Broadchurch episode 5 review

The press is the real villain in Broadchurch's moral-heavy fifth instalment. Here's Louisa's review...

This review contains spoilers.

Since green boy Olly sent that first investigation-compromising Tweet, Broadchurch has narrowed its eyes at the press and waited for it to start claiming its own victims. Jack Marshall was the first of those, the discovery of his body the visual equivalent of an Aesop’s moral about looking before you leap to conclusions. 

Jack’s demise was a demonstration of the press’ ability to hollow out a person’s life, shove a hand in, and puppeteer around what’s left to tell whichever story sells. The front page narrative cast him in turn as creepy Jack, hugger of young boys, then saucy Jack, wedder of child brides, and now what? Suicide Jack, who must have had something to hide? Experience tells us he’ll be tucked away on page twenty before he’s allowed the simple dignity of being Jack Marshall, deceased.

The tale of Jack’s “secret family” unspooled steadily in the episode, each nugget – the marriage, the car accident, the dead son – moving him from suspect to sympathetic accused. Not that he was entirely sympathetic, despite Hardy’s sigh of relief when he heard Jack’s story. It’s okay guys, that sigh seemed to say, Jack’s one of the good child sex offenders. He’s heterosexual! She was practically legal! He married her for Christ’s sake! Jeez, lighten up a bit. Grass on the pitch and all that.

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That aside, the papers, especially those from that London, were still this week’s villains. Seen rewriting Karen’s story, papping the Latimers, and whipping up a Dorset mob, Broadchurch couldn’t be more visibly narked about press intrusion if Hugh Grant had been a script consultant.

It’s notable that rogue journo Karen was given something of a free pass this episode. Exclaiming over her editor’s decision to sex up the Marshall story more or less absolves Karen of blame in Jack’s death, and redirects Broadchurch’s critique of the media towards anonymous headline writers.

Talking of sexing things up, was there something in the water this week? Olly and Karen, Chloe and Dean, SOCO Brian and Ellie, Hardy and Becca Fisher… There were more unwise couplings and propositions than murder accusations flying around Broadchurch in episode five. They can’t all blame it on the ouzo.

One romantic liaison in particular caused due upset. Beth’s tirade at Becca Fisher proved that hell hath no fury like a woman armed with Tyrrell’s Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar crisps, as Reverend Rory (I know that’s not his name) witnessed. Mark Latimer too, found himself on the wrong end of his wife’s temper, and deservedly so. If she’s telling the truth, it seems that Beth’s pregnancy isn’t as “complicated” as first advertised, her potential infidelity one of the many wrong paths Broadchurch has sent us down so far.

On the subject of paths you shouldn’t go down, let’s hope DI Miller’s given young Tom the stranger talk by now. Susan’s static caravan was repositioned in Broadchurch as a witchy gingerbread house this week, her chocolate Lab the bait to lure in local youngsters (and possibly, dodgy Nige). Was it significant that Nige offered the skateboard-hoarding Susan £500 in cash to get out of Dodge, precisely the sum found in Danny’s bedroom before he died? We’ve three episodes to find out.

With that deadline looming, who else shares Ellie’s concerns about Hardy’s ability to get the job done? “Stay in”, it’ll abate, Hardy told Jack before leaving him entirely vulnerable. “Relax” with me, he told Becca Fisher, not a week after they’d looked at each other from across the interrogation table. Even if like me, you’d sell your Nan for change to buy David Tennant a mug of cocoa, you have to admit that his frosty DI hasn’t exactly earned that stolen promotion yet.

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Reluctant as I was to enter into a game of ‘who’s the killer’ predicated on the sensationalist hook of a child-murder, Broadchurch has me guessing. To that end, let’s recce the new facts: Olly’s absent dad was the owner of one boat found ablaze. Danny was the pimp-style owner of two mobile phones. Susan Wright was likely the owner of four high-tar cigarette butts found where Danny’s body was discovered. Additionally, Tom Miller definitely knows something, as do Olly’s addict mum, crossbow Nige, and – we assume – Reverend Rory. Without any pointers from psychic Steve this week though, goodness knows where I should be pointing the finger. Anyone care to help me out?

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

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