Part of the joy of watching Jed Mercurio‘s Bodyguard has been seeing the conspiracy theories that fans of the show have concocted after every episode. It’s was even more interesting to see most of those theories debunked in tonight’s finale as the series’ big mysteries were unsolved. In my opinion I felt that the reveal was actually quite a simple one and proved that plenty of people had overthought the complex plot behind the terrorist attacks. However, the best part of this episode was the build up to the reveal and the jeopardy that Dan Budd (Richard Madden) found himself in following an altercation with the drama’s ultimate villain Luke Aitken (Matt Stokoe).
I still stand by the fact that last week’s episode was underwhelming, and I feel that if the opening scenes of this extended instalment had been used at the end of last week’s show then it would’ve been more exciting. In fact, if the opening exchange between Budd and Julia’s former PA Chanel (Stephanie Hyam), which led to him being attacked by Aitken and his men, had occurred last week then I think it would’ve worked to build the tension to tonight’s finale splendidly. In fact, if the final scene of the penultimate episode had been the one where Budd had woken up from his beating, underground with the suicide vest strapped to him then I would’ve been on the edge of my seat and struggling to wait a week for the conclusion that we got tonight.
Whilst Budd was undertaking a beating, the often hapless SO15 officers had been hard at work, uncovering Budd’s connection the rooftop sniper and finding evidence of him breaking into Julia’s flat to find the tablet. Budd’s break-in wasn’t in vain, as it helped him to uncover the underhanded tactics of the security service, leading to the arrest of the mysterious Longross (Michael Schaeffer) and later the resignation of Stephen Hunter-Dunn (Stuart Bowman). However, despite the fan’s theories, the security service had little to do with the main terrorist plots and weren’t instrumental in strapping the suicide vest to Budd.
I have to applaud both Mercurio and director John Strickland for the incredibly tense set piece which saw Budd wandering through the streets of London with the bomb vest strapped to him. This was made even more exciting by wondering what the motives of the people who were trying to talk him down were. The appearances of Budd’s boss Lorraine Craddock (Pippa Haywood) and later SO15’s leader Anne Sampson (Gina McKee) made me question the motivation of both and it was ultimately the former who was revealed as being the inside source who was responsible for most of the drama’s devastation. However, it was the arrival of Budd’s estranged wife Vicky (Sophie Rundle) that ultimately changed things and brought an emotional edge to proceedings.
Throughout both these written reviews and on our podcast I’ve been bemoaning the fact that the brilliant Rundle has been under-utilised in the series and I’m glad that she came into her own in tonight’s episode. Not only were her reactions great when she first came on the scene but her character’s decision to walk next to Dave, so he wouldn’t be gunned down by the police was one of my favourite moments of the entire episode. Furthermore, I’m glad Vicky wasn’t used as a plot device and that one of the overriding theories that her new man was the mastermind behind the bombings was proven to be one of Mercurio’s many red herrings. The partnership between Rundle and Madden here was a brilliant one and I love the tenderness they brought to the David and Vicky relationship which felt completely different to the steamy one that the bodyguard had with his late boss.
Throughout the series, I’ve preferred to see Budd as the broken desperate man and I feel that’s why I enjoyed most of tonight’s episode. However, as soon as he broke from the vest and escaped, I became less-enamoured as I’ve not been a fan of the vigilante side of the character. However, it was necessary for Budd to uncover the connection between Craddock and Aitken that was ultimately responsible for most of the atrocities that had occurred throughout the series. Whilst some had guessed that Craddock had set Budd up as the fall guy for Julia’s death, I didn’t see anyone pointing the finger at Nadia (Anjli Mohindra) as the one responsible for providing most of the weapons used throughout the drama. It was a masterstroke by Mercurio as not only did the characters underestimate Nadia’s intentions, but the audience did as well, as they bought into the series’ presentation of her as a meek-mannered woman rather than Bodyguard’s ultimate mastermind.
I loved this revelation as it was one that will haunt the drama’s protagonist as, if he hadn’t talked Nadia down in the series’ opening scene, then none of the subsequent events would’ve occurred. I once again must applaud Mercurio for his cleverness in constructing this through line and connecting all of the drama’s key events together. What I did find unusual was the seemingly happy ending that saw Budd finally agree to attend therapy, before making the first steps to mend his marriage to Vicky. It was this ending that made me believe that Bodyguard won’t be returning for a second series as most of the loose ends were tied up beautifully and I believed that the only ambiguity left was how much Sampson knew about the corruption in the force. Although, as the drama has been one of this year’s most successful, I’m guessing the BBC will already be leaning on Mercurio to come up with ideas for a second run.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed both watching Bodyguard and seeing the reactions to it online as the conspiracy theories started to emerge. Whilst I found the series lagged in its middle section, partly because I was missing Keeley Hawes, tonight’s excellent finale meant that Bodyguard ended on a high. I’m personally hoping that Bodyguard doesn’t return for a second run as I believe that it doesn’t particularly need one however, if it does come back, I have faith in Mercurio to craft another clever story as he has done with what proved to be one of BBC One’s most successful dramas of all time.