*BIG, GIANT SPOILERS*
After the gripping train sequence in episode 1, the terrifyingly visceral sniper situation in episode 2, the massive explosion at the end of episode 3, and the matter-of-fact death (which did indeed stick – kudos) of the female lead and attempted suicide of the male one in episode 4, perhaps the most shocking thing about the Bodyguard finale is just how defiantly un-shocking it actually turned out to be.
It all started out thrillingly enough, with Budd being lured into Aikens’ hands (too easily, but I suppose our man was desperate and there was only an hour or so of screentime left), the police finally linking him with Apsted and then – then! – the poor guy coming round all strapped up and ready to blow. Now that was shocking, in fairness, and the next twenty minutes – thirty? I don’t know, I was too busy freaking out – were great: taut, tense and fantastically acted by all concerned. On any other show, I’d have been thinking “no way is he going to die” but with this one I was thinking “they killed Keeley Hawes, they might actually do this…” and fretting accordingly. Which meant that the “suicide vest” section of the episode worked, for me anyway. Turns out I needn’t have worried about Budd at all, though, because the Bodyguard finale didn’t have half the bottle the rest of the season did.
It’s not that I’m annoyed they didn’t kill him off – I’m glad he made it. As I said before, he’s a character the show made me really care about and I’d happily watch Richard Madden play him again in a (surely inevitable) second season. Truth be told, at this point, I’d happily watch Richard Madden in anything – I even sat through “Ibiza” on Netflix the other day. (Really not my type of thing, but it was worth it.) But Budd didn’t just “survive,” did he? No, in the space of about fifteen minutes or so, he solved the mystery (which turned out not to be that complicated), exposed the conspiracy (which turned out not to be that deep), earned back Sharma and Rayburn’s trust and respect (ok, I was actually really pleased about that – I love them), got into therapy (which turned out to be very effective very quickly) and got his beloved wife and 2.4 kids back. Ta-da! What an incredibly tidy ending for a show that initially promised to be so much messier.
Even the few loose ends left dangling for season two weren’t very loose at all. Longcross is out and about, possibly slightly disfigured so he can be the Joker to Budd’s Batman next time around. And Mike Travis and Anne Sampson got away with some political shenanigans. But that’s about it. Everything else was wrapped up in the neatest of bows; a disappointingly straightforward ending for a show which seemed significantly more complicated at the start, with the Nadia revelation being the most obvious example. The big twist was that she was exactly the type of bogeyman used to stoke up right-wing anti-Muslim-women bigotry after all? Ok, that was shocking too. But I absolutely hated it.
Still. If I ignore those last 15 minutes or so, Bodyguard season one has been terrific entertainment. The cast has been stellar – as well as Madden and Hawes, Gina McKee, Nina Toussaint-White and Ash Tandon all deserve all the praise we can give them – and for the most part, the show has been properly thrilling, grown-up entertainment, proving to anyone still questioning it that the box in the corner of the living room really isn’t just for streaming stuff onto, no matter what some folk might have you believe. If the BBC gives us another season – and with these ratings it would be mad not to – I’ll be back.