The Undeclared War on Channel 4: Ending explained and will there be a season 2?

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

a medium shot of actor Simon Peg in a still from The Undeclared War
(Image credit: Future/Channel 4)

The Undeclared War is dividing critics and fans as it draws to a close.

The Undeclared War is a political thriller set in 2024 starring Simon Pegg. The series follows a team of analysts at GCHQ fighting a secret battle warding off cyber-attacks on the UK as a general election approaches. When she uncovers some code designed to attack the UK just before the election takes place, GCHQ intern Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown) finds herself on the invisible frontline of cyber warfare with much at stake. Staying ahead of her opponents is challenging, with unpredictable enemies at every turn. Saara is left wondering how to win a secret battle the public don’t know is happening. A gripping watch, many want that tense ending of The Undeclared War explained and details of a potential second season.

TV fans seeking further thrillers are urged to watch The Midwich Cuckoos starring Keeley Hawes. Whilst Netflix true crime documentaries have also had audiences on the edge of their seats this month - from the unbelievable (and unsolved) case of hijacker D.B Cooper (opens in new tab) to the story of convicted kidnapper Franklin D Floyd (opens in new tab) in Girl in the Picture

The Undeclared War: Ending explained

The Undeclared War ending left a lot to viewers' imaginations. But one thing that was cleared up was what Russia’s completely fictitious final objective is - an attempt to influence international and UK public opinion and spread fake news. 

In the penultimate episode, the GCHQ team watched in horror when one of their own, John Yeabsley, appeared on a Russian TV program. He could be seen openly claiming that Britain staged the Russian cyberattacks and had been deceiving and upsetting Russia all along, not the other way around. 

Saara, the new but very skilled intern, is in shock over the possibility that John could have betrayed them. However, during the finale, she determines that Russia had falsified the broadcast because it showed him committing a very clear grammatical error - something the diligent John would never do.

All season long, Russian hackers had been working on a campaign of social media posts, both pro-Russia and anti-Russia to influence Britain’s public opinion for the next general election.

And before long, Russian TV declares that Britain has been hitting hospitals and other important sites in Russia in retaliation for their “false” cyberattacks. The United States, horrified by the faked images, withdraws its assistance and the partnership between GCHQ and the US National Security Agency is even threatened by data dumps that occurred during the attacks. 

Saara then goes to the home of Gabriel, a fellow cyber genius and employee of GCHQ, in an attempt to find the source of the leaks in a seemingly pointless string of “junk” codes. He soon discovers something hidden in the “garbage”: a code for collecting and emailing GCHQ data. 

Saara is horrified and tries to cut off the Russians, who are seen watching the proceedings on a big screen at their own HQ. Vadim Trusov is one among the Russians observing, though he seems disgusted by what’s unfolding. 

Gabriel eventually assumes control after Saara is unable to break the FSB’s link, despite one of the Russians menacingly telling her coworkers that they already have “more than enough” information. 

In response to the Russians, the military launches a counter attack, though Saara’s boss Danny believes that’s exactly what they wanted them to do. War is unquestionably on the verge of being declared by the time The Undeclared War’s conclusion reaches its last moments.

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Is Vadim dead?

With one final look at the camera, Vadim's line goes dead, leaving his future unconfirmed, but it's likely his final act was a selfless and fatal sacrifice on his part and he is now dead. 

Tears fall down Saara’s face as she turns away from the computer screen he’d been talking to them from as the credits start to roll.

Before his untimely end in the finale, a disgusted and disillusioned Vadim translates a video for Saara of a lecture being given to employees about the Russian plan to destabilize, cause chaos and instill distrust in Britain ready for the opportune moment.

Vadim had previously told Saara he would be killed for giving her any information, but in the final episode he reveals he no longer cares about his own safety as “this is too essential." Sadly, he is caught translating the video by a colleague. And well - you know the rest.

What happened to Saara and Danny?

Whilst Saara, Danny and the others in the GCHQ team seem to be alive and have what they need to prove Britain was targeted, fans didn’t actually get to see this resolution. 

For all we know, the Russians could have had a backup plan in place or the unidentified aircraft was too far into its journey to be called off. Although Vadim’s information will have helped, the damage wreaked by the cyber attacks is still being felt at the time of The Undeclared War ending. 

Character Saara looking at a computer screen in a still from The Undeclared War

(Image credit: Channel 4)

Is The Undeclared War realistic?

Experts are saying the show is definitely realistic, despite critics thinking otherwise. Speaking to Esquire, global cyber-security advisor Jake Moore said that events depicted in the show could translate into real life. 

When asked if hackers really could take out the entire internet, Moore responded with: “I think the attack is absolutely possible, but the government does have extra protection in place for specific critical lines that, without such security, could potentially cause widespread havoc”. 

Speaking of Saara uncovering the attack, he said: “It worked brilliantly, I thought it was made very well. It’s a really good depiction of what it’s like to go through code in that way”.

And while the show is not based on a true story, it is based in a lot of truth. For example, the GCHQ is something that definitely exists in the UK already.

GCHQ is one of the three UK Intelligence and Security Agencies, along with MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, and their main role, according to their website, is to: “support and guidance to make the UK safe, whilst pioneering a new kind of security for an ever more complex world.”

From terrorism to online fraud, the real team are working to stop “invisible” enemies from targeting anybody with a computer or phone in the country, which is basically all of us.

The show's creator, Peter Kosminsky (opens in new tab), has said of the of the series: “There are no techniques shown or strategies described that aren't happening and aren’t real. The characters are fictional, completely fictional. And I call it a cautionary tale because I think that if we're not careful this hot war will escalate to the point where it threatens our civilisation. I think it's as serious as that. So that's why I wanted to tell the story.”

Close up of Prime Minister (Adrian Lester) at a cabinet meeting in a still from The Undeclared War

(Image credit: Channel 4)

How many episodes in The Undeclared War?

  • Episode 1 - 47 minutes
  • Episode 2 - 47 minutes
  • Episode 3 - 56 minutes
  • Episode 4 - 47 minutes
  • Episode 5 - 47 minutes
  • Episode 6 - 47 minutes

The show is currently airing every Thursday at 9pm on Channel 4. The first episode aired on 30 June, meaning the finale will air on 4 August. Alternatively, you can binge the entire series on All4.

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Will there be a season 2 of The Undeclared War?

Sadly, it’s not been confirmed that the series will be renewed for a second series at the moment. However, as the first series hasn't finished airing yet, there's plenty of time for a second series to be announced. 

There definitely some hope, as the ambiguous season finale leaves plenty of scope for a second series, as we never actually found out what happened to the GCHQ team.

The show's creator, Peter Kosminksy, spent over three years researching the show. During this duration, he went around several places in the US and UK to gain knowledge and come up with such an authentic show. So with this in mind, he must have plenty more material to write a second season.

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Robyn Morris
Robyn Morris

Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.

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