After having barely recovered from the manic and nerve-shredding first hour of television’s most gripping new drama, we were instantly whacked with another thumping episode of it. Following on from Sunday night’s tense and stunning opening jab, the next Bodyguard hit us on bank holiday Monday like a huge uppercut, completely flooring us. Thankfully we’ve got a count until next Sunday to get up off the canvas, dust ourselves down and recover. And we’re going to need it.
Sometimes a TV drama will really explode out of the traps (sorry, that’s two sporting metaphors in a row, isn’t it?) and demanded the audience’s attention. Often though, it then calms down and gets into a steadier flow, usually saving up much of the drama for a big finale. Not Bodyguard, though. After its maiden episode dazzled us with incredible tension and high drama, we expected a little serenity. We were not to get it. If anything, things got even crazier in this second episode. Then again, they were always likely to, really.
Let’s not forget that this new Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes-starring series is written and created by a certain Jed Mercurio, the de facto king of high octane and unmissable UK TV drama. Line of Duty used to grab us all by the collective throat and squeeze harder and harder until we were all left on the edge of our seats, virtually breathless. The man’s unique identifier? An ability to create television that’s commanding, thrilling and presented in a way that makes it wildly unpredictable. All while maintaining a rigid veneer of realism. It’s some feat.
That frenetic opening salvo left us with a hacked-off David Budd stewing over his position as personal protection officer to the rather unpleasant and war-mongering Home Secretary Julia Montague. A meeting with ex-soldier friend of his Andy Apsted (Preacher‘s Tom Brooke) seemingly pointing us in the direction that David could be convinced to exploit his close proximity to Montague and assist in an assassination attempt on her. Yet when bullets start raining down on her and him as they drove down a busy London street – in what was another almost impossible dramatic and heart-thumping scene that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the big screen – David put his life on the line to protect her. The power of a contract of employment, eh?
This wasn’t even the only or first impressive theatrical set piece of the episode, either. We’d earlier seen a chase involving police in pursuit of a large van destined to plough straight into a primary school playground. A primary school playground where David’s children were playing… This was no coincidence, either. After his train-based heroics in the opener, Budd is now a target for the terrorists behind the attack. The children were unharmed in the end, but a shocking explosion still killed plenty of counter-terrorism officers.
That’s now three action sequences in the first two hours that all come out of nowhere, build up tension expertly and never once leave you sat there smug, safe in the knowledge that you know what’s going to happen. When David tracks down the sniper that pinned him and Montague down in their car, we discover it’s his forces pal Andy. Before taking his own life, he reminds David that he’s the only one capable of stopping Julia’s ascent to Prime Minister and the carnage overseas that will follow her bagging such a promotion.
David’s willingness to take a bullet and arrest an old friend surely shows loyalty towards his employer, right? Well, perhaps. Especially when you factor in that the stress of the shoot-out seemed to drive David and Julia into each other’s arms. Cue a steamy hotel session. And then another one. But wait…
By the time the second liaison took place, Budd may well have been co-opted by Gina McKee’s devious and plotting police anti-terror head honcho Anne Sampson. Could David’s eagerness to provide particularly ‘close cover’ to Julia be part of a rouse to earn her trust so he can better spy on her? Perhaps it goes both ways, though. Is Julia seducing David to get him on side and render him incapable of speaking out about her conduct? Did Sampson leak the intel about David’s kids’ whereabouts so she could leverage the situation and have him side with her in her battle to take down the Home Secretary…?
Things have gotten more than a little edgy, political and psycho-sexual here. We’re dealing with Line of Duty + The Bodyguard x Basic Attraction. And we’ve no problem with that at all.
Did you tune in for Bodyguard episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!