There are so many Bodyguard ending theories floating around the internet. With roughly 7 million people watching the show each week, making it one of the BBC’s biggest drama hits of the last decade, speculation is rife about what will happen next to David Budd. The show has proven itself expert in shocking plot twists and slices of misdirection, leading fans on social media to speculate furiously about the last episode. Such chatter has generated anger about spoilers too, especially as the majority of viewers are choosing to watch the show on iPlayer – a rarity for the BBC. If you’re yet to see it, here’s how to watch Bodyguard wherever you are in the world.
To cut through the noise, we’ve gathered together the best Bodyguard theories doing the rounds, and commented on the credibility of each one. Make sure you have these handy to impress your parents / significant other / flatmates / self when you catch the final episode of the show on Sunday. Oh, and beware – spoilers follow!
1. Julia Montague isn’t dead
Anyone who has thumbed the big red ‘On’ button on a remote in the last decade will probably know the (kinda) golden rule of character death in TV – if you don’t see a body, that character may not be dead. Except in the case of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones who… well, let’s not go there. We never see Julia’s body, which would be hugely distasteful given how badly bomb-damaged and surgically-scarred it would have been. However, this small fact gives rise to a number of theories that she may not be dead after all. The show’s creator Jed Mercurio has given interviews where he says that “with Bodyguard I wanted to have this event mid-series that would completely alter the dynamic” when asked about his decision to kill off the Secretary of State. Then there’s this tweet from Keeley Hawes, saying goodbye to the show. Frankly, it all seems fairly compelling evidence that she’s dead. But, obviously, it could all be misdirection.
Aside from making a remarkable twist, let’s look at why they’d fake Julia’s death. The most obvious reason is to remove her as a target, as she is the subject of two assassination attempts within a matter of days, allowing the police / secret services to investigate those responsible and flush out any players within government. From a personal protection perspective it makes the most sense – you don’t have to watch someone as closely if everyone assumes they’re dead. However, strategically, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. Ironically, you’re more likely to uncover a conspiratorial group if they’re forced to adapt their plans, and having to manufacture a third assassination attempt on Julia would likely cause a slip-up, especially if they’re being watched.
Finally, even though this is TV, the idea that the police would conspire with the media and lie to the general public about the death of a high-profile public figure is… unlikely. Once Julia reappeared, alive and (mostly) well, the trust of the public would evaporate, and no agency inside or outside the government would want that to happen. It’d be near-impossible to lie to the public about someone so, so high profile, and it’d be a terrible PR move for all concerned.
Is this theory likely?If it’s true, it’d be a huge disappointment. Not only in terms of how the show is written, and the bold choices it seems to have made, but also in terms of how believable it all is. The better, more compelling explanation is that Julia is indeed dead, and that she’ll stay that way.
2. David Budd is behind it all
There are a number of conspiracy theories that place our hero – David Budd – at the top of the suspect list for Julia’s death. The show certainly does enough nodding and winking to lead us to this conclusion. The most obvious one is that he went outside the conference room to stop Tahir Mahmood before the poor guy eventually went in and stepped on the trigger plate, setting off the bomb. With Budd in control of the situation here he could safely make sure that Julia was killed by the blast while, perfectly timing his own ‘attempt’ to save Julia’s life. It’s a nice theory, and one given weight by the fact that David is mentally unstable, that he disagrees with Julia’s voting record, and that he was around the fringes of the Solider Therapy group who attempted the first assassination. What if we’re not quite seeing the extent of his psychosis or – even more interesting – if David was in fact recruited by ISIS during his time serving in Afghanistan? Maybe his encounter with Nadia on the train was staged (it is quite the coincidence) to activate him for the real mission of removing the Home Secretary. The exchange between him in Nadia in episode 5 does have a suspicious air to it. When he presents her the picture of Longcross there’s a suggestion that he’s leading Nadia to identify the man in the picture as the bomb maker – it’s almost as if his over-protective communication with her is a way of coercing or leading her to do his bidding.
This is all a little far fetched, however interesting. What’s more likely is that David Budd is being set-up as the fall guy, manipulated by the shadowy government group who are making a play for power. Jed Mercurio has already spoken about his desire to create a second season, but did add that this is dependent on the way the BBC felt about the final episode, and the availability of its star, Richard Madden. This doesn’t eliminate David as a suspect, but it does mean a potential second season would be VERY different to this first.
Add this to the overt behaviour in the show – David’s love for his children, his attempt at suicide after his failure at work and broken marriage at home, and the fact that he tried hard enough to save Julia that he was himself in the blast zone – and it seems unlikely that our PPO hero is in on the plot.
Is this theory likely?It’d make a lovely twist, but feels like making shocking TV at the expense of a decent narrative. David had multiple opportunities to murder Julia in private, or to let his therapy group buddy finish the job with his sniper rifle in episode 2. No, David Budd is clean. Ish.
3. It was the work of disgruntled civil servants
If you’ll forgive the Thick of It joke here, the most likely theory at the end of episode 4 was that the whole thing was orchestrated by a group of disgruntled civil servants, who wanted the RIPA legislation to fail. We now know (or it seems hugely likely) that while the cabal of scheming MPs and civil servants wanted the RIPA bill to fail, and for Julia to withdraw her leadership bid for Prime Minister, they intended to do so by political embarrassment rather than actual murder. The speech given to Mahmood in the briefcase was intended to destroy her credibility, not Julia herself. While Rob MacDonald could still be lying about this, he does look very nervous during his confession in episode 5, and I believe that he has ‘come clean’ about his involvement in the political plot, and that he and Travis were only attempting to discredit Julia. He was being set-up as the fall-guy, and he knew it.
Of course, this could all be an elaborate double-bluff, and it could be that MacDonald, Travis, and ex-husand Penhaligon are in league with the Secret Service and the PM all along, keen to divert the police by making it seem like political scheming. However, like most politicians, none appear to have the backbone to actually bomb the Home Secretary. And that’s a lot of people in one conspiracy.
Is this theory likely?It’s far less likely than it seemed last week. Technically, the trio of political schemers could be responsible, but it feels like they’ve served their purpose as a red herring, and will now be removed from play.
4. The secret services did it
Was it the public-school lads from the shadowy Secret Service? It’s a damn good idea: here’s why. The dossier they gave Julia is something we’re yet to understand the significance of, and whatever was in it prompted her unplanned trip to Chequers to blackmail / confront the Prime Minister. Very likely it was given to her for leverage over the PM so she could pass the RIPA bill, which would grant the Secret Services significant powers to track and monitor anyone they chose. Essentially, it’s a huge boon for professional snoopers to get a snoopers charter. With the PM in line, Julia could pass the legislation, and they’d be happy. However, they didn’t appear to count on her unexpected trip to the PM’s residence in the middle of the night, implying that something went wrong with that plan. In episode 3 Richard Longcross tells his boss about the meeting, and agitation follows, resulting in the pair putting a ‘plan’ in place. Plan, meaning bomb? Maybe. Episode 5 seems to suggest that Julia used the dossier not to get the RIPA bill passed, but perhaps to blackmail the Prime Minister ahead of a leadership bid for herself.
Whatever happened here, combined with the erasing of the CCTV footage from the hotel, suggests that something isn’t ok with the Secret Service and the PM. What troubles me about this theory is that the Secret Service appeared to be totally in control before this Chequers meeting, and they were due to have the RIPA legislation passed as predicted. Sure, they didn’t expect Julia to behave as she did (and maybe she was having a change of heart, which is why she needed to ‘go’) but since her death the Secret Service appears to have been shut out of the Home Office completely. Maybe that was an unexpected side effect, and they’re struggling to regain control over the police but… surely they’d have seen it coming? Episode 5 is heavy on suggesting that Longcross is responsible for the bombing, however, I think it’s the show’s final bluff ahead of revealing that the final set of suspects is actually responsible for Julia’s death. All this talk of Longcross is misdirection, I think, and he’s just looking to regain the tablet given to Julia.
Is this theory likely?It seems less likely the more you think about it, but for sure, that dossier is important. Vital. Maybe it contains the identity of the person behind it all… and it’s strongly suggested this is the PM.
5. The police did it
At this stage, anyone could be a suspect, but the police are looking decidedly guilty. They clearly wanted to be in charge of the investigation into the attempted train bombing, right at the start of the series, and it’s worth noting that they placed an obviously unstable man – directly involved with the attempted bombing – as Julia Montague’s PPO. That seems very fishy. If they were in charge of the investigation AND had a spy who could report on Julia’s movements to them (who could then be framed for her assassination) that seems like a neat position from which to cover up the real mastermind behind it all.
It’s likely, as I said above, that the dossier is important, and that the Secret Services provided Julia with information that was so damn hot she needed to visit the Prime Minister at midnight, much to the annoyance of everyone involved. It was likely this meeting which eventually got her killed. And it’s likely that the organised crime group involved in exploiting the Soldier Therapy leader was the same one who orchestrated the bombing. That’s a lot of likely, but how does it all piece together and implicate the police?
Perhaps the RIPA charter was going to take power away from the police (giving it to the Secret Services), which would be bad news for the ambitious elements within the force. Did they conspire with the Home Secretary’s deputy to assassinate her and make the legislation go away? Placing the perfect scapegoat as her PPO, and using the attempted bombing as an excuse to put their plan in motion? The mastermind, who is highly placed in the government or police, wants it all covered up and the police is perfectly placed to do that? That would explain why Ann Sampson was extra frustrated when Julia chose to side with the Secret Services instead of her to lead the investigation into the train bombing, and why they hated being out of the loop. It might also explain how they could plant a bomb on a stage when the area had, supposedly, been thoroughly swept. And yes, it could explain how David’s gun ended up with blanks in it.
To say ‘the police’ is a little misleading, though. I think we’re looking at the PM leaning on Ann Sampson to get it done, who has a handful of informers working to implicate David Budd. Tom, his colleague caught in the blast, is definitely a grass but could he be the inside man who planted the bomb on the stage? Unclear at this point. More likely he turned a blind eye instead.
Is this theory likely?Hmmmm. The Secret Service wanted Julia to succeed and they’re only looking for the dossier, the civil servants wouldn’t have the balls, David Budd is a decent chap, and the police are acting the strangest of all the main players.
6. The other players
Ok, this is where it gets knotty. There are other players who are definitely involved, to some extent, but likely not exclusively responsible for the bombing.
The Prime Minister
Vicky’s new boyfriend
Well, those are our theories. Let us know your own below, and watch out of the final episode of Bodyguard on Sunday, September 23.
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