**WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BODYGUARD'S SERIES FINALE**
After a nail-biting and EXTREMELY TENSE series finale, the many pieces of Bodyguard's jigsaw puzzle have finally slotted together into one incredibly complicated picture. And boy is that picture confusing.
Collusion! Conspiracy! Kompromat! Jihad! Organised crime! Political games! Crooked cops! In case you're still struggling to get your head around it all, here's exactly what happened – and how it all hangs together:
Islamic terrorist Nadia was the mastermind all along
"You all saw me as a poor oppressed Muslim woman. I am an engineer. I am a jihadi," Nadia Ali (Anjli Mohindra) told the police, a smile playing on her lips as she dropped the act she'd maintained ever since David Budd found her in the train toilet wearing a suicide vest. Surprise!
Nadia may have failed to detonate her suicide vest on 1st October after losing her nerve, but she still managed a lot of damage without having to blow herself up. Before she was imprisoned she built a bunch of explosive devices, including the one used in the school truck attack, the bomb planted at St Matthew's College, and – last but not least – David Budd's suicide vest.
The story about her husband meeting Richard Longcross in a parking lot to collect the suicide vest was later made up to fool the police. Turns out David's leading questions were counterproductive after all!
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Many of the bombing attacks were arranged in collusion with Luke Aitkens and his men, who had their own reasons for targeting Julia. Asked why she had worked with criminals and non-believers, Nadia explained it was "for money to build more bombs and buy more guns and spread the truth to our brothers and sisters throughout the world. For the world to be convinced that we had put a sword through the heart of the British government."
But the attack on Heathbank Primary School was Nadia's (particularly cruel) personal project. David had shown her a photo of Ella and Charlie when he was trying to talk her out of the bombing on the train, which seemed like a good idea at the time but in retrospect almost had his kids killed when Nadia sent a truck bomb speeding towards their school playground.
"He thought so little of me he showed me pictures. For him I was a weak woman," Nadia told DS Louise Rayburn (Nina Toussaint-White). "I remembered everything he told me about his children. Their names. Their ages. From prison I was able to inform my organisation."
Why? It's never fully explained. Possibly Nadia was insulted by David's assumption that she had been manipulated into her crimes. Possibly she wanted to rattle the Home Secretary. Or another explanation: perhaps she saw him as a hypocrite for agreeing to serve as the Home Secretary's bodyguard after everything he said to her on the train about politicians and the Middle East?
Crime boss Luke Aitkens was the second mastermind
Organised crime boss Luke Aitkens (Matt Stokoe) used his "inside man" in the police (David's boss Lorraine Craddock) to get all the information he needed to target (and kill) Julia Montague. He then formed an unholy alliance with Nadia's terror cell, buying suicide vests and bombs to carry out the attacks.
Why did he do it? "Nothing personal," Luke said. His objection was to Julia's legislation, RIPA 18, which would transfer powers from the police to security services. He had a working relationship with the police – using bribery and blackmail to evade prosecution – but knew that the security services would be far harder to get around. RIPA 18 had to be stopped.
Aside from working with Nadia, it was also Luke who set up the Thornton Circus sniper attack. He was the one who recruited David's army pal Andy Apsted via his Veterans' Peace Group (that Luke was shown attending in episode one), arming him with a PSL rifle and getting him access as a "tradesman" to the roof of nearby Pascoe House.
Then there was Chanel (Stephanie Hyam), who stuck out in the middle of this drama like she'd just wandered over from Channel 4's Made in Chelsea. We have to presume that she was initially part of the Home Secretary's team as Luke's mole on the inside, but then accidentally got kicked out for being terrible at her job. Later, she used herself as bait to lead David to Luke.
Having set David up to be bundled into a suicide vest, she redeemed herself slightly by later telling Luke that his police informer was losing her nerve – and then tailing Luke all the way to the house of said police informer so David could catch them both in the act.
Lorraine Craddock was the "inside man"
At the beginning of the final episode, it started to look like the Met Police's Counter Terrorism boss Anne Sampson (Gina McKee) was Luke's "inside man" who had been protecting him from criminal charges all these years. She certainly wasn't keen for DCI Deepak Sharma (Ash Tandon) to investigate Luke as a possible suspect and seemed super shifty about the whole thing. "There's always been whispers Luke Aitkens had senior officers in his pocket. Officers prepared to sabotage investigations into his criminal empire," Deepak later muttered darkly to Louise.
But no! While Anne's weird relationship with Luke was never properly explained, the actual "inside man" in this case was... David's SO15 boss Lorraine Craddock!
As Lorraine (Pippa Haywood) tearfully admitted in her interrogation, she was in cahoots with Luke and "for some years... disclosed sensitive information on police operations that might threaten his criminal activities."
It was Lorraine who shared Julia's itinerary on the day of the Thornton Circus sniper attack, which Luke passed on to Andy Apsted. She also helped with the St Matthew's attack, providing Julia's security plans: "Luke was able to plan steps to overcome all of them."
(Side note: the plot by Mike Travis, Rob MacDonald and Roger Penhaligon to politically humiliate Julia at that speech by sending Tahir Mahmood on stage was just unfortunate timing; the bomb would likely have detonated anyway. Poor innocent Tahir just got extremely unlucky.)
Revealing why she had chosen David Budd as Julia's PPO, Lorraine told police: "He'd make the perfect fall guy." Perhaps she already knew Luke was grooming David's pal Andy Apsted for the Thornton Circus attack?
None of that quite explains why Lorraine opted to remove David from the Home Secretary's team following the truck attack on his kids' school. In that case, it took Julia's passionate intervention to get David reinstated. But – we might speculate – perhaps Lorraine objected to the targeting of the family of one of "her men"...?
It was never made clear what the plan would have been if David really was confined to desk duty and reassigned, but either way the bodyguard was quickly re-appointed to Julia's team and the "fall guy" was back in business.
Richard Longcross just wanted the kompromat back
Nadia (the terrorist), Luke (the criminal) and Lorraine (the police boss) were involved in the death of Home Secretary Julia Montague, but surprisingly the security services turned out not to be involved in that conspiracy at all. Instead, their sole goal was to track down the missing "kompromat".
In a deal with security service director-general Stephen Hunter-Dunn (Stuart Bowman), Julia had promised his organisation greater powers under RIPA 18 – if he would provide her with compromising material about the Prime Minister. An agent ("Richard Longcross") turned up at her hotel room with a tablet full of dirt on the PM: sexual assault, drug addiction and financial impropriety. All evidence of his clandestine visit was later removed from security footage.
But Hunter-Dunn was furious to hear that Julia had jumped the gun, taking a secret trip to Chequers to blackmail the PM before launching a leadership attempt. The kompromat had to be contained!
Presumably it was Richard Longcross who deleted the CCTV from St Matthew's College (while on the hunt for Julia's tablet); he also likely enlisted Roger Penhaligon to retrieve the kompromat from Julia's belongings in hospital.
Having failed to locate the tablet, Richard assumed Julia must have given it to David (he must have known about their secret relationship, possibly by bugging the hotel room.) That was why he questioned David's wife Vicky and had their safe house illicitly searched, and that was why Richard ultimately broke into David's home in search of the device – earning himself a face full of pepper spray.
What was David's actual plan?
David's plan kind of worked out in the end – but it sure was a dangerous (and convoluted) way to get to the truth. Without really knowing who was out to get him or what was actually going on, David took precautions and then launched himself straight into jeopardy.
In order to find out who had provided Andy Apsted with his rifle for the Thornton Circus attack, David met with an old contact in episode five and asked him to source a similar weapon untraceable back to him. That move successfully attracted the attention of the gun supplier, who turned out to be none other than Luke Aitkens. "You go around asking for a PSL, it's going to come to my attention," he later told David when he came to interrupt his date with Chanel.
Before meeting with Chanel for that ill-fated drink, David carried out your standard pre-date routine: he put on a nice shirt, gave his hair a brush, booby trapped his hiding place above the light fixture, and stashed the kompromat and blank bullet cases in a new hiding place. He also took his gun. At this point, he must have known that going for a drink with Chanel could lead to a bit of a Situation.
David must also have expected to be ambushed by Luke, who he'd seen picking Chanel up in a massive black SUV on not one but two occasions, after witnessing the Home Sec's former aide catching a ride with Luke straight after her firing in episode one.
Surely he didn't expect to be beaten unconscious and then strapped into a suicide vest – but what, exactly, was he expecting from this meeting?
Having woken up in the explosive vest and stumbled onto the street, our intrepid (ex) bodyguard immediately called on the police for help, before realising that they'd finally put two and two together and worked out his connection to Andy Apsted. The police had also clocked him breaking into Julia's house to steal the tablet from inside her "Death Star" photo frame. They were pretty angry about being duped. Suddenly he was the prime suspect in Julia's murder, and – even worse – he was wearing a highly sophisticated bomb on the streets of central London. Oops.
Under heavy suspicion and surrounded by counter-terror police with guns pointed straight at him, a distressed David explained: "I lied about Andy Apsted but if I'd have come clean I'd have been the fall guy and the people that really killed Julia would've gotten away with it. I didn't want to lie, I had to." As for the kompromat, that was something he also had to lie about – because he wasn't sure who was conspiring with who.
After a tense standoff, David was able to prove he was telling the truth by "revealing" where he had hidden the tablet as bait for Richard Longcross, leading the security service man to his flat and setting off the booby trap which proved Longcross's involvement; switching radio channels, he swiftly told police of his plan (out of earshot of listening secret service boss Stephen Hunter-Dunn) which led to them to the flat to arrest Longcross. David also admitted he had tried to kill himself, proving someone had planted blanks in his gun.
The police were going to shoot him dead anyway (with the heavy encouragement of Lorraine Craddock), but after Vicky ran to his side (putting herself in danger of being blown up too), David was – unbelievably – allowed to walk all the way across London to his flat, where Vicky helped him dig up the tablet and the blanks which he'd stashed in the nearby cemetery. Having earned the trust of the police, our troubled hero then disabled his own suicide vest under the instruction of the bomb disposal expert. Go David!
But that wasn't all. To further prove his innocence and catch the real culprits, David bolted across the capital, broke into Chanel's flat, used her to get to Luke, and then identified Lorraine Craddock as the "inside woman." All in a day's work!
Presumably David wasn't expecting things to turn out quite as they did, but at least he was prepared for all eventualities...
Why were the bullets switched in David's gun?
This one's a little puzzling. It turned out to be Luke's henchman who searched David's flat and switched the bullets in his gun for blanks – but why?
We weren't the only ones wondering – with the murder solved, Louise asked David: "Why didn't they just steal your gun?"
"Straightaway I'd have known they'd been in my flat," David replied. "They were trying to frame me, but I suppose they couldn't take the chance of leaving me a live round."
Despite precautions taken for a possible suicide attempt, Luke didn't seem particularly concerned that David would kill himself. "If you're going to frame somebody, you make it the dead bloke," he later told Lorraine. He seems to have been more concerned that David could use the gun against him or one of his men in a showdown.
And when they met in the series finale and Luke discovered David's gun, Luke tried to taunt him: "Well here's a question for you. Is that thing loaded?"
But – with apparently no idea that David already knew about the blanks – he added, cryptically: "It's what it's loaded with that matters."
A happy ending (for some)
Here's what happened next:
Lorraine Craddock, Nadia Ali and Luke Aitkens were charged with conspiracy to murder Julia Montague.
Anne Sampson leaked the kompromat to ensure the PM's resignation. Her enemy Stephen Hunter-Dunn was also expected to resign for his part in the debacle. Mike Travis remained in government to kick RIPA 18 into the "long grass", putting power back into the hands of the police.
David's future as a bodyguard was uncertain, but with a second series looking likely, we predict his tumultuous career will continue. And he finally accepted help – taking the first step towards tackling his mental heath issues and PTSD by going to Occupational Health. He also started to mend his relationship with his wife, Vicky.
Oh, and for the avoidance of all doubt: yes, Julia Montague is dead. 100%. Jed Mercurio wasn't playing around.
This article was originally published on 23 September 2018