This review contains spoilers.
Last we saw them, Sgt Budd and Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Horn Department (alternatives: the bone secretary/Minister for Internal Affairs) were going at it following an assassination attempt that had set the blood pumping. Episode three greeted the pair nestled under the sheets, very much the honeymooning couple. By the end of the hour, as per the trajectory of an average honeymoon, she was half-dead and he was wearing a tracksuit.
Minute after minute of Bodyguard episode three ticked past without anybody’s head exploding. Seventeen minutes in, twenty-six minutes in, forty-eight minutes in (I made notes) all heads were dully present and correct.
After gripping us with action in its first two hours, the third was largely used to further Bodyguard’s political intrigue. (To summarise: everyone’s keeping secrets and/or gunning for everyone else’s jobs; and everyone knows everyone else is keeping secrets and/or gunning for their job.)
Then, bang on minute fifty-one, reminding us why we all came: loads of people’s heads exploded. Julia, the Rasputin of the Home Office, survived the bombing with critical injuries but there were multiple casualties, not least being St Matthews College’s auditorium carpet.
Between the pillow talk and the explosion, we were invited to eavesdrop on a tangle of political conspiracies. MI5 has been feeding the home secretary intelligence against—we can suppose—the prime minister. It’s in the Security Service’s interest for Julia’s RIPA-18 bill to pass, and for Julia, who has divested the police of powers she has invested in MI5, to become party leader. Between them, they’ve cooked up a deal involving secret tete-a-tetes and a tablet computer containing compromising intelligence, contained in a freezer bag.
Pressured to spy on his boss by her enemies at the Met, David gained ingress to said freezer bag and spent much of the episode with his device pressed up against Julia’s wall. (It’s fitting that the nothing-to-hide-nothing-to-worry about advocate of a snooper’s charter should have her privacy invaded, and that, by someone she regularly welcomes to invade her privates.) By leaving the juicy parts out of his Met report though, David’s playing the same complicated game of Two Truths and a Lie as everybody else.
The corridors of power, Bodyguard teaches, are jammed with whispering cabals. Its Houses of Parliament are host to more plotting factions and betrayals than a Big Brother house on a Love Island, and contain only slightly fewer self-regarding careerists.
(If you aren’t already, get in on the paranoid faction action by starting your own secret Bodyguard viewer clique. You’ll need co-conspirators, a WhatsApp group and a corridor. Since last episode, I’ve formed one with my dog, but I’m beginning to suspect that he’s tapping my phone calls.)
On-screen clique the chief whip and the Minister of State for Counter-Terrorism sniffed a home secretary-fragranced rat this episode, and agreed that they need to “do something, fast.”
Cut to David and Julia doing something fast – namely, each other. We saw David’s naked back, mottled like a Ryvita from a war she’d signed off on, pumping away at the home secretary like a professional.
David and Julia’s relationship is fuelled by chemistry. They’re hot for each other in the way that drunk people, or teenage cousins, or a dog and a cushion are hot for each other—uncontrollably and without a lick of sense. After a lover’s tiff about whether or not she’d knowingly used his kids as terrorist bait (she had), Julia seduced David. Like an M&S ad rejected for contravening EU sexiness regulations, she leaned against the door, unbuttoned the fly of her slim-fit high-thread Italian wool trouser and reached in a hand.
It’s a heady mix of sex, suspense and action, Bodyguard, one that leaves you reeling. Its political commentary is soundly observed, but like all the best action thrillers, the show’s commitment to excitement and intrigue far outstrip its commitment to naturalism.
Rightly so. In the real world, there’s reality everywhere you look, and most places you don’t. Why reproduce it on screen when we could all be watching glamourous shagging, slow-motion heroism and tantalising keep-you-guessing conspiracies?
Deploy to episode four.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.