Stale Take: Line Of Duty’s Kate & Steve Have Filled The Benson/Stabler-Sized Hole In My Heart

Line of Duty

When I was still living at home, my mum and I had a Thursday night tradition to watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at 8.30pm on the dot.

It’s an A+ show in general, but what kept us coming back weekly was the extremely watchable dynamic between Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni).

The two dedicated detectives investigated vicious felonies as platonic police partners for 12 glorious seasons, before Chris Meloni quit the show in 2011.

Line of Duty
dad and mum, in happier times

It was a sad day for Benson & Stabler stans — their amazing partnership coming to an abrupt end is something I thought I’d never get over. But recently I’ve come to the comforting realisation that I’ve actually replaced them in my heart.

Enter Line of Duty, the cult BBC crime series that follows a police anti-corruption unit in an unnamed British city. If you haven’t watched this show yet, you need to change that immediately — currently Seasons 1-5 are streaming on Stan, and surely Season 6 will land there soon, too. (Britbox currently has it, FYI).

It’s gripping, it has twists, and it’s highly fkn addictive. You won’t know what to do with your life when you’ve smashed through all the episodes. I just finished Season 6, so I am dealing with my pain by writing this stale article.

Anyway, in the first episode of Line of Duty Season 1 we meet our new heroes, Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Steve Arnott (Martin Compston). The pair work at completely different police stations but eventually come together to work as partners at AC-12 under the command of Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar).

For six seasons we watch as they go from cautious workmates figuring out some early trust issues (to be fair, their entire job is catching corrupt cops so they literally trust no one) to Season 6, when they are actually the only person each other trusts.

My favourite part about their relationship is that while Kate (like Olivia Benson before her) is a pixie-cut sporting, stone cold knockout, Kate and Steve have so far remained completely platonic.

mum and dad: take two

Line of Duty has teased us with Kate’s rocky marriage and Steve’s catastrophic love life which has seen him cosy up to suspects (Steve, no!). But despite them both being currently single, the pair have kept things strictly professional.

There’s been a couple of ~moments~ where a look has lingered slightly too long, but they’re both smart enough to not go there. And I really hope the show doesn’t go there either, if it continues past Season 6 and we get a Line of Duty Season 7.

Watching SVU as a Benson and Stabler fanatic, I felt torn between a deep desire for them to get it on, because with two glorious people like that working side by side how can it NOT happen? Especially when Stabler split from his wife later in the show.

But at the same time, I also loved their relationship for what it was: a man and a woman working together, having each other’s backs, and it not getting weird because they bumped uglies after too many beers at the dingy police pub. Yawn. Such a cliché.

In fact, Chris Meloni told Inside The Actor’s Studio back in 2016 when asked why the characters never kissed or boned: “That, I think, they always knew would be the death knell of that relationship. I think they needed to keep that line taut and very clear … Keep the tension, never cross it.”

And it’s the same with Line of Duty and Kate Fleming / Steve Arnott. I love their dynamic for what it is — they cover up for each other, share secret intel and even have a badass plan in place for if the other one is suddenly in mortal danger. Not to mention a regular clandestine meeting spot for sharing work-related tea.

hmm love what you’ve done with the place

If Kate and Steve hook up, it will just make things awkward, and I worry that Line of Duty Season 7 might be the time the writers introduce that storyline, just to spice things up.

In fact, Season 6 ended with Kate singing Steve Arnott’s praises to the police psychologist. Upon being asked about her support network, Kate said: “Yes I’m lucky, I’m working with one of the best. To be honest, I don’t know what I would do without him.”

Fans took to Twitter in a frenzy, hoping / believing that this was setting up a romance plotline for Line of Duty Season 7.

I hope they are wrong though. We don’t have enough platonic power couples on telly anymore, and Kate and Steve make me believe in supportive male/female relationships.

To watch Kate and Steve in Line of Duty Season 1-5, head to Stan to start streaming.