This review contains spoilers.
If last week’s sensitive opener was all about establishing empathy with Broadchurch’s traumatised subject, then this week’s was focused on getting the crime drama machinery up and running. Hardy and Miller collected evidence and interviewed leads in an instalment designed not to leave us shaken and raw, but with a list of suspects and a hunch. Right now, mine says that cocky Leo attacked Trish (a good-looking young man assaulting a fifty-year-old woman makes the clearest point that rape is about power and not sex) but then like Miller, I too am never in the mood for swaggery young shits.
Hardy and Miller may have been out and about conducting interviews but essentially, they stood in one place this week while the cast of suspects rotated in front of them. We the audience stood invisibly by their side giving everyone the stink-eye and drawing our own conclusions about the relative shiftiness of Leo, Jim, Clive, Ian and Ed based on how suspiciously they drank their coffee, scratched their foreheads or refused to provide a DNA sample.
That last one seems pretty damning for Trish’s estranged husband Ian (Charlie Higson), who appeared to object to the DNA request on ethical grounds but was then seen washing mud from clothes he’d stashed at the back of a cupboard. It may behove us though to remember that at this stage in series one, the week two cliffhanger made Mark Latimer the chief suspect in his son Danny’s murder. We all know how that turned out.
Back then, Mark looked temporarily suspicious because he was covering up an affair. Here, it seems likely that Trish is doing the same by refusing to identify that Saturday morning hook-up in her ABE interview. If say, Trish and Jim were sleeping together behind Cath’s back, that could explain her reluctance to name her most recent sexual partner before the attack.
Depressingly, inevitably, Trish’s sexual history bubbled up this week after ex Ian accused her of promiscuity since their separation. That’s unlikely to be the last we hear of it either, as the old prejudices against rape survivors begin to find a voice in series three’s characters. “Was she drunk?” asked DC Harford, receiving the dirtiest of looks in reply.
It’s no surprise that Harford is rubbing Miller up the wrong way. Focused, discourteous and appearing to lack empathy, the young DC is basically Hardy: the early years (if there’s ever an Inspector Morse/Endeavour-style prequel, can we have Swaggery Young Shits as the title?). Harford later showed a bit of Miller-ish unprofessionalism in talking to her dad Ed about the case having spotted his name highlighted on the list of party guests/suspects. Presumably her bosses don’t yet know about that family connection.
Watching Hardy and Miller steadily progress through a list of interviews made for a repetitive episode that left you drumming your fingers for the shock cliffhanger that was surely to follow. It duly arrived in the form of an anonymous threatening text message warning Trish to stay quiet.
Unlike Danny Latimer and the Sandbrook girls, Trish is the first Broadchurch victim to live to tell the tale. Where the last two series had a blank hole at their centre, this one has her, still alive—even if she wishes she weren’t—and still vulnerable. It creates a new kind of tension for the series, especially when you remember that the last time Hardy and Miller caught the bad guy, he eventually walked free. Let’s hope for her sake that rushing the videotaped interview hasn’t already blown it.
Despite series three not being a murder investigation, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feature a corpse, or a eulogy. Episode two was full of them. It mourned the death of the local print press, of regular community church attendance, of Mark and Beth’s marriage, even the fishing industry in the South-West, which we were told is “dying on its arse”. The funereal tone spread even through the non-investigation strands.
It wouldn’t be Broadchurch though, without the odd warm moment. Those came from Beth and Ellie’s vibrator chat huddled on that seafront bench, and Hardy’s threat that he might phone Leo’s dad, which was worth every bit of Miller’s approving glance. Totally.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, here.