As we hit the latter half of the season, the main issue is when Broadchurch would start delivering answers to its central mysteries and developing those involved in them. Luckily, this episode strikes a near perfect balance.
Alec and Ellie’s friendship and professional policework continue here, providing some lovely material for David Tennant and Olivia Colman. Ellie continues to feel beaten down and judged with her son disowning her and the entire court seeming to believe she had some part in Danny’s death.
“They’ll all think I knew” she says. “No matter what the verdict, they’ll always think I knew.” It’s a brilliant performance, permeated with Colman’s natural warmth.
It’s also nice to see Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill being better utilised this week: his fragile relationship with Becca, his attempts to help Beth cope through crisis and the possible exposure of his secret meetings with Joe Miller airing out in court all being given time. “I thought I could save him. I thought he was repentant,” Rev Coates explains, going some way to justify his actions.
The Latimers are given room to grow too, albeit in jarringly opposite directions. Mark Latimer, so initially eager to move away from Danny’s death and focus on the present, faces up to the idea the defence are trying to construct a case that implicates him.
Beth, so determined to do something to honour her dead son, crumbles under the weight of being asked to help sex offenders, equating them all to be like the man who killed her son. Credit to Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whitaker, who play the grieving couple.
The Sandbrook case finally gets enough focus to demand attention this week. “I’m gonna solve it,” a determined Ellie states, constructing a wall of evidence. We learn a lot about those involved here: it’s implied that Ricky supplies and uses date rape drugs (the hipflask?), and also that Lee had a sexual relationship with Kate and Ricky had a similar one with Claire. Lee seems to take it on the chin as Ricky beats him, seemingly accepting a punishment for a crime he still denies.
In contrast, Ricky Gillespie also continues to be a credible possibility as the Sandbrook murderer, especially after his alibi on the night of the murder crumbles, his number is highlighted on Claire’s phone and we see him seek out Lee Ashworth (a man he, at least in flashback, appeared to be good friends with). “Nobody saw him for two hours, where was he?” Ellie ponders.
This is an episode of dark moments: a reminder of Susan threatening Maggie that she knew men that would rape her, Claire’s insinuation of sexual domination by Lee, and Sharon Bishop’s verbal attack on Jocelyn after her son is beaten in prison, because he was sent down in a trial Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) would not defend him in. At last we are finding out where the bad blood and friction is coming from.
It’s great to see the defence start to crack under the pressure, after weeks with an unhealthily strong case to get Joe Miller off. Susan’s undermined testimony, taking evidence from Ellie’s son Tom to validate his father, the Reverend being forced to speak on Joe’s behalf and Sharon Bishop’s obvious desperation to win all leading us to believe they’re on the downfall.
Broadchurch is starting to deliver answers and push plots in the right direction. The last minute or so, showing the discovery of a furnace you could burn a body in, is both sinister and a welcome clue to help us piece together the Sandbrook case.
At last picking up pace after a couple of weeks without major developments, hopefully this will propel things forward in the season’s final three upcoming episodes.
Aired at 9pm on Monday 2 February 2015 on ITV.
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