REVIEW: Broadchurch Episode 4 - Old Secrets, New Suspects

As the second series of Broadchurch reaches its halfway point, new twists and turns have thrown both cases wide open. In Sandbrook, one of the protagonists has lost his alibi. And in Broadchurch a malevolent presence returns to place someone else at the crime scene. As Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) must trust one case to the hands of the barristers, they increasingly turn their attention to shedding some light on the other. 

The trial of Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) continues, and the episode seems to have the balance better this time with less of a focus on the protracted questioning sequences, and more on the behind the scenes work, as both Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling) work to arm themselves for the continued conflict. “It’s a game to them,” Lee Ashworth (James D'Arcy) tells Ellie, and from Abby Thompson’s (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) gleeful speculation about who else they could put in the frame it does look like sometimes the impact on real lives is overlooked in a world where winning is all. For once the prosecution case in the Joe Miller trial seems to be gaining back a bit of ground, with some key witnesses taking the stand. That is until the return of Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke), a darkly brooding addition to the courtroom. She’s there to confirm her witness statement – or she would have done had it not been for an earlier interaction with her son, Nige Carter (Joe Sims). Nige still doesn’t want to know her and as an act of revenge she casually drops him right in it in front of the jury, naming him as the man she saw carrying Danny’s body onto the beach. The twist blows the case right open. Not only do the Latimers, who up until then seemed to be turning some corners and starting to heal, have to face the possibility that another of their best and most trusted friends is involved. Now they could see Joe get off the hook just because Susan hasn’t got her own way.

At least the latest revelation distracts from the defence claim that Hardy and Miller were having an affair. The comedy of the very idea was driven home as the two of them were forced to share a hotel bed on their trip back to Sandbrook, and it’s good to see some of the old bickering on show in contrast to the relentless bleakness and misery. However, relationships and sexual liaisons are key elements of this episode and within the tangled web they weave may lie some of the secrets behind the Sandbrook case. Scenes of Hardy and Miller lying awkwardly on a hotel bed together trying to avoid touching one another are juxtaposed with Lee and Claire’s (Eve Myles) more passionate encounter. Theirs is a primal, magnetic relationship, and Claire is increasingly revealed as sexually impulsive and adventurous. Lee accuses Hardy of sleeping with her too, and as he drifts off to a vision of her in the bed beside him it’s likely that this rumour is actually true. The question is has anyone else in Sandbrook that caught her eye?

Where last week’s episode was mostly about the continued trials of Ellie Miller, this week the focus is more on Alec Hardy. The trip to Sandbrook allows some insight into his hitherto closed off previous life. En route he tells Ellie of the discovery of Pippa Gillespie’s body, a poignant tale which sheds light on why he is so keen to give this case some closure. With the throwback so clearly signposted it’s probably not much of a surprise to learn that the officer they would be meeting about the case, Tess Henchard (Lucy Cohu), turns out to be Hardy’s ex-wife. We also meet his daughter Daisy (Hannah Rae) and get a sense of their old family life, but as is so typical for Hardy, his work role invades that rare stress-free sanctum in the form of Ricky Gillespie (Shaun Dooley), Pippa’s father. After his ex-wife, the brittle and lost Cate (Amanda Drew), reveals that her Ricky might not have an alibi after all, Hardy has to acknowledge that he might have been pursuing the wrong suspect after all. How odd, though, that Ricky would want to block the reopening of the case, and also odd that Tess, even when presented with new information, appears to side with Ricky.

It’s not just that Ricky now has no alibi. It’s found that there’s another number on the mobile that Hardy gave to Claire and it’s one that she contacts regularly. Ellie tries it experimentally; what the detectives don’t see is it ringing on the desk of Ricky Gillespie. The revelation that Claire was calling Gillespie all the time she has been in hiding is chilling enough. Even more so is the sight of a framed picture of the bluebell wood on the wall behind him. Was the Gillespie family torn apart by a monster hidden within?