Bodyguard finished by going back to the beginning, and revealing the real significance of the scene that started the six weeks of sensational television half the country has been following: the incident on the train.
This was only appropriate because Jed Mercurio’s final tally of culprits reached almost Murder On The Orient Express proportions with a list comprising: Prime Minister John Vosler, MI5 Director-General Stephen Hunter-Dunn, his sinister sidekick Richard Longcross, Chief Whip Roger Penhaligon, acting Home Secretary Mike Travis, his special advisor Rob Macdonald, Julia Montague’s former PR Chanel ‘Sam’ Dyson, Chief Supt. Lorraine Craddock, criminal Luke Aitken, ex-soldier Andy Apstead, and the would-be suicide bomber from the scene on the train, Nadia.
It meant that viewers could feel vindicated, virtually whichever character they had plumped for as their prime suspect.
Intense: After five weeks of intense episodes, and sparking numerous questions and theories, Bodyguard wowed fans with its intense finale
Line Of Duty fans who had expected SO-15 would have a corrupt insider (in the vein of D.I. ‘Dot’ Cotton) admittedly were wrong. PC Tom Fenton remained sitting mostly in the background while DCI Sharma and DS Louise Rayburn were not too good to be true, or too nice to be trustworthy, after all but the hero and the heroine that ensured DS Budd’s survival and everyone else’s demise.
As for Commander Anne Sampson, even DCI Sharma, seemed to suspect.
Luke Aitken was ‘a significant player in organised crime’, he reminded her. ‘And as you know has always successfully avoided criminal charges.’
‘As I know…?’ she repeated pointedly.
Dramatic: The episode was sure to leave viewers at the edge of their seats as they watched when David was strapped into a suicide vest whilst unconscious
The way she told DS Budd that Julia Montague’s RIPA 18 bill would be ‘kicked into the long grass’ (as she wanted all along) suggested she was complicit too. She had leaked the ‘Compromat’ to make sure of it and had been the Met commander who’d insisted that Montague was ‘as very dangerous politician who must be STOPPED.’
As two of Mercurio’s favourite actresses it still wouldn’t be that surprising if Gina McKee and Keeley Hawes returned for Series 2.
(Yes, I know we didn’t see any evidence that Julia Montague was alive but we didn’t see any that she was dead either – not even her tombstone.)
Mercurio didn’t quite go to the full Agatha Christie.
Wow: David confronted the organised crime boss Luke Aitken to find out who killed Julia
Hunter-Dunn, Longcross, Penhaligon, Travis, and Macdonald all targeted Budd to either protect or exploit the PM’s role in not one, not two, but three hugely incriminating, juicy, scandals.
The final five people on Mercurio’s list were involved in the assassination attempts.
The denouement Jed Mercurio had come up with sounded more like a piece of stand-up comedy than a convincing criminal conspiracy.
‘A Jihadi terrorist, a gangster, a police chief superintendent, and a PR girl called Chanel walk into a bar…And blow up the Home Secretary.’
Hey, it could happen – on Bodyguard at least.
To be honest it was a low blow by Mercurio, a cheap con.
Whilst viewers had probably formulated their own private theories about the type of character(s) behind the bombings, Mercurio’s denouement involved an unholy alliance – a kind of supergroup between four seemingly disparate worlds: organised crime (Luke Aitken), the police (Chief Supt. Lorraine Craddock), the government (PR Chanel Dyson), and international terrorism (Nadia).
Unexpected: Chief Supt. Lorraine Craddock was involved in Julia’s death as she gave Luke Aitken’s details about her itinerary
Mercurio also asked us to believe that the motive for blowing Montague up was to stop a piece of legislation. (She had been campaigning to extend State surveillance and transfer responsibility for combating major illegal enterprises to the security services – far harder to bribe and corrupt than the police protecting his empire.)
‘It was just good for business. Nothing personal,’ Aitken shrugged, eventually confessing to Budd.
It’s unlikely a single viewer could have seen this coming. Mercurio hadn’t given us a fighting chance, resorting to another Agatha Christie tactic: burying the perpetrator(s) deep in the background.
Luke Aitken hadn’t been identified or hardly appeared until the fifth (penultimate) programme and Chanel didn’t feature at all in Episodes 2-3-4. There were no clues to suggest Lorraine Craddock’s guilt and Nadia had been portrayed solely as a witness or informant co-operating with the investigation into the bombings. Cheating basically.
No one had any idea Nadia was the bombmaker – not even David Budd, who made the connection with his kids’ school – so what chance did we have?
Shock: No one had any idea Nadia was the bombmaker – not even David Budd, who made the connection with his kids’ school – so what chance did we have?
Besides a terrorist working with a criminal like Aitken (even for money to fund their activities, which was Nadia’s justification), the plausibility of Mercurio’s thesis surely had other flaws.
Nadia’s bomb-making capabilities were impressive. She supplied Aitken with the bomb that killed Julia Montague, the belt attached to David Budd, and the devices used by the suicide bombers targeting the school despite being in prison since the end of the first episode – seemingly by deploying a Blue Peter-style motto: ‘here’s some I made earlier.’ Surely quite difficult/hazardous with such sophisticated explosives?
Aitken was fairly useless for ‘a significant figure in organised crime.’ He didn’t spot Budd following him, even though he was in Chanel’s car (which he was surely familiar). Budd brought Aitken in, by easily jumping his henchman and using the thug’s gun.
The government’s vetting process hadn’t discovered Chanel’s association with Luke Aitken, even though he picked her up outside the office after she was sacked.
Conveniently, one of Aitken’s men had left his prints on the blanks he put in Budd’s pistol. Nadia’s bomb equipment had her prints and DNA.
DS Louise Rayburn possibly had a point when she shouted the glorious phrase: ‘it’s been a stream of b******t from the start!’ but it didn’t seemed to matter that much.
If Bodyguard was Mercurio’s audition for a Bond film it had certainly been a gripping, stylish, one.
An extended 75-minute finale ensured it was 25% more nerve-wracking, brilliant, and bonkers.
Here are just 12 of the highlights:
1. Richard Longcross being blinded (temporarily, sadly), and then arrested prompting his boss at MI5 Stephen Hunter-Dunn to shout ‘f**k !’
2-0 to David Budd.
2. The sight of a Scotsman (Budd) staggering down a street in London – his face covered in blood and wearing a suicide vest covered with a tabard made of tarpaulin – trying to stop female pedestrian by pleading: ‘Madam don’t be alarmed! I just need to use your phone!’
Amazingly, someone let him too.
3. The subtle shift of expressions on Nadia’s face as she revealed SHE was the bomb-maker
‘David Budd showed me pictures of his children (on the train)!’ she scoffed. ‘You all saw me as a poor oppressed Muslim woman. I am an engineer. I am a Jihadi.’
4. Chief Supt. Craddock turning round to reveal SHE was Aitken’s corrupt protector at the Met.
We can never trust anyone called Lynn Craddock again.
5. Chanel Dyson coolly frisking Budd without the high-level bodyguard appearing to notice
Impressive: Chanel Dyson proved her worth as she coolly frisked Budd without the high-level bodyguard appearing to notice
We can never trust anyone called Chanel again either (especially if her name is actually Sam).
‘I’m just trying to figure you out…’ Budd tried flirting when he met Chanel for a drink in the hope she would lead him to Aitken.
‘Well depending on who you talk to, I’m either deceptively deep or deceptively shallow…’ Chanel purred, obviously gloriously untroubled by which of them people believed – or what they thought in general.
‘Either way you’re deceptive…’ Budd observed – just before Chanel delivered him into Aitken’s clutches (and suicide vest).
6. Scene-stealing bomb disposal expert Daniel Chung talking David Budd through what felt like several hours wearing the suicide vest by telling him things like: ‘David, I’ve completed my examination of the device. I need to confer with my colleagues. Please maintain pressure on the Dead Man’s Switch.’
Certainly a thought…
Great character: Bomb disposal expert Daniel Chung was a scene-stealer thanks to Chike Chan’s impressive performance
7. As if the threat of being blown to smithereens if he released the Dead Man’s Switch wasn’t bad enough, Budd spent half the show begging the police marksmen not to shoot him and insisting he wasn’t a suicide bomber.
But, as DCI Sharma from SO-15 observed, Budd had recently tried to commit suicide and now was wearing a suicide vest made out of explosives.
‘That’s not the point!’ argued Budd who wanted Sharma to focus on the fact he’d tried to shoot himself with a blank bullet (albeit inadvertently).
8. The bromance between David Budd and DCI Sharma
‘How do you know I’ll keep my side of the bargain?’ Sharma shouted, as they negotiated to keep armed officers from taking him out (not for dinner).
‘I’ve been a soldier. I’ve been a copper. You get to spot a bloke whose word is his bond…’ Budd assured him, although whether he really was a good judge of character is debatable.
9. Vicky Budd running through the (slightly under-staffed/non-existent) police cordon to prevent her husband being a target, proudly standing next to David (and his suicide belt), and declaring: ‘I believe you’re innocent. This gives you a chance to prove it!’ So romantic…
Stepping in: Vicky Budd ran through the police cordon to prevent her husband being a target, proudly standing next to David as guns were trained on him
10. Vicky Budd’s glamorous new hairdo
Ordinarily perhaps David Budd should have been suspicious and in fact, earlier during the siege did ask her, a propos of nothing: how are things with your boyfriend. You deserve to be happy.
As usual she never revealed any details and he didn’t pursue it. We never did find out who her mystery man was – the one big question the finale didn’t answer. Presumably it was Tom Fenton. Let’s hope it wasn’t Luke Aitken.
11. ‘I’m David and I need some help!’ Budd sobbed to the therapist in his first Occupational Health session – something various characters (mostly women) had been telling him all series.
Seeking help: At the end of the episode, David was seen going to someone in Occupational Therapy to talk with someone and ask for help
12. David and Vicky not only enjoyed an implausibly happy ending but practically drove off into the sunset – with their children, in a scene worthy of The Walton.
Now that David was learning to ‘get in touch with his emotions’ he was obviously a changed man. No more fits of rage or kinky sex with the Home Secretary (Julia Montague not her replacement Mike Travis). In the final scene it was his day with his kids.
‘There’s room for one more,’ he hinted.
‘Yeah OK,’ smiled Vicky.
Who knew Jed Mercurio was such a big softie?
Sweet: David and Vicky not only enjoyed an implausibly happy ending but practically drove off into the sunset