So far, so tense in Broadchurch. With three sex assaults – two historical – all pointing to a serial rapist, the pressure is on for Hardy and Miller, whose list of suspects have more or less remained the same since the first episode. Something had to give. Add to that a potential confrontation between Mark Latimer and Joe Miller looming large and this episode threatened to be pivotal – closure in the Joe Miller case? Real progress in the Trish Waterman case? I hoped so.
NB: Spoilers inside
A lot happened in this episode, but perhaps not in the case – this instalment had other concerns it needed to take care of.
Ed Burnett became the prime focus of Hardy and Miller’s attentions, thanks largely to Jim Atwood who dobbed him in. But far from the surly but inoffensive shop keeper that Burnett initially seemed to be, the investigating duo uncovered a darker side to him: it was discovered he used blue twine to tie flowers together in his shop, and, as we know by now, found on the scene of Trish’s assault… grass stains were also found on the suit on the night of Cath’s party; it was he who had sent the anonymous note to Trish post-attack; and a quick search of his phone revealed dozens and dozens of stalkery photographs of Trish. As Hardy rightly suggested, this was a man who was obsessed. By the end of the episode they had extended Burnett’s tenure in the cells.
(Can we talk about Lenny Henry for a short while? I admire him and he’s won awards for his theatre work, but I have to say I don’t think he’s brilliant in this. He seems stilted, too deliberate and there isn’t much depth to his performance. Contrast that with another comedian-turned-actor, Becky Brunning who plays Lindsay Lucas, and he really doesn’t compare.)
Burnett’s arrest had implications for DCI Katie Harford, who looked on, horrified, as her father was being questioned by Hardy and Miller in the interview room. She had to come clean, and we saw first Hardy and then Miller explode with rage. Her familial connection now endangered the case and she was super-wrong not to reveal who her father was. In a confrontation on the seafront, she asked – well, told – Miller, “You’ve never like me have you Ellie?” Once again Miller, who gets all the best lines, sarcastically sneered, “I was just starting to not mind you.”
(Even though she made some rookie mistakes, I actually felt a bit sorry for Harford. They really did tear strips off her, and in the case of Miller who is obviously still so sensitive to her own circumstances and her own ‘mistakes’ of the past, she seemed to really hammer her. Perhaps now Harford’s off the case, there’s a spin-off in the offing: Axehampton, where DCI Katie Harford goes to rescue her career.)
(I also have to look away from the screen every time Hardy shouts, because I fear his dickie heart will give way. He really, REALLY lost it in this episode.)
Elsewhere, the episode was very much centred on family, and the dynamics of the families that inhabit the town. The Atwoods had kissed and made up (sort of) and had decided to move away to start afresh, Ellie was having trouble with Tom and his phone porn again (I think we’ll see more of this next week), Hardy and daughter Daisy had a heart-to-heart on the beach as she confessed she had packed her bags and was ready to go back to her mum’s, Ian Waterman finally had his laptop confiscated (again, we’ll see what was on it next week) and then there were the Latimers.
Last week we saw Mark Latimer drive up to Liverpool confront Joe Miller, and I was kind of dreading what was going to happen in this episode (I believe this thread should have been put to bed long ago), but that potential confrontation turned into a touching, heartbreakingly open discussion between two men who had lost everything. Joe Miller told Mark that he wasn’t living any kind of life and if he had had the courage he would have killed himself long ago; Mark wanted to know exactly how Joe Miller had killed his son because he needed to know. The scene was intercut with goings on from the investigation, and their one-on-one was kept to short scenes. In the end, Mark, weeping, asked his nemesis: “What am I going to do now, Joe?”
He had fully expected to find Joe Miller and take some sort of revenge for creating a situation that he could not put right. He wanted to harm him, perhaps even serve up some ultimate vigilante justice. Instead, he found out he was a human being, capable of if not forgiveness, civility in the face of extreme temptation and rage. Joe Miller, on the hand, came across as a coward.
Later that evening, in the cool, calm waters off Broadchurch Mark Latimer telephoned his daughter, Chloe, to tell her he loved her and that he had always tried to do the best for her, and his family. With that, and with the apparition of his son Danny with him in the boat, he dove off, floating away into the Channel and into the darkness.
I’ve desperately wanted this storyline to resolve itself, but if Mark Latimer did indeed take his own life it’s a real heartbreaking conclusion.
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