Who is the mastermind behind all these attacks? There’s so much going on in the latest episode that it’s hard to keep a handle on it all.
But ahead of next week’s extended final episode, here are all the big unanswered questions, talking points and fan theories we can’t stop thinking about…
1. How did David Budd know about the picture frame?
Julia and David have more in common than previously thought: specifically, they’re both really good at finding secure hiding places inside their homes. While David prefers to keep his secret gun inside his skirting board or above the light fitting or in his boiler, Julia’s chosen hiding place is inside a photo frame behind a snap of her hanging out with David Cameron. Obviously.
As we are reminded by the recap at the beginning of episode five, Julia told David during their secret trip to see the PM at Chequers, “If I don’t come back, go to the Death Star.” And in episode one, when she caught David looking at the photograph in her study, she said, “That was us, plotting to build the Death Star.”
At the time it was just kind of a weird remark. But after being suspended from duty following an allegation of a sexual relationship with Julia (and after getting the wrong end of the stick and blaming it all on DS Louise Rayburn), David storms over to Julia’s flat, breaks in, prises open the photo frame and discovers the hidden tablet full of juicy “kompromat” about the PM and his cronies.
But when did David work out Julia’s “Death Star” reference? Has he been sitting on this information for a while, and if so, why? Or did he genuinely not make the connection until now?
And when it comes to Julia, is it a sign she knew she was in danger? Did she suspect she might actually be killed? Why would she assume David would have a clue what she meant if she didn’t know that he’d been spying on her and had checked out the tablet himself? Or is this a hint that (as many fans still desperately hope) that Julia is still alive and hidden away somewhere pulling strings?
2. Mike Travis, Rob MacDonald and Roger Penhaligon: who knew what?
As Julia’s special advisor Rob MacDonald (Paul Ready) finally tells the police following a little (forceful) encouragement from David, he was setting Tahir Mahmood up – but not for a bomb attack. As far as he knew, his plot with Counter-Terrorism Minister Mike Travis and Chief Whip Roger Penhaligon was simply to humiliate Julia Montague before she could launch a party leadership bid. Tahir would be the fall guy.
“I was told we needed to embarrass Julia politically,” he says. “We had this idea to use Tahir to create an embarrassing scene on camera.” And so Rob inserted inaccurate material into Julia’s speech and then phoned Tahir to make him get on stage at St Matthew’s College and interrupt the Home Secretary. As David realises, Rob had another motivation beyond “party unity”: he wanted to get Julia back for rejecting his romantic advances.
The police have now confirmed that the bomb wasn’t in Tahir’s briefcase and David was telling the truth about what he saw inside. Instead, the device was placed below the stage, and activated by a pressure sensor possibly set off by Tahir.
So the question remains: even if Rob was under the impression that this was a purely political plot, did Travis (Julia’s sidelined deputy minister) and Penhaligon (her nasty ex-husband) plant the bomb and use Rob and Tahir as pawns in their game? Did at least one of them know that Tahir rushing onto the stage would set off not just a political scandal – but an actual explosion?
Another thing to note is that Penhaligon seems to have been aware of Julia’s secret tablet by the time of the bombing. Hospital staff say he was desperate to track down her personal possessions, so either the PM had briefed his allies already about the secret Chequers meeting with Julia, or the security services had fed him the info.
Also of interest is the man driving the car who swung by to collect Chanel from a meeting with a journalist, after she tried (and failed) to do a tell-all interview about her horrid boss. This mysterious man also happened to be in the Veterans’ Peace Group meeting held by soon-to-be-sniper Andy Apsted, and saw David when he came to pay a visit. Since then he’s been popping up here and there.
Now Chanel, the car and its driver are back. In a completely non-coincidental coincidence, Chanel bumps into David in a coffee shop, flirts with him a bit and asks for his number to take him for a drink. She then collects a chai latte under the name of “Sam” and scuttles back to the massive black Range Rover parked right outside. Subtle.
David is able to snap a photo, and the police identify the man as Luke Aitkens, thought to be a senior figure in organised crime. He might also have a motive to attack Julia: the surveillance powers granted by RIPA 2018 would be a threat to criminal enterprises as well as terrorists.
So what’s going on? Chanel may have been Luke’s mole inside the Home Office – although, if so, she did a pretty poor job, seeing as she got herself fired. She was also completely ineffective at smearing Julia in the press. Either way, there’s definitely something fishy going on here.
And as DS Rayburn asks – why are Chanel and Luke making contact with David? Here’s a theory: they’re being so blatant about it all because they want to raise David’s suspicions, in the hope he’ll come and find them. Why else would Luke park outside? Why else would Chanel contact David now, and come on so strong?
4. What are the security services plotting?
David suspects the security services of being behind this whole thing, and you can see why. Shifty MI5 boss Stephen Hunter-Dunn (above) and his shadowy agent “Richard Longcross” (below) aren’t what you’d call subtle in this series.
Longcross was the one who gave Julia the encrypted tablet containing kompromat at the Blackwood Hotel – a visit mysteriously erased from the hotel’s CCTV. Longcross then visited David’s wife Vicky at work to ask if David had brought anything home from the Home Secretary – again, a visit mysteriously erased from CCTV.
Now an hour of CCTV has vanished from St Matthew’s College where Julia died – and we’re willing to bet the security services are involved.
And what about the kompromat? We know from David’s research that it consisted of “a series of scandals, all covered up” relating to the Prime Minister: sexual assault (Charlotte Foxfield, Cambridge ’93); drug abuse (the Oak & Ash clinic, transport minister, ’96) and financial misconduct at VV2 Holdings.
Longcross seems to be personally tasked with getting the tablet back or containing the information by any means necessary. When David searches for the scraps of information he was able to gather from his sneaky look at the tablet, Longcross and his agents track the keywords back to an internet cafe. And when he wants access to the Budds’ safehouse to check if David took the tablet there, he simply sends his men to pose as SO15 agents. Longcross is a man on a mission.
One theory: Julia was cosy-ing up to the security services and giving them greater powers, so they gave her the kompromat on the Prime Minister and his cronies to help her rise to power. But she moved too soon in blackmailing the PM, and so the security services had her killed for disobeying them.”Maybe the relationship went sour and she became a liability, I don’t know,” says David. Plausible?
But then again, it’s unclear what kind of game the security services could be playing – and how much they are in control of the situation. Perhaps the deleted CCTV at the college was not due to the security services planting a bomb, but instead related to Longcross trying to get the tablet back after Julia’s rebellious visit to Chequers?
The security services also seem to be toying with David, grassing him up for his affair with Julia. “How could you let him get one over on you?” Stephen Hunter-Dunn asks Longcross.
“No. It’s the other way around,” Longcross drawls back.
5. Could there have been MULTIPLE masterminds?
At this point, so many people are looking guilty that you have to wonder if there were a number of different plots all going on at once. After all, Julia had plenty of enemies…
Islamist terrorists – targeting the Home Secretary for RIPA and for her policy towards conflict in the Middle East.
Luke with the help of Chanel – a backlash to RIPA 2018 from an organised crime ring, led by .
The security services – allowing terrorist attacks to happen in order to foster a climate of fear and secure the passage of RIPA. Also furious at Julia for going rogue and using the kompromat. Nadia now identifies Richard Longcross as the man who gave her husband the suicide vest.
Mike Travis and Roger Penhaligon – collaborating to take the Home Secretary down, possibly with the support of the Prime Minister and the help of the police.
6. Who could have replaced David’s bullets?
This one is still a mystery. Someone replaced the bullets in David’s hidden gun with blanks – but what was their intention? Was this about saving David’s life in case he tried to shoot himself – and if so, how did they know he was in danger? Or was it about making him less of a threat to someone else?
The security services could have slipped in and switched the bullet. Vicky had a spare key, but she seemed genuinely surprised when David told her. Julia could have had someone do it, but it’s not clear why. And finally, Vicky’s mysterious new man would also have been able to take the keys and slip into David’s flat, but at this point we don’t even know who he is.
It’s still a complete mystery.
7. Why is David buying a rifle?
David may be our protagonist, but some of his decisions and actions are still completely unexplained.
After all, this is a troubled veteran who left a war zone with a severe and untreated case of PTSD; he is also furious about British government policy towards the Middle East, and earlier in the series he clearly hated Julia’s guts.
Some have suggested that – despite his grief for Julia and his single-minded pursuit of her killers – he may still be our mastermind. There has even been speculation that he is suffering “blackouts” or has a split personality.
Either way, he certainly seems to be planning something. In episode five he has a look at the photographs of sniper Andy Apsted’s rifle and bullets, with “casing striation marks – no matches” written below. Then he switches off his phone, meets up with a dodgy contact and shows him his Makarov pistol.
“I can get you six more,” he says. All he wants in return is a PSL, a Russian scoped semi-automatic rifle, “and it has to be traceable back to me.”
That definitely requires an explanation.
8. Was Andy Apsted part of a wider plot?
Andy Apsted led the Veterans’ Peace Group, attended by none other than Luke Aitkens. Weirdly he wasn’t on a watchlist, and it’s taken an absolute age for the police to identify him. They haven’t even worked out the link to David Budd yet.
So was he manipulated by someone – perhaps Luke Aitkens – into carrying out the sniper attack? Or is this too something to do with the security services?
9. Is Julia still alive?
The question that refuses to die. We’ve not seen her body, after all.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news