The widespread conspiracy that led to the deaths of dozens of people, including the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, comes crashing down in the series-one finale of the BBC and Netflix’s excellent Bodyguard, but most of this episode is devoted to an extended, tense sequence in which our hero, David Budd, has a bomb strapped around his waist. Of course, the huge revelation in the finale is that Nadia, the woman whose near-bombing in the premiere mirrors David’s in the final episode, was much more complicated than we presumed. If you think about it, this too mirrors David’s predicament, as he has to convince people that he is something other than what they believe him to be to stay alive.
Ultimately, the first season of Bodyguard, the biggest British show in a decade, wasn’t about only one thing — part of its brilliance is in how it reveals the interconnectivity of evil. All season, we’ve been trying to figure out the real motive behind the crimes — terrorism, organized crime, police corruption, political power plays. Creator Jed Mercurio’s answer is “all of the above.”
David calls Chanel, knowing that her involvement with organized crime will get him closer to the truth but not suspecting how much she’ll betray him. After stashing the tablet with the kompromat that has every politician in the U.K. obsessively refreshing social media to see when it breaks, David goes to a bar to meet Chanel. She gets one of the best exchanges in the series when she says, “I’m either deceptively deep or deceptively stupid.” “Either way, you’re deceptive,” David responds, just before he’s ushered off by bad guys, proving his point.
David wakes up with a bomb strapped around his midsection and his thumb taped to a dead man’s switch. He’s about to be made a patsy. He blows up and everyone presumes he killed Julia Montague. At the same time, the cops have just made the connection between David and Andy, leading them to the logical conclusion that David has been behind all of it. He was the inside man all along and now he’s going to blow himself up in downtown London. Bloodied and battered, David walks out into the street, convincing someone to help him call 999. The cops descend.
While DS Rayburn seems convinced of David’s guilt, DCI Sharma starts to suspect something else, mentioning the fact that Sampson led the organized-crime unit that investigated the current head. He’s suspicious instantly that David Budd is being set up and that the conspiracy goes higher, and it’s that suspicion that arguably saves David’s life.
The majority of the finale is an incredible, almost real-time sequence in which David has to both negotiate his way out of a “critical shot” and get the bomb off his body. His wife, Vicky, plays a major role here, serving as the human shield that David did for Nadia in the premiere. She goes in next to him, trusting him, and the whole caravan of cops, explosives experts, and the Budds head back to his flat to get the evidence. Well, after he sets up Richard Longcross with a booby trap that finally gets him caught.
Vicky gets the tablet and leaves David’s side. It’s time to disarm. A robot offers the experts a look at the device, but David has to do most of the work, first removing the DMS with a terrifying line of dialogue: “If you’re sure the tape is secure, you’ll be able to remove your thumb.” If you’re sure?!?! As he’s disarming the bomb, David learns that the politicians have already gotten Richard Longcross released. He’s pissed. He’s gonna have to solve this himself. He gets the final wire cut and flees.
Cut to David in Chanel’s apartment. He needs her to turn. She knows the truth. He uses her to track down the people who set him up … including Chief Superintendent Louise Craddock! Yes, David’s superior was in on all of this. In fact, she set him up from the beginning to be the patsy. David rushes them both, and Madden does an excellent job conveying the struggle as to whether or not to just open fire on these loathsome monsters. Instead he says, “It’s over.”
It’s a testament to how successful Bodyguard is as a whole that we’re willing to forgive the exposition dump in the final scenes, during which Craddock literally answers, in an interrogation room, any remaining questions that the viewer may have. They recruited Andy, even giving him access to the sniper spot. They gave up the itinerary, security plans, procedures. Aikens, the big bad guy, found out that power was being shifted to Security Services by Julia, and he couldn’t have that. But there’s a big puzzle piece missing — Craddock didn’t tell anyone about Budd’s kids’ school. So who did?
Nadia! Remember David showed her the pic of his kids on his phone in the premiere? It felt like a throwaway moment, a negotiation tactic. It was way more than just that. They bring her in and Nadia changes her demeanor like Kevin Spacey at the end of The Usual Suspects. “David Budd made the same mistake,” she says. She told her organization about Budd’s kids from prison. She was no pawn. She was a player. She built all the bombs. She framed Longcross as the man who gave it to her. She worked with organized crime to plant the one that killed Julia. Why? Power and money. Crime pays the terrorists and it feeds more terrorism. It’s all connected.
And it’s all over. David was never the bad guy. And there’s now at least some justice for Julia Montague. He goes back to therapy, and we see him happy for the first time in a long time with Vicky and his kids. For now.
• I am so ready for Bodyguard series two, and it seems inevitable, given the massive success of this series on BBC and the buzz growing on Netflix even just in the last couple of days. Mercurio has expressed interest in returning (duh) but is worried that Madden will be too big a star to come back. (A) Don’t do it without him. (B) Pay him whatever it takes.
• Richard Madden is clearly the MVP, but who else did you love? Keeley Hawes did great work in her trio of episodes. Really, the whole supporting cast works. Who was your favorite?
• Anyone else honestly uncertain as to whether or not David would live during the majority of this episode? It’s a testament to the quality of this show that the bomb sequence is as tense as it is.
• Thanks for reading!