One of Home Secretary Julia Montague’s last government red boxes contained top-secret documents outlining allegations of sex crimes against a figure whose identity was redacted from viewers. But who could it be?
A gun that bodyguard David Budd hid behind the wainscoting in his flat was mysteriously moved from there to a roof space, and blank bullets were substituted for live ammunition. This suggests someone is anticipating Budd’s moves and manipulating him. But who and why?
The sacked aide
In episode one, Home Office aide Chanel Dyson spilled coffee on Montague ahead of a guest spot on The Andrew Marr Show. She was sacked but, to Budd’s surprise, was picked up by the sort of Range Rover with blacked-out windows more associated with spooks than Uber. Her driver then turned up at an anti-Montague rally. Clumsy Chanel looks more significant than her screen-time so far indicates.
The October 1st terror attack
The failed attempt on Montague’s life (episode two) and the successful one (episode three) seem to have been connected. But the fourth episode strongly suggested that both are also linked to the show-opening “October 1st” or “1/10” terror attack on a train. As Mercurio’s police dramas often involve institutional corruption, the likeliest solution is that one of the two agencies tasked with stopping terrorist actions — the police and the security services — may actually have started one, possibly to encourage the passing of draconian new protective legislation.
The ‘three wised-up men’
1) A man calling himself “Richard Longcross” visited Julia Montague at the Blackwood Hotel after the first assassination attempt, but any CCTV evidence of his presence was deleted. He is probably a spook, but what was his business with the Home Secretary?
2) Montague’s adviser Rob Macdonald suspiciously dropped out of her campus visit at the last minute and handed a briefcase to colleague Tahir Mahmood before the explosion.
3) Mike Travis, shifty Acting Home Secretary, later had an edgy one-to-one with Macdonald, who protested that “it wasn’t even my idea”. What “it” are the two men involved in? And is “Longcross” on their side, or another?
Is David Budd implicated?
Creator Jed Mercurio’s insistence that David Budd would return in any second series seems to preclude his involvement in any plot. However, suspicions persist because of his Army links with the gunman who made the first assassination attempt on the Home Secretary, and the fact that the viewer didn’t see the contents of the briefcase that Budd cleared to be taken on stage, where it apparently exploded.
One possible clue is the writer’s long interest in the life and death of President John F Kennedy. Mercurio even published a 2009 novel, American Adulterer, about him. JFK’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, famously claimed to have been a “patsy” (stooge) of a bigger conspiracy. Several apparent villains in Line of Duty have turned out to be patsies, and it seems likely that Budd is another innocent victim of higher chicanery.