Broadchurch: Series 1 Episode 3 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
The response of the public suggests that Broadchurch has now toppled Mayday (a BBC lookalike that was broadcast a few weeks ago) in terms of appeal and has become essential Monday night viewing. The show is gripping and has successfully held its audience so far. My fear is that although Broadchurch is currently attractive to British watchers, it may lose them through padding and tediously drawn out episodes. The first two episodes drove the story forward at quite a pace, but the third failed to do so and instead concentrated more on deepening the stories within the community of Broadchurch. This is by no means a bad thing, but the pace slackened in this week’s episode and the investigation looked stalled.
Dour DI Alec Hardy (played by David Tennant in one of his best and more believable performances of the series so far) and his assistant DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman providing a wonderfully high-spirited antidote to Tennant’s Detective Inspector) found themselves an unlikely suspect this week – the murdered boy’s father, Mark (Andrew Buchan with an intensely creepy smile). After last week’s tense cliffhanger it seemed like Mark was going to be brought down, but his erring lies managed to temporally save him. But this week he was forced to reveal that he was having an affair with local hotelier, Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay). It seemed strangely obvious from the off that there would be a couple of liaisons in Broadchurch and this is the first to come out.
Crumbling mother Beth (Jodie Whittaker doing a fantastic job at portraying a wrecked mum) suffered yet more heartache this week when the bombshell of her husband’s affair was revealed. Beth has been through a lot in the past few days; the revelation of Mark’s fling might well destroy her. Abnormal psychic engineer Steve Connolly (Hollyoak’s Will Mellor giving a sufficiently weird look to a seriously weird character) returned to give Beth messages from beyond the grave, this time claiming that the bereaved mum shouldn’t advance the case because the culprit is someone close to her. Charlotte Beaumont’s Chloe perhaps?
Chris Chibnall has been true to his word and we are now examining the community close up. Suspicious newsagent Jack Marshall (upcoming BBC docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time’s David Bradley, adding a distinct threat to the otherwise unimpeachable shopkeeper) has a yet unexplained hatred for journalists and people of the news. A hollow red herring or a plot strand with substance? Pauline Quirke appears innocent but surely cannot be entirely guiltless, her character Susan Wright clearly has something to hide – is it just Danny’s skateboard or something more damaging? Karen Smith (Vicky McClure is great casting as the nasty newspaperwoman) and her newfound apprentice, the gullible Olly (Jonathan Bailey) continue their unofficial snooping and interviewing. By the climax of the episode we know that she was there when DI Hardy made a hash of the ‘Sandbrook murders’ but what exactly did Alec do and does Karen just want to protect the Latimer family or does she have other underlying motives?
Broadchurch came to a dramatic close this week with the shot of a blazing wooden hulled boat in the bay – reminiscent of a Viking burial ceremony. This was just an additional small puzzle amongst the mountain of questions the audience are now asking. Are Beth and Chloe connected to the murder somehow, after their suspicious, private bathroom meeting it looks as if they have something to hide? Blood was found on the Latimer’s boat, it’s Danny’s but Mark claims it was a simple fishing accident. The rowboat that sat adjacent to the Latimer’s was the one shown burning in the closing scene – does this mean that whatever was bleeding was stored there and the culprit torched the evidence? DI Hardy has a fear of the water, odds are the explanation of this will come later; will he have to save someone from drowning? Mark’s useless liar of a friend, Nige has a crossbow in his van, a red herring or a murder weapon? And finally, a meeting with Hardy’s doctor didn’t go well and apparently the stress of the investigation and his overhanging guilt might drive him to the grave. Things are going down for everyone’s favourite unsmiling inspector.
The pacing of this episode was a bit slower than usual but it was still very good. Five weeks left and we are still only a tiny bit closer to catching Danny’s killer. Who is it? Chris Chibnall has got himself a real corker of a series and I don’t want it to end.