THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Forget the investigation: family came to the forefront in the latest episode of Broadchurch. With powerful performances and emotional shocks, this week shook the show to its very core.
For the first time in six weeks, Hardy and Miller’s ongoing detective work arguably took a back seat. That’s not to say that it was entirely absent – far from it! – but there were greater themes at work. The episode opens with Mark Latimer dreaming of his future if Danny was still alive. Still happily married to Beth and bonding with his now-teenage son, it’s a touching vision. Unfortunately, that’s all it is, and the reality is particularly harsh in juxtaposition. Mark will stop at nothing to see Joe Miller brought to justice – and, at last, he’s tracked him down.
To probably nobody’s surprise, the inevitable face-off between Mark and Joe finally took place this week. But, despite all his threats, Mark’s plan is all talk. Literally, in fact. There’s no violence, no bloodshed. Just two men coming to an understanding and finding some closure. Mark, through raw anger and heartache, needs to know what really happened to Danny so that he can move on. Joe, meanwhile, doesn’t have the guts to face up to his actions either. We even feel a shred of sympathy as he says “I’m only here because I’m not brave enough to kill myself”. On the other hand, we can’t help but agree with Mark’s unashamedly meta “why’d you make us go through that trial?” comment. For both the character and the viewer, it strikes a fitting chord.
On Your Ed, Son
Mark isn’t the only father struggling this week though. Ed Burnett becomes the key suspect following his assault on Jim Atwood – and confession of his ‘love’ for Trish. We’re all so used to seeing Lenny Henry as comic relief (ahem) but he certainly impresses in this serious role. This is a man with an unhealthy obsession and a short fuse. He doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, but considering the evidence, it doesn’t look good. What’s more, his daughter working on the investigation throws his (and her) credibility into total doubt. Katie is removed from the case, and if Ed did attack Trish, it’ll never stand up in court. After the botched trial in Series 2, we’re not sure we could handle that again. Still, we’re not convinced Ed’s the culprit – but at least it ties up a few dangling threads.
Meanwhile, Trish’s ex-husband Ian continues to be the world’s most inept suspect. He managed to steal Trish’s laptop, but his own daughter sussed him out. He’s desperately keen to get Leo to remove something from the computer. We still don’t know what, but it’s obviously suspicious. Unluckily for him, the police find out and come to take it away. Surely now it’s only a matter of time before his true intentions – however guilty or innocent – are revealed.
It’s a Hardy Life
However, Ian’s/Trish’s laptop might not have been the most important piece of technology this week. Hardy and Miller face their own parental problems at home, albeit to very different degrees. Hardy is doing all that he can to be the father that his daughter deserves. He loves Daisy and wants her to stay with him, as proof to them both that he can be a good dad. But Miller, as ever, gets it much worse. She furiously discovers that Tom has once again been watching pornography – shared by Michael and Clive Lucas, of all people. Yet another parent/child dynamic that’s in a deeply dangerous place!
It’s at this point then that we must be staring right into the heart of Series 3’s arc. The sexual assault may have (rightly) dominated proceedings so far, but deep down this is a story about family. Which, we suppose, it always has been from the start – and especially about two families in particular. Series 1 saw the Latimers and the Millers torn apart by Danny’s death. Series 2 saw them pushed to their emotional limits. And now, Series 3? Well…
This comparatively quiet and sombre episode comes to a close in the most unexpected of ways. Beth confesses to Chloe that she’s thinking of divorcing Mark. She still loves him, but she can’t see a way back any more. It seems Mark feels the same, at least about life itself. Unable to move on without justice but not strong enough to make Joe pay, he takes the only option left. Echoing Danny’s own death, Mark stands atop a cliff looking over the water. He takes a boat out across the dark and choppy tides. With one last dream of his son, he lets the sea engulf him and take him to his rest…
Cleverly, the credits cut off before we see Mark actually die. He may well survive his fate yet. But one thing’s for certain – there are now just two episodes of Broadchurch left. Revelations are drawing near, because next week, it’s the beginning of the end…