Broadchurch: A Sandbrook Case Update

This week's episode revealed more uncertainties and suspicions in the Sandbrook case and we began to question more than ever if Alec Hardy is on the right path in pursuing Lee Ashworth as the killer..

Following last week's cliffhanger when Lee and Claire had disappeared. Hardy tracked Claire and Lee down to Claire's cottage where upon arrival he was greeted by Lee who threw him to the ground and stood on the sickly cop's chest after discovering that Hardy had bugged the room in Ellie's home that he and Claire were going to talk in. Once again Lee stated his innocence telling Hardy that neither he nor Claire are prisoners. He goaded Hardy by telling him to phone the police, but he didn't because he is investigating the case unofficially and doesn't want the police to know that he has hidden Claire in Broadchurch and is still out to prove Lee is guilty.

Lee then passionately forced a kiss on Claire in front of Hardy who looked on as Claire maintained eye contact with him throughout. As Lee turned to leave the cottage he told Hardy  "Now, I will tell you everything you missed at Sandbrook when you stop pissing me about" 
Again Lee's statement suggests that he is innocent and that he feels that Hardy hasn't investigated the case thoroughly.
As soon as Lee left Hardy screamed at Claire "What the hell where you doing?"
Claire said that she only went with Lee because she was terrified of him and hadn't seen him for a year and a half. Claire was as angry as Hardy who was confused as to why she didn't just phone him. She told him they got out of a window in Ellie's house and ran across a few gardens before picking up a taxi to her cottage, which as Hardy the pointed out was the one place Lee didn't know about, but she claimed she had no choice 
Claire was angry that Hardy had cameras in the room to record her and when he says he needed to know what Lee was saying she replies "So you don't trust me to tell you then? No?"

It is then that Hardy confronts her with the letter containing the pressed Bluebell, which was sent to a PO Box address in Southampton.

Hardy: "You want to tell me the truth? What's this?"
Claire: "I don't know."
Hardy: "Don't lie to me Claire"
Claire: "It's a bluebell. It was sent to me like that, to an old post office box I used to use when I did mail order hairdressing products"
Hardy: "Who sent it? What does it mean? Why did you keep it?"

Claire feigned ignorance to the letter at first but got increasingly angry and accused Hardy of sneaking about in the cottage rummaging through her things. He asked her if there's anything she hasn't told him about her and Lee or Sandbrook.
We then see a flashback of Claire slapping a man round the face and saying "What have you done" 
Before she calmly stares Hardy in the eye and says "I have told you everything. Get out." 
It's a side to Claire that we haven't seen before. She's always come across as fragile and dependent on Hardy for protection, but here she's harsh and angry and we know that she's lying and not being honest about the events in Sandbrook.

Later Hardy told Ellie on the phone that Claire won't speak to him and asks her if she'll talk to her and then he continues to study his evidence on the case. Again we see a photo of some woodland - perhaps were Pippa's body was found?

The following morning Lee, who is sleeping in the back of a van called Claire at her cottage.
"I won't follow you, I won't come to the house, I won't make things difficult but when you need me I'll be here" he told her. She says nothing, but it's starting to appear that far from him being the one who holds the power in the relationship it is perhaps Claire who has a strong hold over her husband.

Lee then visited the offices of the Broadchurch Echo and asks Lucy if he can place a small ad for maintenance services in the paper. She was clearly taken with the handsome stranger who then enquired where the police station is. His reason for this enquiry is made clear when a uniformed police officer turns up at the court and tells Hardy that Lee has made a complaint against him.

Another flashback sequence shows Lee working in the garden of his home and being watched by 19 year old Lisa and 12 year old Pippa through a bedroom window. He and Lisa smile flirtatiously at each other until Pippa's mother wanders over to see what the girls are looking at. Was Lee involved in a relationship with the teen? If so it throws further suspicions on who the killer could have been.

Hardy and the uniformed officer tracked Lee down to a field where he was repairing fencing, Hardy having agreed to apologise to him in order to avoid an internal enquiry. 

Lee: "Well, he took me to a house, recorded me in private, then when I left he tracked me down and attacked me."
Hardy: "You attacked me."
Lee: "See this is what he's like."

After Lee demanded that he says the words "I'm sorry" to him Alec swallowed his pride and did it, but we've seen that Lee is clearly not to be trusted and has twisted the story and attributed his own actions to Alec. Is he doing this in the murder case too? He claims not to have attacked Alec but we all witnessed it, so are his claims not to be the killer to be taken seriously? 

Meanwhile Ellie turns up at the cottage to see Claire where the first thing she does is ask Claire how she can say she needs protecting from Lee and then run off with him. Claire adopts a different approach with Ellie and is apologetic telling her "I know I should have been stronger, I'm sorry" her reaction is much different to the anger she showed towards Hardy, though this could be attributed to Hardy and Ellie's differing personalities as much as to Claire's mood.

Ellie then invited Claire out for the night claiming that she wants to get hammered and the pair head to a bar in Weymouth where they continue to bond over tales of lost love and could have beens, but when Claire heads to the loo Ellie rummages in her coat pocket and finds her mobile phone she then copied the numbers form Claire's phone in to her own and checked out her recent internet searches which include 'Lee Ashworth Trial', 'Lee Ashworth Guilty' and 'Lee Ashworth Pendant' before quickly replacing it to the pocket as Claire arrives back. 
Claire points out two men to Ellie who have been eyeing them up and asks her which one she prefers, Ellie is hesitant and says she's never done that before, but Claire is persuasive and is clearly used to picking men up.

Back at Hardy's chalet he was taking his medication when he spots Lee standing menacingly outside his front door.

Hardy: "We've got nothing more to say"
Lee: "I've got plenty to tell you"

He let Lee in, who then slapped a pile of papers down on the table, notes, interviews, people's movements for the night of the murder. Knowing that Hardy was convinced that he was guilty and would never want to clear his name Lee has been doing his own investigations in to the murders. Unfortunately this required him telling the people he spoke to that he was Hardy. 
"Yeah I know what it's like to be you now, suspicious all the time, it must be really eating away at you, especially when you're wrong"
Again he is determined to prove his innocence, but again he has shown himself to be a liar by impersonating Hardy.
Hardy threatens to report him for impersonating a police office but he doesn't. Does he secretly have even the smallest element of doubt that Lee is the killer now?

Lee accused Hardy of not investigating the girls families enough and says that Lisa had told him that her uncle, Ricky Gillespie, Pippa's father, had made a pass at her when he was driving her home from baby sitting the child. This fact shocks Hardy so he had obviously never known this during the initial investigation. Lee also points out a guy seen hanging around the estate where the Gillespie family lived three weeks before the murders, to which Hardy says there was no proof he even existed, but Lee maintains that he was seen by four separate witnesses. Hardy dismissed it all saying none of it is new.

Lee: "Why would I kill a 12 year old girl?"
Hardy: "Why was her pendant found in your vehicle?"
Lee: "We used to give her a lift to school as a favour to Cate, so it must come off then."
Hardy: "She was wearing it the day she died."
Lee: "You missed things."
Hardy: "You need to go. Go on, get out."
Lee: "Look at that stuff. Look at the Gillespies. Look at that bloke hanging round the estate."
Hardy: "Why did you send Claire a bluebell?"
Lee: "What? How am I going to do that from France? Do bluebells even grown in France?"

By now Ellie and Claire were both the worse for wear and Ellie was keen to get rid of the two men they've picked up, but Claire wanted to take it further and said they could take them back to the cottage where Ellie ended up having an awkward sexual encounter with one of them. After he left Claire sneaks in to see Ellie with a cup of tea and climbs in to bed next to her. She assumed that the sex will have made Ellie feel better about herself, instead it appears to have had the opposite effect. 

Ellie seized the opportunity to quiz her about the night of the murder again.

Ellie: "Claire, what happened that night?"
Claire: "I don't know"
Ellie: "Claire?"
Claire: "Lee drugged me. He used to have that stuff, rohypnol, he got a little bottle of someone and that night he drugged me and I woke up halfway through the night."
Ellie: "That isn't what you told the police."
Claire: "I can just feel myself being pulled back in to him now that he's back Ellie."
Ellie: "Claire, tell me the truth, where were you both the night those girls disappeared?"
Claire: "He drugged me. I woke up at 5am and he was cleaning. He was cleaning the whole house."

This is not what Claire originally told Hardy when he was investigating, she told him that she had been with Lee all night. When Hardy sussed out that she was lying and was providing Lee with a false alibi, Claire told him she had been staying with a friend. She has now told Ellie she was in their home but was drugged. A coincidence, as Ellie was also unconscious after taking sleeping tablets to recover from jet lag on the night that her husband murdered Danny Latimer..or is Claire simply copying aspects of Ellie's story and weaving it in to a web of lies?  Surely the friend she stayed with would have given evidence to confirm she was with them?
Claire's strange behaviour is only continuing to get stranger.

Later that day at the court as Ellie waits to give evidence she and Hardy discuss what Claire has told her and he confirms that she has never mentioned the rohypnol to him before. Ellie then voices her concerns over Claire

Ellie: "Why are you being such a fuck wit about this? She lived next door, she had access, her story's inconsistent. This woman you've been protecting, she's a suspect."
Hardy: "I know"
Ellie: "What? You told me you'd been protecting her!"
Hardy: "No, I said I was keeping her safe so she didn't abscond."

So is it really Claire who's behind the Sandbrook murders or is she merely confusing her story in a bid to cover up for the real killer?

Broadchurch continues on Monday 26th January at 9pm on ITV and 10pm on TV3.