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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.

Verdict: 8/10

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  • Miss (P)K(-S)izlet.

    Thanks again for publishing the fourth review of Broadchurch. I really appreciate it!

    Bad news guys, I won’t be here (in the country) for the next two weeks and thus missing a duo of episodes. I’ll have something planned for when I get back so bear with me.

    Thanks again!

    • ThePowerofTheDoctor


      But where will I get my reviews now…?

  • GoodYear92

    As usual, Patrick, an insightful review. Though, I do think you’ve underscored a couple of episodes so far – this being one of them – going on the content of your
    critique, it doesn’t appear there’s anything so substantial as to merit knocking two whole points off.

    Also, I don’t know if you’ve interpreted the dinner scene as it was intended to be. It doesn’t strike me as the families returning to normal, so much as making a desperate attempt to. The scene is very careful to depict Beth and Miller’s son, in particular, as being isolated from the smiling faces around them, clearly still struggling with the grief. Chris has shown these two to be the most openly affected by Danny’s death, and this moment merely emphasises that. And the isolation is also further touched on with Beth (“I’m so alone.”).

    I would give this episode a solid 9/10. I think Steve’s breakdown in his van after being ejected by Alec was heartbreaking. Some superb acting from Will Mellor and was my favourite moment of the entire episode.

    • Miss (P)K(-S)izlet.

      I never said they returned to normal.

      • GoodYear92

        Well, then I’m confused as to what your criticism is..? You said them doing ordinary things is what irked you, but the scene merely represents an underlining of how despite their attempts, they are not yet able to move past Danny’s murder. By saying this; “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.”, you are suggesting that the dinner scene represents them having returned to normal.

        • Miss (P)K(-S)izlet.

          They attempted to do ordinary things, not become normal. My criticism was that Chibnall got them doing such minimal things as dinner with friends so soon.

          • ThePowerofTheDoctor

            It was their forced attempt at trying to do something social, to try and get back to the way things were before all of this happened. Mark has already returned to work, and Beth is trying to do things to keep her mind from it

          • The Oncoming Hurricane

            I can confirm people do do this, from experience.

            It’s a way of attempting to take yourself away from it. Which is clearly established in the scene and it’s also clear that it doesn’t work.

  • ThePowerofTheDoctor

    The series is definitely getting darker now. Susan/Elaine’s threat took my totally by surprise, and a lot of the residents of the town seem to be starting to turn on each other

    I have a bad feeling that our poor man Jack is going to end up committing suicide by the end of the series, due to the events that unfolded in this episode and the things that will happen next episode (If you read the synopsis for the next episode, it says that Olly and Karen work together on an article about Jack’s past. However, the next morning when they read the paper, they discover the piece has been rewritten to make Jack look like a sex offender.) He’ll end up with everyone in the town hating him, and we all know what happens to ‘dirty old men’ in TV shows :-/ It would certainly liven things up a bit, even if it does mean losing a great character

    • ThePowerofTheDoctor

      And I was right :-O

      Poor Jack :-(

  • You_Will_Obey_Me

    I shan’t read the review as of yet to avoid spoilers. Would you say the series is worth the watch? I’m into this sort of stuff.

    • Miss (P)K(-S)izlet.

      Most definitely. I’ll be buying the boxset and rewatching it. Broadchurch is fab!

      • You_Will_Obey_Me

        To ITVPlayer… or something!

    • Pdurston

      Definitely. It’s the best piece of crime drama I’ve seen on ITV. I highly recommend it.


      I think it’s excellent. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching it, and thoroughly enjoyed trying to work out who done this terrible deed! There is so many candidates, so many stories to be worked out, that’s made it very intriguing. Can’t wait until episode 5.

      I’d definitely recommend watching it.

    • EternalDoctor

      I would definitely recommend watching it. It has been fantastic so far and I have enjoyed all the episodes. The mystery is just so vast and it’s really difficult to guess the culprit. It is one of the best crime-drama’s on television!

      I haven’t read this review yet either, but that’s because I haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet. Hopefully I’ll have time to watch it tomorrow.

    • ThePowerofTheDoctor

      Short answer? Yes

  • That Awkward Silent

    I still think Mark had something to do with it. Jack and Paul (the briliant Arthur Darvill) are being set up as prime suspects and I suspect the rug will be pulled out soon revealing this to be much bigger than it appears.


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