Thursday, 28 March 2013

Broadchurch - Episode 4

At the halfway mark, Broadchurch is making good on its initial promise

I've been quite critical on some of the more minor aspects of Broadchurch in the opening episodes. It says a lot about the quality of this episode that those annoyances didn't bother me as much.

First of all, it turns out Alec Hardy is in fact a human being and not a grumpy crime solving android. Hurrah! After initially turning his nose up at the prospect of dinner at the Miller residence, Hardy not only enjoys himself but he starts to open up a little. He's clearly a troubled man, but now we're starting to understand some of what's troubling him. After collapsing in his hotel room, he wakes up in hospital with hotelier Becca at his side. Whilst she is slightly amused at having to pretend to be his wife, Hardy is instantly concerned about keeping the incident under wraps.

Alec Hardy and his "wife" Becca

Elsewhere, Karen has stepped up her game in pursuit of a story. After 3 weeks of gently speaking to the townsfolk, Karen offers support to the Latimer family; suggesting that a national news story might aid the discovery of Danny's killer. Obviously it also brings more news hungry journalists and snap happy paparazzi who swarm around the grieving family like students at careers fair offering free pizza. Their actions are slightly exaggerated but the overall tone of their intrusive involvement in such cases is accurate (and something I strongly dislike).

Ambitious reporter Olly also does some light detective work and uncovers an unpleasant secret in newsagent Jack Marshall's past. It turns out Marshall was convicted of a under-age sex offence several decades ago and lived close to a town which has an unsolved case (from the time when Marshall lived there) with strong similarities to the Broadchurch murder. He also conveniently finds Danny's mobile phone at the bottom of a newspaper bag. Whilst this makes Marshall the clear suspect for the police; there is still a lack of hard, irrefutable evidence which means he almost certainly won't be the murderer.

I think that writer Chris Chibnall is developing a much more interesting scenario which reflects on the sensationalist side of  journalism. Olly's work  is an example of lazy and irresponsible  journalism which distorts the truth and makes assumptions in the chase for a eye catching headline. Just this week, newspapers reported the story of how Helen Mirren took issue with Sam Mendes and the fact his list of inspirational film makers didn't include a single woman. Except Mirren wasn't having a go at Mendes; she was merely using his list as an example of how few prominent female directors there are in the film industry (a fair and worthy comment). However for some newspapers this wasn't interesting enough, so they implied a confrontational side to the story which twisted the actual motive of Mirren's speech; all in aid of generating an attention grabbing headline. Sorry about that mini rant, but hopefully it highlights my point.

Hardy and Miller keeping a watchful eye on proceedings
Having effectively ruled out Jack, you would think that the list of suspects would be down to a manageable number. Wrong. Plumber Nige gets into a confrontation with the menacing Susan Wright over a shared secret whilst psychic Steve was sent packing as the police told Beth of his dodgy past. However, the character we really need to talk about is Kevin.

Kevin was the postman (seen in episode two) who had supposedly been seen having an argument with Danny Latimer. Jack Marshall recalls seeing the argument and informs the police. As I stated in my review of that episode, the fact that we are shown Jack stumbling across the argument implies that it actually happened. It's simply a matter of Broadchurch following the rules it has set out for itself. Other occasions of Broadchurch characters recalling memories have not including any shots of the event being recalled. The only reason I can think that this particular shot was included is to hide the transition of the characters moving into the shop (this makes a lot more sense if you rewatch the moment). If it turns out to just be a red herring, then that is a little bit of a cheat; a deliberate deception to trick the audience.

Despite the argument getting a passing mention week, only time will tell whether Kevin's argument with Danny becomes relevant. As ever, the acting was top notch and I'm accepting Broadchurch's visual style and over-reliance on slow motion; at least it's distinctive.

For me, this episode represented an even more significant shift in quality than the step up seen in last week's episode. Then again, I could've just been in a forgiving mood because those those infernal river cruise adverts have disappeared (for now).

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