The Capture, episode 6 recap: no easy answers in this unexpected finale

Shaun Emery in The Capture - BBC
Shaun Emery in The Capture - BBC

The morally murky surveillance thriller reached its tense and twisty climax. But what was real? What was faked? And how did Donald Trump become embroiled in the fiction? Here's everything that happened in a highly satisfying series finale.

Manhunt for Shaun was in full swing

“When’s that little b-----d going to get caught?” asked imprisoned terror suspect Faisal Demali (Adetomiwa Edun) about fugitive serviceman Lance Corporal Shaun Emery (Callum Turner).

The plan to expose the “Correction” image manipulation conspiracy hinged on Shaun getting framed for the murder of barrister Hannah Roberts (Laura Haddock) and being forced to turn to the activists for help, since they were the only ones who could exonerate him with the un-doctored CCTV footage of Hannah’s faked abduction.

Emery was holed up with DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) at her parents’ house recovering from his wounds and having Helmand flashbacks. Meanwhile in the kitchen, Rachel hid the SIM card holding crucial CCTV footage of Hannah safely on the bus, proving Emery’s innocence, inside a kilner jar of rice.

They’d joined forces to fight Correction and lay bare how it had infected the judicial process but both their lives were at risk. As sinister forces closed in around them, things were about to get personal.

Famke Janssen arrived to clean up the mess

A new player entered the shadow game in the shape of sleek Jessica Mallory (former Bond girl and X-Men star Famke Janssen), stepping off a plane from Washington DC to surprise CIA station chief Frank Napier (Ron Perlman) – while looking disapprovingly at a newspaper headlined “Police hunt for CCTV soldier continues”.

Mallory meant business, having been sent over by the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) to investigate the “soldier fiasco”. Napier assured her that Emery was about to be found. Remember his final orders last week? “Find out which school his daughter goes to…”

Famke Janssen as Jessica Mallory - Credit: BBC
Famke Janssen as Jessica Mallory Credit: BBC

Spooks used Shaun’s daughter as leverage

Cut to Emery watching BBC News break the story that his six-year-old daughter Jaycee (Tianna Ellie Gregory) had been abducted from school – and guess who the culprit caught on CCTV was? That’s right, Shaun himself, in more chillingly deep-faked “Correction” footage.

Despite Carey’s instructions to lie low, Shaun was soon en route to the office of his duplicitous solicitor Charlie (Barry Ward), assuming it was his cabal who’d faked the footage. As he brutally beat up Charlie, demanding to know Jaycee’s whereabouts, DSU Gemma Garland (Lia Williams) arrived on the scene.

She agreed to let Jaycee go if Emery gave himself up – but he demanded to see his daughter first. As Charlie lay battered and bruised on the floor, Garland helpfully called him an ambulance, albeit not your regular kind.

Carey became a thorn in Correction’s side

Carey’s former boss and lover Commander Danny Hart (Ben Miles) was rattled by his principled protégée being on the warpath. He wanted to “turn this problem into an opportunity” by recruiting Rachel to the Correction programme.

MI5 plant Garland rumbled that she was more than just Hart’s “truffle hog” on counter-terror bust Operation Sycamore. Her doubts about obdurate Carey’s compliance grew when she arrived at Napier’s safehouse to deliver an ultimatum.

She demanded that the charges against Emery be dropped, his daughter returned and her own suspension lifted – or she’d send the bus footage to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Office of Police Conduct within the hour. As Napier amusingly growled: “F---ing millennials.” Kudos to Carey for also mentioning she could only be disciplined by an officer two ranks higher – surely a respectful nod to BBC stablemate Line of Duty.

Lia Williams as DSU Gemma Garland - Credit: BBC
Lia Williams as DSU Gemma Garland Credit: BBC

Could Rachel be turned to the dark side?

Hart laid out the Correction strategy to Carey. Terror suspects on MI5’s radar often couldn’t be arrested because phone intercepts and wiretaps weren’t admissible in court. However, CCTV footage was – hence Correction “turns intelligence into evidence”.

Carey scoffed at his insistence that the end justified the means, dismissing it as “the torturer’s defence”. They’d murdered a barrister and kidnapped a child but Hart claimed Correction had still saved countless lives from extremists. The programme needed fresh blood to help steer it in the right direction and Carey could make a difference. Rachel was having none of it – especially when Hart brought their affair into it as evidence of Carey’s “unconventional morals”.

Garland convinced Hart to “let me take it from here”. She and Napier showed Rachel the hi-tech Correction nerve centre, explaining how it was a cross-agency op between MI5, GCHQ and the CIA, monitoring 23,000 “POIs” (persons of interests) including jihadists and neo-Nazis. They were taking online images from suspects’ social media feeds and compiling a database of 3D avatars, so they could fake their crimes for video footage. Scary stuff – which was about to take a further dark twist.

Rachel was foiled and Shaun confessed – or did he?

When Carey’s loyal sidekick, the laconically hangdog DS Patrick Flynn (Cavan Clerkin) – arguably the cult hero of the series – tried to send the Emery-exonerating bus footage to the authorities at the appointed hour, only to find that his USB stick had been mysteriously corrupted. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, Napier’s heavies initially took Emery to the flat where they were holding Jaycee. His daughter was wary at first but he won her round by reading her The Jungle Book, telling her about his own encounter with a bear in the Afghan mountains and cleverly repurposing some curtain rings as bracelets. They spent some sweet dad-and-daughter time together before Napier took Jaycee back to her mother Karen (Sophia Brown) and Emery handed himself in as agreed.

Ron Perlman as Frank Napier - Credit: BBC
Ron Perlman as Frank Napier Credit: BBC

Napier and Garland then showed the shocked Carey a live stream of police HQ, where Shaun was confessing all to DS Nadia Latif (Ginny Holder). Carey was convinced the feed was faked but they coolly assured her it was all too real.

As Carey stormed out of the CIA safehouse, she passed Charlie – still on a stretcher and set to be tortured for information about the anti-Correction activists. She’d seriously underestimated who they were up against. Napier always seemed one step ahead.

She dashed across town and demanded of Emery: “What did they do to you?” The interview was suspended but the scales were abut to fall from Carey’s eyes.

Head-spinning scene saw Shaun framed again

Twist time. A flashback to the Jaycee handover showed Napier telling Shaun he’d only experienced the “standard edition” of Correction. Now we saw its frighteningly advanced techniques.

Cameras had been planted all over the room where Shaun had been playing with Jaycee – even inside the cuddly toys. If Napier’s tech team now “got creative” with the live images they’d gathered, they could use “100 per cent photo-real manipulation” to frame Shaun for pretty much anything. Napier heavily hinted this could include child abuse.

The alternative? Co-operate by pleading guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility and getting a lenient sentence. Shaun would claim he killed Hannah during an involuntary violent blackout, a symptom of PTSD from risking his life in Afghanistan. Indeed, by “helping us silence those who plot against us” (cut to the anti-Correction activists), he’d still be serving his country.

Shaun sacrificed his freedom to protect his country and family – not least due to guilt, as we would soon learn.

Famke Janssen  - Credit: BBC
Famke Janssen Credit: BBC

Would Carey join the Correction unit?

Silvery spook Garland approached Rachel at Emery’s trial to find out her intentions. The evidence incriminated Shaun but the activists’ video, since uploaded to YouTube, suggested he was innocent. Carey’s bus footage could have the casting vote – if only they hadn’t corrupted the files.

Garland pointed out the potentially catastrophic impact of exposing Correction. Two decades of cases would be called into question. Criminals would claim they’d been set up and demand retrials. Nobody would ever believe video evidence again. She even shifted the blame onto foreign foes: “China started it. Russia followed. How could the West compete without it?”

Correction had been used to frame both the Sycamore plotters and Faisal Demali but Garland spun it as “images we know happened”. They knew Demali was stockpiling hydrogen peroxide to blow up a shopping centre. Phone tracking put him at the right location but they had no admissible proof. Correction was “not fake evidence, it was truth re-enacted”.

By joining them, Carey could help use it as a force for good in espionage and counter-terrorism. After all she’d been through, would Carey bite?

Emery wasn’t so innocent in the end

When Karen visited Shaun in prison, she revealed that Carey had visited both her and Shaun’s grandad to tell them he hadn’t done the things he was accused of. So why plead guilty?

Emery called it “justice catching up with me”. He had murdered that Taliban member in Helmand Province after all, even as he was begging for his life. Karen admitted she’d suspected as much all along.

She also gave him a photograph of herself and Jaycee, for Shaun to pin on his cell wall. This raised hopes of a reunion and the three becoming a family again. After all, her new fella Francis (Dustin Demri-Burns) was pathologically useless. Seventeen missed calls indeed.

Corruption went right to top of Trump Tower

When Napier returned to the safehouse, he discovered Mallory leaving with treasonous whistleblower Eli Jacobi (Alexander Forsyth) in “a soft rendition” – a diplomatic move to appease the White House. Now it was time for the scales to fall from Frank’s eyes.

Mallory said they needed plots like Eli’s to semi-succeed, so Correction could become a conspiracy theory. After all, if the public can’t trust what they see on CCTV, people caught committing misdeeds on camera stood to gain – including “an individual far above our pay-grade”. The President, perhaps? Napier confirmed as much by referring to such rumours as “an alternative fact”.

“Where there’s doubt and confusion, there’s deniability,” agreed Mallory – before hinting she might have embedded more moles on Napier’s team. His tenure would continue but Washington would be watching. And quite possibly tweeting from the toilet.

If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em

In the closing sequence, we saw that Rachel still had that crucial SIM card. She removed it from the jar of rice and hid it in a framed photo of her late mother. An insurance policy, presumably.

Pouting purposefully as she strode down the Met’s corridors of power, she interrupted Garland and Hart in a Correction conflab. “When can I start?” asked Carey. Roll credits. She’d decided to fight Correction and manage its effects on the justice system from the inside. Well, like Garland said, she was smart – a lot smarter than Hannah Roberts. 

Poised for potential second series

Was this a narratively neat finale? Certainly. We might have wanted her to blow off the lid in an ideal world but realistically, Carey was never likely to fully expose Correction. Instead this was a smart, streetwise resolution that harked back to classic paranoid conspiracy thrillers.

Writer-director Ben Chanan’s thought-provoking series arguably could have been “this year’s Bodyguard” if it was scheduled in that drama’s prestigious 9pm-on-Sundays slot. Instead it was tucked away on Tuesdays, partially clashing with The Great British Bake Off, which didn’t help its ratings.  Still, The Capture pulled in respectable figures, it’s been a riveting ride and that ending left it tantalising poised for a second series – presumably with DI Carey (and hopefully DS Flynn) tackling a new case.

We await news of a recommission with interest. In the meantime, be careful what pictures you upload to social media and remember to peer up quizzically at every CCTV camera you pass.