Broadchurch episode 7 review

Review Louisa Mellor 16 Apr 2013 - 20:00

Broadchurch's penultimate episode is a belter. Tense, well-structured, and boasting some great perfomances...

This review contains spoilers.

When else in the history of television have the words “Of course!” prompted a nation to throw down the sofa cushion it’d been tensely gnawing on for the past hour, look up to the sky, clench its fists, and scream a prolonged, action-movie-style “Nooooooooo”? Not often, I’d bet.

Seconds after DI Hardy had uttered those eureka-like words, Broadchurch’s theme music arrived to complete the torment, those floaty Icelandic vocals taunting us like a playground ghost. “So clo-o-o-o-ose” to finding out who killed Danny Latimer we might be,  but we’re not there yet. There’s one extended-length episode to go, after which we’ll finally be able to lower our collective shoulder muscles, say “Huh. Thought so” and go about our business.

Because this is the best bit, isn’t it? This is the honeymoon/halcyon/salad-y part of TV whodunits, just before the end, when all our theories and clues could still mean something, when we’re as alert as a cocker spaniel who’s heard the unmistakeable ring of his dinner bowl being placed on the kitchen floor, when we don’t yet know.

You might think you know of course, and you could well be proved right. A few savvy forum-types predicted the Nige/Susan revelation before this week’s episode, so out there, somewhere, will be a stout, correct theory as to how and why Tom and Joe Miller (the favourites at this point) did young Danny in. Let’s push the predictions into the comments section for now, because there’s a great deal to discuss besides next week’s unveiling.

Parental protection was the theme tying together this week’s multi-stranded episode. It was the motif of Beth’s affecting monologue on the torture she’d endure to keep Danny safe, the reason Hardy shouldered the blame for his wife’s mistake, and why Susan shopped estranged son Nige to the police. Those three were just the warm-up act though, for another protective parent in the wings, one due her starring moment in next week’s finale.

Two lines from Ellie Miller this week set her up for a fall, dialogue that will sing with dramatic irony and subtext if the finale unfurls in the way many are predicting. “I’m a mum, and whatever my child had done, I’d want to protect him”, was the first, and the second - also said to Susan - “Back then, in your own house, how could you not know?”. In my episode four review, I pleaded with Chris Chibnall for lovely, optimistic Ellie not to discover the murderer underneath her own roof, but it’s looking increasingly as if he didn’t listen.

Not that we’re really dealing with the same Ellie as we were back in episode four. Colman’s character is different now, in her own words, hardened. That much was clear in this week’s no-nonsense, in-charge daily briefing, the mirror to her stumbling attempt at leading the troops in episode three. Mark Latimer bemoaned the loss of Beth’s innocence this week, but she isn’t the only Broadchurch mother to have had her optimism drained away. I fear the worst for Ellie. I think we may have seen the last of that cheery orange cagoule.

Remembering the ‘counselling’ session, it strikes me what a capable double act Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan are. Director James Strong captured another terrific performance from both this week, Whittaker especially. That the scene was easily matched by another three-hander in the Echo office is testament to the strength of this episode, and of Broadchurch’s ensemble cast as a whole.

Structurally, this week’s episode was a coup too, and kept its audience in the palm of its sweating hand. Seguing from the yellow-lit briefly fuzzy baby scan to Miller’s cold, blue interrogation room was an effectively rousing clash, and running Nige and Susan’s interviews concurrently another neat choice. The Latimer dinner table scene was also beautifully done, Dean’s revelation about Danny accompanying he and Nige on animal-catching trips dropping into the scene like a stone in a millpond.  

Like Susan Wright and her sorry tale, DI Hardy finally unburdened himself of the story of the Sandbrook pendant this week, confessing to Maggie and her protégé Ollie that he allowed his name to be smeared to shelter his daughter from her mother’s affair. Let’s hope it was as cathartic and cleansing for his cardiac arrhythmia as it was for the viewers. Who could suspect heroic Hardy now, should he live to fight another day? There’s only the matter of his having been to Broadchurch as a child (the freckly one on the beach in the Who’s Who of Alec’s tormented subconscious that opened the episode) to wheedle out of him now.

Will Hardy live to frown another day? The script took some pains this week to remind us that his time was running out. “I can still solve this, otherwise, why am I still here?” he told DS Miller, inferring once again that the Broadchurch case was some kind of divine mission for the character, a penance that once completed, will allow him to pass over. If Chibnall and ITV do kill off Hardy in these franchise-frenzied days, I won’t rage, but instead will offer them a tip of my fictional hat (I don’t have the face for real ones). Fair play, I’ll think. You had a story to tell, and you told it very well indeed. Now onto the next thing.

Before that can happen of course, there’s a killer to find, and Joe Miller, Broadchurch’s only other “close to home” baldie with access to a boat (and size ten feet?) is the direction in which we’re looking. If we’re right, and Joe acted in some way to protect son Tom (whose animosity with Danny is now well-documented), the question remains how far DS Miller will go to do the same.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, here.

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Disqus - noscript

It really does seem to be narrowing in on the idea that Danny got Tom involved in some scheme and Joe has killed Danny to protect him, but I'm happy if the rug is pulled away from under me but as long as it's done well

I really wanted to like this series, but this was the episode that proved to me it's subpar. Not horrible, but subpar. Everyone just will not stop lying. It happens so often in this episode that I found it tiring. Because the episode is less than an hour they reversed their tact and told the truth so quickly it felt like nothing.

Also, why did the police not go to Susan's house? Wasn't it highly likely that Nigel would be there??? A show like Sherlock or Breaking Bad leaves me with none of these types of questions.

Rory the vicar said he informed both sets of parents- he didn't say that he told Ellie. What if he told Joe and Joe never told Ellie?

"Ollie that he allowed his name to be smeared to shelter his daughter from her mother’s affair..."

But apparently it's OK to publish the truth about her malfeasance now? Not quite sure who that helps.

"If Chibnall and ITV do kill off Hardy in these franchise-frenzied day..."

They could bring in Matt Smith to replace him next series.

I have a few problems with the theory of Joe acting in some way to protect Tom.

My biggest problem with it is that I can't make it square with the scene where a desperately worried Tom asked Joe how long a sentence you'd get if you killed someone. If Tom knew Joe knew he was the killer and had covered for him, surely he wouldn't have asked in such a faux-nonchalant, roundabout way? So, OK, maybe Tom killed Danny, but didn't know his father knew and had helped destroy evidence. But wouldn't Joe have tried to be more reassuring when Tom asked that question, if he knew that Tom had real reason to be terrified of the answer?

Secondly, from an early stage in the series, it's been made to look very obvious that Tom is involved in Danny's death. Everyone else who has been this obviously fingered right from the start has been shown to be a red herring. And, indeed,Vicky McClure has reportedly said that we will be "shocked" when we learn the killer's identity. Why would we be "shocked" that a person who has been acting very suspiciously since episode one turned out to be the culprit? Is it possible that Tom has something to hide, but not the fact that he killed Danny? Maybe he believes (wrongly) that he is somehow responsible for Danny's death? Maybe he has something on his computer that he believes may make the police (wrongly) think it's him? Maybe he suspects that someone he knows and loves will go to jail (perhaps his mother, which is why he asks his dad, not his mum, about sentence lengths) and that is what's worrying him?

Thirdly, if Joe is involved, I think it will be for his own reasons, not out of paternal love - there's been too much pointing to him having his own secrets and interests. What has he been doing with his time that's stopped him finishing the decorating? Is there something suspicious in his past, given the rule of Chekhov's Gun and the fact that we were (for no immediately apparent reason) told the night Hardy came to dinner that Joe used to be a paramedic and had moved to Broadchurch from Wales? Everyone else who has moved to Broadchurch from elsewhere (Susan, Jack, vicar, even Hardy himself) has had a dark past they are trying to hide.

I've suspected Joe all along, but now my suspicions have moved to Ellie (with the Latimer granny as my alternative theory). But I usually get these things totally wrong.

He's not going to publish the truth about her malfeasance - he explicitly told Maggie and Olly that they could say it wasn't him who lost the pendant, but they mustn't, under any circumstances, name the DS who did

I absolutely think it's Ellie at this point, and the two comments mentioned above “I’m a mum, and whatever my child had done, I’d want to protect him” and “Back then, in your own house, how could you not know?” only add to my conviction. I reckon her son got himself into something dark with Danny and she 'sorted' the problem. That's why Tom has been worried about the whole jail thing and that's why he was deleting texts/social networking evidence.

However, I NEVER get these things right, so who knows?!

I forgot to mention, Ellie complains about Joe never finishing anything (the walls in the bedroom)...what if she's also referring to the killing??? That would allow him to be the man Susan saw on the beach that night, but it may have been Ellie who had to do the rest?

I personally think that it definitely wasn't Ellie. There's no actual evidence pointing to her. For one, we know Danny was strangled by big man hands, which Olivia coleman doesn't have. Also she seems to have genuinely thought that Tom and Danny were best mates and certainly seemed surprised when she found Danny dead (unless she's actually a supremely good actress). Narratively it would just be very silly for her to be the killer. Too sensationalists and out of the blue.

You mean someone that hasn't even been seen on screen? That would be incredibly unsatisfying. Unlikely I think.

Agreed. Equally though, I'd be very happy for your theory to be proved correct. Will still be exciting to see that revelation played out on screen.

But it would be inevitable that the truth would come out. The evidence was stolen from one of his family's cars, which was parked at the hotel. If he wasn't responsible, who else could have been using the car? And is also a DS.

I am assuming it was an unmarked police car that it was stolen from, not a privately owned vehicle, so as far as the public are concerned, it could have been driven by any officer on the investigation team. Although I agree that Hardy is being naive, at best, if he really believes the press, who did such a hatchet job on Jack Marshall, can be trusted to keep the DS's identity a secret.

The psychic guy has got it wrong about the pendant - if Hardy didn't lose it, then there is nothing to be forgiven. Is he just an attention seeker with unusual access to information because of his job, or maybe more than that?

Has no one else come up with the theory that Nige is not Susan's long lost son. She traced him to the right place, but got the wrong person. I have a feeling that Joe is Susan's real son. Don't you think he looks similar to Susan's husband? I do and I think Joe is the killer but I don't think those two are related to each other. There are two lines that really hint this. Also, And and Dec think Joe is the killer and they are very reliable sources! (But they do work with ITV)

Still, I never thought a drama like this could last for 8 episodes and still do well every episode. If it is Joe, it's going to very powerful and emotional seeing how Ellie will react to this

did i hear susan correctly that she had a surviving daughter too? older than nige... potentially beth or the journo from the "slightly bigger town"

Am sure its been mentioned, but the psychic is the one who stole the pendant from Hardy's wife's car....maybe

personally i'd be super disappointed if it was joe. purely because mayday (the bbc 5-parter that began on the same day) had the husband of the [ex] copper as the killer. two shows with a similar premise and similar culpability ... too much coincidence and potentially too common a storyline. granted broadchurch has trumped mayday every step of the way, but a little deflating for both to be this similar

The old, "why didn't you tell us this before" line is a staple plot device of just about every Brit crime drama made since the dawn of television so it shouldn't come as any surprise that it has been liberally applied in 'Broadchurch'. At least we, the audience, weren't insulted by the other favoured device, "zoom in on that portion of the CCTV frame and hit the 'enhance' button"; so let's be grateful for that particular mercy. There are logic holes everywhere throughout 'Broadchurch', they are just puttied-over a little better than in most dramas of this genre.

Susan's surviving daughter would be older than Nige. Why not Becca Fisher? She knew Hardy was seriously ill, and whoever ran away from the beach hut in ep 6 was smaller than Nige. She also had dealings with Chloe over cocaine. No idea what her connection to Danny's death is though. Mark Latimer still not in the clear in my book!

I think Joe is too old, Nige is only in his 20's, Susan would know his age. Joe must be in his 40's. I think Becca could be Susan's other daughter. Ollie's mum still has her trump card to play, so anything is possible!

Well, after 7 episodes, whatever theory I come up with unravels when considering other ‘facts’ that don’t quite fit. Still, worth a punt…

Nige is a drug supplier. He won’t make his fortune working with Mark. Karen called him the ‘go to’ man in the town. Joe dabbles in drugs and Nige has supplied him. Nige is very (?too) friendly with Danny, and lets slip to Danny on one of their hunting/illegal activity trips that he has supplied Danny’s best friend’s father with drugs (Joe). Danny passes this info on to Tom, and they have a big falling out over it. They fight. Paul sees this and tells Joe. Joe discusses the fight with Tom, who tells him it was because Danny said he, Joe, takes drugs, but Tom won't believe this of his father. Joe is worried now. If it comes out he takes drugs his world would disintegrate, especially with his police officer wife.

Ellie plans a BBQ after they return from their holiday. The Latimers are invited. Joe knows Danny may spill the beans about his drug use, so he has to take action. Joe asks for Nige’s help to silence Danny as Nige got him into this mess.

On the night of the murder Joe uses Tom’s mobile to text Danny, who would think he is Tom wanting to meet to patch things up. Or Nige arranges to meet Danny to have one of their illicit activity trips. Olly’s mum, Lucy, sees Joe out in the small hours on his way to meet Danny. Danny goes up to the hut and there is a struggle there with Nige/Joe. Danny escapes, having been cut, but can only run to the cliff edge. There is no way back and he is strangled by Nige/Joe who cleans the hut then moves Danny’s body away from the murder scene to the beach to make it look like he jumped or fell.

Susan sees Nige/Joe dump the body and takes the skateboard to use this as a bargaining tool at a later date.

The hut break in. Joe goes back to the hut thinking he has left something there eg Danny’s phone. Joe doesn’t know that Nige has this. Nige uses the phone to call the police to try and get Joe arrested at the murder scene, but Joe escapes by distracting his wife by phoning her then running in to her.

i think it was significant that it was joe who saw the skateboard first when tom brought it back from susan's. he had a look of disbelief, potential menace, on his face when he saw it. maybe didn't expect it to be found - the cliff-top hut breakin happened after the skateboard was found, suggesting the killer was worried something else would be discovered there. joe (knowing about the skateboard) is prime candidate for this breakin.

Hmmm... this makes sense. In the flashback of what Susan saw when Danny's body was put on the beach, the skateboard wasn't obviously carried by Joe/Nige/whoever out of the boat or left with the body. Perhaps it was left at the hut and that's where Susan got it from, so the killer had to go back to check what else they had left as you say.

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