An action-packed episode of BBC and Netflix’s Bodyguard really complicates the relationship between David Budd and Julia Montague, both of whom have such a strong need for human contact that they turn to each physically, while also holding back crucial information. We are supposed to be as dismayed as David when he learns that Julia withheld the fact that the school David’s children attended was a terrorist target, but he’s in something of a glass house if you think about it — holding back the fact that he has a past with and knows the background of the man who tried to assassinate Julia. As the two draw closer physically, their secrets will almost certainly surface.
Where do we begin? What sometimes seemed like it could become a politically heavy episode of television turned out to be even more action-packed than the premiere, anchored by two intense sequences of terrorist attacks, each of which raised the threat level in the U.K. by a degree. By the end of the episode, it’s the highest it can be: Critical.
The first attack is one that Home Secretary Julia Montague is warned about before it happens, hearing that there’s a credible threat on the school attended by David Budd’s children. Not only is a threat on a school naturally terrifying, but the question arises as to how the terrorist group found out which one was attended by David’s children. There must be a leak somewhere in the organization. In fact, one could argue that the leak is why Julia keeps this information to herself, unsure of whom she can trust.
Before the leak can be discovered, a nightmare ensues on a quiet British street. MI6 is watching some terrorist subjects who appear to be on the move. In an expertly staged sequence, they track them across the city, the producers of the show deftly cutting to shots of crowded streets, revealing the “ordinary day” aspect of domestic terrorism. No one has any idea that government agents are chasing a truck that may have a bomb in it.
Then the truck spots its tail and speeds up, taking corners quickly and accelerating toward a school. It’s time for what they call an “enforced stop.” As kids flee the playground, screaming, a cop car screeches in front and armed officer pop out, firing at the truck. They connect with the driver and passenger and it hits a parked car. It seems like everything is clear but then the worst happens — the truck explodes, killing officers.
The terrifying thing to consider regarding the politics of Bodyguard is that this attack is a positive event for Julia Montague. Sure, she doesn’t want dead officers, but there are no dead kids and the threat level is raised. She wants enhanced powers and the attacks on the train on 1/10 and the explosion are giving her what she needs.
It’s not working out as well for David, who is pulled from his protective duty. Obviously, he’s now a target and it doesn’t make sense to have a bodyguard who is more of an interest to the terrorists than the home secretary herself. He goes drinking and sits alone. It even appears that he may go down the path to domestic terrorism with Andy until Julia demands his reinstatement. She claims it sends the wrong message to remove him. At the same time, she pulls some strings and gets David’s son in a special school.
The threat level goes from Severe to Critical after the terrifying second action sequence of the episode. They’re driving through London when shots ring out and Julia’s driver is killed. David hunkers down, appears to panic for a second, but gathers himself and turns heroic. First, he comforts a terrified Julia, who is covered in blood but in a bulletproof car. He just tells her to stay down. And when he realizes help isn’t coming — which is suspicious — he gets out and finds the sniper himself. Knowing the sniper’s location, he pilots Julia to safety and then reaches the target himself, learning as the killer descends the stairs that it’s … Andy! The head of the Veteran’s Peace Group is an assassin. Andy says only one thing to his buddy: “Someone’s got to stop her. Get it done.” And then he blows his brains out.
Again, Julia Montague will end up using a terrorist attack — domestic this time — to further her political needs as she uses fearmongering catchphrases like “the enemies of democracy.” First, she’ll draw closer to David. They meet in her safe house and she expresses concern over why no forces came to save them. Were they deliberately held back? Was she left to die? And then the inevitable happens if you consider that these are two people desperately in need of human contact and united by the adrenalin of the assassination attempt. They kiss and make love although it’s interesting to consider how this coitus is shot compared to the one that ends the episode. This is about contact — hands clenched, close-ups of faces, a long hug.
The second time will be more about passion, maybe even anger. You see, David Budd knows now that Julia Montague knew about the threat on his children. And he’s been ordered to keep an eye on Julia, to even monitor and report back to MI6. He can claim that this isn’t going to complicate things, but we all know full well that it is.
• Would they really not connect David and Andy? They clearly had a shared past, as we learned last episode, and it doesn’t seem like one that would be that hard to discover. And then wouldn’t someone ask, “Hey, you didn’t want to tell us you knew the guy who tried to kill Julia?” Maybe that will happen, but I’m worried they’re brushing past it, which tests my suspension of disbelief.
• Did David suspect that they were holding back support during the attempt? Otherwise, why get out of the car? He is the kind of guy who acts instinctively and quickly, so maybe he moved because he worried about an escape. Or maybe he was suspicious.
• Some of the music cues on this show are already starting to grate. Madden is good enough that we don’t need the overheated music and sound cues to sell his PTSD and anxiety.
• If you’re wondering where you know the leads from, Richard Madden played Robb Stark on Game of Thrones, of course, and Keeley Hawes was excellent on British series like Ashes to Ashes and The Missing. She also starred in Line of Duty from the same creator as Bodyguard, Jed Mercurio, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress.