After plenty of twists and turns, the finale of nail-biting BBC thriller The Capture gave us lots to think about.
To help us get our heads around it all, we tracked down the show’s writer Ben Chanan (no facial recognition tech required) and interrogated him with all our big questions about the show.
Here’s what he told us…
Will there be a second series of The Capture?
While the story of Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) is resolved in the finale of The Capture, it seems things are only just beginning for DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger). So could there be a second series?
“I can’t confirm or deny, I’m afraid,” writer Ben Chanan tells RadioTimes.com. “We’re talking about it and thinking about it… I wish I had more concrete news.”
He adds: “I want to make sure it’s as a good as the first or can top the first, if we’re going to go ahead with it. But I do think we’ve only just scratched the surface of this world – the world of fakery, and what’s possible, and what you can believe in.”
What would happen in The Capture series 2?
If there was a second series, it sounds like we would be following Carey’s story as she goes inside the Corrections process, joining Commander Danny Hart (Ben Miles) and DSU Gemma Garland (Lia Williams). “It feels like she’s the heart and soul of the operation,” Chanan says.
However, it seems less likely that Callum Turner will return as Shaun. His journey is complete.
“I always wanted Shaun Emery’s story to be resolved within these six hours because I don’t like stringing people along,” Chanan says. “I think people are watching partly – possibly mainly – every week to find out what happened to Shaun. We want to know who’s done this to him, who really took Hannah, who faked the video, and why. And I hope we answer all those questions satisfyingly.”
The screenwriter adds: “Anything’s possible in terms of Shaun, but I definitely think his story arc is complete. He comes to realise what he feels guilty about and what he doesn’t feel guilty about, and we come to realise the truth about what happened in Helmand and also what happened at the bus stop.”
It also sounds like there might be tension between those involved in the Correction programme (America’s Frank Napier, and the UK’s Danny Hart and Gemma Garland) and the part of the intelligence community represented by Jessica Mallory (Famke Janssen).
“If you think about, as Garland says to Carey in the courtroom scene: imagine if it got out. Imagine if Corrections was really exposed. There wouldn’t be a person caught on CCTV who wouldn’t appeal their sentence in the last ten years. So it would throw the global justice systems into complete chaos,” Chanan says.
“So you can imagine what the people at the controls on the Correction programme would do to protect it in that case, and then to try and manage those who want to reveal it just as a rumour and keep it contained as just that – that potentially could inform a second series.”
Is Rachel Carey planning to infiltrate Corrections – and what does the final scene mean?
Is DI Rachel Carey pretending to have been “converted” to the cause of Correction in order to infiltrate the programme and undermine it from the inside? Or was she actually convinced by Garland’s arguments and by Danny Hart’s campaign to recruit her?
“I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to leave that question open!” Chanan says.
The screenwriter, who also directed the drama, adds: “What I will tell you is, we did something like 26 takes. I do a fair amount of takes, but to do 26 takes is unheard of. It’s just unheard of in telly. In film maybe, if you’re a maverick, but in TV it never happens. But just that last slate where she walks in and says, ‘When can I start’ – to sort of play with what the intention of the line is, so that we could play with the steer of that last beat.”
The aim of the scene? “Ambiguity, I’m afraid.”
Fingers crossed for series two…
What did Jessica’s conversation with Frank Napier mean?
“I’m throwing the executive branch a bone. It’s diplomatic,” says senior CIA spook Jessica Mallory (Famke Janssen) as she lets Frank Napier (Ron Perlman) in on a few secrets, for old time’s sake. “We need plots like Eli’s to half-succeed.” And she asks: “Who stands to gain when the public can’t trust what they see?”
The answer: people who have been caught on camera doing something terrible. People who would be pleased if doubt could be cast on their own incriminating footage.
Explaining all this to Frank, Jessica continues: “There are individuals – an individual – far above your pay grade and mine, for whom I daresay that applies.”
So who is Jessica talking about? The US President, perhaps? Chanan refuses to be drawn, only saying: “I think the scene is going to have to speak for itself.”
He adds: “What I will say is I think there are people in global politics, in all corners of the world, who seem to welcome the – and possibly even in some cases encourage the blurring of fact and fiction. It suits them. Because if you – and I think you know there are examples of it every day in the news, not just from one corner of the world – from lots of corners. It suits certain politicians.”
Was CIA employee Eli part of the plot all along?
Yes! Jessica’s plan – the überconspiracy, if you will – was for Eli to infiltrate activist group Pilgrims of Justice, without Frank Napier’s knowledge.
Exposing the actual truth about Correction would undermine the whole point of the programme in the first place, and would throw the justice system into chaos. Instead, high-level figures within the US intelligence services needed Correction to “emerge as a conspiracy theory, a rumour.”
Chanan explains: “Her plot is to, through Eli, find people like Charlie, to try to expose corrections, and then thwart them before they get to prove it, so it just becomes another rumour. Because to admit it would be disastrous, but to have it out there swirling around as a rumour…”
As for Charlie Hall (Barry Ward)? “Well I don’t know if we should publish what happens to Charlie, but it’s sort of left to your imagination,” Chanan says. “But given that he was part of the plot that Eli is responsible for, they may have more use for him than to hurt him or do away with him.”
Is Shaun Emery guilty of murder? What happened in Helmand?
“It’s catching up with me,” Shaun tells his ex when she visits him in jail. “Justice. You know I done it, what happened in Helmand.”
Shaun has been convicted of killing Hannah Roberts, even though he is innocent. On the other hand, he was cleared of the unlawful killing of that man in Afghanistan – even though he is actually guilty. But despite being convicted for the wrong crime, he has still ultimately ended up in the same place: prison.
It has been a long road since Shaun’s courtroom appearance in episode one, when his legal team showed that the video evidence against him was flawed. But even though the evidence was flawed and his conviction was overturned, Shaun’s own memories of the event refused to go away.
And in the final episode, he finally admits to himself – and to his ex-girlfriend – that he had deliberately shot and killed the unarmed insurgent in Helmand.
Chanan tells us: “I think that he always has this nagging sense of guilt throughout, and that combined with the seeing through his own eyes the footage of him doing something horrendous to Hannah, it kind of – it’s a kind of toxic mix to him, and given that he’s emotionally unstable anyway, began to have false memories of actually hurting Hannah.
“And in fact what that was as you know was kind of a twisted fake memory, but it had a truth at its core, and the truth was that he did hurt somebody he shouldn’t have done, that he shouldn’t have hurt, and that’s obviously the unarmed fighter in Helmand. So it was very important to reveal the source of Shaun’s guilt.”
What is the future of Correction?
One of the most shocking moments in the final episode comes when Frank Napier shows Shaun Emery the footage of him playing with his young daughter, and hints at the horrific ways his team could manipulate those images to frame him for a terrible crime.
Chanan tells us: “It’s called The Capture, and Shaun is well and truly captured at that moment, in every sense. In the technical sense, and also by Frank Napier. And it’s a sense of the depth to which Frank will go to protect the conspiracy, to protect Correction.”
Frank is also excited about the way the technology is evolving. Soon enough he will be able to create realistic footage entirely from scratch.
“We are pushing it further away from what is capable now,” says Chanan. “But as you know from movies, if you’ve got CGI and unlimited money, anything’s possible – and it’s kind of left to the imagination of the fakers…”
The Capture is available on BBC iPlayer now