Warning! This feature contains spoilers for the final episode of The Capture
It’s been a difficult month for my paranoia. You as well? I blame BBC One’s The Capture.
Six weeks ago, we were introduced to a distressing (but interesting and hopefully still fictional) concept: that live CCTV recordings can be hacked and manipulated. The technology to create a video showing someone doing something incriminating without them even being there could exist. Think deep fakes gone wild at the hands of our national intelligence teams. ‘Corrected’ surveillance footage of an ex-soldier attacking his lawyer while, in reality, said ex-soldier is at home in bed.
That’s how we were first introduced to Shaun Emery’s (Callum Turner) story. We were on his side. Yes, we may be unwaveringly besotted by our bad boy fallen soldier. But when he said he didn’t kill Hannah Roberts (Laura Haddock), one half of the legal team who used a faulty video footage claim to overturn his charge for murdering someone in Afghanistan, we believed him. His innocence had already been proven once and, for Christ’s sake, can’t we just let the man spend some time with his daughter?
But by the time we arrived at the last episode of this tense and twisty miniseries, so many lines (and narratives) had been blurred that we didn’t know who to trust anymore. DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) and her sidekick Patrick (the officer who was originally sceptical of Rachel being fast-tracked through the police force) have evidence that proves Hannah did in fact get on the bus and that Shaun didn’t kill her. They are prepared to leak it if they have to. These guys are trying to fight the good fight and bring down the hidden enemies within our apparently fraught justice system. All with an SD card that’s safely hidden in a jar of rice.
Then we’ve got Hellboy, Silver Fox and Boss Lady. You’ll know them as CIA officer Frank Napier (played by actual Hellboy Ron Perlman), SO15 boss-cum-classic power-deluded adulterer Danny Hart (Ben Miles) and DSU Gemma Garland (Lia Williams) who arrived out of nowhere to take over the investigation from Rachel. They’re the dark triad leading government corrections in the UK. Oh, and surprise! They were also the team who tampered with evidence in the terrorism case that Rachel had previously worked on (and supposedly won). Rachel was their pawn and now she’s even more pissed off. Our girl is annoying, defiant and not about to be bested by her stuffy old superiors.
“Correction turns intelligence into evidence and keeps terrorists off the streets,” Silver Fox Danny defiantly tells Rachel when she smugly arrives at the secret correction headquarters. He wants to bring her on to their secret corrections team now, despite having spent the previous episodes trying to throw her off their scent and stop her from telling his wife that they had been sleeping together. The consensus at Refinery29 HQ is that he is a smug, contentious scumbag, as per our elaborate WhatsApp group chat throughout the final episode…
We were just about able to keep up with everyone’s roles in this elaborate operation. But we have to admit that the final instalment introduced a few questionable characters that none of us could quite get our head around. We also really noticed when women of The Capture were dealt short (and backstory-less) straws despite their surface-level importance to the narrative.
Early on in the last episode we see Famke Janssen. She glamorously descends from a private jet into an ominous black 4×4, which tells us she’s probably one of the baddies. We later find out that she’s loosely Frank’s (Hellboy) superior in the CIA and has swooped into London to assert some authority, sort out their messy attempts to find Shaun and quash the false Soldier Kills Solicitor narrative over which all sides have lost control.
By now, the dark triad have caught on to the fact that there’s a mole within their covert corrections team and that this whole thing was actually orchestrated by Hannah Roberts’ team of rebels who want to expose the whole concept of government CCTV correction to the public (we found this out in all the flashbacks in episode five). Hannah was killed by the people she was trying to take down, though, so this all went very wrong, very quickly.
Eli is the mole, but no one in the rebel group (the team consisting of Shaun’s other solicitor Charlie, and a group of people connected to other victims of correction) really trusts him. Do we ever find out why Eli betrayed his job with Hellboy to help our justice warriors frame Shaun for a crime he didn’t commit? Of course not. That would be too helpful. There are no neatly packaged conclusions in deeply troubling conspiracy dramas, my friends. Only wild raves in abandoned warehouses used as a cover for Hannah and Charlie’s secret anti-correction meetings, obviously.
Rachel’s sister Abigail remains an enigma, too. Conveniently, she’s the only occupant at their parents’ house in the London suburbs and is just desperate to forge a relationship with her distant older sibling. Abigail willingly houses Shaun while he’s in hiding and, before you jump ahead, yes, we know that surely any location connected to the now-suspended DI Rachel would have been tracked by Hellboy and Boss Lady’s covert surveillance team. After all, Rachel knows too much and has long made it clear that she’s a Shaun supporter. But as our Lifestyle Director, Jess points out: “Um, actually, no because she [Rachel] doesn’t talk to her family because of some backstory that no one really understood? And everyone who’s ANYONE knows she doesn’t go to her parents’ house.” Dots half-arsedly connected.
So, at this not so secret semi-detached hideout, Abigail wants to cook breakfast for Shaun while Rachel goes to confront the dark triad. She offers him avocado on toast (which he turns down) followed by bacon and eggs (oh, go on then), but while she gets to work in the kitchen, he makes a run for it. Thanks to our old friend Fake News, he’s just seen a report of him kidnapping his daughter Jaycee from school. It’s okay, though, because we know that the clever correction people fabricated some CCTV footage to make it look like Shaun abducted the only thing he loves in this world to draw him out of hiding. And it works.
For a moment it looks like all paths are finally going to cross. Shaun throws menacing stares to CCTV cameras as he marches over to Charlie’s office to demand intel on where his daughter is. This, of course, leads Boss Lady to Charlie as the man behind the corrected CCTV footage of Shaun attacking Hannah. But then the hope we had been carrying in our hearts for some sort of resolution is crushed by a few frustrating tangents.
Remember Eli? He’s inexplicably taken off by Famke in what she “believes is termed a soft rendition”. They want to half-expose the correction programme to protect the interests of someone high up in the US government, which is wildly upsetting and doesn’t make anyone feel any safer at all. After a pep talk about how swiftly correction is going to advance, Hellboy threatens to manipulate CCTV footage of Shaun playing with his daughter into something more sinister. Next thing you know Shaun is in court pleading guilty to Hannah’s manslaughter, despite fighting so hard to clear his name. Disappointing but understandable, right?
But then there’s our girl Rachel, who is clearly still fuming about the whole thing but seems to have resigned herself to doing nothing about it. She pops back to her parents’ house with the SD card containing the video proving Hannah was alive when Shaun last saw her. She hides it behind a photo of her and her mum (who passed away, remember? This snippet of knowledge is somehow meant to be the entire justification for her personality) and marches over to the dark triad to demand to be part of their corrections team. Does she have ulterior motives? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we were cheated out of the explosive ending that we were built up to anticipate after six menacing weeks of dodging surveillance cameras and researching deep fakes out here in the real world. Too much doesn’t make sense. Too much has been left to our fragile imaginations. Too much happened without enough reassuring reference to the fact that there might be Justice For Shaun. And even if there were one, I’m not sure our hearts could handle a second series to see that happen.
The Capture is available on BBC iPlayer
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