Broadchurch: Series 1 Episode 4 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
After last week’s placid outing, Broadchurch returned with an episode worthy of the fantastic second chapter. Complex and ambiguous clues were seeded and red herrings dangled in front of the mystified audience, we were left yet again begging for answers. Episode four was thoroughly enjoyable: examining the burdensome relationship of DI Alec Hardy (a role David Tennant plays with serious conviction) and DSI Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman being a delightful counterpoint to Tennant’s gruff investigator). With his mind immutably fixed on the case, Ellie tried to ease the pressure on her boss with a friendly dinner invitation. In a gratifyingly awkward supper scene, Alec’s past is delved into once more as Miller’s husband, Joe (Matthew Gravelle) asks about children. We now know Hardy has a fifteen-year-old daughter that resides with her mother, probably the girl in the wallet snapshot – but you never know with this series.
Rough-around-the-edges paper shop owner Jack Marshall (a meaty role for marvellous veteran actor David Bradley) is this week’s main suspect as an old sex offense is dredged up by nettlesome journo Olly (Jonathan Bailey doing something satisfactory for once). Hardy and Miller bring Marshall in for interrogation and he roughly denies everything. This past conviction with someone underage is the basis of the police suspicion that Marshall may have abused Danny, but they have no evidence that anything happened between the pair. What is suspicious however is Jack Marshall’s superintendence of a young sea cadet group, who he oversees regularly. It is revealed that the newsagent took up this role before background checks were instigated.
Susan Wright continued her subtle reign of terror, this time confronting meddlesome Maggie (Carolyn Pickles), head of the local gazette. This shock confrontation is after the newspaperwoman discovered that Wright has another identity, who along with Jack Marshall, worked with the maritime trainees under this other name. Issuing an extreme threat (“I know men who would rape you”) it appears Susan has it in for the editor. Wright is most definitely hiding something other than the murdered child’s skateboard. She is also in league with the workmate of the murdered boy’s father, a man who coincidently stores a threatening-looking crossbow in his van. What have the pair done (or are doing) that is so terrible and what is with the two personas in Susan’s case?
A couple of reviews ago I mentioned the similarities between both Alec Hardy and Carrie Matheson, the heroine of US drama Homeland. That similitude returned as Hardy was rushed to hospital after toppling over in his hotel room loo. Clearly his medical condition mentioned last week and his muzzy spell in episode two are worse than we thought. Carrie from Homeland also suffered from an illness that required regular pill guzzling to keep her in check. She also had to hide her illness from her bosses to be allowed to keep on working. My feeling is Hardy won’t survive the full eight-parts. It’s a mad theory, to have the male lead killed off at the end of the series… but then again, Chris Chibnall has hinted that there won’t be a second season, so could Alec die?
A recurring leitmotif of the series is the curse of the intrusive, amoral media. In episode one we had Olly using Twitter to foolishly reveal Danny’s ID then Karen Smith (more selfish lying from Vicky McClure and doing a cracking good job at it) came into the picture and showed us the unfeeling side of the tabloid newspaper industry. In episode four, the latter published a story about Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker is extremely good as a hardened but bereaved mother) with her consent and soon paparazzi and photographers descended on the seaside town. Whether this underlying theme will surface into something, I don’t know but I suspect the scabbiness of the media’s behaviour will be significant.
However, one of the things that really bugged me about episode four was that in a later scene, the Latimers sit down to have luncheon with Nige and his family. Considering Danny’s body was discovered only a week or so previously, they have moved onto doing ordinary things such as eating with friends far too quickly. It takes a long time to get over the death of a family member through illness, and a much longer period if they were murdered. Chris Chibnall appears not to be handling this aspect of timescale very well. If you also take into the fact we are now half way through the series, you’d think Chibnall would have attempted to tie up one or two loose ends. Instead each episode leaves us with more possible murderers than we had the week before.
All in all, episode four was a wonderful return to the fast action-packed drama of the second chapter. Some of the facts are still a little weak and the pacing is out at times, but putting these minor points aside Broadchurch is still a very, very good crime series.