What a return to form. Not that series 2 of Broadchurch was bad by any means, but it didn’t have viewers enraptured quite like series 1 did. If the first episode of series 3 is anything to go by, we’re in for another emotional rollercoaster.
Most of the episode focuses upon the new case for Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). Both returning coppers are on stellar form; Ellie is as emotional as ever, once more allowing Colman to show off her impeccable acting, and Alec is as bumbling as ever. He’s never quite happy, and he’s always suspicious. It was laugh out loud funny when he was informed that he was known as ‘shitface’.
Both series 1 and 2 revolved, mostly, around the case of Danny Latimer. As writer Chris Chibnall has gone on record to state that he always envisaged Broadchurch as a trilogy, I will be very surprised to find that the new case isn’t somehow connected to the Latimers, otherwise it may (and I stress this highly) feel tacked on. That said, the Latimers certainly felt tacked onto this first episode. Was there any need to include them? It is a massive coincidence that Beth’s (Jodie Whittaker) new job puts her directly into contact with rape victim Trish Winterman. How this all plays out remains to be seen, but right now I’m no longer caring about the Latimers. I don’t care that Beth is struggling in her new job and nor do I care that Mark (Andrew Buchan) regrets writing a book about his son’s death.
Julie Hesmondhalgh is the star of this first episode. For the first fifteen minutes she conveys every emotion of Trish via facial expressions, for she refuses to speak. The very first shot of her, in which she is seen crying, instantly tugs at the heartstrings and it harkens back to the visceral image of Danny’s body in series 1. This scene was intended to shock and make you empathise instantly, so job well done.
I’m not an expert on police dealings with rape, but I’ve read a lot online that states that Broadchurch’s handling of Trish (from the swabbing of her mouth, to the support offered to her, to the removal of her clothes) is as close to real life as a TV show has ever achieved, and so for that everybody involved must be applauded. It made for uncomfortable viewing in parts, but it was utterly compelling.
That said, and I hate to say it, I don’t quite believe Trish. She’s acting suspicious. It may just be because she has suffered a very traumatic event, but her refusal to answer the most basic of questions is raising even more suspicion. And the fact that she suddenly remembered a key piece of information, just as Alec received forensic reports confirming what she said, screams that she is lying about something. But why?
So who are the main suspects? I think we can definitely rule out Jim Atwood, as Broadchurch is infamous for throwing red herrings into the mix. The very fact that he happens to possess the same brand of condom that was discovered at the crime scene means that instantly it isn’t him. But what about Trish’s boss Ed Burnett? It seems quite implausible to cast an actor of Lenny Henry’s calibre unless he’s gonna be delivered some meaty material to play with. Expect him to come under scrutiny at some point.
And then there’s the dodgy taxi driver – what up with him? And finally, and perhaps most shocking of all… what if it was Ellie’s son? Yes, you read that right. He’s suddenly interested in porn. Why throw in such an out-there plot unless it’s gonna have some relevance later?
But maybe, just maybe, it’s someone we haven’t yet seen in series 3. Maybe it’s Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) – okay, so this might be me clutching at straws, but series 3 HAS to have some connection to the first two, right? Right?