This review contains spoilers.
Did you spot her? Right at the very end? The home secretary, alive and well, popping open the boot of David’s Nissan Qashqai and giving a little wave and a wink as they all drove away. Masterful.
Earlier on, that was her too wasn’t it? Doing a double thumbs-up from inside the top drawer of DCI Sharma’s filing cabinet? And, when poor David tossed off that tarp to reveal his waistcoat-of-doom, her face appeared, didn’t it, as the clouds over London wisped themselves momentarily into the shape of Keeley Hawes.
If you did see Julia in the finale—if, like me, you see her everywhere you look—then you too may be suffering from PBSD or post-Bodyguard-stress disorder. That’s the cost of investing so heavily in a TV show expertly designed to put viewers through the wringer. You need a spell in a sanatorium to recover. Your hand’s in spasm, Dave? So’s my brain.
Like the inspection carried out on David’s danger-gilet, every move of the Bodyguard finale was made while maintaining pressure on the DMS. The DMS in this instance being us, the dozy mad sods watching.
And what were we watching? For a good while, a man walking very slowly into and then out of a park. A man very deliberately snipping through insulating tape with a pair of scissors. Then him very slowly, very deliberately rotating his thumb 180 degrees. And then that same man carefully clamping a pair of crocodile clips onto a wire. The collision of tension and banality came extremely close to taking the piss. Not that you could look away.
You couldn’t look away for fear of missing an answer to one of several questions Bodyguard has set up these past weeks, all of which received answers. Who killed the home secretary? Did the Secret Service plant the bomb? Was David in on it? The finale spooned out generous splats of resolution.
Almost always the case with crime drama, the answers themselves were anti-climactic and by-the-by. Though just as compulsive, the finding-out never brings as much joy as the guessing-what. Organised crime had killed Julia, using a bomb bought from a terrorist cell. The Security Service was only ever interested in retrieving the kompromat, because it implicated them in an attempted coup against the prime minister. David wasn’t the inside man – that was his matey boss Chief Superintendent Lorraine Craddock, who’d been in the pocket of criminals for years. (Never trust a copper who doesn’t stick to the official lingo; they’re being ingratiating.) All of it slotted together like parquet flooring.
The real question we were all interested in—is Julia really alive?—didn’t need answering because the show had never asked it. That one was all us, baby, the product of our misfiring imaginations, egged on, quite understandably, by a mischievous press team. Of course Julia was dead. She had to be. Who would possibly swallow the notion of someone faking their own assassination to draw out their killer in real life?
While the answers were being ticked off, the real excitement came from the action. When Dave awoke in that perilous jerkin, trapped like a character in a Saw film, the thriller twists came thick and fast. Budd may have begun as Status Zero on Saltmarsh Street (incidentally, the name of his first blues album) but he ended up as Status Hero.
In between, there were stand-offs, ingenious Home Alone-style booby-traps, a complex plan involving an escape rope and a spade. Even Vicky—until now limited to frowning and picking bits of bullet out of Dave—had a moment of heroism when she used herself as a human shield to save his life. It was twenty-five per cent longer than a normal episode, and twenty-five per cent more ludicrous fun.
The best bit, unquestionably, was the single-word response uttered by Sourface Double-Barrelled of the Security Service when outwitted by bullet-stopper Budd’s multi-step plan: “Fuck.”
The second most enjoyable thing about the finale though, better than the tarpaulin toss, or the robot from Short Circuit, or everyone shouting “DAVID” at David like he was a dog that had got at the Christmas turkey, or DCI Sharma looking down at that discarded suicide vest as if it were a freshly dropped Mr Whippy, or Chanel being dressed like a space equestrian from the year 3000, was how livid Louise was. Every plea Budd made for his life was met with an arms-crossed, foot-tapping, eye-rolling ‘HA!’, like he was a recent ex she’d run into four Bacardi Breezers down on a night out. You want a bomb disposal unit, David? Well maybe you should have thought about that when you forgot to pick me up after Zumba because you were busy playing Fifa 17.
All’s well that ends well. By the time Budd had rumbled Nadia’s frightened child act and revealed her for the moustache-twirling Bond villain she’d apparently been all along, he and Louise were mates again.
There were more happy endings. Aitkens and Craddock were arrested (she’s going to get some shit in her morning porridge), the scandal-magnet PM, and Longcross’ boss resigned, and David did something even braver than single-handedly solving a top-level criminal conspiracy: he asked for help.
A toast then. To David Budd – he found the bastards that did it. A salute to the sarge, and one to everyone involved in making this blessed, wondrous distraction.
Oh, and do tell the home secretary to come out from behind my living room curtains. There’s no point hiding, love, I can see you plain as day.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.