Warning: contains MAJOR spoilers for Bloodlands episode 2.
In BBC thriller Bloodlands, in Belfast in early 1998, weeks before the Good Friday Agreement was reached, four people disappeared from both sides of the political conflict. They were former IRA member Joe Harkin, UVF Loyalist David Corry, Catholic priest Father Quinlan and military police officer Emma Brannick. The disappearances were made to look as though the victims had left the country, but it was suspected that all four had been executed by an assassin codenamed ‘Goliath’, an ‘inside man’ with access to police files. The disappearances were never solved, the investigation was hushed up, and evidence relating to them was removed from the police archive.
20 years later, three of the missing people – everybody but Emma Brannick – were discovered buried on an island in the middle of Strangford Lough. At the end of Bloodlands episode two, another body possibly joins them when DCI Tom Brannick shoots Adam Corry, brother to victim David, who had been having an affair with Brannick’s wife Emma before they both disappeared. Is Tom Brannick Goliath? How does the Pat Keenan kidnapping tie in? We sum up the major questions and theories below.
Who kidnapped Pat Keenan?
CCTV footage showed an unidentified brunette woman with Keenan in his car before the kidnapping. If it’s a character known to us, then our options so far are: Dr Tori Matthews (wearing a wig), who’s recently returned to Belfast from England and is secretly the illegitimate daughter of Goliath victim Father Simon Quinlan; DS Niamh McGovern, who only joined Brannick’s team six months ago and may have a secret connection to the case though if she does, she has an excellent poker face; Izzy Brannick, daughter to Tom, whose mother is believed to have been killed by Goliath; or – if she’s still alive – Emma Brannick herself.
Why was Pat Keenan kidnapped?
Former IRA member Pat Keenan was kidnapped by someone who wanted to force the police into reopening the official investigation into the 1998 ‘Goliath’ disappearances. The kidnapper left a postcard of the ‘Goliath’ shipbuilding gantry crane – a famous landmark on Queen’s Island, Belfast – on Kennan’s car wing mirror and at the hotel in which he was held to prompt the police to revisit the four disappearances that were hushed up at the time.
It’s likely therefore that the kidnapper has a connection to one of the four 1998 victims: David Corry, Joe Harkin, Father Simon Quinlan and – though her body has not been found so it’s still possible that she’s alive – Emma Brannick.
Who was Adam Corry’s mystery tea drinker?
Tom Brannick thinks that it’s someone involved in Pat Keenan’s kidnapping, and that they and Adam cooked up the kidnap plan because they wanted the Goliath investigation reopened due to their links to the victims. If it’s somebody we’ve already met then after episode two, most people’s money would be on Dr Tori Matthews, though crime scene investigator ‘Dinger’ also seems worthy of suspicion (see below.)
Four months before Keenan’s kidnapping took place, Adam Corry contacted a local fisherman and tide expert under the false name of Frank MacPheale, asking about the Goliath disappearances and the possibility that there were bodies buried on that loch island (as suggested by the farmer witness statement that wasn’t followed up back in 1998). Corry and a co-conspirator could have planned the whole thing to prompt the police to start digging on that island.
How does Dinger know so much about the Goliath case?
Crime scene investigator ‘Dinger’ (played by Michael Smiley) tells DS McGovern that he and Tom Brannick go back “a wee while”. He has a lot of information about the 1998 Goliath disappearances, including the specific intelligence unit Emma Brannick was recruited to, and he suggests – like Adam Corry – that DCS Jackie Twomey is responsible for making the original investigation go away. Dinger also knows about the Goliath calling card left on Pat Keenan’s car and at the hotel, information that to our knowledge, only three officers had: Brannick, McGovern and Twomey.
Add to that the fact that Michael Smiley’s a terrific actor too good to waste on a bit part, and it’s likely Dinger’s more involved than it first appears. “At some point, the past has to die,” he told McGovern. Just what ‘Goliath’ might say…
Did Emma Brannick engineer her own disappearance?
As Dinger tells McGovern at the pub, if anybody could successfully fake their own disappearance, it’s Emma Brannick. As a military intelligence ‘spook’, Emma would have had the skills and connections to engineer her own kidnapping. The question is: why might she do it? One thing that suggests Emma was taken and didn’t run away was that she went missing while she was looking after her infant daughter Izzy. Is she the type of person to put her young child at risk, or didn’t she have a choice?
Adam Corry susses out that his brother and Emma were having an affair (hence his corpse being discovered wearing her owl pendant), so did they plan to run away together? Did Tom discover the affair and ‘disappear’ the two of them?
Why was Jackie Twomey secretly meeting with Siobhan Harkin?
“Siobhan, we need to be careful,” says Jackie Twomey after going to a static caravan, retrieving a hidden mobile phone and then arranging to meet Joe Harkin’s widow in a remote location. Are they simply having an affair, or does Twomey have a stake in the ongoing rift between the dead Joe Harkin and Pat Keenan, who fell out years earlier when Harkin lent Keenan the money to start his haulage company?
Who is Dr Tori Matthews really?
As we saw from her reaction to Izzy saying that her father believed the third unidentified victim on the island to be a priest, and the visit to her mother’s care home, Tori Matthews is the illegitimate daughter of Catholic priest Father Simon Quinlan. She only recently returned to Belfast, and could easily have arranged to ‘accidentally’ run in to Brannick and McGovern on their visit to the hospital investigating Keenan’s disappearance. It’s worth remembering that Keenan had an appointment at the hospital where Matthews works on the day of his disappearance.
Matthews also made a point of asking Tom his daughter’s name, seeking Izzy out in a lecture and befriending her. She was at the rugby match with Tom and Izzy, and for whatever reason, could even have tipped off the Keenan gang of their whereabouts, facilitating the attack on Izzy.
Is Izzy even Tom’s biological daughter?
There’s nothing yet to suggest this, but Adam Corry worked out that his brother David was having an affair with a married woman, and David’s corpse was found wearing the distinctive owl pendant that Tom and Emily both wore, engraved with an ‘E’ for Emily. As Izzy was very young at the time of her mother’s disappearance, there’s a chance that the affair began before Izzy was born, and David Corry is Izzy’s biological father. Total speculation at this stage, of course.
Why did Tom shoot Adam Corry?
One answer would be that Tom is ‘Goliath’ – i.e. he was the original assassin of the three victims, and perhaps also the killer of his wife Emma, whose remains have yet to be found. In that scenario, Tom would have killed Adam Corry because he’d discovered Tom’s true identity and so represented a threat.
Another is that Tom is protecting the real ‘Goliath’, i.e. his wife Emma Brannick. If Tom discovered that his wife – a trained military police officer and so capable of committing the close-range 9mm murders – was the assassin back in 1998, instead of turning her in perhaps he told her to run and has been covering her tracks ever since by destroying the case paperwork. With two episodes yet to come, it’s all to play for.
Four-part thriller Bloodlands continues on Sunday the 7th of March at 9pm on BBC One.