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Monday, 8 April 2013

Broadchurch - Episode 5

The best episode of the series is a haunting glimpse of a very troubled man


I've said in my previous two reviews how Broadchurch had raised its game from those opening episodes, but this episode was something very special indeed. With the police investigation taking a back seat in this episode, for the most part (more on that later), this episode focuses on the community's reaction to the accusations surrounding newsagent Jack Marshall.

Poor Jack Marshall; a man who has done so much to escape his past, only to have it uncovered by scoop-hungry reporters. It's important to note that, in the eyes of the law, Jack was a paedophile and that he served his sentence. Yet as with many cases, the sentence alone does not represent the whole picture. Writer Chris Chibnall drip feeds Jack Marshall's story throughout the episode, and gives David Bradley the stand out scenes of the series so far. After building our suspicions at the end of last week's episode, Chibnall slowly shatters them over the hour. This culminated in a fantastic scene which pointed its finger firmly at the newspapers. Beth and Mark put aside their marital problems to look back on the photos and mementos from Danny's childhood and remember their son in happier times. Meanwhile, Jack catches a glimpse of the morning's headlines and sees how his most personal and heartfelt memories have been taken away from him. One family has the luxury of privacy; the other is put on display for the whole world to pass judgement.

It certainly wasn't a subtle moment, but Broadchurch had earned the chance to tug at our emotions. The very early episodes had attempted similar scenes, but without the emotional investment that comes with spending more time with the characters.


Alec Hardy confronts Jack Marshall
Whilst the press were the main target of the episode, it was the bigwigs back in London who were painted as the evil-doers, and not the investigative pair of Karen and Olly. They are very much a pair after the most inevitable hookup of the series happened. With focus of the blame pointed at the off screen newspaper executives, the commentary on newspaper journalism feels less scathing than if Karen and Olly were responsible. Though I can accept that the portrayal of newspapers' involvement in such cases seen in Broadchurch is probably more accurate, I also know that not all journalists and newspapers behave in such a manner.

Karen and Olly are two of the more underdeveloped characters on Broadchurch (in particular Olly who's so horribly gullible that he could probably convince himself that he was the murderer if he tried to). Elsewhere, Beth and Mark attempted to work out their marital problems, showcasing excellent work from both Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan. Beth also lashed out at Becca's supply of crisps and glassware, and Arthur Darvill was on hand to supply witty one liners as well as allowing Broadchurch to talk about religion and God's will. When not rounding up the locals to gang up on Jack, Nige was attempting to pay off Susan who was having none of it. As a result, apart from ruling out Jack, we're no closer to discovering the identity of Danny's killer. With only 3 episodes to go, the investigation really needs to pick up the pace.


The silent vigil for Danny Latimer
That conveniently brings me to the problems with Broadchurch's barely functional police department. There's no sense of a methodical approach to the investigation, nor a sense of how leads are picked up. It's understandable that the locals are angry at the lack of progress being made by the police, and so jump on Jack Marshall as his history begins to surface. Chloe Latimer is particularly upset and rightly has a go at Pete the pointless support officer. Chibnall probably made a distinct choice not to get too caught up in the day to day workings of the police officers, but he hasn't included enough to make them appear believable. At the end of last week's episode, there was the suggestion that Jack Marshall might have been involved in a similar case in a different town many years ago. Yet in this episode, it is revealed that the two cases are very clearly not connected. Any competent police officer could surely have worked this out within seconds. Chibnall is seemingly happy to trade competent police work for silly cliffhangers.

The silliest of all of the police's decisions was to use Tom Miller in the reconstruction. The idea of a respectful vigil is fine, but having the deceased's best friend lead a reconstruction is too ridiculous. The only justification for using him would be if Hardy had his suspicions about Tom after the interview, and was interested to see how Tom reacted during the reconstruction. Hopefully, we'll soon find out just what it is causing Tom to be so restless.

Despite these small problems, Broadchurch produced an hour of unmissable television this week, and hopefully will continue on a run of good episodes through to its conclusion.

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