If ever there was a series for which to avoid spoilers, “Bodyguard,” Netflix’s latest entry, is it.
“Rollercoaster” doesn’t even begin to characterize it. This is the most curious blend of shock and ambiguity I’ve seen in quite a while. Created and written by Jed Mercurio, who fills the same roles for “Line of Duty,” perhaps the best cop show ever, “Bodyguard” is difficult to discuss without giving plot twists away. So I’ll just leave it at this: The protagonist is David Budd (Richard Madden, truly late of “Game of Thrones”), an Afghanistan war veteran turned police sergeant, who, after thwarting a terrorist attack, is assigned as protection officer for the controversial Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keely Hawes). Unlike “Line of Duty,” which is a classic police procedural, “Bodyguard” is a thriller that never stops. So many shocking developments occur that sneaking around the internet for spoilers will absolutely wreck your viewing experience.
It’s not hard to see why this show was a huge BBC hit. First and foremost, it features taut storytelling—there’s not an ounce of filler or flab in its six episodes. Which raises an important point: some recent Netflix series (I’m looking at you, “The Five”) are stretched beyond endurance. Ten episodes for a mystery or thriller? That’s definitely four too many. Brevity is not only the soul of wit—it’s frequently the hallmark of good writing for this genre.
In addition to
Robb Stark—er, David Budd—there are some powerful women at work here. Aside from the Home Secretary, there’s Lorraine Craddock (Pippa Haywood), his immediate superior, and Anne Sampson (Gina McKee), Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command—all played by terrific actresses. Once again, Keely Hawes, so memorable in Seasons Two and Three of “Line of Duty”, turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance as Julia Montague. Ambitious and hard-nosed, she’s not afraid to tangle with the big boys in government. She’s matched, if not exceeded by Gina McKee, who plays her character’s ambiguity to the hilt. There’s not one second you’re sure of her. Is she working against the Home Secretary or is she loyal? Ms. McKee keeps you guessing for all six episodes. And she’s not the only one—you’re not even certain of David Budd. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent, particularly Anjli Mohindra as Nadia, a woman forced by her husband to don a suicide vest.
One word of advice: “Bodyguard” is definitely bingeable, but you may want to take a breath or two along the way. You’re going to need it.
Bravo, Jed Mercurio!