The past three episodes of arguably Britain’s premiere whodunit have successfully – and rather rapidly – built up a cadre of suspects, all attendees of Cath Atwood’s 50th birthday party; the fateful night when Trish Winterman was brutally sexually assaulted. The conspiracy theories are already starting to flow thick and fast: was this, in fact, a sex party that got out of hand? Is that what Trish’s ex-husband Ian wanted to desperately erase from his laptop? Is Broadchurch a steaming Gomorrah of swinging and sex parties? Who knows. What we do know is that Hardy and Miller had a huge list of attendees to process, and not a lot of resources to process them with. But in episode four, the half-way stage of the series, things began move.
NB: There be spoilers (and theories)
The episode started, as every episode has so far, with Trish Winterman. She had volunteered to be taken back to the scene of the crime, in the company of Hardy, Miller and Beth Lattimer, in a bid to remember more details from the night of the attack. Once again Julie Hesmondhalgh’s performance was moving and powerfully vivid as she retraced Trish’s movements – we saw in flashbacks how she entered the party, was greeted by a joyous Cath, and then made her way to the kitchen in an attempt to help with the food. In real time, she made her outside and gingerly to the lake where the attack took place. Her ordeal ended by actually lying down in same the position she was attacked in, and the scene, traumatic for her and for us, ended in her throwing up and having to get away back to the car. But she had remembered an important detail – aside from the sounds and smells of the cascading water from the lake’s waterfall, the fresh, dewy grass and the booze on her attacker’s breath – and that was a light, coming from the direction of a nearby cottage. Hardy and Miller were chasing up the owner of said cottage, but wait – a light of some kind? Was it a light from a cottage, or a light from something much more portable and close up, as Hardy and Miller suggested. From a torch? Or a phone, perhaps? Was the attack filmed and distributed? Was this the porn Clive Lucas’s son Michael and Tom Miller were caught watching at school? Yikes. It’s a horrible, but plausible thought, though. Hold on, another terrifying thought: what if it was Tom Miller and Michael who raped Trish? Later in this episode Michael’s mother confessed to Lindsay Reverend Paul that “she was losing him”. And there has been a theme running through the series so far that the world is changing, and the older generation not being able to keep up with new things or trends or technologies.
I need a sit-down and a cup of weak tea. I really hope that theory isn’t true.
So… back to what we know.
All throughout this episodes, there were some prime whodunit conventions at play and some arch manipulations by Chris Chibnall. Every character seemed to be suspicious, even if they were displaying fairly normal behaviour. Take farm shop owner, and Trish’s boss Ed Burnett for example, who on several occasions went out of his way to try and pass on a message of support to his employee. In any other context this would be seen as normal, caring behaviour. But not here. We’re asking why he’s so keen to get this message to Trish. Is he trying to cover something up?
In previous episodes cocky young fishing equipment business owner Leo looked like a suspect, and he emerged again tonight as someone to keep an eye on. Ian Winterman had asked him to wipe his laptop for him, and it emerged that Winterman had taught Leo when he was at school so these two have a relationship going back years. Judging by how cocky Leo is and how feckless Ian is, I wonder if Leo is running some sort of show here. Anyway, Cath had arranged a community football match on the beach to send a message that Broadchurch could not and would not be cowed by such a monster, and Hardy and Miller – watching from the sideline – noticed that the netting in the goals were made from the same twine recovered from the crime scene. Twine made by Leo’s company.
Another suspect emerged. A routine sex offender check by DC Harford (perhaps that would or should have been the first thing the police did?) produced a recently released, convicted rapist now living in Broadchurch by the name of Aaron Mayford. This strange man – married, with kids and forgiving wife – came over as part David Brent as he explained to Hardy he liked to ‘work out’. “Do you work out?” he asked the man with a heart condition. Despite this almost laughablebraggadocio, Mayford showed his teeth towards the end of the episode, when he confronted Harford, who had been staking him out. I like to be watched, he leered. I wouldn’t mind being inside a policewoman, who sneered lasciviously. But is this our man? I doubt it. Surely he’s too obvious a suspect, although a suspect worth checking out.
Other than that we found out who Trish had slept with on the morning of the party (Jim Atwood), and who had sent Trish the threatening text message (Ian girlfriend, Sarah). (This text had been sent via a website rather than a phone, and the text was eventually traced back to Ian Winterman’s laptop. The very same laptop he was so desperate to have wiped. Just as Hardy and Miller were about to retrieve it, Sarah came out of nowhere to admit she sent the text via Winterman’s laptop. Winterman’s and his laptop would have to wait… for now.) We also saw Mark Lattimer hire a private detective to find the whereabouts of Joe Miller, and he was intent on finding him to ‘put things right’, and we also saw Chloe Miller befriend Hardy’s lonely daughter. Hardy himself was out on a date. A DATE! (Miller took great delight in trying to penetrate Hardy’s terrible concealment of his night out.)
But the episode finished in sombre fashion when another woman came forward, saying she had been raped a few years before by the same method as the attacker used on Trish WInterman. Things just got even more serious – Broadchurch was harbouring a serial rapist.
For our episode one review go here
For our episode two review go here
For our episode three review go here