We’ve come to expect to be astounded and shocked. How could they have been the killer when they were dead at the time, we ask ourselves, having sensibly ruled them out of the running earlier on, before the detective explains just how the deed was done to varying degrees of incredulity.
However, the BBC’s Line of Duty was different (minor spoiler alert for those yet to start watching).
Some viewers were shocked, and not for the reasons they had been expecting. Minds appear to have remained unblown.
So much so that the word “underwhelming” was trending on Twitter at one point after the last episode with former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan one of the more moderate voices with his description of the finale as only “a tad underwhelming”.
But Philip Pullman, the author of His Dark Materials, who knows a thing or two about dramatic tension, described it as a “triumphant ending”. If everything had been resolved, with all loose ends neatly tied up, that would have been disappointing, he argued, adding: “This was downbeat and much better for it. I'm full of admiration.”
Being both “downbeat” and “triumphant” sounds like a tricky thing to pull off, but then life tends to be a bit more like that. The goodies usually do win eventually, but it’s rarely decisive. This was fiction with a simple message for reality: we must remain ever vigilant for those on the wrong side of truth and justice.