Will Traitor Harry scoop the prize? The Traitors, BBC One. Image: Studio Lambert
The Traitors is nearly over. Let that sink in, as Anthony (remember him?) liked to say. But there is still so much drama to come from the most compelling and thrilling show on television in The Traitors final. Because this show has everything. Moments of sublime treachery, high camp, shocking secrets, back-stabbing, front-stabbing, Traitor in-fighting – and is beautifully presented by Claudia Winkleman, who commands Ardross Castle with skill and wit.
Ahead of tonight’s extended finale, featuring what is sure to be an entertaining cast reunion, the remaining contestants have woven a complex web of camaraderie and suspicion. And the Faithful are running out of time to unmask Traitors Harry and Andrew.
Firstly, a huge shout out to the editors on The Traitors. There must be so much footage from within the castle, as small groups of contestants huddle, connive, gossip and sleuth. Yet every momentary glimmer of fear in a Traitor’s eyes is captured. We are party to intimate close-up shots of every betrayal, every double-crossing, every moment of breathtaking brass neck from the Traitors, as well as every blind alley, wrong theory or moment of grand gullibility from the Faithful.
It is an object lesson in filmmaking. All angles are covered. Nothing is missed by the all-seeing eye of The Traitors cameras. The contestants are clearly talking about their lives, their families, their work, their pasts but there is a game afoot, and the show focuses tightly on how it is being played. Tension is built so expertly, like the very best dramatic moments in Line of Duty. Both sides of every conversation are captured and contextualised. And the resulting psychological insight into each contestant, the hunters and hunted, the heroes and villains, the loyal and those lying liars, is unmatched.
The Traitors makes experts of us all. If knowledge is power, then we viewers are the all-seeing eye of the series, with Claudia Winkleman our immaculately dressed leader, her minimal, clipped interjections throwing just enough fuel on the fire. We have prime position in the panopticon. And this feeds in to the compulsion to keep watching.
We feel smart. Maybe we even feel superior. Because we know everything. We are in on every joke, every wink to the camera (thanks Ross), every secret, every act of skullduggery, every moment where someone stumbles upon the correct answer before moving infuriatingly quickly on to a new, wrong theory. All attempts to control and conduct, to manipulate and obfuscate, seem obvious. It’s like watching Columbo.
So every time someone claims another contestant must be a Faithful because they are pals or seem nice or tried hard and was a good team player in a Mission? Well, we can shake our heads safe in the knowledge we’d never fall for Paul’s charm, Harry’s baby face, and Andrew’s musclebound bumbling. And we’d definitely never have crumbled so quickly as Miles did when tasked with passing the poisoned chalice of fizzy rosé to Diane. The panic in his his eyes. The desperation. Such incredible television.
Last time around, Wilf was the conductor in chief. And he so nearly pulled it off. He’d have probably got away with it, too, if it weren’t for pesky Kieron’s final act of defiance – a Hail Mary from beneath the wheels of the bus Wilf was merrily throwing him under – handing victory to the Faithful.
Since baby-faced assassin Harry out manoeuvred Paul, he himself has taken on Wilf’s mantle. He is, in his own mind at least, now orchestrating the entire game. He’s relishing every murder, every tactical twist. But is he enjoying it too much. Overthinking it is what ultimately unmasked Paul. And Harry’s Traitor sidekick Andrew clearly doesn’t trust him as far as he could throw him – which is probably a long way, judging by the rugby player’s enormous arms.
But just as Paul’s arrogance proved to be his undoing, so Harry has put himself in the firing line ahead of The Traitors final. He survived innocently blundering between secret mother-son team Diane and Ross. When Slough slayer Harry said, “we put her in her place,” about murdering Diane it felt like he’d set in motion a chain reaction. A Shakespearian revenge plan. Alas, poor Ross. To his titles of Floundering Faithful (his voting record was very poor), Protector of Paul (loyal to the last, and oh so wrong), we can add Terrible Traitor as he failed to last 24 hours alongside Harry and Andrew.
Will Jazatha Christie find his voice and crack the case?
Luckily for Harry, there has so far been a more compelling argument to be made than ‘Harry planned the whole thing’. The question of whether he could have been lying about the shield protecting him from being murdered has barely arisen. No one has wondered why Ross would have ‘murdered’ his own mother… and considered that he was maybe only just recruited. Instead, Ross’s banishment has further cemented Harry’s status as untouchable, definitely a Faithful. So far.
With Jasmine and Zack now dispatched, two of the most inquisitive minds are no longer in the game. So what happens now? Surely only super sleuth Jaz can save the Faithful. His cards have remained close to his chest throughout. But Jaz has major doubts about Harry. Could he crack the case wide open in the final show.
If Jasmine had returned to her (correct) theory about Harry’s double bluff, he could have been fingered before The Traitors final. But now vet Evie is in their sightlines and her dream of buying a bigger place for her doggos may be dashed. After all, with two Traitors in the final five, the odds are firmly against the Faithful.
But things change quickly in The Traitors. Don’t they, Paul? The herd mentality we have seen in almost every episode means that once the finger of suspicion is pointed at a contestant, the castle cohort can switch on a sixpence.
Harry and Mollie are super tight. So he has one loyal supporter. To the end. As the heartbreaking solo interviews with Mollie keep confirming. But other teams are emerging. And that could spell danger for Harry Plotter. Man mountain Andrew has yet to show much treachery beyond his Big Lie at Ross’s final Roundtable. But could he team up with Jaz to remove Harry? Do they have enough votes? He needs to work fast and banish Harry before Evie. If they are going to beat Harry, it needs to happen at the first Roundtable. So if Jaz and Andrew could get Evie onside (even if it is only by jumping on the bandwagon to save her own skin), Harry could be doomed.
He won’t leave without a fight, of course. And the danger for Andrew is that he could hit out at his fellow Traitor if he was cornered. The discussion between Traitor trio Ross, Andrew and Harry on Wednesday had an extra edge for viewers who could read between every line and knew the subtext and subterfuge at play. So will Andrew or Harry risk everything to try to win the prize pot outright as a solo Traitor? Will either really settle for sharing the spoils of their sneakiness? Or will Jazatha Christie find his voice and crack the case? Expect fireworks.
The Traitors Final airs at 9pm on BBC One on Friday 26 January.
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