Bloodlands season 2 ending explained: What happened in the finale of the James Nesbitt police drama?

If you have questions, we're here with answers

Tom Brannick played by James Nesbitt, and Olivia Foyle played by Victoria Smurfitt in Bloodlands season 2
(Image credit: Steffan Hill/BBC/Future)

The second series of the police procedural came to a shocking end, with lots to take in - let us break it all down for you.

Bloodlands season 2 saw enigmatic widow Olivia Foyle take centre stage in the storyline. Played by Victoria Smurfit, Foyle becomes close to James Nesbitt’s DCI Brannick, when he’s responsible for investigating the riddle her murdered husband left behind. Brannick is led to some crooked accountants throughout the course of the investigation, and with this comes a trail threatening to expose his secret identity as the assassin Goliath. DS Niamh McGovern, DCS Jackie Twomey, DC 'Birdy' Bird, and even Brannick’s daughter Izzy are part of the investigation and he is forced to go to new and extreme lengths to keep his identity secret. So what exactly went down in the series 2 finale? We will break it down and clear up any unanswered questions.

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Bloodlands season 2: Ending explained

Bloodlands season 2 ended with everyone involved in the investigation believing Robert Dardis killed Colin Foyle, but he had really been killed by Tom

Niamh had previously presented the theory everyone came to believe, suggesting that Robert Dardis and Colin Foyle buried the gold together at his wife’s grave, and Dardis turned on Foyle and killed him. The detectives thought Dardis believed Foyle planned to keep the gold for themselves, and this caused him to murder Foyle. Nobody yet suspected Tom had struck yet again. 

Visiting land owned by Foyle, Birdy’s body was found inside a barn, leaving Niamh devastated. DCS Jackie Twomey finds a clump of Olivia’s hair on his body, but this must’ve been planted by Tom in the hope Olivia would get the blame. The connection between Tom and Birdy’s death could be a plotline for another potential season. 

Izzy was kidnapped by Ryan Savage, who wanted to trade her for the gold. Tom and Olivia went along with this, giving him the gold back in order to get Izzy back safely. Although pleased to see her dad, Izzy now knows that he is crooked, and is secretly sleeping with Olivia. As the gold was handed over and Izzy safely in her father’s arms, an explosion is heard. Tom had rigged the bags with explosives and Ryan is hurt in the blast.

When it becomes clear he hasn’t been fatally wounded and tries to get up, Tom grabs one of the gold bars and beats him around the head while Izzy watches in horror. Lying in a pool of blood, although Ryan survived the blast, he is now definitely dead. Panicked by Tom’s actions, Olivia makes a grab for his phone - Ryan had told her if he didn’t make contact with his people within 20 minutes of the gold handover, her son would be killed.  

However, the phone is in pieces and she is unable to make contact. At this point Olivia reaches for a gun and aims it at Tom, saying she no longer needs him. Izzy acts quickly to grab the gun and shoots Olivia, who dies instantly. 

Lola Petticrew as Izzy Brannick in Bloodlands

(Image credit: Peter Marley/BBC)

Does Niamh know that Tom killed Robert Dardis?

Although not completely clear if Niamh knows that Tom killed Robert Dardis, she certainly has her suspicions about him. 

When Niamh tells Tom about an eyewitness account placing Robert Dardis in a car with a mystery driver the night he was murdered, Tom panics. He tells the officers responsible for tracing the image, to send it to him immediately. The picture is left on Tom's desk, but PC Judith Kenny has already seen it and recognised Tom as the unidentified driver. 

She then sends the image to Niamh, who hasn't displayed any outward knowledge that she knows it was Tom who killed him so far in the episode. She has been suspicious of Tom in the past, with no real evidence to back it up. With real evidence at her disposal, she is last seen tracking his phone and heading to his location. If this is to confront him over what she's found out, she might be the next person to end up dead. 

Charlene McKenna as Niamh McGovern in Bloodlands

(Image credit: Steffan Hill/BBC)

Bloodlands season 2: Reviews

Jack Seale from The Guardian wasn't impressed with season 2 of Bloodlands. He offered 2 out of 5 stars, and wrote "James Nesbitt’s meaningful stares are laugh-out-loud funny.  After the first season’s big reveal, there’s no suspense left in this crime drama’s plot. So instead, the actors fall back on pained looks and sly side-eyes – until it becomes unwittingly hilarious".

Anita Singh from The Telegraph was only slightly more enthusiastic, offering 3 out of 5 stars. She said "It’s pretty bleak (do they have sunshine in Northern Ireland? This show suggests not) and consists largely of Nesbitt looking shifty, angry, stressed or sinister. The tense soundtrack from composer Ruth Barrett is back, and so dominant that at times it feels like a theme tune with a small drama attached. Dramas can feel like a bit of a slog when the central character is unlikeable and potentially everyone is lying. We can’t trust anything that Brannick says. We can’t trust anything that the widow (Victoria Smurfit) says. And I’m not sure if we’re meant to trust Det Chief Supt Jackie Twomey (Lorcan Cranitch) or not".

The show also has mixed audience reviews on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. One audience member offered 5 stars, saying "Complicated but well presented "who done it". Makes you want to stay up late to find out what comes out in the next episode. Keep track of the characters and evidence or you will find yourself rewatching to be sure you "understand". What you saw. Good challenging thriller without all the blood and gore so prevalent in most other crime shows".

However, another offered 1 star, saying "This series is so bad. How Nesbitt gets an IFTA nomination for his role in this shambles is beyond me. I felt like I was constantly watching the "Eastenders stare", you know the gloomy, perplexed look of the cast members which take up most of the episodes. The only line Nesbitt was short of in this was 'I gotta dash out, look after the stall for us would ya?!' The creator / director tried so hard to make this a 'gripping' series, they failed miserably. I would expand on my reasons for leaving such a poor review but to be honest my head begins to hurt when I actually recall the many, many woeful scenes. Trust me on this, you'd be better off cleaning your windows for four hours rather than watching this series. At least that would be constructive!"

Jonjo O'Neill as Ryan Savage in Bloodlands

(Image credit: Steffan Hill/BBC)

Will there be a season 3 of Bloodlands?

There has been no official announcement about Bloodlands returning for season 3, and season 2 ratings have been much lower than season 1 - indicating cause for possible cancellation. 

Some Twitter fans were calling for a season 3, with one saying "#bbc. #bloodlands. Bring on series 3. Too many cliff hangers for there not to be one. Excellent series. Another added "They can’t leave it like that!! Series 3?? #Bloodlands"

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However, another viewer wrote "I stuck with this series with the expectation it would be the last Jeez, dragging it out for series 3!!! #Bloodlands." Another agreed, saying "Not sure I liked that ending, too much unfinished. I’m not sure I’d like a series 3 either #Bloodlands."

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Lucy Wigley
TV writer - contributing

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.