Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Broadchurch Season 3? Read our spoiler-free review of Episodes 1 and 2 here.
Things get fishy in Broadchurch Season 3, as Episode 5 delves in the dark depths of the Dorset town – and what it uncovers is unpleasant stuff. And we don’t just mean the fish.
If you thought that the mystery of who assaulted Trish was anywhere close to being solved, this episode introduces a whole new wave of doubts and fears, as accusations, theatres and actual punches fly thick and fast.
Things get off to a distressing start with an interview with Laura, whom we met at the end of last episode, as she reveals to Hardy and Miller that she was raped two years ago by a man with a similar MO to Trish’s attacker. She never reported it, though, as she was too afraid – until she saw the news reports of Trish’s rape at Cath and Jim’s party.
It’s a moment that is testament to Chris Chibnall’s incredibly sensitive writing, as well as the cast’s performances, as Laura’s testimony offers up fresh evidence that builds suspense without ever exploiting her attack for pure narrative effect; it’s not just fresh evidence and a new potential witness, but a study of how sexual assault continues to cause trauma and suffering for victims years later. And, tied into Laura’s reluctance to come forward, is the knowledge that it’s not just social stigma that can cause suffering, but the way the police handle a case too: Hardy and Miller, as you’d expect, are exemplary in their treatment of here.
They do go rough, however, on Aaron Mayford, the sleazy ex-con who, you may recall, forced his way into DC Harford’s car last episode. Where was he at the time of Trish’s rape? Fishing, he says. On the beach. Which beach? The one by the sea. The back-and-forth between Mayford and Hardy is horribly awkward and wonderfully spiky, as Hardy relishes the chance to be even more irascible than normal. That goes right down to quizzing the minutest of details in Aaron’s story – “What did you do with the mackerel after you caught them?” “I ate them.” “You ate all of them the next day?” – because if anyone can make fish exciting, it’s David Tennant. We’d watch him grill (ahem) someone about mackerel for hours.
Ultimately, though, they all know there isn’t enough to charge Aaron with anything. As Hardy points out to a quietly seething Olivia Colman: “Just because he’s an arsehole doesn’t mean he’s a rapist.”
Miller may have been quiet during their interrogation, but away from Mayford, she is just as brutal in her own way, unloading onto Leo’s girlfriend, who claims that they were together on th enight of Cath’s party. “We just need you to drop into the station to sign a statement for everything you just told us,” she says, casually. “Basically, it just means that if you lied you’ll go to prison for perjury.” Nobody does polite aggression quite like Colman.
Yes, this is an hour of anger and hate bubbling to the surface – and nowhere is that more vicious than in the heated confrontation of Trish and Cath, when Trish reveals to her workmate and friend that she had been sleeping with Jim. Sarah Parish delivers a masterclass in microacting, as her face rapidly moves between sadness, shock, surprise and spite. The former two easily win our sympathies, only for her to challenge them completely with the nastiest outburst we’ve seen so far in Season 3: “Of all the women at that party,” she scoffs, while ranting about Trish’s lack of attractive qualities. “Why would somebody rape you? Don’t make sense.” Hesmondhalgh, who has made being crumpled and suffering an art form, suddenly hardens. “Get out,” she snaps.
The result is a lot of people getting short and frustrated with each other. Well, everyone except for Paul, who spends most of his time shuffling about feeling sad that nobody wants the help of the local priest. In a darker comedy version of Broadchurch, he’d turn out to be the mastermind behind all of the town’s criminal wrongs, as part of an elaborate scheme to pack out Broadchurch’s CofE pews. Paul is, though, a friendly ear for Beth Latimer, who vents about having to still think about dealing with Mark’s nonsense. Because yes, Mark has now located Joe Miller – and the question is what will he do about it?
Speaking of grudges, we watch as Cath and Trish’s spat ripples across the town. Jim threatens Trish, then taxi driver Clive, after he discovers that Clive was spying on him at Cath’s party. In short, it’s officially beyond all doubt that Jim isn’t a very good egg. He may not be the one who assaulted Trish at the party, but there’s certainly a bad secret hiding away somewhere: “I could set fire to your life whenever I choose,” Cath warns him. What does she know that we don’t?
Speaking of Clive, let’s have a quick whip round the cluster of suspicious men connected to Jim. Clive, we learn, is mates with Leo, the arrogant fishing shop manager – and together, they make for a very sinister pair, the kind of lads you can imagine bowling around in cab doing something very horrible indeed. Leo is also linked to Ian, who wants him to help wipe his laptop’s hard drive of some incriminating megabytes – Ian isn’t Trish’s attacker either, but as he breaks into her house to steal that laptop, it’s clear that he’s concealing something dark too.
Leo gets another box ticked in the suspect column, too, when Arthur Tamworth rings up Hardy and Miller to announce that his dog “might have found something pertinent”: an old football sock in the field near Trish’s attack. Leo plays football, a rare unsubtle close-up tells us at the episode’s end – is this too obvious for him to therefore be the culprit? If so, we hope Leo gets his just desserts in some other way. Jim, at least, doesn’t have to wait for his: Ed, who is undoubtedly in love with Trish, leans from Cath at work of her affairw ith Jim, and promptly visits the garage to punch his lights out.
Broadchurch gets a lot of praise for its empathising and engaging with the grief-stricken members of a small community, but Episode 5 reminds us that Chibnall’s writing is just as good at creating unlikeable people we nonetheless care about. Lenny Henry is benefiting hugely from that this season, as his Ed, again, isn’t the guilty party for Trish’s rape, but is nonetheless an increasingly complex, cruel character who is gripping to watch. After all, Hardy’s logic works both ways: just because someone’s not a rapist, that doesn’t mean they’re not an a-hole.
With no sign of Tom Miller in this episode, though, the real takeaway for us is what’s on his phone that he keeps on watching – and, given his own laptop troubles in previous seasons, does that have anything to do with Trish, Ian or Leo? Oh yes, things are starting to smell very fishy indeed.
Broadchurch Season 3 is on ITV at 9pm on Mondays, with episodes available for 30 days after broadcast on ITV Hub.
Season 1 and 2 are available on DVD and pay-per-view VOD, or on Sky channel ITV Encore. Don’t have Sky? You can stream them through NOW TV, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
Where can I watch Broadchurch on pay-per-view VOD?