REVIEW - Broadchurch Released On DVD 20th May

The hit drama series Broadchurch is releasedon DVD Box Set on Monday 20th May.

Review will contain spoilers if you have not yet watched the series.
Read our review of the DVD extras here.
Click here to order your DVD with free p&p.

Reviews by our reporter Jill:

Episode 1

Broadchurch beguins with an uncomfortable juxtaposition of the heady, golden days of the perfect summer holiday and one of the vilest crimes imaginable: the murder of a child. Initially, though, there isn’t much time to stop and look at the scenery. From the opening scenes it is clear that something is dreadfully, horribly wrong and there is only a brief respite to appreciate ordinary domesticity and to meet the close-knit community full of normal, happy people before the side-step into a world of distress, suspicion and horror. The series is, of course, blessed with a dream cast, headed by David Tennant and Olivia Colman as the feuding police detectives, and supported by the likes of Arthur Darvill, Vicky McClure, Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker and David Bradley. It is also beautifully written and photographed, and this first episode benefits from the combined talents of series creator Chris Chibnall and director James Strong, the dream team that brought us United.
David Tennant is no stranger to the role of an uprooted police detective given the responsibility of solving a murder in a seaside community, so it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with his earlier work in Blackpool. However, impressions from this episode suggest that he is very much playing against his commonly perceived type. DI Alec Hardy is about as far away from the lovelorn puppyish DI Peter Carlisle as it is possible to get, the shabby demeanour and penchant for a seafront ice cream aside. Hardy is abrupt, short-tempered and totally by the book, the king of the icy stare and the cutting comment, he has little time for either the over-brimming emotion of colleague Ellie Miller or initial concerns of the effect of the murder on local businesses, and no apparent concept that any of his colleagues might actually have forenames. His rage at the press leak is furious: “Bloody Twitter!” he barks at his assembled investigative team before publicly rounding on Miller. He has few redeeming features; still, there are signs that his heart is not entirely flint. He looks suitably emotional when imparting the news to the grieving Latimer family and manages an almost concerned ‘You OK?’ to Ellie as they drive away together.
It is all in stark contrast to Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller, whom we meet returning to work and handing out carefully selected holiday gifts to her friends. She is even civil enough to Hardy, though they clash terribly, partly because of their different professional methods, partly because Hardy has taken the job meant for Miller, but it is fundamentally in her nature to be big-hearted. Miller is devoted to her family and to her community, so she wrestles with the conflict between her instinct to support her family friends and the professional detachment that Hardy requires of her. She cannot help but be swept up in the tide of sentiment that engulfs the town, much to the frustration of her superior. Olivia Colman portrays her confusion and barely restrained emotion to perfection. Events are totally out of her experience both professionally and personally; she has no reference points and so no way of knowing how to act and react or who it is appropriate to interact with. The more worldly Hardy finds it all barely tolerable; we can only hope that the saintly Miller will eventually soften him.
Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan excel as the parents whose world has been ripped apart. Whittaker as Beth howls with anguish at the horror and injustice of it all; Buchan is for now quieter, more restrained, but achingly poignant when he is not even allowed to touch his dead child’s body. There are already cracks in their relationship which it is obvious that the tragedy will shortly widen into chasms.
The drama is beautifully shot with the Jurassic landscapes of the Dorset coast playing as much of a prominent role as the starry cast. It’s all glowing sun and green fields, crashing waves and golden sands which makes the spectre of the brutal act all the more gut-wrenching. But there is also a sense that this seemingly perfect community is not all that it seems. We know that there are mysteries to be uncovered and questions constantly bob to the surface. What demons from his past cause Hardy to recoil as he approaches Danny’s body? Did Beth really check in on Danny at 9pm? Where was Mark until the early hours? Why is Vicky McClure's unscrupulous journalist so keen to get her teeth into this case in particular? What about the characters we haven’t properly met yet: Arthur Darvill’s footballing vicar, Pauline Quirke as the scruffy dog owner and Will Mellor as telephone engineer Steve? And what is Miller’s own son Tom so desperate to hide? The drama is in no hurry to give up its secrets just yet; however with writing of this calibre that can only be a good thing.

Episode 2
The second episode of Broadchurch proved that this is more than a simple whodunit as the drama continues to explore the impact of a shocking tragedy on the rest of the community, of an extraordinary event in a very ordinary setting, and also sets up a myriad of mysteries to be slowly unpicked over the coming weeks. There are many more questions than answers, but at the quarter point of an eight part drama that is just how things should stand.
Forty eight hours have passed since the body of young Danny Latimer was found on the beach and the town is still reeling from shock, ripples spreading out from the event, touching and affecting everyone in its wake, emotionally and financially, and rocking their trust in their neighbours. Early tensions are starting to bubble to the surface - the angry businessman in the bar, the frightened family who corner Ellie in a café – perhaps early signs that something big is brewing in this formerly peaceful and settled place. Local vicar Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) tries to preach calm and support to the population, but his message only reaches the ears of a tiny fraction of them. Most are disinterested in what he has to say.
Detectives DI Hardy and DS Miller (David Tennant and Olivia Colman) are stepping up their investigation and still circling one another warily. “I don’t drink coffee” he snaps to her proffered peace offering. “Of course you don’t” she responds equally curtly. Ellie tries in vain through her natural empathy and kindness to crack the hard shell of the inflexible Hardy, but she cannot accept his emotionless insistence that she step outside her community to get a clear picture of what is going on. Even Ellie can’t be a saint forever and she berates him for his rudeness on more than one occasion, although it apparently does little good. He has his detective hat too firmly on his head even to accept her offer of a chip shop supper with good grace. The tension in their working relationship is never far from the surface, but in spite of their differences their enquiries are making progress, and their leads throw up questions about a number of members of the community, some of which are uncomfortably close to home.
The Latimer family are still numb with shock. Jodie Whittaker as Beth continues to excel as the grieving mother, particularly when a quest for a few moments of normality leads to a public meltdown in a beautifully set up moment in the mundane setting of the local supermarket. Andrew Buchan as Mark is quietly simmering with hurt and rage, and it is inevitable that the explosion will come eventually. When it does it is shocking that it is the community’s embodiment of peace and love that he targets. But what is more astounding is that neither of their children are innocents apparently, as the police search of the house reveals.

The press, of course, are still sniffing around, and it’s clear that they are still very much portrayed as the bad guys. Ambitious Olly (Jonathan Bailey) is keen to get in with national reporter Karen (Vicky McClure), even if it means betraying his home town to do so. Karen is worryingly creepy as she starts to worm her way into Chloe’s (Charlotte Beaumont) trust.                           

Two of the more mysterious characters instantly arouse suspicion. Pauline Quirke is loner Susan, an unpleasant character who is as rude and abrupt as Hardy himself, who reveals to the audience that she has something that the police are looking for stashed in the cupboard in her caravan. Meanwhile telephone engineer Steve Connelly (Will Mellor) puts himself straight under police scrutiny when he claims to be receiving messages from Danny from beyond the grave. The claim is received with a volcanic explosion of contempt from Hardy – that is until Connelly fires a parting shot back at him that sends him reeling.

The questions mount up. What is behind the story about the postman that paper shop owner Jack (David Bradley) tells Hardy? Why can’t Beth confess her secret to her family? Where was Mark really on the night of Danny’s death? What happened after the CCTV footage ran out? Why did Danny have all that money? What is Ellie’s son Tom (Adam Wilson) so scared of? How did Susan come by Danny’s possessions? A print off of Danny’s Facebook statuses reveals that he had information on people. Will this be the key to discovering the killer?

And what of Hardy himself? Slowly his own secrets start to emerge. It’s known that he came to Broadchurch under the cloud of his previous investigation. Is the memory of what happened there the cause of his apparent panic attacks, his vertigo and his pill popping? Or was this the cause of his earlier professional failure? Who is the girl whose picture he carries in his wallet? A sister? A daughter, even? What is the significance of the pendant? It’s clear that the identity of the demons that haunt Hardy will not become known for some time, but these moments allow Tennant to show glimpses of a more fragile, vulnerable side to the otherwise steely Hardy.
Episode two effortlessly sets up these questions and leaves them tantalisingly unanswered. It also ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and one last question – surely we don’t know the identity of the killer already?

Episode 3
The theme of self-punishment featured strongly in episode three ofBroadchurch as the clues stacked up and the police pulled in their first real suspect.
All evidence seemed to point towards accused father Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan), who maintained that he had been out with a mate that night. Detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) pushed his shaky alibi aside with ease – asking the world’s worst liar to account for his whereabouts was probably a big mistake on his part –and there was no professional explanation for him being in the hut either. So, did the police have their culprit? With another five full episodes to go, common sense would say no. It would seem relatively easy for Latimer to name his witness and save his own skin, but his dream in the opening moments and his own breakdown in the interrogation room indicated that he considered himself worthy of punishment. He betrayed his family on that one occasion, and it was the occasion on which his son had needed his protection the most. In his mind his incarceration was a deserved penalty.
DI Hardy too was apparently making amends for past deeds. Journalist Karen White (Vicky McClure) has hinted at the extent of his failure in his past job. A clandestine meeting with his doctor (Moray Hunter) showed that he is a sick man, but he refuses to step down from his role. He hates the job and the place and the people, and the stress could kill him. But whatever the circumstances are behind his transfer to Broadchurch, Hardy has set himself a purpose for continuing with his investigations. It’s penance, he explains, weightily, brooding in the semi-darkness over his past deeds and his own fate. David Tennant, as we know, does tortured brooding particularly well.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed psychic Steve Connelly (Will Mellor) is targeting Beth (Jodie Whittaker) with what appears to be some typically exploitative guesswork. Beth is certainly after some sort of sign, and the platitudes offered by vicar Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) aren’t going to be enough, so against her better judgement she lets Connelly into her confidence. However his message to Hardy last week must have hit a nerve as the otherwise sceptical detective is inspired to follow up on his boat comment. Yes, it turns out, Mark has a boat. The boat is smeared with blood. The blood is Danny’s. Mark has been violent towards Danny in the past. And is that coincidence – in a seaside town it’s not beyond credibility that many of the residents will own a boat – or does this mean that Steve’s messages are going to be treated with some credibility? A boat is burnt at the end of the episode. It could be Mark’s. Or it could be someone else’s, spooked that the investigation in the harbour is getting a little close for comfort.

So with Mark Latimer, for now, seemingly off the hook, a number of questions are still left unanswered. There’s that skateboard that oddball loner Susan (Pauline Quirke) has in her cupboard. Danny’s perhaps, but then every kid in town seems to hang out round the skate park, so it could belong to any one of them. How was it that Mark’s daughter Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) knew about his liaison with hotelier Becca (Simone McAullay) but wife Beth was clueless? What else is she prepared to cover up for her father? How did Mark’s fingerprints come to be all over the hut? Why does a plumber’s mate have a crossbow in his van? What does paper shop owner Jack (David Bradley) have against the press? Why does Olly (Jonathan Bailey) seem so twitchy over that business with his mum? And can the Miller family, Ellie and husband Joe (Matthew Gravelle) really be that nice and decent and perfect, or is their a darker side to them too that we have yet to observe?

Amongst all the relentless grimness there are moments of lightness. Police family liaison officer Pete (Marcus Garvey) is never without a soothing cup of tea to hand and an inappropriate comment tumbling from his lips. And Hardy and Miller are still rubbing one another up the wrong way, and at times their sniping provides the some of the scant comic relief – Hardy’s horror at being asked to dinner raises a welcome smile in a fairly tense episode. His never-ending capacity for rudeness and inability to converse even on the most basic terms with normal, decent human beings exasperates even the most forgiving woman in the world. “Knob!” she mutters as they lurch to the end of yet another awkward and mismatched exchange. Still, she got one up on him on the boat, him crouching terrified on the RIB as she hopped confidently from vessel to vessel.

Big hearted Ellie - and surely someone so personally close to the suspect wouldn’t be allowed to be anywhere near that interview room in her professional capacity - is loath to believe that any of her friends could be guilty of the crime. But, the increasingly short-tempered Hardy is fast losing patience with her: she’s more like Mark Latimer’s solicitor, he accuses. In turn she is horrified of his insensitive handling of her own son’s feelings. He hates the over-familiar way that they work in Broadchurch, and she hates his icy detachment and his refusal to acknowledge that they are dealing with real people and not just suspects.

There are five more episodes of Broadchurch to go, yet it hardly seems long enough to unpick all of the secrets of the town and its residents. But one thing is for sure, someone knows the darkest secret of all and it’s only going to be a matter of time before that person shows their hand.

Episode 4
Fires bracketed the opening and closing of episode four of Broadchurchwhile within the small town frustration and dissatisfaction sparked and smouldered and spread as the town’s population began to grumble about the apparent lack of progress of the investigation. But the police had evidence, real proper evidence as SOCO Brian (Peter de Jersey) discovered fibres and hair on the carcass of the burnt boat. DI Hardy (David Tennant) was elated and for a moment he seemed almost about to break into a little Highland jig at the news. He was so happy that he even went so far as to raise a length of police tape to let colleague Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) through in a gentlemanly manner, but his normal levels of misery and general misanthropy were quickly restored when critics at the town meeting reminded him of the Sandbrook case. As he feared, everyone was now getting involved, meaning the press particularly, though he did grudgingly accept a new piece of evidence from the former object of his ire, Olly (Jonathan Bailey).

The press, it had to be said, did more than their bit in stoking up the aggravation in the town. Olly, while no doubt hiding out from his apparently complicated domestic circumstances, indulged in a little late night research which uncovered something particularly unpleasant about Jack (David Bradley). Meanwhile, Maggie (Carolyn Pickles) found that Susan (Pauline Quirke) might not be all that she seemed. Karen (Vicky McClure) caused general mischief to shift a few more copies of the Herald while ensuring that the Latimer family saw her as the person to trust. As the town quickly became overrun with tabloid hacks and paps, crafty Karen manipulated the family and her local colleagues to come to some unfounded conclusions that will inevitably refocus the whole case.

There was a lot of skulking about in the darkness this week. Beth met Ellie for an early hours chat about Mark’s infidelity while the Reverend Paul (Arthur Darvill) loitered around his own church and Nige (Joe Sims) lurked in his van observing an exchange of views between Jack and Olly. Queen of the Midnight Prowlers has to be Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke) who generally raised her profile as a face to watch in the enquiry. Not only does the odd loner have some as yet unexplained connection to Mark’s best mate Nige, but Psycho Susan pulled out all the stops to menace snooping journalist Maggie who had perhaps uncovered a little more about her than she felt comfortable with sharing with the rest of the town. “I know men who can rape you!” she hissed after breaking into the newspaper office, leaving the hack with little doubt that Susan is a genuinely nasty piece of work.
Ellie and Hardy seemed to be falling more into step with one another as they worked each other out. Under Hardy’s tutelage Ellie has, to her dismay, started to become more detached. Looking around the town meeting she suddenly sees not a room full of friends and neighbours but a room full of potential suspects. She doesn’t like what she’s becoming. Hardy shrugs off her concern. “A good detective” he states. “Hardened!” she shudders in response. Their dinner date was as cringeworthy as anticipated, with Hardy awkwardly arriving bearing an abundance of gifts yet still refusing to be on first name terms. As light relief it’s absolutely necessary, but it’s also a sign of their new repositioning. Whether it was the wine, the soft lighting or perfect husband Joe’s good cooking, Hardy even offered up a few snippets of personal information. He’d been married, apparently, and there’s a daughter too. With Ellie out of the room Hardy expresses concern that his colleague doesn’t like him to Joe (Matthew Gravelle), and we even saw the first, genuine Hardy smile. She in turn seemed properly worried at the injury he sustained through his‘accident’ the next day. However, we’re none the wiser either about the nature of Hardy’s medical condition that causes him to black out so dramatically and which he defies in order to prove his worth as a detective. 

The Latimer family tried hard to plough on with their normal lives in utterly abnormal circumstances. For Beth (Jodie Whittaker) this is incredibly hard. On the one hand she is grieving for the loss of her son, even asking Ellie’s son Tom (Adam Wilson) for a hug because she misses Danny’s so much. On the other hand she is grieving for her marriage. She now knows that Mark (Andrew Buchan) was unfaithful with Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay). It’s no wonder that she seeks trust, answers and reassurance elsewhere. When psychic Steve (Will Mellor) is debunked as a petty criminal and con artist she turns to Karen as another source of support in a misguided means of raising the profile of the case. And raise the profile it does, though whether that is in the way that she had hoped remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the Latimers and family friends sit down for a model Sunday dinner shot in a gentle golden haze and for a while it’s almost normal. And then, reality bites back. It never can be normal again, not with one person gone forever and not with the arrival of a former friend who could be the killer. And not with Mark and Beth’s brittle relationship on the point of collapse, with the press ambushing them at every turn and the town on the point of exploding in a mess of false accusations as friends and trusted neighbours turn upon one another. It will be interesting to see whether the golden colour palette in which the episodes have been shot so far darkens and changes over the next few weeks.

At the end of the episode, the police have a new piece of evidence in the return of Danny’s phone, the family are the focus of increasing media attention, the first fractures are appearing in the fabric of relationships within the town and one person is burning incriminating items. At this, the halfway point, we are no closer to identifying the killer, but it is more than the need to know the killer’s identity that draws audiences back. The human interest, the complexities of the relationships and the very real characters that are so easy to invest in make this the drama to return to, over and over. It’s TV as it should be – thrilling, gripping and stimulating; something to be discussed and something to be anticipated. Those seven days in between instalments feel like seven weeks.

Episode 5
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.

Episode 6
It’s eight weeks since Danny’s death, summer is turning to autumn and the town is poised to pay its respects. Unfortunately it’s not to Danny; with the crime still unsolved his body can’t be released, much to the distress of his family. Instead it’s the funeral of Jack Marshall, the newsagent and Sea Brigade leader who was hounded to his death by the community in which he rebuilt his life after his own tragedies. Ironically, the church is packed with many of those who were baying for his blood only recently, and it falls to the Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) to remind the town how they failed Jack, and Danny too.
It’s a week of rediscovery and repositioning. There is much gazing into mirrors as key figures try to work out what has become of their lives and how they have changed since those catastrophic events at the start of the summer. Olly (Jonathan Bailey) is troubled by his part in Jack’s death and even more so when Karen (Vicky McClure) turns up on the day of the funeral like the Black Crow of Death to remind him of his own culpability. Mark and Beth (Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker) are looking ahead now, but their first steps back into normality only too painfully remind them that normality is something they might never have again. Mark finds the headline page of a newspaper crumpled in a grate, his son’s death now yesterday’s news, good only as kindling. Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) can’t stand the pitying gazes of her school friends and turns to boyfriend Dean (Jacob Anderson) who, far from being the bad egg that he’s been portrayed as for the last few weeks, actually turns out to be a sensitive farm boy who has created for her a place of respite. “I need a break from being the dead boy’s sister,” she explains to her frantic parents who have driven cross country to find her. Mark was certain that Chloe would be fine. “How can you ever say that now?” Beth berates him. Her guard will never be down around her daughter and her remaining family ever again.

Poor Beth is still seeking answers and closure. In desperation she begs Karen to arrange a meeting with one of the parents from the Sandbrook murders. If she wanted a sign that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, sadly she isn’t going to find it here. She meets Cate (Amanda Drew) in a roadside café, far from the soft focus golden haze of Broadchurch, this meeting is drab, grey with car headlights melting by along the road outside. Cate has no reassurances for Beth. DI Hardy is the worst man for the job, she says, and failed her daughter through his incompetence. It’s a raw and honest scene, as Kate recounts her bleak and hopeless days, divorced, her daughter dead, the killer still walking free. Everything is pointless, whatever she does, the worst that can happen has already happened, so she drinks, cries, sleeps, and watches mindless TV. “My life got stolen that day,” she declares to a horrified Beth who can see a similar abyss opening up in front of her. She has a choice now: she can continue to let events consume her or she can fight back and move on with her life.
All is not good for detectives Hardy and Miller. With the investigation not turning up results, resources are being cut. At the church gate before Jack’s funeral, they scrutinise the mourners, assuming that one of these people will be the killer. Hardy (David Tennant) fixes the unpleasant Susan with an icy glare, but the main focus of his suspicion is levelled at Paul Coates, especially after the latter’s inflammatory sermon. Hardy has been trailing Paul and made his own discoveries and jumped to conclusions. There’s an inevitable locking of horns as faith and suspicion clash, and while Hardy delights in humiliating Paul, it is the vicar that comes out top as their philosophies collide. Still, Hardy has his own problems. His estranged daughter is apparently not returning his calls, his mystery illness seems to be getting worse and the press have singled him out as The Worst Cop In Britain. We find him tortured by a nightmare, with four of his suspects, Steve Connolly, Nige Carter, Paul Coates and Mark Latimer, lined up on the shoreline before mountainous waves – that fear of water again – that leaves him gasping in pain and fumbling for his pills. Ellie (Olivia Colman) finds even more that she is forced to see her friends as suspects and she hates what she is becoming. Even husband Joe (Matthew Gravelle) has noticed how distant she is has been. Yet she misses her own son’s suspicious behaviour and Joe’s protectiveness of the boy, both right under her nose as she focuses on the case. Tom (Adam Wilson) has claimed that he actually hated Danny and his worry over the computer files has spilled over so that he takes drastic action to destroy evidence. You do question his judgement though – surely a copper’s son wouldn’t wander off to a caravan park with a stranger, not with a child murderer still on the loose. Meanwhile Joe, Ellie’s perfect house husband, is starting to exude …what? Menace? Something subtly sinister, anyway: he resents Hardy hovering around the boy and his jokey comments to Ellie about whom she suspects are almost as weighted as his dinner table questioning of Hardy over the likelihood of catching the killer.
So, while the police wrestle with their own personal demons it is the press that do the actual detective work in this episode. Veteran journalist Maggie (Carolyn Pickles) turns up enough about Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke) to set events into motion to trigger the latter’s arrest. What Susan hoped to achieve by sending Tom home with Danny’s skateboard isn’t clear, yet she made that choice as soon as she learned who Tom’s mother was. Her arrest also gave her erstwhile collaborator Nige (Joe Sims) the opportunity to strike back at her through something she loves, also showing, for his part, a complete disregard for life. 
As the police close in on their latest suspect and bring her into custody, the Latimers are trying to make a fresh start. They pull their fractured family back together and dare to laugh and have fun and even look towards a future. Is this a sign that a corner has at last been turned by the town and Broadchurch can settle back to something like routine? But events at the hut indicate that the police still don’t have the right person. The fleeing figure is an adult, possibly male, strong and physically fit enough to knock Ellie aside twice, outrun Hardy and to scale a chain fence. The episode ends in chaos and it looks for now that Ellie might be forced to move forward from this on her own.

Episode 7 
The cliffhanger of episode six gave way to a slower start to episode seven as Alec Hardy struggled to regain control of the case after last week’s alarming conclusion. Perhaps waking up to Ellie Miller’s sourest of sour faces wasn’t the greatest return to consciousness for a bloke we left at death’s door last week but Hardy is absolutely adamant that he will be the one to bring this case to its conclusion. So we see him defying medical advice – heart arrhythmia is the diagnosis that we’ve all been guessing at, by the way – and making a journey back to his desk that plays out like watching a man swimming against treacle. It’s all for that ‘penance’ that he’s referred to previously. He has to solve this case, not just for the Latimers but also for the families that he failed in the Sandbrook case.

Miller, meanwhile, steps into the boss’s shoes quite adeptly while he is still plotting his escape from the clutches of the medics. As she faces her team and reels off the task list, she’s confident and assured, a world away from the awkward, nervous Ellie that Miller thrust into the limelight at the start of the investigation. We see, perhaps, the DI that she could have been had Hardy not usurped the role. He of course, is quick to remind her that she’s not up to the job, but do his words have an ulterior motive? Is he just trying to ensure that she keeps up the momentum, picking up some of the slack from him? Or perhaps he wants to make sure that she’s up to scratch when he’s no longer around to do the job – now that word of his condition is out he knows that his days, if not hours, on the case are numbered.

The episode was one of long awaited revelations. The unpleasant loner Susan gave a shocking testimony of the discovery of Danny’s body that led to the disclosure of her own secret past and the tragedy that befell her family. Her own daughter murdered and husband convicted, she was implicated enough to have first her surviving daughter and then her newborn baby taken away from her. She quickly dropped Nige in the frame. Hardy and Miller deftly tore paper thin alibis to shreds to get to the heart of the matter, although the most avid viewers could probably see this big reveal coming a mile off. Yes, Nige was Susan’s son, adopted as a baby. Nige had only just discovered that he was adopted a few months back. Discovering that Susan was your mother would probably be enough to turn anyone into a crossbow toting maniac with a store cupboard full of shotguns, and that was before he even found out the truth about his birth family. Nige, his world rocked to its foundations, had been trying every means at his disposal to convince her to leave him alone, and Susan was resisting fiercely. Still the lies came, each trying to outsmart the police and second guess what the other was saying. Nige admitted finally to a bit of poaching, but Susan is still certain that she saw him lay Danny’s body on the beach. We last see Susan wandering off away from her caravan and the town, Nige has finally succeeding in driving her away. Susan has convinced herself that he is his father’s son and is capable of repeating his acts – he has her ex’s evil within him -  and this is enough for her to believe his threats and remove herself from the situation.

Hardy too gave up his big secret after, bizarrely, checking in with psychic Steve first. It turns out that Hardy has been to Broadchurch before. Is this the brooding boy that we see hunched up on the beach, gazing out to sea in hazy flashbacks, along with the face of murdered Danny and his own daughter? But it was to reporters Maggie and Olly that he set the record straight about the intertwining tales of Sandbrook and his own marriage breakdown and his illness in an emotional and raw account of those events. You understand then the sacrifice that he made for his own child, and his despair that she believes the commonly held version of events and, therefore, rejects all contact with him. In Hardy’s mind the Sandbrook case is still very much open but it remains to be seen whether he has sufficient time remaining to enable him to solve it.

The Latimers started to come to terms with their new arrival and turned to Paul for support. Faced with their combined guilt and distress he advised them to try to accept the pregnancy as a blessing. They have turned a corner but there’s a long way to go for them still, as is evident during an uncomfortable moment at dinner with Chloe and Dean. And it’s even more uncomfortable when Dean reveals a secret about Nige and Danny that could potentially send the investigation off in another direction, just as Hardy was convinced enough of Nige’s lack of involvement to release him. Still, Hardy has the remains of Tom’s laptop now, and is even perhaps starting to see Paul Coates as an ally rather than a suspect, and he knows that his colleague’s son is capable of violence against his former friend and threats against the vicar. At long last, the focus of Hardy’s investigation has swivelled around to the Miller family.
Ellie, of course, seems unaware that Tom is being investigated by Hardy and oblivious to the fact that he already has the laptop. But she has other concerns. She’s appalled by Susan’s testimony. How could she stand smoking over the body of a child and do nothing? And how could she betray her son Nige like that? “I’m a mum and whatever my child had done I’d want to protect him” she levels at Susan. The way things are going, with Tom’s suspicious activities growing by the day, she might find herself putting that to the test soon. She accuses Hardy of maintaining that she’s protecting her son, but as she leaves the office it’s written all over Hardy’s face that he does believe just that, and something about this investigation might be a little too close for comfort. There are signs too that all is not quite right in the perfect Miller household. Ellie snaps at husband Joe, “What have you done?” What indeed, and were those important moments after all when he questioned Hardy about catching the killer and teased Ellie about being a suspect?

As Hardy opened the email from his colleague the penny dropped. Whatever was recovered from Tom’s computer was the missing piece of the puzzle – but just who does it implicate?

And if it wasn’t Nige on the beach, then who looks similar enough to him so that Susan might mistake him at a distance?
The killer apparently has Danny's smartphone. Stolen from his body ... or was it easier for them to acquire?

How noteworthy is it that the closing sequence has all the remaining suspects either waking or sitting awake at the exact same moment while Ellie, oblivious, slumbers on? It’s a parade of suspects that mirrors the one seen in the first episode. One of these people – possibly more than one – is responsible for Danny’s death.

And finally, is the question that Ellie put to Susan as they parted for the final time about to have monumental significance?

"Back then, in your own house...How could you not know?"

Episode 8 

It was a bold step by the makers of the drama to review the killer’s identity so early in the show. DI Hardy, hours before being medically retired due to the heart condition that has dogged him thoughout the investigation tracked the killer in measured slow-motion, past recognisable town landmarks, the church, the field, the Latimers’ house and, with that heartbeat soundtrack pounding away, towards that oh-so-familiar front door. It’s then we realise his suspicions. It’s why he gave Ellie that earnest commendation on the beach and why he had distracted her with the re-arrest of Nige. The trail led him through the Miller’s house and to the culprit himself who called him in and readily handed himself over to police custody.
Never mind that most of the population had already guessed that Joe Miller was the murderer. Never mind that the motive was that old TV murder mystery cliché, paedophilia, a theme that has raised its head more than once in previous weeks. What was important now was not the denouement itself but its impact, the ripples of shock that spread out through the community as word of the arrest spread. The remainder of the episode concentrated on the aftermath of the arrest. In one harrowing scene it falls to the usually flinty Hardy to break the news to his gentle colleague of her husband’s arrest and confession, in another heart-wrenching moment Ellie had to explain events to son Tom. Olivia Colman is supreme as she channels disbelief, revulsion, grief and rage in the space of a few seconds, while David Tennant conveys all that the taciturn Hardy is unable to vocalise through his facial expression and his eyes. The entire ensemble cast deserve recognition, but if either lead actor is absent from any awards lists following their performances in this drama it will be a travesty.

The community reels with the horror as the implications of Joe’s arrest hit home. This is someone at the heart of the community, their friend and neighbour, someone who visited their houses, minded their children and even offered support in the wake of Danny’s death. For Mark the horror is almost unbearable as he has to relive the grief of losing a son now coupled with the most awful betrayal. So many key moments of the past weeks now jump out – Joe’s pointed question about the investigation to Hardy over dinner, his teasing Ellie over him being a suspect. And for Ellie, her words to Susan Wright come back to haunt her: “How could you not know?” The population gathers to hear the news, but where there is incredulity and horror there is also a sense of relief. As the producers are so keen to assure us, there is closure

At the end there is hope. At a torchlight vigil held for Danny, beacons are lit down the coast in a gesture of solidarity, a sign that the community is being connected again and that Broadchurch is not an isolated bubble where this horrific event took place but a part of the nation that is in the thoughts of all. It has been a drama that has explored the effects on the town and its residents as much as the process of finding the killer and it is quite fitting that the motif of light coming out of the darkness should show that a line has been drawn and, while events can never be forgotten, the community can reshape itself around what has happened and try to move on.

Ironically, protagonists Hardy and Miller are perhaps the only two left without a clear direction at the conclusion. At the beginning they are perhaps the most self-assured individuals in the story. Ellie is rock-solid in her conviction that Broadchurch is, and always will be, her home, and she is much respected and much loved with the perfect family to support her. Hardy is single-minded in his professionalism and his focus on his work and on this case; he is a police detective first and foremost. Now Ellie Miller is considering leaving the town and having to start again from nothing somewhere else, while Alec Hardy has lost the role that has defined him. The series concludes with the pair adrift, unsure of what to do next as the rest of Broadchurch picks itself up and moves forward. Whether these issues will be addressed in the just-announced second series remains to be seen.