Sunday, 12 May 2013

Broadchurch - Episode 8

It's a case of the good, the bad and the inevitable as Broadchurch reaches an end

After several weeks of speculation and anticipation, the Broadchurch killer has been revealed. The finale was a reminder of how good Broadchurch has been in moments, but it also demonstrates how infuriating the show has been at times.

Starting with the inevitable, it was no surprise that Joe Miller was revealed to be the killer. At the end of the day, it followed the route of almost every CSI episode; the killer being somebody who's in the episode, but never at the forefront. It's been done a thousand times before and, despite all of the crackpot theories circulating on the internet, was an unspectacular revelation. In the few hours leading up to the episode's broadcast, one of the show's producers had said that everyone should watch to the very end of the episode. Some people took this as a suggestion that there was a shocking twist at the end of the hour. As such, when there was no big twist, many felt disappointed. To me, the comment was an indication that the killer would be revealed early on and so the producer was encouraging people not just to switch off as soon as Joe was arrested (why would you stop watching if the killer hadn't been revealed?). Personally, the inclusion of an outrageous twist would have been unfaithful to the show's more low key approach to a murder mystery. The inevitability was the lesser of the two evils.

The Broadhurch killer behind bars a door with a hole in it

While the killer's identity was obvious to everyone watching, it only became obvious to DI Hardy at the eleventh hour. After several weeks of having to keep his secret from his police detective wife, Joe Miller practically gives himself in. In fact, he's been wanting to tell all for a few weeks now (even breaking into the cliff top hut to try and force the issue and tell Ellie everything, only to be scared when Hardy turns up as well). Overall the mystery was unforgivably weak, especially given the 8 episodes that the show had to develop it. Apart from the crime scene and the burnt boat, the police collected no usable evidence. Only when Hardy learnt of the secret email account, which Danny Latimer used to contact Joe Miller, did the police have a strong lead.

The show has suffered from an identity crisis throughout its run. It wanted to be a show where the mystery took second billing behind the characters. For the most part it succeed, but it also insisted on ending each episode with an often unnecessary cliffhanger. There were also far too many intentional red herrings which felt unnatural. Most infuriating was the flashback which showed Danny's argument with Kevin the postman. As I have already stated, the fact that this incident was seen in flashback indicated that it had an important role in the mystery. If there were other flashbacks which ended up having no relevance,  it wouldn't have stuck out too much; but it was and it did. The red herrings served only to confuse the viewer and ensure that the mystery wasn't solved until the last episode; because in the end, it was a murder mystery. A murder mystery with a bit of much welcomed depth.

At the beginning of the series, the show attempted to pull at the emotional heartstrings too early. The overuse of slow motion didn't help, and there simply hadn't been enough character development for those moments to impact in the way that they were intended. As the series went on, the character moments were more satisfying and were universally well acted. The stand out performances were most definitely from Jodie Whitakker and Andrew Buchan. They've been the core of the show and without these two marvellous performances, the show could have failed spectacularly.

One Broadchurch cast member who sadly won't be appearing in season 2.
In fact, most of the characters and all of the performances were very good. David Tennant was always enjoyable, and this was highlighted even more when much needed depth was added to his dour cop shtick. As DS Miller, Olivia Colman had to do a lot of "police talk" in the middle episodes but got to display her undoubted talents in the opening and closing episodes. Her reaction to hearing the identity of the accused was outstanding, and only the "We were happy here" line, uttered as she left her house, felt out of place. The show also grew into its visual style. It was initially rather jarring, and perhaps could have been used more sparingly in the outset. By the end however, the slow motion was used to great effect, particularly in the sequence where DI Hardy followed the tracking signal on his phone through the town. Although it inevitably led to the most predictable destination, it was an impressive tracking shot which hinted that Hardy might be walking towards somewhere other then Joe Miller's shed.

The episode then wrapped everything up rather nicely. DS Miller is left feeling alone in a community which once embraced her, the Latimers get the funeral they wanted and Paul Coates' beacon ceremony was a nice touch, even if it was a little cheesey. The episode ended and the theme song was played without those irritating lyrics. Great! The producers have realised that lyrics jar with the sombre tone of the show.

Arthur Darvill and some lens flare
This moment of quiet reflection was swiftly interrupted by Ms Voiceover informing the audience that there was an extra scene available online. Unbelievable. Way to kill the moment ITV. This extra scene was obviously so important that we had to be told about it immediately, except it wasn't important enough to be included in the final cut.

Staggeringly, that wasn't the biggest bombshell of the evening. That came at the very end of the credits when it was revealed that Broadchurch would return for a 2nd series. My initial reaction was "Don't be so stupid". After some thought, my reaction has cooled slightly. Comments from Chibnall after the finale suggest that he had an idea for a second series. One of Broadchurch's key selling points was that it focussed on a small community. To have another murder would push the show into Midsomer Murders territory. Given that DI Hardy was on death's door and DS Miller was wanting to move away, if the show is to stay in Broadchurch itself then it might have to loose some of its major characters.

Broadchurch's future is not certain and only time will tell if the second series can retain the kind of buzz which accompanied this series.

Yes, yes it will

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