I’m beginning to suspect that Jed Mercurio has made a bet with himself to see how far he can up the tension with every episode of this show. “I see last week’s assassination attempt and raise you a successful bombing – now give me your best guesses as to who is behind it all …”
Whether or not that is actually the case, there is no doubting that Mercurio is an evil genius and this tightly written and very tense episode confirmed Bodyguard as one of my favourite new dramas of this year.
Poor David found himself competing in a special edition of the David Budd Liars Championship this week as his loyalties were stretched to breaking point. By the end of the episode, he had lied to the police investigators about what really happened on the rooftop during last week’s assassination attempt; to his superior officers about what Julia was really up to; to his wife, by convincing her that he was fine when he is dealing with increasingly bad PTSD and having a dangerous affair with the home secretary; and to Julia herself about the fact that he is spying on her. When you factor in the potential for guilt after failing to stop the bomb attack at the end of the episode, there is no way that this can end well.
We saw a little bit of the hand that Julia is playing this week and it appears to involve using the security forces to find out damaging personal information – involving cocaine addiction and a sexual assault that has been covered up – about either the prime minister or, more probably, someone very close to him. A swift visit to Chequers for a spot of blackmail later and it appeared that our lady of the icy put-downs was about to be enshrined as PM-in-waiting.
Then came the bomb. We ended the episode unsure about how badly Julia is hurt, but if she can get through this then her controversial Ripa 18 “snooper’s charter” is certain to be passed.
Episode three is always the point in Line of Duty where Mercurio starts making my head spin as I try and work out what is going on. It turns out that he has done the same thing in Bodyguard, but with bells on – and yes, my head hurts.
Who exactly was behind the bomb at St Matthews’ College? The security services are going to try to pin it on the same terror cell as the train and school attempts, with poor Tahir – whom I think was innocent of anything bar trying to do his job and who may now be dead – likely to take the blame. But might the Security Service have been behind the attack, as a way of ensuring that Ripa is passed while dealing with Julia, who had annoyed them by going off piste with the Chequers visit?
What about the police, AKA Sampson and Craddock, in what would be a very Line of Duty who-guards-the-guardians moment… would they really step up from spying to assassination?
What about her slippery ex-husband, Roger, the chief whip, and his statement that something had to be done about this troublesome woman? Or her very dodgy assistant, Rob, who conveniently absented himself from the scene at the last minute while ensuring that Tahir attended, then apparently phoned him at the last minute, claiming there was a problem with the speech. Was Tahir telling the truth about that? We have only his word that it was Rob on the line.
And what of David himself? The police are convinced that Andy had an accomplice in last week’s assassination attempt. To us viewers, it doesn’t seem as though it could be David, particularly given his despairing reaction following the strangulation, but he is exceptionally good at supressing his feelings, so there may be more going on than we are aware. It is also interesting that he had no qualms about accessing the secret file without telling either Julia or Craddock what was in it.
There is also the (very Hollywood) possibility that he could be acting in fugue state and thus unaware of meeting Andy. However, I strongly believe that, while Mercurio’s dramas occasionally take flight, they are too rooted in reality to go down such a path.
- This is very much a story about truth and lies, which makes Julia’s decision to tell David about why she knew about the school an interesting one. I could be wrong, but I think even then she was disingenuous, telling him that it was one of a number of schools that could be targeted, rather than the only one.
- I am going to instigate the rule of Chanel’s car à la Chekhov’s gun – there must be a reason why we were shown the disgruntled PA being picked up by an official car in episode one.
- Keeley Hawes is fantastic as Julia. The moment when she wearily asked David not to be like every other man was wonderfully done.
- Top marks also to director Thomas Vincent, who managed to make even the most innocuous of scenes drip with dread this week.
Nerve-wracking moment of the week
The final bombing scene, with David racing to stop the attack, was beautifully handled, but for me the most nerve-wracking moment occurred during the strangulation, when it wasn’t clear that David could or would stop.
Villain of the week
No question: this has to go to weaselly Rob, who hasn’t taken last week’s rejection well and whom I suspect of being the source of at least some of the Home Office leaks.
Unsung hero of the week
I am giving this to Claire-Louise Cordwell’s stoical fellow protection officer Kim, a woman who can utter the sentence: “It’s the eggs that are getting on my tits,” with a commendably straight face.
So, what did you think? Who was behind the bombing attempt? Is Julia going to survive? How many more people can David lie to? And just how weaselly is Rob on a scale of one to 10? As ever, all speculation is welcome below the line …
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