UK TV review: Broadchurch Season 3 (Episode 3)
James R | On 14, Mar 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Broadchurch Season 3? Read our spoiler-free review of Episodes 1 and 2 here.
“It makes me ashamed to be a man,” says DI Hardy (David Tennant), as he and DI Miller (Olivia Colman) trudge through the murky aftermath of Trish’s rape in Broadchurch Season 3. Only three episodes in and it’s easy to understand his despair – while they’re investigating the sexual assault of a woman, every man and his dog pops up without an alibi, and, in the background, Miller’s son, Tom, is busy streaming porn on his phone, despite the admonition and punishment of a shocked Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill).
Much has been written about creator Chris Chibnall’s ability to capture the melancholy of a town traumatised by the death of a child, a crime that left fractures running through the picturesque Dorset coastal community. But he’s just as adept at channeling the distrust that lies underneath the town’s surface: we also feel that creeping uncertainty of who might be responsible for raping Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh), and of whether they might still be at large. And that uncertainty gets worse every time we meet someone new, as Chibnall subtly shifts suspicion from one face to the next.
“It feels like the more we talk to, the more we rule in,” says Miller at one point, and the feeling’s certainly mutual. And so while Episode 3 is partly an hour of exposition and plot thickening, it’s also an expert exercise in slowly escalating tension.
We’ve already met our main suspects, from Trish’s taxi driver, Clive Lucas (Sebastian Armesto), to the arrogant Leo (Chris Mason), in charge of the local fishing shop (where twine found on the crime scene may have come from), not to mention Charlie Higson’s Ian Winterman, Trish’s estranged husband. We’ve heard the concern and guilt of Cath (Sarah Parish), Trish’s colleague who hosted the birthday party where she was raped.
But Broadchurch is only warming up. We also get to meet Arthur (Richard Hope), the owner of the party venue, a guy with a youthful fondness of hanging around by the waterfall where Trish was found. And, as his introduction suggests, there are still so many more things to learn about the night in question – and the people we’ve already been introduced to. It’s testament to just how unnerving Broadchurch is that whether people have too neat an excuse (hello to the caterer) or whether they have no excuse at all (hello to Ian Winterman), they still wind up suspicious.
Higson’s hubby, we discover, drank a lot of tequila that night, which meant that he blacked out and can’t remember anything about that evening, except for waking up by (you guessed it) the waterfall. He tells Cath’s husband, Jim (Mark Bazeley), about it, because why be honest with the police when you can lie to them and tell your friendly local mechanic? Friendly is far from the right word, of course, as we see Cath quiz Jim about his whereabouts that night – nothing says marital bliss and mutual trust like asking your husband if he raped someone.
If you thought that slice of domestic life was depressing, try the Lucas household, where taxi driver Clive’s wife, Lindsay (Becky Brunning), is left to wash the dishes in silence, as he returns home and grabs a beer from the fridge without saying anything. Even his attempts to say hi to his son, Michael Lucas (Deon Lee-Williams) – Tom Miller’s porn-watching buddy, in case you wondered whether the whole family was dodgy – are rebuffed by the TV volume being turned up. (We also glimpse a stash that Clive keeps of items stolen from passengers, to ensure we get the message loud and clear.) Away from Clive, Lindsay gives Miller some more insight into what’s really going on, as she admits that Clive’s always having an affair with someone. With his cab being seen in the car park at the time of the rape (and with him claiming to have taken an off-the-books fare at the time, with no proof to back it up), the only thing stopping Lucas from being locked up is the fact that the first suspect is never the one who actually did it.
Then again, can the same be said for Ian? Higson’s performance is superbly understated, as he shiftily approaches Leo to ask him for help deleting something incriminating from his laptop – then, in a heart-wrenching moment, goes to Trish’s house and tries to talk to her. Director Paul Andrew Williams comes up with the best shot of the season so far here, as Ian stands in the garden on the phone, and, in the foreground, Trish cowers beneath the windowsill in tears, listening to him speaking on the answerphone. (In Williams and Chibnall’s hands, our sympathies move around as easily as our suspicions.)
Speaking of funny men turned serious, Lenny Henry continues to impress as the gruff employee of Trish and Cath, who finds himself quizzed by the latter about his own actions that night – and by the police to boot. He had a row, we’re told, looking like he wanted to kill somebody at the party. That eyewitness account, inevitably, conflicts with what he says to Miller and Hardy. “She’s not the sort of woman this would happen to,” he comments during their conversation; even when Ed tries to convey some sadness over the crime, it comes out with the kind of sexist stereotype that puts him firmly in the “Dislike” pile. And, of course, we still don’t know why DC Katie Harford (Georgina Campbell) visited him late the other evening.
If you’re already frantically searching the Internet for theories and explanations, it should come as no surprise that the characters on-screen are doing the same: Trish Googles Beth and finds out all about what went down in Season 1, reinforcing that feeling that the town’s residents will always be defined, in some way, by what happened to them. While Mark Latimer’s (Andrew Buchan) suggestion of seeking a private civil case against Joe Miller for killing their son is understandable, so, too, is Beth’s (Jodie Whittaker) anger at his refusal to let them all try to move on with their lives.
That struggle to move on is what binds Beth and Trish together – and Trish’s ongoing trauma, so harrowingly realised by the magnetic Julie Hesmondhalgh, sparks conflicting reactions from Hardy and Miller, who, after Episode 2’s failed ABE video testimoy, are still attempting to glean any hard evidence from Trish at all. Her refusal to divulge the identity of the person she had sex with on the morning of the party doesn’t help matters – Are they married? Is that why she won’t ‘fess up? And how can she be so sure that the sinister anonymous texts she’s receiving aren’t from the same person?
Miller is very understanding of all this, but Hardy only gets more frustrated, and Tennant’s increasingly furrowed bow would speak volumes, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s already snapping loudly at anyone within earshot. He’s concerned, of course, about protecting his daughter from the rapist who’s still out there, although any sympathy for him is tested by his brusque interactions with Trish, telling her that they’ll probably retrieve the DNA of her lover from his clothes, so she might as well just tell them his identity anyway.
Hardy and Miller’s interactions remain the highlight of the programme, with “Eat your stupid scotch egg and leave me alone” swiftly becoming our new favourite way to dismiss someone at lunch. But the tiny details that punctuate their conversations are what elevate Broadchurch above your average crime procedural. They bicker in the police station’s kitchen with believable affection, but Colman’s face as she walks home is hugely affecting, as she can’t help but flinch from an innocent passer-by in the street at night. Crimes in Broadchurch have a way of getting under the skin of everyone in the town, as well as us in the audience. And as we witness Ellie’s unusually nervous behaviour, we can’t help but wonder: will she have even more reason to flinch, as Tom continues to watch adult videos on his phone? Could what he’s watching have something to do with Trish? If so, then Hardy’s shame is only the start of it. Although, if you ask us, the real shameful thing is what on earth he’s doing with that cup of tea. Reheating tea in the microwave? What is the world coming to?
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, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.