Broadchurch: Our Review Of Episode 5

This review contains spoilers for episode 5 and for previous events in the drama


Episode 5 of Broadchurch opened as the town looked back, with Tom Miller (Adam Wilson), Danny’s best friend, leading a reconstruction of the night of the crime. Under the gaze of the national media the tide was turning, against the police and against former friends and trusted neighbours; in the absence of a real suspect the townspeople were starting the come to their own conclusions, assisted by the machinations of the press. While Alec Hardy (David Tennant) urged Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) to keep calm, accused newsagent and Sea Brigade co-ordinator Jack Marshall (David Bradley) was seen praying in his doorway. Was it for the dead boy? The spiritual welfare of the town? Or perhaps for himself. His earnest recital of The Lord’s Prayer added a poignant level of precognition to the closing scene of the episode – for one member of the cast this was not going to end well.

The relationship between Beth and Mark Latimer continued to crumble in front of our eyes. Last week Beth (Jodie Whittaker) threw Mark the psychological nailbomb of her knowledge about his affair with Becca (Simone McAullay). Now they were looking back too, over the last fifteen years of marriage and what that time had meant to each of them. Mark felt trapped, he said, all those years of the same thing, but Beth felt she had given her all to her family. She confronted Becca later, perhaps the only other person in the town now upon whom she could vent her rage, aside from Mark. Concerned vicar Paul (Arthur Darvill) urged her to seek counselling, but Beth was not yet ready to relinquish her anger. “It’s all I’ve got left” she explained before haranguing him over why his God should take her son. Paul offered the standard phrases that the Church routinely offers in the face of tragedy but immediately realised that they sounded like mere platitudes to the ears of a woman who had lost all meaning to her life. Yet more Latimer secrets were out – Dean (Jacob Anderson), the secret boyfriend of Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) was back and discovered by Mark, leading to a furious showdown between father and daughter and the revelation of her own disgust at his behaviour.

The town wanted answers, and Karen (Vicky McClure) and Olly (Jonathan Bailey) provided them and more. After an evening of flirting and career building they sent off Olly’s first piece for a national before, inevitably, tumbling into bed together, only to rise the following morning to find to their horror that their piece had been rewritten essentially as a condemnation of Jack. The flimsy evidence was enough to jog the memories of the more self-righteous members of the population: Nige Carter (Joe Sims) for instance, and Dean, stoking the fires of suspicion and calling on all around them to do the right thing and rid the town of this undesirable character in their midst. It was the mob mentality at its worst, and the press and the residents went round and around, mindlessly stirring one another up until their victim was pushed to the very edge. No matter that he was the gentle man who had sold them sweets and ice cream through their childhoods and taught them to sail and tie knots and be safe in the water. Now he was an undesirable of the worst sort, labelled, accused, convicted overnight and he needed removing. Although Jack explained to Hardy and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) the circumstances of his earlier arrest, it was neither quite enough, in Hardy’s eyes, to let Jack entirely off the hook nor to protect him. The consequences of those decisions may yet come back to haunt Hardy.

For all his shouting and posturing, Nige can hardly claim to be a picture of innocence himself. There are still questions hanging over the nature of his relationship with the increasingly loathsome Susan (Pauline Quirke). Nige offered Susan money this week, trying to buy himself out of an earlier situation, but she was having none of it, despite his not very veiled threats about the crossbow still rattling around in the back of his van. And slimy Susan herself was up to no good in the arcade, apparently using her dog to lure young Tom over to her caravan. In spite of her possible change of identity, the blackmail and now what could be an attempt at grooming, Susan has passed so far under the police radar – a proper investigation will no doubt provide the answer to many questions.

The police investigation proceeded slowly. Hardy reviewed his list of key suspects, including Jack, Mark and Reverend Paul. Ellie questioned whether the recovered phone was actually Danny’s as it certainly didn’t match the model that she thought he’d owned. Someone had apparently stood over Danny’s body for some time, smoking cigarettes – for what purpose? The burned boat, it turned out, belonged to Olly, stolen from the shore where it had been chained up. At least Olly claimed it had been stolen; he seemed less worried about the boat and more concerned that there was a good story in it. He is an opportunist, it seems, just like his debtor mother, Ellie’s sister Lucy (Tanya Franks), who rolled up on the Millers’ doorstep offering to exchange information for cash. In lighter moments, Ellie was propositioned by SOCO Brian (Peter de Jersey), and almost drew a bemused Hardy into some office gossip over the incident. “Durrty Brian!” he declared, although his own thoughts were turning to matters more personal. Even the closed off Hardy craves a little affection at times. However his proposition of the flirty Becca was as humiliating and awkward as all of Hardy’s other attempts to engage with other human beings. Hardy’s rawest moment was when Ellie finally broached the subject of Sandbrook with him. Mistakes had been made, he confessed, but he was anxious that this case was not going to be the same.

Other characters aired their own concerns. Becca has her own unhappy past and money worries, and confided in the vicar. “We all have our foibles,” Paul responded, weightily. Tom Miller questioned his dad Joe (Matthew Gravelle) on the investigation. What did mum think? What will they find on the phone? How long will the culprit go to prison? Does the boy have a guilty conscience, or is he protecting someone?

As the frustration in the town erupted in a tense showdown a gang of enraged parents confronted an increasingly victimised Jack. And this was the point that Mark Latimer discovered that, far from being his enemy, he and Jack Marshall had everything in common: two fathers who had lost sons and with that everything that makes for a decent life. “No parent should outlive their child” Jack told Mark, before Mark drove away the persecutors but unhappily not the accusations.

The episode ended on another slow walk, this time along the beach as Hardy and Miller approached another scene of trauma. Many of the residents of the town had been forced to look backwards this week, to open old wounds and confront the demons of their past. It can only be hoped that at least one had found some peace at last.

Broadchurch continues on Monday 8th April at 9pm on ITV