It must be said: the ending of David Hare’s political thriller Roadkill was somewhat abrupt, somewhat unsatisfying, and very frustrating. The fourth and final episode sped to a conclusion in the final 10 minutes, leaving many questions unanswered – and, presumably, leaving the door open for Roadkill series two.
Peter Laurence MP (Hugh Laurie) was able to manoeuvre his way into Number 10, replacing Prime Minister Dawn Ellison (Helen McCrory) after her own private secretary Julia (Olivia Vinall) saw which way the wind was blowing and leaked a damaging email.
At the same time, Peter was being lined up to take her place by the Conservative Party bigwigs; he also managed to get ahead of the headlines and win over the public with his ‘straight-talking’ and his public acknowledgement of his illegitimate daughter Rose (Shalom Brune-Franklin), who’s currently behind bars.
Meanwhile, all the attempts to bring him down seem to have come to nothing. But is that the end of the story? Surely not.
Here are all the questions left unanswered by the finale of the BBC One drama:
1. Was journalist Charmian Pepper murdered – and if so, who killed her?
After Charmian Pepper (Sarah Greene) was killed in a dramatic hit-and-run in Washington DC halfway through the series, I did think we might get a proper storyline around this. Instead, all we got were vague hints.
Was her death orchestrated by British American, the ‘think-tank’ (front for a lobbying group)? The guy she had dinner with at British American; was he spiking her drink with vodka as part of that plan, or was he just a sleaze-ball? Did he know who she really was? (After all, Peter knew that “despite losing the case she was still after me.”) Did Adam de Banzie (Nicholas Rowe and their friend Trevor the arms guy (Guy Henry) arrange the whole thing?
And was Peter Laurence completely unaware of her presence in Washington DC, as he claimed? Or did someone decide to get rid of his ‘problem’ without even consulting him? After all, he asked Adam and Trevor: “Did you know she was in Washington?” and Adam replied, somewhat shiftily, “Did we? I don’t remember… yes, her death is tragic, but for you it might be a stroke of luck. That’s all you need to know.” Suspicious.
On the other hand, Charmian’s intact dictaphone was returned to her family along with her other possessions. So if she was killed, her killers missed their chance to remove the very evidence she was in the US to track down. (Even though that evidence didn’t actually come to anything in the end, because Charmian’s newspaper spiked the story after pressure from the proprietor.)
At this point, it looks like Charmian’s death has been successfully swept under the rug. Will it remain beneath that rug in a (potential) second season, or will it be dragged back out into the light so we can get some answers?
2. Is Peter’s wife Helen planning to expose him?
“I’d hoped you’d signed it,” says Peter Laurence, staring down at the paper his wife Helen Laurence (Saskia Reeves) has just presented him with behind the doors of Number 10 on his first day as Prime Minister. “Well, obviously not,” she says in return, and leaves the room.
So that’s an unresolved storyline, right there. Helen has just refused to sign the paperwork to close down Stanfield Titles, the Virgin Islands shell company used to pay her husband $500,000 after he attended a meeting in the US at the ‘think-tank’ British American. You know, the meeting which the now-PM went to court to prove he wasn’t at. He put the shell company in her name, and now he can’t close down the company without her permission.
So is she trying to stop him from erasing the paper trail? Is she going to actively try to bring down her husband? Or is she just passively refusing to have any part in his misdeeds any more, and letting the chips fall where they may?
You can certainly see why she would feel betrayed by him, given his admission of his affair with Madeleine (Sidse Babett Knudsen), as well as the emergence of Rose (Shalom Brune-Franklin), who was conceived during another extramarital affair. He seems mainly to be using Helen as a political prop: the supportive wife of the politician who must go along with his nonsense.
3. Will Duncan Knock keep Peter’s secrets?
It is somewhat odd that Peter Laurence would keep his PA Joy (Yolanda Kettle) by his side, despite his disdain for her – and yet put his special advisor Duncan Knock (Iain de Caestecker) out to pasture.
Joy can never be fired because she knows too much, and because she perjured herself in court to protect her boss; but Iain, who knows even more about the skeletons in Peter’s closet, has been cast aside in favour of Julia Blythe (Olivia Vinall).
How will he react to that betrayal?
4. Does Sydney the chauffeur keep her job?
“It’s always been a position of trust, hasn’t it Sydney?” asks Peter from the back of his ministerial car, pointedly. “Driver to the Prime Minister. After all, you couldn’t be closer. But it works both ways, doesn’t it? You know everything about me. On the other hand, I know a lot about you… I mean, I’m not quite as stupid as I look.”
Peter has apparently figured out that his chauffeur Sydney (Emma Cunniffe) was the source of Charmian’s information about his dodgy think-tank meeting, and that she got hold of his ‘missing’ appointment diary and either showed it to the journalist or leaked it via her girlfriend Margaret (Katie Leung).
So will chauffeur Sydney be kicked to the curb?
5. Has Rochelle the barrister really given up?
Rochelle (Pippa Bennett-Warner) seems to have given up on trying to get the truth out about her former client, Peter Laurence. She’s fallen out with her protégé Luke (Danny Ashok) and declared that he would be extremely unwise to pursue this matter any longer, despite his feelings for Charmian.
But has she really given up? I’m not sure. She went so far as to approach newspaper editor Joe Lapidus (Pip Torrens) with the new evidence, but he had to turn down the story. She went for a disastrous lunch with Peter’s wife Helen to encourage her to stop backing up Peter’s lies. And she even met Charmian’s bereaved parents to collect the dictaphone.
Perhaps she’s pushing Luke away to save him from repercussions, while secretly continuing her mission by herself..? Because if she just decided to give up, that would be quite the anticlimax.
Roadkill aired 18th October-8th November at 9pm on BBC One, and is currently airing on PBS Masterpiece in the US on Sundays at 9/8c.