Roadkill: Hugh Laurie as Peter Laurence.

Roadkill episode 4 recap: viewers express anger over ‘total cop-out’ ending

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Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode four of BBC One’s Roadkill, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the political thriller

The final episode of BBC One’s Roadkill was… well, it was an interesting one, to say the least.

Government minister Peter Laurence (Hugh Laurie) sailed happily into Number 10, after effortlessly ousting PM Dawn Ellison (Helen McCrory) from the top spot.

His many enemies – Rochelle Madeley (Pippa Bennett-Warner), Margaret Moore (Katie Leung), and Luke Strand (Danny Ashok) – were unable (or unwilling, in some cases) to do anything to stop him. 

The press, too, proved powerless, refusing to publish any negative stories about the public’s favourite politician in the run-up to the election.

And Peter’s illegitimate daughter Rose (Shalom Brune-Franklin), too, seemed far less of an obstacle to his success than we predicted, too. 

All it took was a kiss on the cheek, a promise to be there for her, and voila! She was well and truly on her old dad’s side.

Elsewhere, Julia Blythe (Olivia Vinall), whom we long assumed would be the key to the minister’s downfall, suddenly switched allegiances to become Peter’s closest ally.

And even Peter’s long-suffering wife, Helen (Saskia Reeves), pasted on a smile for the cameras outside No. 10 before stepping through that famous black door and into a loveless marriage.

All in all, it was a horribly realistic ending, which meant that some viewers found it deeply, deeply unsatisfying. 

Why? Well, because they wanted justice for Sarah Greene’s Charmian, damn it! They wanted Peter to face the consequences of his actions! They wanted a PM who wasn’t actively seeking to privatise the NHS! And they wanted a happy bloody ending, goddamn it!

Cue an outpouring of outrage on Twitter.

“An unsatisfactory ending made David Hare’s Roadkill,” tweeted one viewer, blasting the finale as “curiously bathetic”. 

“The final episode felt like it should have been the penultimate, [with the knowledge] that all would be resolved next time.”

“I reckon they’re assuming there will be a second series [of Roadkill] so they can delay the reveal/resolution until after there have been lots more twists and scandals,” another hazarded hopefully.

And one more tweeted angrily: “Roadkill was a real disappointment I thought, apart from Hugh Laurie himself. Clunky script, annoying piano rift ALL THE TIME, somehow seemed dated and misogynistic too. 

“Hopelessly unsatisfactory ending.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that many guessed the ending correctly weeks ago, after they decided that Laurie’s character had been based upon our very own Boris Johnson.

“It’s going to end with Peter Laurence as Prime Minister isn’t it?” tweeted one viewer excitedly.

“The lying cheating corrupt man is Boris, isn’t he?”

However, it’s worth noting that writer David Hare has insisted that Peter is very much a work of fiction.

“So much television drama is now based on documentary events that it is hard to remember the primary trigger for fiction is meant to be the imagination,” he said. 

“My hero, Peter Laurence, is not based on anyone. Nor are the other characters. Mine is a parallel world to the real one, and there is no secret passage between the two. You will be wasting your time if you think that the purpose of the series is to work out who everyone is ‘meant to be’. In Roadkill, neither Covid nor Brexit consume every politician’s waking hour.”

Writer Hare added: “I first worked with Hugh Laurie in 1987 when he set off on his riveting change of direction from adroit comedian to commanding dramatic actor.

“I can’t wait to see him embody the fictional future of the Conservative party in Roadkill.”

Read our Roadkill episode three recap.

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Images: 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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