Bloodlands episode 3 recap: wait, is Emma Brannick secretly alive and well?

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode three of BBC One’s Bloodlands. Obviously. Proceed at your own peril…

Following on from that shocking twist in episode two, the third instalment of Bloodlands opens with Belfast detective Tom Brannick (James Nesbitt) still reeling from having killed Adam Corry for asking too many questions.

The solution? To frame DCS Jackie Twomey (Lorcan Cranitch) for the crime, naturally.

Well, that’s the most obvious explanation for Twomey ending up in the lock-up, anyway. 

During the episode, Birdy (Chris Walley) – still busy conducting the internal investigation that Twomey himself ordered – realises that only three individuals currently serving in the station had been serving since the original Goliath investigation in 1998.

This suggests, then, that Dinger, Twomey, and Brannick are likely suspects in the quest to track down the mysterious assassin responsible for the 1998 disappearances and probable deaths of four people, including Brannick’s wife, shortly before the Good Friday Agreement. 

Bloodlands on BBC One
DCI Brannick (James Nesbitt) and DS McGovern (Charlene McKenna) have been tasked with tracking down an assassin.

Personally, our money would be on Brannick at this point – especially after the troubled cop fatally shot Corry at point-blank range.

However, when it’s revealed that Twomey ran Goliath victim Joe Harkin as an IRA source, the search focuses in on him. And, when Tori (Lisa Dwan) plants evidence in Twoney’s caravan (a Goliath postcard with Adam Corry’s DNA on it), there’s nothing left but for the officers at Dunfolan to arrest him.

Naturally, then, the BBC’s first-ever ‘Irish noir’ has left us with a lot of questions.

Here, Stylist’s Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.

Is Emma Brannick still alive? And, if so, is she the real Goliath?

Think about it; none of the three bodies recovered on an island in the Belfast Lough belong to Brannick’s wife: instead, we have the bones of David Corry, Joe Harkin and Father Simon Quinlan (all long assumed, by those on the inside, to be victims of Goliath).

And why on earth was the former’s skeleton wearing Emma’s owl pendant necklace, hmm? Well, the late Adam (RIP Adam, we barely knew you) gave us food for thought his when he claimed that a) his brother had been having an affair with a married woman, and b) David’s body had been buried wearing a necklace that had been given to him by that very same woman.

“I think Brannick is framing Twomey because he thinks he’s Goliath, but I think Goliath is actually Brannick’s wife,” tweeted one suspicious viewer.

“Everyone say ‘he’ for Goliath, but why can’t ‘he’ be a ‘she’?”

As theories go, we’re into it. Big time. Then again…

What about Tori?

All we know about Tori is this: she’s spent several years living abroad to look after her ailing mother, she’s just returned to Belfast, she was the one who kidnapped Pat Keenan (whoa!), and she has a “painful past,” according to Dwan. 

And… well, we don’t know for sure that Emma was the woman having the affair with David Corry, do we? All we know is this: she was a married woman. 

So, while Brannick might think he’s the one pulling all the strings in his uneasy new alliance with Tori, it might just be that she’s the one manipulating him. Maybe.

Will Brannick fold under the pressure?

We all had Brannick pegged as a cold-blooded killer after last week. However, in his conversation with his daughter, he tells her that he’s “not a good man” and “not what you think.”

Could it be, then, that he’s slowly succumbing to his conscience? Will the guilt he feels from murdering David Corry catch up with him before the end of the series is out?

Or could he be referring to some other dark crime, eh? Perhaps one of a Goliath-shaped nature…?

What are people saying about Bloodlands now?

Over on Twitter, armchair detectives everywhere are throwing their hands up in defeat: they have no clue who Goliath is.

“Having now watched the third episode of Bloodlands, I can honestly say I haven’t got a bloody clue as to what’s going on,” reads one such tweet

“If someone told me I was Goliath, I don’t believe I’d rule out the possibility.”

“Just finished Bloodlands episode three, and after all that drama I think we can all agree on one thing: there’s nowhere looks better than Portaferry at night time,” joked another.

And, of course, there were those who felt that Line Of Duty’s Jed Mercurio – who is serving on BBC One’s Bloodlands as executive producer – needs to bring in Ted Hastings to solve the seemingly unsolvable case.

“Only one man can save this now,” insisted one such viewer.

The next episode of Bloodlands airs on Sunday 14 March at 9pm on BBC One.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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