THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

This week we hit the halfway point in the third and final series of Broadchurch – and it didn’t disappoint.

While the previous episodes of Series 3 have given us a steady, methodical build-up, it’s time for things to really start kicking up a gear. There are revelations right from the off in a powerful and incredibly clever sequence that returns us to the scene of the crime. Trish retraces her steps in an attempt to jog her memory, beautifully edited with seamless cuts between present day and flashbacks. The contrast between the two is incredibly apparent and only goes to reinforce just how broken and sorry Trish has become.

Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker), Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh), Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) - Broadchurch Series 3 Episode 3 (c) ITV
Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker), Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh), Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) – Broadchurch Series 3 Episode 3 (c) ITV

Not only is it a treat for the eyes, though, it’s also a treasure trove for speculation. Trish is able to recall a surprising amount of memories that are definitely food for thought. Things culminate in a brave, moving moment where Trish recreates her situation in the attack. Though harrowing and hard to watch, it’s worth it, offering up lots of new clues. It really doesn’t need repeating at this point, but Julie Hesmondhalgh is an acting talent to be reckoned with.

“I like you watching me…”

But the flood of new possibilities doesn’t end there. It’s also swiftly revealed that there’s another man who fits the bill, recently released from prison. Hardy and Miller waste no time in investigating convicted rapist Aaron (Jim Howick) – though, of course, he denies all involvement. Again, he seems too easy a target to be the true culprit, but he’s another impossibly seedy character. His outlook on our post-Fifty Shades of Grey society is pretty uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet, despite seemingly out of the frame, we’re sure he’s going to cause a few problems as the series continues.

DC Harford (Georgina Campbell & Aaron Mayfield (Jim Howick) – Broadchurch S03E04 ©ITV
DC Harford (Georgina Campbell & Aaron Mayfield (Jim Howick) – Broadchurch S03E04 ©ITV

Elsewhere, our existing suspects continue to dig themselves into even deeper holes. Cath Atwood reveals that her marriage to Jim is “loveless”, which later pays off in a not-totally-unexpected development. We always knew he was dodgy, and it’s good that they’re not dragging his mystery out too long. Inevitably there’s a slight sense of ‘been there, done that’ (remember Mark Latimer’s affair in Series 1?), but given the characters involved, it still works well. Meanwhile, Trish’s bumbling ex-husband Ian is desperate to delete something off a laptop. There’s a possible resolution for it (and Trish’s threatening text message) towards the end, but we can’t help but feel that’s not quite the whole story…

“Juries get things wrong, don’t they…”

With so many new things going on, it’s a wonder that there’s time for anything else. But, lo and behold, the wider Broadchurch world gets a look in too. Beth Latimer is pushed further and further to the forefront as Trish’s helper (no complaints here, Jodie Whittaker is a fantastic actress). Mark Latimer also tries to reconcile with her over a surprise home-cooked dinner. And, best of all, Alec Hardy goes on a (hilariously awkward) date. With such a deeply sad and poignant case going on around them, these moments of light relief are all the more welcome. Whether it’s obviously humorous scenes or short, sharp quips, the balance between comedy and tragedy is just right. Plus, while Trish is undoubtedly the star of Series 3, there’s no denying that David Tennant and Olivia Colman still stand strong as one TV’s finest double acts.

There’s even a lovely scene where the townsfolk all come together to play football on the beach. Perhaps intentionally, it stirs up feelings of unity and wartime spirit – they’re not going to let him win… whoever he is. It’s a nice summation of what makes Broadchurch, well, Broadchurch. It’s because of this strong cast of characters and their close-knit community that makes the show stand out from every other crime drama out there.

Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) & Alec Hardy (David Tennant) - Broadchurch S03E04 ©ITV
Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) & Alec Hardy (David Tennant) – Broadchurch S03E04 ©ITV
Final Ruling

It really is quite something that we’re four weeks in and we’re still getting new twists thrown at us from every angle. Yet, it’s probably safe to assume that most of the major players are now in place. The time has come to start properly unravelling the secrets and weed out the innocent from the guilty. If we had to bet, our money would be on the unlikeliest candidate. But even trying to work out who that is at the moment is far from easy.

So, where do we go from here as we move into the second half of the series? Well, for starters, the possibility of Joe Miller showing his face again is growing ever more likely. Mark Latimer finally seems to have tracked down his whereabouts – but will he go on the hunt, despite his better judgement? We’ll just have to wait and see. But what we do know is there’s yet another cliffhanger-shaped spanner in the works. The episode ends with another victim going to the police, having silently suffered a similar attack two years prior. The big question is: are the offenders one and the same…?

We’re happy to say that Broadchurch, once again, is hitting its stride and recapturing the magic of its beginnings. But, more than that, it’s turning out to be an absolutely fascinating, fantastic study of how sexual assaults can affect people. Through great story and great drama, it’s bringing an oft-ignored side of crime to the masses – and that, perhaps, is the most important thing of all.

Broadchurch Series 3 continues next Monday, 27th March at 9 pm on ITV1.

For those who have suffered from sexual abuse or know anyone who affected by sexual abuse, you’re not alone. Contact The Survivors Trust at 0808 801 0818 or visit their website. They’re here to help.

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