I suddenly realised that I’d never blogged about this. We were horribly late watching the series; we recorded the whole thing but then got involved with other programmes and didn’t catch up with it for several months. But I have to say it was worth the wait, because the series was right back to its Broadchurch-y best, with more cracking performances from David Tennant and Olivia Colman as detectives Hardy and Miller, and an intriguing and thought-provoking plot.
I’d been concerned about the main storyline which involved an unpleasant rape, but in the end I needn’t have worried. Very little if anything was shown of the assault, or even of the aftermath. It was all done by suggestion, in often surprisingly subtle ways, in a wonderfully moving performance by Julie Hesmondhalgh as victim Trish. This brought to life all too vividly the shock, numbness and humiliation caused by such a devastating life event, which I felt was far more effective than showing the attack in a more graphic way. I also liked the way Trish gradually changed from being ‘just another victim’ to being a real, human person – someone’s Mum, someone’s ex-wife, someone’s lover – with her own foibles and faults, and her own strengths.
As before there was some excellent banter between Tennant and Colman, a slightly bewildering array of suspects, all with good reasons to have carried out the assault, and a seemingly authentic look at the procedures involved in a rape case. The eight episodes passed all too quickly and I enjoyed pretty much every minute… right up until the last few scenes.
In series 1 of Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall threw in a blinder of a last-minute twist, with a suspect who simply hadn’t been on the police’s – or our – radar up till then. It was highly effective, because of the way it caught the detectives ‘on the hop’ – and because the murderer, in that case, proved to be much too close to home. In series 3, Chibnall had gone for a similar effect, with another completely disregarded character proving to have done the deed. Sadly, this time it was less convincing, both because it’s starting to seem like a trademark device (pick the least likely suspect and he/she will have done it) and also because, in this case, the motivations were so unlikely. I don’t want to go into details because of, you know, spoilers, but I will just say I wasn’t convinced that what was suggested was physically possible.
Added to that, the whole strand with the Latimers, still reacting to events from series one, stretched on far too long. Having Beth Latimer become a rape counsellor was a nice touch, except that she didn’t seem to actually do an awful lot, whilst husband Mark’s disintegration was probably all-too true to life, but took up too much time in such a relatively short series.
And can somebody please explain the thing with the breakdown service – and the cricket bat, which appeared to have been found in two places at once?!
That said, after the major disappointment of series two, it was great to have this back on form, and Tennant and Colman as Hardy and Miller are so utterly believable and engaging that they fully deserve another series – maybe not of Broadchurch itself, but of something that can showcase their talents. A spin-off “Hardy & Miller” show, perhaps? Now that would be something to look forward to!