Broadchurch: Series 1 Episodes 5 – 7 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
Note: apologies for missing reviews for the past couple of weeks, I was on holiday due to the Easter break.
“If you’re gonna lie, you’ve gotta be consistent” – Detective Inspector Alec Hardy.
Broadchurch reaches a climax next week and it’s safe to say, it will be a bittersweet affair. We’ll discover the identity of Danny’s killer(s) and all the plot strands Chris Chibnall has laid down will be resolved. But then the show will stop, as will these reviews and I will be deeply saddened by that. Broadchurch has revolutionized the ‘sleepy English village’ theme – a plot basis commonly used by crime novelist Agatha Christie – in a unique way. The ‘odd couple’ cops: DI Hardy and DSI Miller have been a great duo and I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to Hardy’s rough-around-the-edges attitude and Miller’s delightfully cheery counter behaviour. I have found few blemishes in Broadchurch and if it resolves everything well, it may just be one of 2013’s hit shows.
We left off with the media cornering seemingly innocent newsagent Jack Marshall (a stellar performance from David Bradley), a man who was sent to prison for an underage sex conviction. After Marshall was interviewed, he admitted that the girl he was with was in fact his girlfriend and later, wife. Unfortunately the press found this out and set about publishing untrue stories. One particularly emotional scene involved Jack goes to his own shop to see the headline: ‘child bride’, he breaks down in tears and at that point you realise he is utterly guiltless. Jack then proceeds to take his own life, a tragic ending to episode six. I shed a tear when Hardy and Miller discover his body; he was a man who fled to Broadchurch to escape his old life and start afresh. He lost an infant son and became Sea Brigade Master to compensate for his loss; he was rebuilding his life until the fist of redtop journalism crashed down upon him, destroying everything.
The role of Susan Wright, the intensely sinister caravan-owning loner, has developed a lot. She went from being a watcher to a participant when she gave Danny’s former friend Tom, the deceased boy’s skateboard. It appears she did this deliberately to be caught by the police, giving her a chance to name Mark Latimer’s workmate Nige as a conspirator in Danny’s murder. She then announces that he is her son(!). It was a shocking twist to the story and now I’m desperate to know if Nige is really the man who laid the dead child’s body on the beach. Nige, however threatens Susan and attempts to force her to leave Broadchurch and by the end of episode seven, we believe she has. She also gave a harrowing description of how her now deceased husband raped their eldest daughter. We have a more rounded view of her, and that what she has suffered has led to her introverted ways. It also explains her deep emotional attachment to her dog. Ellie however doesn’t believe that she is entirely innocent and mentions her suspicions: questioning how could she did not suspect something as big as sustained sexual abuse of her daughter in her own home? I believe Susan was involved and a ropey theory I have is that she moved to Broadchurch as an escape, and changed her name to Elaine, another plot strand that wasn’t resolved. So is Susan really Nige’s mother, and is what she’s saying about her past, true?
The backstory of David Tennant’s DI Hardy has been developed in-depth in recent weeks. We now know that he took the blame for his wife in the ‘Sandbrook’ murders. Although journalists, Olly and Maggie threatened to publish details of his heart condition, it is unclear to me why he has told his story now, given his daughter (who he was trying to protect) will surely now be exposed to the truth of her mother’s affair.
Viewers also saw Hardy dramatically collapse after pursuing the black-clad murderer. It was tense stuff and I was certainly on the edge of my seat. What bothers me slightly about this scene is that the numerous police officers stopped by the downed Hardy rather than chase the fleeing killer.
Alec Hardy’s health is deteriorating, the man can barely use a door handle, let alone solve a murder investigation. I have an uneasy feeling that he won’t make it through the full series.
One of the things I have learned over the past few weeks is that Broadchurch is not a simple crime drama, it’s about the backlash of a community in the aftermath of child murder. The townspeople turn against one another, suspecting everyone for all manners of reasons. Each of them are also heavily influenced by the media, making judgements on falsified stories. Jack Marshall’s death was significant for showing just how inhuman the tabloid press can be in dishing out stories without any regard to the consequences for the man they are hounding. Olly is the incredibly naïve journalist, a young man desperate to write, even if it is for paper that don’t much care for the truth of what they publish. Maggie is the veteran journalist, a woman who has seen firsthand how the media works and Karen is the city professional, who has been in her job so long she is utterly devoid of emotion towards her readers or the morality of what is published. She will do anything for a good story: she removed the monkey stuffed-toy from Danny’s memorial just to get in touch with Chloe, essentially using the girl to get to the rest of the Latimers.
On the topic of Reverend Paul Coates and Tom Miller, Ellie’s son, something has been hinted between them, a subtle feud or hatred, something I can’t put my finger on. Paul is Tom’s I.C.T. teacher but they have an out-of-school relationship and converse regularly. Tom also threatened to tell the police that Paul sexually abused Danny, and although this could be a lie from out-of-the-blue, something within me suggests it had an origin. We also got another look into the case of Tom’s computer and the deleted files on it. The reverend was asked once if you can recover removed data and then caught the youngster attempting to wreck the laptop. We saw a couple of flashbacks to earlier episodes and I noticed that Tom deleted text messages from Danny and his mother, Ellie. At the end of episode six, Alec remarks out loud “of course” when he receives an email transcript from Tom Miller’s laptop. I am not sure if anyone else got this, but I have the impression that Ellie is somehow involved in the computer affairs.
I have little criticism with Broadchurch as so far, it seems to be a near flawless series but there is one character I really dislike – and I can’t see (yet) where he fits – Steve Connolly, the psychic telephone engineer. He sits to the sidelines for episodes on-end and then pops up with another ‘vision’. If we discover that all his prophesies (it was someone close to Danny that killed him, and that Beth shouldn’t find out the identity of the murderer as it’ll deeply upset her) are in fact true, I will be irked. Chibnall seems to have thrown him in as a player to further muddy the waters. Broadchurch is confusing and intricate enough without having ridiculous psychics involved – but next week’s episode may see him playing a key role –who knows.
With hours of clues behind us, we look to episode eight, the final segment in the Broadchurch puzzle. We will discover the name(s) of the murderer(s) and finally have ourselves a resolution after two months of guessing. If Chris Chibnall is able to pull all the strings and story lines into one viable solution we will be able to look back on Broadchurch as one of Britain’s finest crime series of the twenty-first century.
I’m loving it, aren’t you?
“Episode Five” Verdict: 8.5/10
“Episode Six” Verdict: 8/10
“Episode Seven” Verdict: 9/10