I unwittingly finished watching season one of Bodyguard today. The Netflix show starring Game of Thrones’s Richard Madden ran for only six episodes, when I really thought it could have carried eight or ten.
But, ultimately, I enjoyed its forward-moving and suspenseful brevity.
Richard Madden plays an ex-soldier living with PTSD who now works for the Metropolitan Police in London. The show opens with a riveting scene in which Madden’s character, Sergeant David Budd, is riding a train into the city as a civilian and correctly suspects a terrorist plot to bomb the train. He then must work with security personnel on the train to talk the would-be bomber down and get them into the hands of the counter-terrorism team.
This scene alone makes watching this show worth it. From there, however, Budd is assigned as the principal protection officer of the Home Secretary. It just so happens that Secretary Julia Montague (played by Keeley Hawes) is on the verge of pushing through privacy-threatening legislation in the name of combating terrorism, against the wishes of many both in and outside of her government.
The story surges forward from the first episode as Budd tries to navigate the rival factions within the government security forces, his own personal feelings about the Secretary and her policies, his failing marriage, and his PTSD.
Without giving anything away, Budd begins to uncover a conspiracy within the government security forces, but it’s impossible to tell which of the numerous branches of government may or may not be culpable. I found it a little difficult to keep the different agencies/departments straight, but of course I’m not entirely familiar with the structure of the UK government, The show still does a good job of showing you which faces/names are aligned with each other and who their rivals are.
However, I have a few bones to pick from the finale. Highlight the below two paragraphs for for some spoilery takes:
When Madden follows Luke Aitkens. he discovers that his own boss is the MPS leak. But why the hell would a known gangster openly visit the home of one of his most valuable informants in the MPS?Shouldn’t they have had some kind of secret meeting place? That was the one part when I really felt like the writers would just pushing the story along.
Some additional thoughts: Wasn’t the interim Home Secretary also somehow involved in the conspiracy? I guess Budd and the other police never connected anything to him, but it’s slightly confusing and really intriguing that he walked away from that mess when so many others around him were arrested or forced to resign. Future antagonist??? Also, what happened to Vickie’s boyfriend? I love the idea of Vickie and David working things out, but she must have dumped that other dude pretty quickly. Final thought: the way the original bomber railed against the cops for underestimating her as a “weak woman” was amazing.
Richard Madden is Awesome
He was great in this show. The only other actor I enjoyed watching as much as him was Keeley Hawes. As an avid Game of Thrones fan, I knew Madden from his time as Robb Stark on that show, and I always hoped he’d continue getting big roles.
His portrayal of Budd is immediately sympathetic. Even as his life (and the larger conspiracy) starts to unravel around him, you find yourself as maddeningly distraught and frustrated as he is. All he wants is control, and the entire season is his battle to control the narrative of his own life and the conspiracy he is trying to uncover, all while other parties work against him and try to frame him as a terrorist.
Madden’s acting chops were on stark display in Game of Thrones, particularly in season two. He was deserving of a true leading role even before winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Drama. But in Bodyguard, he also gets to show off a bit of physical acting. The show doesn’t have Bourne-esque fight scenes, but Madden is entirely convincing holding a firearm and moving in decisive military-trained actions.
I’m fully on board with the apparent rumors that he could be the next James Bond.
Bodyguard is a well-written show with great acting that is just concise enough to keep the story moving relentlessly and leave me wanting to see more. Netflix is tentatively planning for a second season, which I will definitely watch.
If Netflix still used its star-ratings, I’d give this show 4. But I’ll have to live with a thumbs-up.