Bodyguard s1 ep 1

At a time when Muslim women and how some of them choose to dress are the subject of particularly vicious scrutiny and prejudice from a lot of people, politicians and press who should know better, it’s not ideal that a lady in a hijab is the potential villain in the first episode of Bodyguard. In fairness to the show and the writing however, Jed Mercurio’s Bodyguard isn’t interested in pandering to prejudice – it’s looking to find its real villains in the corridors of power, and although some people will undoubtedly come away from the show still secure in their own prejudices, they’re very much choosing to miss the point.

As are the people who seem to be complaining about the number of women in the show, period. WTF is wrong with them? Trying to answer that will get me nowhere though, so time to get off my soapbox and get reviewing: Bodyguard opens with perhaps the most nerve-shredding, terrifying twenty-five minutes I’ve seen on TV since Game of Thrones. I don’t want to spoil too much of the train sequence but it is magnificently executed and almost unbearably tense, and I may have come close to having some sort of cardiac event during it. My GOD.

If every other second of the ep were terrible, it would still have been worth it to see that twenty-five minutes, but the rest of Bodyguard is also excellent, with a different kind of tension and unease pulsing throughout. Richard Madden is brilliant cop and army veteran David Budd, scarred by his experiences in Afghanistan, suffering PTSD, and just about managing to suppress those feelings in order to protect hawkish Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). For now. It’s a career-making performance from Madden: even in the middle of acts of extreme heroism, his Budd is never less than visibly, desperately human, with compassion, determination and gut-wrenching fear all playing out across his face at once. Hawes’s Julia is much more closed-off, however, as befits her character, and it’s never entirely clear which way their relationship is going to go. There are some lovely moments between them – the apology, the shirt moment (you’ll know it when you see it), the summary dispatch of the Chief Whip – but there’s also the abiding, unshakeable feeling that David is about to go very wrong, very soon. I hope he doesn’t – one ep in, and I already really, really care about this character – but either way, this is a superb start to the series and an excellent way to kick off the BBC’s autumn drama season. I’m not planning to review every ep but I’ll maybe do a round-up at the end and we can see if the rest of Bodyguard lived up to its terrific first ep.


4 thoughts on “Bodyguard s1 ep 1

  1. Jed Bartlet August 27, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Well. You know where I stand on British drama, and I’m not quite as bowled over as some of the critics, but I enjoyed this enough to watch the second episode at least.

    My not-quite-as-bowled-overness starts with the opening sequence. It was very well done for sure, but the stakes were low as far as I was concerned. We know that Budd isn’t going to be killed, because show. We also know that the bomb isn’t going to go off, because then he’d be killed. So the only real issue is whether or not, despite Budd’s ministrations, she’s going to be killed. And, frankly, I don’t care if a terrorist is offed. I mean, obviously in real life I’m very much in favour of the rule of law and the appropriate use of force; but if a TV terrorist takes one to the head? Don’t care.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed the spiky relationship between Montague and Budd, and in particular his deadpan responses to everything she threw at him. And the delightful way he dealt with the Chief Whip, not coincidentally her ex-husband, which brings me to the fact that I ship it. I am ALL ABOUT the shirt scene.

    More ambivalence: I liked the mysterious Chanel. Didn’t like the wife. And didn’t care for the hint that this is going to go all Homeland on us. That’s so very obviously been done that I assume, or at least hope, that the show will go in a different direction.

    • CJ Cregg August 27, 2018 / 10:12 pm

      I know what you mean about the opening sequence – logically I knew it was going to be ok, but it was so well done it was able to overcome that for me. I thought it was brilliant. I was never a fan of Homeland – I enjoyed this much more although I’m not a fan of British drama as a general rule either.

      I’m going to go ahead and comment on ep 2 here as well – it didn’t knock my socks off as much as ep 1, but still pretty great. The action sequences were amazing again. I’m less into the ship than you but there was a LOT more of that in the second ep….. my goodness *blushes*

  2. Snoskred August 28, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I am so glad you gave me the heads up on this show. That first 25 minutes I felt exactly the same as you did, CJ, I was certain the shot would be taken. Then I was sure there would be an incident with disarming.

    First up as I don’t think I ever commented about it here, I found Line Of Duty sometime last year I think and wow what a rollercoaster ride that was. I watched it out of order because I am a big Thandie Newton fan, so when I heard she would be in it I watched season 4 – I believe in one long bingewatch sitting where I just could not stop, I had to watch the next episode.. She was incredible and so was everyone else.

    Having no idea what had gone on in the past some of the previous seasons points were lost on me but I loved the show all the same, and quickly set to watching the previous seasons.

    So when you mentioned Jed Mercurio I had an idea this would be good. And when you mentioned Richard Madden, I knew this was a must see. Especially after The Kilt Photo from the wedding of Kit Harrington. I also became a fan of Keeley Hawes thanks to her appearances in Line of Duty.

    I was not quite prepared, though. It has been a while since I saw Line of Duty and I had forgotten how the action often appears out of nowhere. That scene with the car, that was a shock to me. Once it happened I definitely knew who was behind it right away, though.

    Plus the addition of Gina McKee as Helen Barlow is a rather nice surprise. I’m a fan of hers since Notting Hill, and she did appear in s1 of Line of Duty which is interesting. In fact I think I recognised a few other faces too.

    Overall, a pretty decent way to spend a couple of hours, if a little taxing on the nervous system and cardiac output. And yes, my my, the ship! 😉

    Surely it is required that the bodyguard wears a kilt at some point though. I mean SURELY. That man can ROCK a kilt.

    If you liked this and you have never seen Line of Duty, I think you would enjoy that though the levels of twists and turns in that show are deep and just when you think you know what is happening yet another twist occurs. I’ve never sat the edge of my seat so much as when I watched that show. 🙂

  3. CJ Cregg August 28, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    Glad you’re enjoying it too Snoskred 😁 You’ll get no argument from me about Richard Madden in the kilt, either. Those were some very nice photos…. 😉 Have you seen the Cinderella adaptation he was in a few years ago with Lily James? I think I’m the only person I know who liked it – it did take quite a while to get going – but I ended up enjoying it a lot and he made a really charming, er, Prince Charming. Worth checking out if you need something more sedate to calm you down after all the Bodyguard excitement!
    (Also, I’ve never heard anything but good things about Line of Duty. One of these days I’ll need to get round to watching it!)
    Back to episode 2 of Bodyguard – the car sequence was absolutely amazing. Just blew me away. RM was fantastic again, as was Keeley Hawes. Although I did raise an eyebrow at Budd going all Rambo and heading to the roof on his own. That seemed a tiny bit much. But no matter. The rest of that sequence and the entire sequence with the van as well (that was superb too) had me completely freaking out. WOW.
    I thought they did a good job humanising Julia more in ep 2 as well. Is it wrong that I want a purple-based nickname and a bodyguard as well? I could be Violet or Magenta 😉

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