Premise: Last episode of the series and there are only four fugitives left. Will any of them make it to the full 28 days?
Stephen Cole and Martin Hardiker:
The episode opens on fugitives Stephen Cole and Martin Hardiker who have been on the run for three weeks. They've been able to stay off the Hunter's radar by living rough and cycling along canals. The Hunters who are becoming increasingly frustrated decide to freeze Stephen and Martin's bank accounts, as the pair haven't withdrawn any money since the start of their time on the run. However, the pair soon realise what has happened after their bank cards are rejected. Using a hired minivan, they are able to make a quick getaway. However, the Hunters are able to figure out where they are from the cameras in the ATM machines. By hacking into Martin's girlfriend's Twitter, they find out that Stephen and Martin are using bikes to travel around the British canal network. The Hunters further pile on the pressure by launching an extensive, targeted media campaign on the pair, which they find out when Martin uses a VPN to go on their Facebooks. When Stephen and Martin go on the Twitter, we see a touching moment where their SOs give them advice and tell them to keep on going. Stephen says "I think that means they still love us" and Martin retorts "of course, they love us, you dick!" The relationship the pair share is what made them so likeable in the first place. This charm offsets very well with the intense pressure that the pair are feeling. It is obvious that they are psychologically battered from the experience, but the fact that they can still laugh and joke around is what makes them my favourites to win.
As part of the media campaign for Stephen and Martin, the Hunters make an appeal to the public to bring forward any information possible. They hack into Stephen and Martin's facebook to change their profile pictures to wanted posters and they also begin questioning people along canal towpaths. Whilst in Staffordshire, Martin uses a VPN to go on their social media, which is where they find out that there is a wanted campaign for them. This is when they decide to change their tactics by dumping their bikes and moving into the city. Again, we see more of the pair's charm, when Stephen pretends to be emotional about leaving his bike and Martin says "you fucking hate that bike!"
After Emily narrowly escapes the Hunters in the last episode, when she risks a trip home to see her baby son Ernest, she takes shelter at a local caravan park in Dartford, Kent. When asking whether there is anywhere to stay, Emily is invited back home to stay with two new accomplices. I really liked seeing this. Throughout the series we see the fugitives rely heavily on the kindness of strangers, which is very touching to see. Emily says that the only way she has gotten so far by how good she is at charming people and, as much as I dislike Emily, I do have to give her credit for this. She is very good with people. Out of all of the fugitives, she's gotten the furthest by relying on other people. However, whilst on the home stretch, with a week left to go, Emily once again messes up by phoning home using the phone of one of her accomplices, Dawn Blackmore. The Hunters are of course monitoring this call and locate Emily, but she is able to escape through how Dawn takes her to stay with her daughter Marnie and her housemate Jack in their student house in Canterbury. The Hunters question Dawn who lies through her teeth for Emily, but looking at Dawn's Facebook, they realise that Dawn's daughter Marnie attends Christ Church University in Canterbury. The Hunters think that Emily is staying with Marnie and go to catch her.
We find out that Lauren has hitch-hiked her way to Wales in this episode. Whilst doing so, she befriends two new accomplices who invite her to stay at their farm, which is very quiet. This is where we also see Lauren's fragile state of mind, where she initially thinks her accomplice's blue, battered old car is a big, black 4x4. In a move similar to Stephen and Martin, the Hunters also unleash a targeted media campaign on her, which severely spooks Lauren, in much the same way it did Ricky Allen.
It is at this point with two days left on the run that they find out that they have to make a bid for freedom at one single extraction point: Fairoaks Airport Surrey. All four fugitives have to escape via one single airplane. They are not safe until the plane is in the air. The Hunters are told the same information, but are not told where the extraction point is. They initially rule out air and train travel, as there are too many documentation checks. Deputy Chief Peter Bletchley, who was once a high-ranking undercover police officer, theorises the fugitives may escape on a private boat down the River Thames, when there is no such documentation checks.
Meanwhile, the fugitives all make their bids for freedom:
Stephen and Martin, who have travelled 500 miles on bicycle, foot and public transport from the Midlands to Wales and then to Surrey befriend an accomplice who lives on the doorstep of Fairoaks Airport and allows them to camp in the garden. It is whilst on this last night on the run that we see Stephen's devotion to this family. He says that best thing about being able to end his time on the run is that he gets to see his girlfriend and his boys. It is this devotion that made me like Stephen and Martin so much.
Lauren has evaded capture by hitch-hiking 800 miles across the UK and to reach the extraction point, one of her accomplices drives her to her sister's house in Reading, where Lauren spends her last night on the run only an hour away from the extraction point. It is here that we finally see the pair speak some good about each other. Lauren confesses that she is missing Emily and hopes to see her at the extraction point. This was very touching to see and it redeems the pair for all of their bickering within the earlier episodes.
Emily has stayed off the Hunter's radar by being unpredictable. From hitch-hiking to one end of the UK and back again, before diverting off to the East Coast, she has remained undetected. She spends her last night as a fugitive in a pub in Chillam, 75 miles away from the extraction point.
It is now that the tension really heats up.
Upon questioning Marnie and Jack, the Hunters find out that Emily has to travel to Surrey in order to escape by plane. They find out this information thanks to JACK, greedy, annoying, selfish Jack who sold Emily out for the £250. The Hunters then start narrowing down airfields, ruling out private and military airfields. I remember watching this and being on the edge of my seat, due to just how tense it was. Here I must commend the show for how dramatic it has been. With three hours left to go, the Hunters make use of how all airlines have to log a manifesto of all of their passengers. Using this, they spot the fugitives' names on a flight from Fairoaks Airport. From here, the Hunt really is on.
Whilst the Hunters desperately try to prevent the plane from taking off, the fugitives all make a desperate last dash for freedom. One of the Hunters says that if the airport is controlled, they can prevent the play from taking off. Meanwhile, all four ground teams aim to get to the airport before the fugitives. Emily hitches a lift to Surrey and then gets a family friend to drive her to the airport. Stephen and Martin receive a lift from their new accomplices and Lauren is driven by her new accomplice. Only minutes behind them are the Hunters.
Emily is the first to reach the airfield, where she reunites with Lauren and the two make it safely aboard the airplane. It was great to see the two reunite, as we finally got to see how close the two really are and how they happy they are to be back together. I guess that the psychological pressures of being on the run can fracture even the strongest of friendships. They initially believe that they are the only ones who have made it, until Stephen and Martin burst onto the plane, and the four, rather bizarrely, then share a group hug. Even though, the Hunters are behind them, they are too late. The plane takes off and all four fugitives are safe.
14 fugitives had to go on the run for 28 days. 4 of them made it to freedom.
So my initial reaction when Stephen, Martin, Emily and Lauren escaped was intense happiness. I was so overjoyed that all some fugitives were able to escape the Hunters, especially when there were so few of them left. I was even happier to see Stephen and Martin escape, as they were my favourites to win after Ricky Allen was caught. Did I say that already? I was even happy to see Emily and Lauren escape, due to how they have been in it from the beginning and have been through so much trouble and strife. From the start, I have said that the good thing about the show is the moral implications it raises. It makes you want to root for the fugitives and to demonise the Hunters, when in reality, the roles would be reversed. It makes you think about what you would do in that situation and how you would react and this is why the show works so well. The series has kept me engaged and attentive, due to how it has made me think about what I would do if I was on the run. Has the series made you think the same? Actually, don't answer that! The government could be reading these reviews. Don't slip up by leaving your escape plan in the comments. If I was on the run, I would definitely in the Lake District. *WINK WINK*
However, my constant problem with the show has always been the practicality and authenticity of it. This is mainly due to the use of the camera-operators following the fugitives around. I have come to the conclusion that there have to be multiple camera-operators due to how we see many different shots of the fugitives from many different camera angles. Are we really supposed to believe that this is just one cameraman running back and forth from location to location? Secondly, for the fugitives to be told information about the extraction point, then Channel 4 will have to know where they are. If Channel 4 can find them so easily, then why can't the Hunters?
The other criticism I have is the extraction point. I think it is very unfair and unrealistic for there to be only one extraction point. Surely if you're on the run, you would want to keep your options open. You wouldn't limit yourself to just one extraction point. You want to have as many escape routes as possible. If one escape route isn't convenient to you, then choose another. Also, some of the fugitives might be closer to the extraction point than others. What if Ricky Allen hadn't been caught and was still hiding in the Scottish Highlands? How would he have gotten to Surrey in time? This raises another question. What happens if the fugitives had missed the plane? Surely, they've still outwitted the Hunters, as they've avoided capture for 28 days. Finally, it is also very unrealistic that the fugitives' real names were printed on the flight manifesto. Any smart fugitive would have a false name on the passenger list.
All of this notwithstanding, I have still thoroughly enjoyed watching this show. It has been dramatic, tense, entertaining and has kept me engaged and interested throughout. It has been great to see people's creativity and also to see how nice strangers can be to each other. It has been one hell of a ride.
Top 3 tips for being on the run
1. DON'T PHONE HOME! I'm feeling like a broken record. How many times have I said this? Emily once again almost got caught because she phoned home. Just don't do it. You're putting yourself and your loved ones on the frontlines if you do this.
2. Be very careful who you can trust. Whilst throughout the series, we see strangers lie through their teeth to protect people they've just met, yet this episode showed how greedy and selfish some people can be. I'm not mentioning any names *cough cough* JACK!
3. Keep your morale up. Obviously being on the run is a psychologically battering experience, but a broken spirit can be much more dangerous than a broken body. If you give up, you can become complacent and this could be what gets you caught. Even though, we see Stephen and Martin's armour slowly begin to crack here, they keep their morale high through the series.