Noughts & Crosses episode 5: how the TV show will end differently to the book

Posted by for Life

In the fifth episode of Noughts & Crosses, it becomes abundantly clear that the TV show is telling a different story to Malorie Blackman’s YA novel.

Warning: as you’ve no doubt guessed, this article contains spoilers for BBC One’s Noughts & Crosses. Read on at your own peril…

It’s a terrible start to the episode for Meggie when she finds out that her husband has died from a newsreader on the TV, and Helen Baxendale’s portrayal of her character’s confusion and grief as she waits to hear what happened is heartbreaking. The McGregors are soon told that Ryan (Ian Hart) killed himself, but their suspicions are raised when they aren’t given any details or allowed to see his body. 

Before long, Jude (Josh Dylan) is approached by Dorn (Shaun Dingwall), who hints that his father’s apparent suicide was really the government’s way of silencing him. Jude takes this back to his family and, although he initially brushes it off, Callum (Jack Rowan) eventually starts to question if there’s some truth to the theory.

Sephy (Masali Baduza) doesn’t want to listen to Callum’s accusations. Why? Because… well, because look at what they say about her own father. And so, despite what it might mean for her and Callum’s relationship, she is by Kamal (Paterson Joseph)’s side at his public inauguration ceremony.

It is here that the now-Prime Minister emphasises the need for public safety and tighter security controls. In fact, one of Kamal’s first moves in his new role is throwing out his predecessor’s proposed Interracial Bill, asserting that “our priority no longer lies in the appeasement of noughts, but in the enforcement of greater segregation laws”. 

While her husband condemns interracial relationships, Jasmine (Bonnie Mbuli) confides in Meggie that she is happy their children have found love, although she is also “extremely fearful” for them. And Meggie has another heart-to-heart later on with Yaro (Luke Bailey), when he tells her he’s leaving: Kamal can never be the father he needs. 

Meggie, though, urges him not to allow himself to be paid off and hidden, saying: “We’ve got to speak out against hypocrisy and stand up for the truth. That’s the only way things will ever change.”

Also appealing for the truth is Sephy, who begs her father to hold a public inquiry into Ryan’s death. He refuses, telling her that Ryan was beaten to death after trying to attack a guard and that it’s better the McGregors don’t know that. He also reveals that he knows about her relationship with Callum, and promptly informs her that it will never work. 

Kamal has a similar message for Callum when he confronts him later on, painting a picture for his future with Sephy that is filled with deprivation, disappointment and eventual resentment. And, when he asks “Don’t you think she deserves better?”, the young man is visibly heartbroken.

Callum tries to talk to Sephy but, unfortunately, he turns up at her house just as she is making peace with her ex-boyfriend Lekan (Jonathan Ajayi) and witnesses them hugging. 

Frustrated, Callum returns home to find his brother reminiscing about their father. Jude says: “I’ll never forgive myself and I’ll never forget what he gave up for me, but what he sacrificed will mean nothing if we aren’t truly free.” He tells Callum that the LM’s direction is shifting and convinces him to meet Dorn to make an informed decision. At their meeting, the rebel leader offers Callum the truth about how Ryan really died at a cost, handing him a gun and an address.

At home, Sephy finds her mother, Meggie, Minerva (Kiké Brimah) and Yaro waiting to talk to her. Minerva doesn’t want to believe Yaro is her brother but Jasmine is more easily swayed, branding her husband a “hypocrite”. She also encourages Sephy to follow her heart. 

Meanwhile, Callum enters a house and waits inside until the occupant – the prison guard who was kind to Ryan – arrives home. After Callum ties him up and angrily demands the truth about what happened to his father, the scared guard reveals that “it weren’t no suicide” but there were orders from the warden, or “maybe higher even”, to cover it up. 

Seconds later, the guard is shot by a mysterious figure behind Callum, who turns out to be… Dorn. Of course.

As Sephy leaves a voicemail for Callum telling him that she wants them to be together, he helps Dorn bury the body of the guard, wiping blood from his face. When he returns home, he thanks his mother “for everything you do for me and Jude”, before Sephy turns up to excitedly tell him she wants to build a life with him.

“From now on, you come first,” she promises. “Always”. 

Callum, though, insists he doesn’t feel the same.

“I can’t love you Sephy,” he says, “not with who I am or where I’m going.” 

She tries to protest but, before she can say anything more, Jude pulls up in a car and calls Callum away. Meggie runs outside as her sons drive off, leaving her and Sephy watching on in shock.

Phew. Following that plot twist, I have so many questions I need answered in next week’s final episode.

Is Callum lost to the LM? And what does this mean for his relationship with Sephy?

After consistently calling out the LM’s actions, Callum’s grief and anger have pulled him in to their group. Now that he’s caught up in the murder of an innocent man, will he ever be able to leave them behind? Surely this spells the end for him and Sephy – or can their love overcome even this obstacle?  

Will Yaro take Meggie up on her offer?

Meggie tries to persuade Yaro to help her expose his father’s lies, but will he? It’s no mean feat to take on the most powerful man in the country, after all, but Kamal has big secrets. The kind of big secrets that could destroy his entire political career if unveiled. 

It’ll be intriguing to see how this plays out…

Noughts & Crosses: Will Yaro take Meggie up on her offer?
Noughts & Crosses: Will Yaro take Meggie up on her offer?

Where will the series end?

I know how the novel that inspired this show concludes but it’s clear that the TV series is telling a different story. It’s no surprise, then, that author Malorie Blackman has said that the adaptation only cover 2/3 of the events in the book.

With this in mind, I am keen to see where the finale takes us and how things will be wrapped up. Will Sephy and Callum get a happier ending than that seen in the book? An even worse one? An ambiguous cliffhanger, maybe?

 Also, does this mean there will be another series? Fingers crossed!

Don’t miss out: sign up to the Stylist Daily email for a curated edit of brilliant content every day

The final episode of Noughts and Crosses will air on Thursday 9 April at 9pm. 

See the recap of episode four here.

Images: courtesy of BBC One

Share this article

Recommended by Caroline Carpenter