After the high octane thrills, twists and turns of the first two episodes, the third instalment of Bodyguard was a slightly different beast. There was no 20 minute dramatic opening sequence, no shocks and surprises in the second act. But it was no less engaging.
Instead, the audience was immersed in the political schemes, secret investigations and the very twisted sexual shenanigans of Keeley Hawes' Home Secretary Julia Montague and Richard Madden's David Budd. And twisted it was; the pair hooking up in her hotel, the door between their rooms allowing them to indulge in the fantasy while the rest of the world remained oblivious. This would have been enough conflict to maintain the show - is she using him, does he want to kill; her or sleep with her or both? But creator Jed Mercurio made sure this was just the tip of the iceberg.
From his PTSD-induced assault on her as she disturbed him while he slept, to being forced to spy on her by police Counter-Terrorism Commander Anne Sampson (Gina McKee) and David's boss Lorraine Craddock (Pippa Haywood), there were many insidious and disturbing layers at work. Power was everything and everyone was trying to gain the upper hand on the other with David seemingly a pawn in the battle between the police, the security services and the Home Secretary. And that's not forgetting the blackmail information gives to Julia by her security services contacts that may have enabled her to usurp the current Prime Minister. Was it all a little over the top at times? Absolutely, but it was bloody entertaining too.
But being Bodyguard we needed more than political intrigue and twisted power plays to keep the audience entertained and episode three certainly delivered in the final act. Having already survived the assassination attempt Thornton Circus (of which David was desperate to keep his connection to the now dead sniper Andy Apsted secret) Julia now faced more danger as she attempted to deliver a speech on the controversial RIPA-18 bill at St Matthew's college.
Director Thomas Vincent certainly kept the tension taught as David scanned the surroundings for any evidence of a threat. The audience suspected something more - Julia's aide Tahir was handed the briefcase last minute by her special advisor Rob Macdonald (Paul Ready) who 'conveniently' had to miss the speech. But when David looked inside the briefcase the audience remained oblivious to the contents inside.
The hidden contents of the case raise so many questions. Was Rob behind the leaks that lead to Julia's assassination attempt and now the bombing? Did he give Tahir the briefcase with the bomb inside or was it really just documents Julia needed to deliver her speech? Was Tahir involved or (more likely) an innocent pawn? If it was a bomb, surely David would have noticed? Or was he a) involved or b) decided to let it go, only rushing to the stage at the end to save his friend and colleague who was closer, rather than trying to stop the explosion and save Julia?
The explosion at the end of the episode was another masterstroke, pulling the audience away from the false sense of security that action-less rest of the episode had suggested it would be. The fact that Julia's fate was unknown by the time the credits rolled (and the fact that she is absent from any promos for episode four) suggests that maybe Bodyguard has pulled a London-sized rug from under the audience and actually killed off one of its two main stars.
Or maybe she is perfectly fine and masterminded it all to make her sympathetic in her rise to power? That fact there are so many articles online debating who is behind the attacks in Bodyguard shows just how much of a water cooler series it has become. Is it subtle? Absolutely not. Is it well acted and directed? Outstandingly so. And is it entertaining? Definitely.