BBC One’s new crime drama Bloodlands kicked off on Sunday night, starring James Nesbitt as DCI Tom Brannick – a Belfast-based detective who finds himself back on the hunt for a serial killer named Goliath when they appear to strike again 20 years later.
The series, executive produced by Line of Duty’s Jed Mercurio, packed a whole lot of information into its first hour-long episode, from the backstory around Brannick’s wife to Pat Keenan and his links to organised crime.
If you’re still confused from the episode (read our Bloodlands review to see what we thought), we’ve broken down some of the biggest questions and theories around Bloodlands for you to dive into.
**Warning – spoilers for episode one from this point on so continue at your own risk!**
What happened to Tom Brannick’s wife?
We find out fairly early on in the episode that Tom’s wife was one of Goliath’s victims in 1998.
He goes on to tell his fellow detective Niamh McGovern (Charlene McKenna) that his wife’s disappearance was never made official as she worked as part of an intelligence agency. He was told that her cover had been blown and that she went underground, however she was actually kidnapped by Goliath.
At the end of the episode, Tom’s suspicions are finally confirmed when police find several bodies buried on an island in the Belfast Lough, including Tom’s wife who is still wearing a necklace matching the one Tom gave his daughter.
However, the episode ends without the identities of these skeletons being confirmed, so could it be possible that Tom’s wife isn’t among the bodies and that her necklace was planted in the grave to give that impression? We’ll have to tune in next week to find out.
Who is Pat Keenan and where is he?
Pat Keenan is a man assumed to be missing when his car is found submerged in the Strangford Lough without its number plates.
He’s identified as someone who runs as successful haulage business and has a past as a senior member of the IRA, with police suspecting his disappearance could be political or gang-related as he’s also known for having connections to organised crime.
Police receive a phone call from an anonymous person who claims to have kidnapped Pat Keenan and so police begin searching for him – however, Brannick suspects that Keenan’s case could be linked to Goliath, a serial killer who assassinated four people back in 1998.
After police spot a car with Keenan’s number plates attached and follow it, they manage to find Pat Keenan, who is being held captive in a hotel room.
What is the relevance of the H&W postcard?
When police pull Keenan’s car out of the lough, they find a postcard hidden within the wing mirror with a picture of two cranes at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard.
Brannick immediately recognises the postcard as Goliath’s calling card – an item he would leave behind at crime scenes he claimed responsibility for.
We don’t know yet why the Harland & Wolff shipyard is so significant – could it be linked to the identity of Goliath in some way? Maybe Goliath used to work there or maybe something happened between the cranes that has not yet been revealed to viewers?
Why is Superintendent McAllister taken off the case?
Half way through episode one, Brannick’s boss – Superintendent McAllister (Flora Montgomery) – is taken off of Pat Keenan’s case.
While Jackie Twomey (Lorcan Cranitch) – Brannick’s former colleague and friend – says it is because “she allowed [the team] to run amuck” by giving them permission to pursue any links to Goliath in the Keenan case, Brannick suspects that Cranitch is actually trying to prevent Brannick from going ahead with the Goliath investigation.
Why was Jackie Twomey opposed to revisiting Goliath?
When Brannick meets with Twomey to tell him he thinks Goliath might be back, Twomey very quickly tries to discourage Brannick from picking the case back up again and instead tells him to focus on finding Keenan.
Twomey claims his reluctance to link Keenan’s case with Goliath is to “keep the peace”, knowing that if news of an assassin who’d killed people opposed to the Good Friday Agreement on both sides came out, there would be civil unrest in Northern Ireland.
He tells Brannick to concentrate on finding Keenan, especially as his connections to organised crime begin attacking the police after Keenan’s wife Claire (Kathy Kiera Clarke) finds Brannick snooping around her husband’s office.
However, could Twomey have ulterior motives as to why he doesn’t want Brannick to pursue Goliath’s case again? Considering we find out that he’s kept vital information relating to the case hidden from Brannick for two decades, there’s a possibility that Twomey could be Goliath.
What is found on the island?
When Adam Corry (Ian McElhinney) – the brother of one of Goliath’s victims – tells Brannick and McGovern that a farmer reported seeing a man suspiciously digging on an island in the Belfast Lough the day after the Good Friday Agreement was signed, they immediately head to the island to start searching for bodies.
While they initially struggle to find anything and Twomey tells them to give up, McGovern realises that they’ve been digging by the wrong tree and uses an underground scanner to find a number of bodies hidden in the spot.
Among the bodies appears to be Brannick’s wife, whose skeleton is wearing matching necklace to Brannick’s.
Who is Goliath?
Goliath is a suspected serial killer who the police believe is responsible for four murders back in 1998 and who Brannick thinks may have kidnapped Pat Keenan.
So far, we know Goliath could be a man or woman inside the police as Brannick reveals Goliath had access to police intelligence back in 1998 and began kidnapping targets who were opposed to the Good Friday Agreement on both sides, including an IRA arms dealer, an IRA quartermaster and a protestant paramilitary godfather.
Suspicions of Goliath being someone within the police establishment are strengthened when Brannick and McGovern try to find police files relating to the 1998 victims but realise that all documents relating to the cases have been removed.
So far, the evidence is pointing towards the possibility of Jackie Twomey – a colleague of Brannick’s who worked with him on the previous case – being connected to Goliath, given his strong opposition to Brannick picking up the case again, his insistence on replacing McAllister as Superintendent on Keenan’s disappearance and the reveal that he hid information about the burial place from Brannick which led to a break-through in the investigation.