Broadchurch series 3 episode 6 review

Broadchurch delivered a powerfully affecting episode this week. Spoilers ahead in our review...

This review contains spoilers. 

Please say it’s not so.  

If the ITV website had a ‘choose your own ending’ option to save Mark Latimer, I’d click morning, noon and night between now and next Monday to get that poor man out of the water. Money, even. I’d give cold, hard cash to ensure that just out of shot in the final, terrible moment of this week’s emotional episode, is Ellie Miller standing Boudicca-like at the helm of a coastguard rescue boat, hair waving in the wind, ready with a foil blanket and a thermos of hot tea. 

We’re powerless though. One way or the other, Mark’s fate is already sealed. If causing the audience maximum upset is Broadchurch’s game then he’ll sink under those waves. If it’s still the same story of human resilience it was in series one, he’ll survive. I’m pinning all my hopes on the latter and ignoring the fact that Broadchurch pulled a Neighbours with that special sad music playing over the credits in place of the usual theme song.

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Episode six was bookended by a pair of desperately sad scenes written and played with poignant simplicity. Mark first dreamed of Danny at the age he would be now and reassured him that nobody would fault him about his exams if he only did his best. Finally, he phoned Chloe to tell her that he’d done his best for the family, but was sorry it wasn’t always enough. Separately, they were moving, but together they were heart-breaking, in no small part due to Andrew Buchan’s tenderly affecting performance.

It was anger, not grief, that fuelled the rest of episode six. Hardy and Miller were on incandescent underling-bollocking, laptop-smashing form, Ed Burnett rose to every bit of Hardy’s bait, Miller raged at her dad’s ignorant opinions, Neera raged against Beth, Beth raged against the attacker, Cath raged against Jim, and Trish put Cath in her place in another terrifically acted scene between Julie Hesmondhalgh and Sarah Parish. 

In terms of the investigation, Trish’s attacker has been narrowed down from sixty-five to twenty-something potential suspects, but the key names remain Ed, Ian, Lucas, Leo and Jim. Let’s run through the latest with them.

Ed may have been revealed as a Trish-obsessed stalker with a violent temper and ready access to blue twine, but the rules of detective drama state that such a strong case being built against him with two hours still to go make him an unlikely culprit.

Clive barely featured, aside from looming menacingly out behind Lyndsey while Miller’s public statement was broadcast, but Miller learning that he’s the one indirectly supplying Tom’s porn means he’s sure to come back under the spotlight next week. Ditto for Ian, the dodgy contents of whose laptop we’re about to see uncovered. He’s obviously a conniving liar, but is he a serial rapist? 

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“Twine boy” Leo was suitably spooked by the police sniffing around, but at this point, I’m moved to take my casino chips off his square and push them over to Jim’s. A few things shore up that hunch: 1) the new information about the unreported victim having phoned a vehicle breakdown service before she was attacked, 2) the speed at which Jim asked Cath to leave town with him, 3) his unfeelingly arrogant suggestion that they ‘style out’ his adultery with Trish, 4) the fact that Cath suspected he might be guilty, and 5) Jim being revealed as Trish’s rapist would make a sage point about the separation between rape and sex.

With two episodes to go though, all that can and will change. We’re almost no closer to narrowing in on the rapist than we were after episode one. Each of the above had opportunity, each of them lied about their whereabouts on the night of the attack… it’s no wonder Hardy and Miller were feeling frustrated, not least after Harford’s “stupid, basic, page one mistake”. Nobody knows better than them how it feels for a guilty party to walk free because a clever defence tore holes in an investigation jeopardised by misconduct.

Overall though, it was hard to concentrate fully on the case with Mark’s powerful thread woven through the episode. Cleverly, the scenes in Liverpool deliberately wrong-footed us by framing Mark as predator and Joe as prey. By continually drawing our attention to Mark’s knife, Joe was made to look like the endangered party, making that final scene even more harrowing to watch for its unexpectedness. 

Please let Mark live. The people of Broadchurch don’t give up – just look at Ellie. Or listen to Hardy’s touching plea to Daisy to stay and “fight a wee bit”, another of this episode’s many beautifully acted speeches.

Despite its grisly crime drama themes, at heart this show is about people surviving the lowest of ebbs through determination, family love and unity. Whatever’s happened in the previous episodes, the last two series have ended on images of a community drawing together—first to light Danny’s beacons, then to oust his killer. Killing off Mark Latimer this way and leaving Beth and Chloe doubly bereaved wouldn’t only feel cruel at this stage, it would go against Broadchurch’s grain.

I know, I know. I’m in denial. It’s the first stage of grief.

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