This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
To really catch your whodunnit audience off-guard, make the culprit a kid. Twelve-year-old Bobby killed Lucy Beale on EastEnders. One-year-old Maggie shot Mr Burns on The Simpsons. And sixteen-year-old Michael raped Trish Winterman on Broadchurch. He didn’t want to; a bigger boy made him. That’s about the long and short of it.
If I sound withering, forgive me. Broadchurch has done a great many things right this series, but revealing that Michael—groomed by swaggery young shit and serial rapist Leo—attacked Trish wasn’t among them.
Perhaps it’s plausible and rapists routinely recruit and induct apprentices, but Michael’s guilt had a little too much ‘Aha! Didn’t see that coming did you?’ about it for satisfaction. (That’s a churlish thing to write about a series in the ‘Aha! Didn’t see that coming did you?’ genre, but there it is. At its best, Broadchurch’s characters and emotional drama make it much more than merely a guessing game. It’s bound to disappoint o the occasions it reminds you that’s just what it is.)
Leo is a sound choice of perpetrator in keeping with series three’s responsible messages on the crime of sexual assault, namely, that being young and good-looking with regular access to sex doesn’t stop a rapist from being a rapist. His callous and remorseless attempt to justify the attacks revealed a thoroughgoing lack of empathy with his victims, as, I suppose, it must. “It’s just sex” he told a visibly sickened Miller and Hardy. “They’d all had sex before,” he argued without a glimmer of shame or regret, “why does one more time make a difference?”
Leo being revealed as such a cold-blooded monster makes this series a little less brave than I’ve been giving it credit for – but only a little. Instead of confronting its audience with unsettling links between the ambient sexual objectification of women and the crime of rape, it comfortingly blames it all on one bad apple, a canker infecting the boys and men of Broadchurch that’s now been cut away by our heroes Hardy and Miller. Leo and his sidekick are off to prison – problem solved!
Not that we can begrudge this show a little comfort in its final visit. The tough themes of this series have been carefully and responsibly navigated, even if the earlier admirable focus on Trish’s experience evaporated in this last hour, leaving her as another loose end to tie up with a couple of scenes so short they couldn’t do justice to Julie Hesmondhalgh’s powerfully unvarnished performance.
Speaking of performances, Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan—always the emotional spine of this show—concluded the Latimers’ story so movingly. Their nighttime hot chocolate talk was a decisive break that left Mark on the road to recovery (“I’ll be alright… I just need to put myself back together”) and Beth facing the future shored up by her strength, family and friends – as illustrated by that happy scene with Ellie and her boys, Broadchurch’s final word on the necessity of forgiveness and friendship after trauma, as found by Cath and Trish last week.
Beth and Mark’s scenes were a change of pace from the finale’s rapidly unfolding investigation, which went on unearthing new revelations and recapping evidence until past the halfway point. The investigation scenes were a condensed version of the series as a whole – Hardy shouted at suspects, Miller got increasingly green around the gills and the two of them bounced theories around right up until the last minute. Both played key roles in the end – it was Miller and her local knowledge that led them to identify Leo via the traffic camera footage, and Hardy, as ever, leading proceedings inside the interview room.
Eventually, after enough disgusting energy drinks and Scotch eggs, Hardy and Miller got their man, or men. That only left a flurry of goodbyes at a church service contrived precisely for the purpose of sentimentally bidding adieu to a whole raft of characters at once (the vicar, like Mark, is off to pastures new, Harford’s trying again with her dad, Maggie’s embarking on a vlogging career and Trish and Ian have made tentative steps towards unfreezing relations.)
That only left Broadchurch’s two sheriffs, whose goodbye was fittingly comedic and low-key (and—hooray!—featured the return of the hallowed orange cagoule). If Whittaker and Buchan have provided the pathos, David Tennant and Olivia Colman have provided the energy. They’ve driven this thing start to finish, capably, movingly and always entertainingly.
“See you in the morning, Miller” / “Fine, see you tomorrow” were fittingly banal last lines from the pair. For those two, it was the perfect goodbye. Big speeches aren’t them, and after all, what else has been Broadchurch‘s eternal theme but that through it all, life goes on.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.