It’s a workshopped gun. Tailored ammunition
Think back to the robbery of the bookies in episode 1 and how the gang - despite the offer from OCG - decided not to use the workshopped firearms out of fear that they'd malfunction. If we've learned anything about workshopped guns this season, it's that they're prone to misfire. So having been seeded all of this information about misfiring workshopped guns, it would suddenly seem mightily plausible that in this most dramatic of moments, a misfiring gun could catch Ryan out.
Interestingly, Ryan does fire one shot at Jo and misses just before squaring off with Kate.
Internet detectives were all over this theory.
#LineOfDuty theory from last night - I think Ryan’s gun was faulty as it was workshop made so backfired on him - hence the two shots 😬😬
— Lucy Blue (@Lucy_Blue1999) April 19, 2021
Ryan took a shot at Kate, either he missed or the gun didn’t eject the bullet properly, as it was a dodgy workshop gun. As the bullet missed, Kate took a shot to take him down, but not kill him. I think Kate knows he’s more use alive.
— Louise B (@LillyLovesLdn) April 19, 2021
Theory. Ryan pulled the trigger but as the gun was made in a workshop it malfunctioned and backfired so he either ended up shooting himself or Jo with the bullet. #LineOfDuty
— Dewi Rogers (@dgrog) April 18, 2021
We can be pretty sure that Jo survives. This scene from the Season 6 trailer of Jo being pulled from a sedan by a helicopter is yet to take place.
The trailer also points to Kate's survival. The as-yet-unaired moments - say around .43 seconds specifically - which feature Kate make us pretty confident that Ryan's in trouble here.
— Sophie Anna (@ItsSophieAnna) April 18, 2021