Ridiculous? Sure. Potentially a bit unsavoury, politically? Yep. But was Bodyguard Episode 6 absolutely masterful telly? You bet.
Now that it’s over, there are lots of ways you can criticise BBC One’s Bodyguard. It was certainly a bit ridiculous. There were probably a few too many red herrings. Having the Muslim lady turn out to have been a terrorist all along wasn’t exactly wise, politically-speaking, seeing as Britain is as Islamophobic now as it has ever been. All of these things, and more, are true.
Here’s what is also true: Bodyguard Episode 6 was masterful television.
That’s all that counts, really. Yes, representation matters and yes, there are rules to storytelling that shouldn’t be flouted. But no, I still don’t care. And neither did the record-setting millions who tuned into Jed Mercurio’s show each week and tied themselves in knots trying to figure it all out. Nobody guessed it. Everybody was enthralled. And I, for one, am tired of not giving the general public the courtesy of assuming that they can’t distinguish between fiction and reality.
So, you won’t see me docking any points for the late reveal that Nadiya (Anjli Mohindra) was really a secretive, hate-filled Jihadi bomb-maker. The twist worked, even if it was, even for Bodyguard, a bit of a stretch. Lorraine Craddock (Pippa Haywood) being on the take worked too, as did the revelation that this was all the work of Luke Aitkens (Matt Stokoe) in an attempt to stop Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) from passing legislation that would hamper organised crime.
While we’re on the subject, I’m thrilled that Julia didn’t come back from the dead, and that David Budd (Richard Madden) didn’t turn out to be a secret assassin. It would have been too easy and unsatisfying to go that route, and I appreciate, too, that Mercurio didn’t plant a bomb under David’s car when he and Vicky (Sophie Rundle) reconciled at the end.
Speaking of Vicky, whatever you might think of her phantom fella, she proved herself in Bodyguard Episode 6, and became much more than the wife of the hero. She was all of us, really, screaming at the television for the armed officers to just let him speak. Luckily she was close enough to run to his side. We all need a ride-or-die wife like her.
And we need a mate like DCI Deepak Sharma (Ash Tandon), even if he spent so long being David’s self-proclaimed nemesis that his sudden turnaround felt a bit convenient. Then again a lot felt convenient about Bodyguard Episode 6, including David’s slick plot to ensnare Longcross (Michael Shaeffer). But what can you do? A lot of the episode also felt ground-breaking, such as when the stoic, suffering hero visited occupational health, confessed he needed help, and broke down in tears. You have to take the rough with the smooth.
So much of Bodyguard was smooth, though, that you can’t help but marvel at the finished product. It has been quite some time since I was so entranced with British telly and longer still since I saw the whole country so united on social media. Only rarely does the internet feel like one big living room. If nothing else, that’s what Bodyguard, for all its flaws, was able to achieve. But, let’s be frank, it was also fucking excellent. Bravo, Jed Mercurio. Do give me a year or so to recuperate before you make anything else.