Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Broadchurch Season 3? Read our spoiler-free review of Episodes 1 and 2 here.
“Typical. Women get attacked and the men start butting horns, making it about them.” That’s Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) on scathingly fine form in Episode 6 of Broadchurch’s third season. It’s a typically witty one-liner, but it’s funny because it’s true – horns are being butted all over the shop. Broadchurch has always been, at its heart, a study of a community struggling to deal with the loss of Danny Latimer, but in this third season, the town’s gone past the denial stage of grief and firmly got stuck into the anger part – it’s hard to remember a time when people in the sleepy Dorset town have been so quick to become so enraged.
Just take Ed (Lenny Henry), for example, who ended Episode 5 by flying off the handle and beating up Jim for sleeping with Trish. Arrested by Miller and Hardy (David Tennant), Hardy easily pushes his buttons during their interview to prove how violent he can be. The farm shop owner, in fact, has a whole mountain of evidence piling up against him, from the mud stains on his clothes from that night and some blue twine in his pocket – not to mention the anonymous flowers and greeting card he sent Trish. Oh, and the fact that his phone is full of photos of Trish about town and outside her house. He says it’s just affection, but Hardy gets it right when he pegs it closer to obsession.
Ed’s arrest leads to even more outbursts from Miller, as DC Harford (Georgina Campbell) admits to her bosses that he’s her father. Miller tears into her for keeping that secret and potentially jeopardising the whole investigation – she knows, of course, all too well how important it is not to let a case become tainted by personal connection. “I might put you in charge of bollockings from now on, Miller,” quips Hardy, as Harford is dismissed from the case. “Fine by me,” comes the snarling reply. Colman delivers a career-best performance in a career full of career-best performances.
Miller is venting just as much anger at home, where her dad spouts sexist nonsense about women and sexual assault. She’s furiously determined to set him straight, so that Tom (Adam Wilson) doesn’t grow up thinking that kind of harmful view is normal and acceptable. Tom, though, is still downloading adult videos on his phone, sent to him by cab driver Clive’s (Sebastian Armesto) son, Michael (Deon Lee-Williams) – and Miller doesn’t hold back in her punishment for him stealing back his phone. Out comes a hammer and bye bye goes his mobile and laptop.
There’s anger, too, sparking between Jim, Cath and Trish, as their love triangle is shattered by the revelations that have come out in the wake of her assault. Cath continues to sneer at Trish, until Trish puts her firmly in her place and sends her packing – skulking out of the house the back way, the same way her husband went. Jim has apparently convinced her to leave town with him anyway, so she isn’t about to hang around for a reconciliation.
It’s another consummate turn from Julie Hesmondhalgh, who keeps drifting from that fiery drive to sadness. “I feel like I’m sinking,” she confesses to Beth (Jodie Whittaker) in another heartbreaking speech. “I don’t want to be in my body. I don’t want to be in my head.”
That same trauma is still plaguing Nira (Ellora Torchia) several years on. She emerges as a potential third victim of Broadchurch’s serial rapist. While Laura gave her testimony last week, though, Nira doesn’t want to relive her attack, or go public with it and change the way her family and friends see her. She gets angry at Beth for trying to persuade her to testify, but that only pushes Beth further towards seeing red – not at Nira, but at the man who has forced her to become this cowed, scared person. Even here, the rapist has made everything about him, not about the woman whose life he stole.
So who could the culprit be? Ian (Charlie Higson) pops his head up to tell Hardy and Miller that Ed used to sexually harass Trish, although given that Ian is already suspicious enough, we’re not about to take his word for it. Indeed, Ian’s been up to all kinds of secretive shenanigans to get his laptop back, and his daughter’s no fool – she confronts him about it, with him still claiming that it’s nothing really important on the computer. By the end of the episode, though, Hardy and Miller have gotten wise too, and they seize the laptop to analyse it. We’re firmly expecting some pornographic material that will tie into Leo (Chris Humphreys) and Clive – and Tom – but there’s surely something more to it than the obvious?
Leo, meanwhile, is curiously out of sight for most of this episode, with Clive also largely unseen – and that only makes one or both of them more likely to be guilty. After all, Ed may be unstable and unsettlingly obsessive, but he’s far too obvious a culprit, and with two hours to go, writer Chris Chibnall is bound to have a secret up his sleeve. Nira, for example, does tell Beth her vehicle broke down before she was attacked – does that mean Clive and his cab might have been in the area? And what’s up with that drawer of trophies from his passengers? With Ian’s laptop about to be searched, we’re about to get a whole lot of answers in the Clive camp.
But when it comes to anger, there’s one person who’s been holding on to rage longer than most: Mark Latimer. The last time we saw him, he was threatening to get some DIY justice on Joe Miller, after finding out his location. It was an idea that seemed very un-Broadchurch: the show is about justice, yes, but not the vigilante kind. So it’s with some relief, and with a broken heart, that we discover that he’s not about to wreak revenge on Joe. Instead, he turns up at Miller’s workplace and they talk – a heavy, gut-wrenching chat.
Matthew Gravelle is superb at stepping back into the shoes of Ellie’s husband, and, after Season 2 saw him stay largely quiet, his first real speech about what happened that night back in Season 1 doesn’t disappoint. He relays the events of Danny’s death, a fitting counterpoint to Episode 6’s poignant prologue: Mark dreaming of chatting to a still-alive Danny about not worrying about exams and instead focusing on doing his best. Fast forward to his confrontation with Joe and all that rage gives way to underlying sadness, as it becomes apparent that Mark blames himself for not staying in the car and not going earlier to help Danny. Joe, though, reveals that he was never going to be in time for that – and Mark crumples in front of our eyes.
A phone call with Chloe seals his fate, as he apologises for doing his best and that still not being enough. Broadchurch is a programme about people pulling together to deal with, and get over, loss. A moving parallel conversation between Hardy and his daughter, Daisy, sees him beg her not to go back to her mother, but to stay in “this stupid place with its stupid cliffs” and keep fighting for their relationship to work. Andrew Buchan’s simple, honest, tragic performance shows us the other side of that coin. After presenting Mark’s quest to us as him chasing Joe, it’s a magnificent piece of writing, wrong-footing us with Mark ending up the victim, as he climbs into the ocean in the middle of the night and prepares to drown. In the story of one woman’s attack, it’s an ending that’s all about a man, but after Season 2 struggled to juggle the ghosts of the past with the mysteries of the present, Episode 6 gets the balance just right: this isn’t just a subplot about a man, but a study of how anger isn’t always the overriding reaction to grief – and hope isn’t always the end result. Sometimes, some people simply can’t move on.
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?