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Broadchurch: “Season One, Episode Six”

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This may be the week I get a bit fed up with Broadchurch. Six weeks in, only two weeks to go, and we still have a ginormous (and increasing) pile of unanswered questions. Obviously, there’s no way the murderer of 11-year-old Danny Latimer will be revealed until the finale, but the show has a number of bones it could toss at its audience: the relationship between Nige and Susan; why Susan changed her name; what really happened in D.I. Hardy’s previous case; the connection between Danny, his friend Tom, and the computer files and phone messages; the fight between Danny and the postman; any backstory at all about Psychic Steve; the 500 pounds found under Danny’s bed.

Instead, the episode peaks with a terrifying sequence in which Tom (Adam Wilson) goes off with creepy Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke), the trailer park lady (I screamed at the TV when he accepted her invitation to “feed her dog”: Would that be a reasonable thing for the son of a cop and the friend of a boy who’s just been murdered to do?), but again, we know the killer will not be revealed this early, so in the end the interaction is a giant tease. (Just like to note: I have been excrutiatingly vigilant about remaining unspoiled, and I’m one of those lowest forms of life that reads the last pages of books.) The trailer scene does result in Susan turning over Danny’s skateboard to Tom, but with no explanation of how she got it. I’m sure this will all make episode eight, the finale, absolutely riveting (and hopefully episode seven as well), but it’s not doing much for episode six, to be honest.


Broadchurch’s season of tragedy turns to fall as the unceasingly beautiful photography shows falling, changing leaves and a cooler side of the summer town. The episode begins with the preparations for the funeral of Jack Marshall, who jumped to his death last week after being hounded by the press and the town for a guilty-looking history. Fortunately, Pastor Paul (Arthur Darvill) berates the Broadchurchians for their unjust persecution of the newsagent: “In this, the darkest of times, we have to be better. If we are not a community of neighbors, we are nothing.” This second tragedy brings this community together in unexpected ways, as they gather at Becca’s afterward. Danny’s mother Beth (Jodie Whittaker) has to ask for a drink from her husband’s mistress, Nige (Joe Sims) has a laugh with his mates, and Hardy takes the opportunity to harangue Paul and try to question Tom before having another dizzy spell. This is followed by Paul being brought in for questioning, but again, none of these efforts seem like they’re leading to the actual killer, which is rather frustrating at this point.

Still, as the viewer runs around this rat maze, this week does contain some highlights, mainly due to the astonishing performance of David Tennant as Hardy. At least one mystery—the picture of the girl in his wallet—has been cleared up, as he had mentioned to the Millers that he has a 15-year-old daughter. After being labeled the worst cop in Britain, and passing out after the funeral, Hardy makes an achingly desperate, one-sided phone call to his daughter, where we see him at his most vulnerable. It’s an amazing scene, followed by an anguished Hardy tearing through the empty police station, looking for something, anything, to solve this case. When there’s nothing there, he completely dissolves.

As Hardy tries to reach his family, Danny’s father Mark (Andrew Buchan) is trying to hang on to his. Again, incredible camera work as he watches both his wife and his daughter walk away from him through window reflections, then an interplay of cuts as Beth keeps running (as if she could outrun her grief), while their daughter Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) goes back to school, where she endures not only being gaped at, but being reminded of her younger brother. So she takes off, terrifying her parents (Mark: “I’m sure she’ll be all right.” Beth: “How can you ever say that now?”), until they find her with boyfriend Dean, where she wants to be a teenager for a while and not just the sister of the dead boy.

Paul mentions community, and the underlying theme this week seems to people trying to reestablish their connections to one another. Karen (Vicky McClure) and Olly (Jonathan Bailey), who had an uncomfortable tryst last week, now have a hard time talking over the guilt that their articles may have helped drive Jack to his death. Hardy makes his tragic, gutted phone call. Mark, realizing he needs to cherish the family he still has, takes his wife and remaining child to the arcade, where the family gaiety may seem a little over the top, but they probably needed some happy release after so many weeks of grief.


In the end, Susan is in custody because she had the skateboard, and it turns out she has a scandalous family history of her own; Nige has taken off with her dog, Vince; Tom is still trying to destroy computer files; and someone has broken into the murder scene. D.S. Miller and Hardy chase after the intruder, and Hardy has an ill-timed heart attack. But again, since he’s the main character, there’s not much risk that he’s in major peril: He has to see this case through to the end. C’mon Broadchurch, I’m sure we’ll all be back next week.

Stray observations:

  • Second to Hardy’s phone call in the devastating scene department is Beth’s meeting with the mom from Sandbrooke (sorry, not Sunbrooke), for a horrifying view of life after a child’s death. Really less like a life and more like an un-death: She’s alone, unemployed, and drinks to get through the hours when she’s not asleep.
  • Ellie, once completely happy and secure in her marriage, makes an offhanded joke about now suspecting everyone. Then in a seemingly innocuous conversation with Ollie, she finds out that her husband deceived her by taking their son paintballing without telling her. It’s a deception that could mean nothing, or everything, as a variety of expressions wash over D.S. Miller’s face in yet another great scene by Olivia Colman.
  • In a series packed with disturbing images, can anything top Nige aiming the crossbow at Vince the dog?
  • “Did you just tell me to shut up?”

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