Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Broadchurch - Episode 7

Broadchurch approaches its denouement at an encouraging pace.

That's more like it. Broadchurch has often struggled to balance the investigation and dramatic aspects of its story, but this penultimate episode found the desired equilibrium.

After collapsing at the end of last week's episode, DI Alec Hardy's secret illness is out in the open. DS Miller is naturally both furious and worried (mostly furious). It would appear that Hardy is on his last legs, which makes finding the culprit even more urgent. In Hardy's temporary absence, DS Miller gets her chance to shine as she attempts to rally the troops. While Hardy's near constant berating of Miller throughout the series was a little over the top, it's forced Miller to toughen up and probably made her into a better detective. If Hardy does leave/die, DS Miller is now much better suited for the job than she was in episode 1.

In the suspect's chair this week was the ever suspicious looking Susan Wright. As I said last week, handing over the skateboard was a very stupid thing to do if you were the killer, almost certainly confirming that she isn't the killer. After some lies and half truths, Susan reveals why she's in Broadchurch and what is going on with Nige. After the unravelling of Jack Marshall's troubled past earlier in the series, Susan's story is perhaps a little too familiar to make a unique impact. However, it is wonderfully acted by Pauline Quirke and gives depth to a character which desperately needed some. She recalls a morning walk along the beach where she saw a man placing Danny's body on the beach. That man was Nige Carter (or was it? More on that later).

A frustrated DS Miller questions a cautious Susan Wright
The Latimer family, particularly Mark and Beth, are the emotional core of the show. The raw expression of emotion during an impromptu counselling session with Paul Cotes is extremely powerful. I sincerely hope that neither of them are implemented in the murder as it would cheapen these wonderful moments. Faced with the task of welcoming a new born child into the world whilst also trying to grieve for their son is a daunting prospect and Broadchurch gives this the air time it deserves.

Nige is brought in for questioning where he reveals that he is Susan Wright's long lost son, though he doesn't know about the family's troubles. With Hardy's suspicions closing in on dimwitted Nige, he confesses to nicking pheasants. Susan has no reason to lie now and has an alibi for the night of the murder, whilst Nige eventually confesses that he was stealing pheasants from a local farm. I'm inclined to believe his story because of the neatness of the detail. He recalls how he had ran out of petrol and stole some from a nearby tractor. This is level of detail that is too specific to be included by accident. At this point, the list of suspects shrunk to just one. I think Susan did see a bald man unloading Danny's body; instead of Nige, it was the other bald headed man in the town, Joe Miller.

What exactly did Susan Wright see on the beach that night?
Many have suspected Joe Miller for a few weeks now, mostly because he's been ever present in the show without having done anything suspicious. Despite this lack of any suspicions, it would appear that Joe Miller is being positioned to be the killer. Another moment which pretty much convinced me took place after DS Miller's interrogation of Susan. Miller couldn't understand how Susan hadn't spotted any signs of the abuse occurring under her roof. I haven't had any reason to suspect Joe Miller up until now, but he is most definitely involved.

Having discharged himself from hospital, Hardy returns to duty and finally gets a hold of Tom Miller's laptop (well what's left of it). Whilst some mystery friend is attempting to retrieve any data, Hardy is stopped by Olly and his reporting skills. News of Hardy's hospitalisation has spread and Olly wants the scoop. After 6 weeks of moping his way around Broadchurch, Hardy finally spills the beans on just what happened back in Sandbrook. Not only was this revelation brilliantly acted by David Tennant, but it was great characterisation for the one character who needed it the most. Hardy's also having flashbacks and psychic Steve knows that Hardy has visited Broadchurch before. Maybe next week's episode will reveal more about Hardy's murky past.

Watch out DI Hardy, Olly has some questions.
Now with just 1 hour to go, I still think Broadchurch has got its work cut out to wrap everything up satisfactorily. Personally, I think both Joe and Tom Miller are involved in some way, and Hardy's exclamations upon receiving information from his computer savvy friend suggests that there's a vital piece of information on Tom's laptop. I'm not sure whether this animal hunting storyline is going to tie in with the murder or whether it was just used to eliminate Nige from the enquiry (the final scene with Dean at the Latimer house would suggest it could be the former). Furthermore, there was still no mention of Kevin the postman and the alleged argument.

There are lots of questions to be answered and I have a feeling that many will go unanswered or ignored, If Chris Chibnall can deliver the same emotional intensity seen in a lot of this week's episode, all may be forgiven.

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