‘Broadchurch’ review: Season 3 Episode 2 maintains last week’s high quality

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The second episode of Broadchurch 3 wastes no time in launching us into Hardy and Miller’s investigation into the brutal rape of Trish Winterman we saw reported to the police in last week’s premiere.

Offering up a range of new characters and suspects to keep us – and the police – guessing, it’s an effective and tense bit of drama that isn’t afraid to pause for breath and quieter, more intimate moments – and ends on a disturbing text message being sent to Trish telling her to “shut up or else”, a moment that surely made every viewer’s skin crawl.

In terms of the ongoing plot, the most significant development here is establishing a few key suspects – from Ian (Charlie Higson), Trish’s estranged husband, to the taxi driver who took her to the party, to Cath Atwood’s husband Jim, none of whom necessarily leap out as the single most obvious candidate above all the others but all of whom clearly have something to hide – however unrelated to this case it might be.

What are Ian’s feelings toward his wife, especially once he’s had one too many? Why did Lucas the taxi driver’s radio conk out during the night and what was he up to during that time? What does Jim know about his party guests that he might not be saying? The power of Broadchurch 1 was often the way the investigation into Danny Latimer’s death brought all sorts of other secrets, scandals, affairs and heartbreak to light, and it seems as though writer Chris Chibnall will take the same route this time round.

The main focus, rightly, is still on Trish, and Julie Hesmondhalgh remains excellent, particularly in the police interrogation towards the episode’s end, but Episode 2 also takes the opportunity to expand the scope of character drama outwards and allow us more time with characters we only glimpsed briefly last week. We see a lot more of Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan as the now-separated Beth and Mark Latimer, for instance, and both come across as much more integrated into the story’s whole than they did in Episode 1.

A touching scene between the two dealing with their recent falling out and a moving portrayal of Mark’s continued bitterness over Joe Miller being at large add to the sense of trauma as an ongoing part of one’s life that cannot be easily escaped or skimmed over. If Broadchurch ran to a fourth season (though we know it won’t; Chibnall’s new focus is some show little called Doctor Who), you could easily imagine Trish appearing as a haunted, still suffering figure against the backdrop of some new case. Because as Whittaker and Buchan make clear, these things never just go away.

David Tennant’s Alec Hardy is on particularly spiky form this week (though his health certainly seems a lot better than it used to be), while Olivia Colman continues to anchor the series with her always watchable, always plausible performance, even if occasionally one has to wonder why the pair are quite so happy to discuss the case whilst out in the open in the middle of town, particularly given how much they want to stop information spreading.

Georgina Campbell as the ambitious but enigmatic Katie Harford, also working on the investigation, is a welcome addition to the show, especially given the way she acts as a sort of quasi-Miller to Miller-as-Hardy: the younger officer who sets the older one’s teeth on edge. It’s a nice parallel and not laid on too thickly. Her connection to also-under-suspicion shopkeeper Ed Burnett (Lenny Henry), owner of the shop where both Cath and Trish work, is also likely to cause some problems further down the line: can she really remain an impartial observer and participant in the investigation when her father is one of the suspects?

It’s another smart move that takes Series 1’s big twist (Ellie Miller’s own husband being the murderer, in case you’ve somehow forgotten) and brings it much earlier in the series in the form of a cryptic hint rather than a grand reveal.

The familiar Dorset locations are as beautifully shot as ever, and kudos must again go to director Paul Andrew Williams and the team at, er, Kudos Productions for making a part of the British Isles look quite so idyllic, even whilst dealing with content of the utmost emotional sensitivity. But then, that has always been Scandi noir’s shtick – and Broadchurch’s – from the very beginning: terrible things can happen to good people in beautiful, peaceful places, and no one of those three aspects invalidates either of the other two.

The odd bit of corny dialogue aside, this new season of Broadchurch is maintaining its high quality.

Aired at 9pm on Monday 6 March 2017 on ITV.

Buy the Season 1-2 box set on Amazon here.

Order Season 3 on DVD on Amazon here.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know below…

Tom Marshall blogs about literature, TV and sci-fi here.

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