Bloodlands on BBC One

Bloodlands episode 4 recap: can we please talk about that dark ending?

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

This writer was expecting twist upon twist upon twist in the Bloodlands finale, but sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct one: Belfast detective Tom Brannick (James Nesbitt) is Goliath. Go figure.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t still a few surprises in store, however.

For a while, it seems as if our grizzled anti-hero is hellbent on framing his colleague and pal, DCS Jackie Twomey (Lorcan Cranitch), for his crimes. When Niamh (Charlene McKenna) becomes understandably suspicious of her boss, though, he decides to unearth evidence that gets Jackie off the hook – and thrusts Tori (Lisa Dwan) under the magnifying glass in the process.

For a wee while, Tori believes that Tom has done everything within his power to unveil Goliath. Despite… well, despite all the evidence to the contrary. But then she spots that souvenir-quality owl pendant round his daughter’s neck, puts two and two together, and gently kidnaps Izzy (Lola Petticrew) in a bid to make Tom come clean.

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

What follows is a lot of exposition. A lot

Tom, turning off his phone so he can’t be tracked by his colleagues, rushes to meet with Tori and Izzy in the Mourne Mountains. Izzy, happily chugging wine and cooking dinner in what appears to be a very soundproof kitchen, genuinely believes her dad and Tori are on a date. Which means that, unlike the viewer, she isn’t privy to her dad’s mega confession.

Trembling, her informs Tori that his wife, Emma, was kidnapped in 1998. Her captor, David Corry, forced Tom to murder Joe Harkin and Father Simon Quinlan in order to ensure his wife’s safe return – which our troubled copper did, no questions asked. Only it turned out that Emma hadn’t been abducted, after all; rather, she and David were having a torrid love affair, and they had dreamed up the ruse to get Tom doing their dirty work for them.

Tom shot David at point-blank range, but he says he let Emma go. 

Now, here’s where things get (even m ore) complicated. Tom tells Tori where to find the gun he used to commit the 1998 murders, and she dashes off to uncover it before he can.

In the meantime, he places a call to Pat Keena (Peter Ballance) and informs him a) that Tori was the one who cuffed him naked to a radiator, and b) exactly where to find her. Then, he drives off to meet the pair of them – and learns that Pat has killed poor Tori in an act of vengeance.

With the police due to arrive any moment, Tom shoots Pat, slips that aforementioned incriminating gun into the corpse’s hands, and informs the police that Pat’s Goliath. And, despite everything his colleagues know about Tom’s own shifty behaviour, they fall for the lie hook, line, and sinker.

And so, just like that, the BBC’s first-ever ‘Irish noir’ is over. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t left us with a lot of questions.

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

Is Emma Brannick still alive?

Tom claims that he let his wife go after he killed David Corry, but can he really be trusted? Really? It seems difficult to believe that Emma would just slip away into the ether, never to be heard from again. Especially knowing that her husband had murdered her lover. Especially knowing that she’d never see her baby daughter again if she did so.

Perhaps they’re leaving this one open in the hopes of a season two. After all, Emma’s return would make for a compelling story should the series be renewed.

Tori Matthews (Lisa Dwan) in Bloodlands
Tori Matthews (Lisa Dwan) did not get a happy ending in Bloodlands.

Will justice ever be served?

Look, we may be fond of Nesbitt, and Brannick may have had his hand forced back in 1998, but he’s a cold-blooded killer of his own making now. In fact, you can add the deaths of Tori, Pat, and Adam Corry (Ian McElhinney) to his grisly Goliath roster.

It seems strange that he walks away at the end of this series, with nary a whisper of an arrest in the works. In fact, when Jackie finds Tom crouched beside Tori and Jackie’s lifeless bodies, he immediately tells his officers to lower their guns. And, when he spots the gun in Pat’s stiffening fingers, he recognises it on sight as Goliath’s weapon of choice. On sight.

“Do you think he could be Goliath?” he asks his deeply suspicious colleague.

Naturally, Brannick says he does. And, after a brief chinwag in the interrogation room, he walks out of the police station like Verbal at the end of The Usual Suspects. And nobody, not even our beloved Niamh, says a word to stop him.

Did Izzy really not hear anything while she was in the kitchen?

Izzy seemingly still believes that her dad and Tori, despite all the trembling tearful confessions, were on a date. In fact, when she pops out to check on them and sees Tori isn’t there, she rolls her eyes at her dad and asks him to go after her.

But… surely she must have heard something? And surely, when the police learn from Izzy that Tori was allegedly on a date with Brannick, they’d have a few more questions for him? Like, for example, why did he dash off in a horrified panic when she called him? 


Will there be a season two of Bloodlands?

“You never want to jinx it, but I would love for there to be a season two,” McKenna tells Stylist, adding that “there’s definitely scope for it.” 

“Please hopefully the audience love it, and the demand’s there, and we get to put our lanyards back on. Because, weather aside, we had a really special time making it.”

Bloodlands is available to stream now via BBC iPlayer.

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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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