Broadchurch series 3 episode 6 review: Private tragedy and public showdowns stunned and gripped, but the suspect parade went on

Mark Latimer came to a chilling resolution over Danny's death and Olivia Colman proved once again that she's one of the best actors of her generation in this fraught, enthralling episode

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The Independent Culture

As we reached the business end of Broadchurch 3, emotions were running seriously high, both down at the police station and on the domestic front, with the two spheres tightly and chillingly interlinked. That’s what this show will be remembered for: drama so near to the bone that at times it can be physically painful to watch. The ridiculous amount of suspects in both cases are a mere side show to the emotional story that really hits home. This week saw the apparent resolution of Mark Latimer’s quest for justice. “I can’t live with what you’ve done to us, but I’m not strong enough to make you pay, it’s pathetic isn’t it?” He asked Joe Miller, who finally admitted to killing Danny. No, Mark, it’s not pathetic not to be able to finish someone off with a hammer and a Stanley knife, however much they have hurt you, it's very, very real. 

I mistook Mark’s trip to Liverpool as creator Chris Chibnall trying to neatly wrap up his trilogy, even saying in earlier reviews that it felt tacked on and detrimental to the current storyline. But really, it wasn’t a subplot at all, it was another strand of looking at the impact of crimes on a whole community – some wounds never heal. We didn’t get to see a final Poirot-style denouement for Mark that would leave him feeling more at peace with the world. We were just reminded of the prosaic truth: he’d been robbed of his son by a moment of panic from a not-quite paedophile. Joe’s admission was pointless, Mark knew that already, he would still have to live with pain  

“I’m only here because I’m not brave enough to kill myself,” said Matthew Gravelle’s Joe Miller. Mark, however, took the different way out. Anyone watching could see that Mark lowering himself off the boat into the dark water wasn’t about bravery, it was about running away from a life too painful. Chibnall takes his responsibilities seriously, so I hope, if Mark’s apparent suicide does prove to be what it looked like, the topic will be handled with the same sensitivity as the rape case. 

Over at the police station, the hunt for the sex attacker went on. Miller reeled off the suspects: Ed Burnett, Jim Atwood, Ian Winterman, Clive Lucas, Leo “Twine Boy” Humphries. Of course there are more, and there are still two episodes to go, so does this early focus on the likes of Ed and Jim mean we can rule them out? Who knows, but we got to see more of Lenny Henry’s Ed Burnett and it was all suspicious, possibly too suspicious. We found out that he has, for all intents and purposes, being stalking Trish. He had thousands of photos of her on his phone, had sent her the anonymous flowers and most creepily, had been camping outside her house for the last 10 days, “looking out for her”. I’m not convinced that Trish wouldn’t notice her own boss in his car outside her house, even if it was at a respectful distance. Even more chilling were the mud and grass stains on his suit and the blue twine in the pocket – he was just tying the beetroot, people – none of which have been explained yet. He did admit that he was “in love” with Trish, so therefore wouldn’t harm her. 

The farm shop owner’s arrest proved more troublesome for DS Harford, who finally had to come clean that he was her dad. Hardy and Miller lost it. You felt for her making a rookie error. Miller’s seething retort was brilliant. “It was a stupid, basic, page one mistake. More than that, it was selfish, you wanted to believe he had nothing to do with, so you did.” DI Miller has some fantastic lines this series, but it’s Olivia Colman who makes them sing and sting. She piled three series worth of bile and anger over the Danny Latimer case and her husband’s betrayal into those lines. “I might put you in charge of bollockings from now on, Miller,” said Hardy. Amen to that.

Back home, Miller was still at boiling point, with her disappointed-by-the -human race face firmly on. Yet, even at these moments of tension, the writers manage to get in some lightness. “I saw you on the TV earlier, you looked terrible,” said Miller’s dad. Then she discovered Tom and taken back his phone and the porn addiction – that’s what it’s going to be right? ¬– was back. She does rage very, very well, does Colman. Though she got that porn up and running so quickly, 5G must have come to Broadchurch early. While the dinner table scene was masterful, it also showed us a major plot-hole. How would Miller, a super-bright detective, not have realised her son was hanging about with the step-son of a suspect? And would she not have asked him before where he got the porn from? Do you even need to get porn from anyone? Anyway, it came from Clive Lucas, via his son, but I guess that’s one for next week’s episode. 

There was another victim who came forward, Nira (Indian Summers' ElloraTorchia), who was there to remind us that lots of women don’t report rape as they don’t want to have to deal with the fallout and cope with the perceived stigma. In Chibnall's noble quest to try and reduce it, Nira’s character embodied those thousands of women, with Beth Latimer providing the balance. Nira’s presence also meant Hardy and Beth and to start saying ISVA again, it still isn’t rolling off the tongue, that acronym. 

As mentioned, the team has worked hard to give an accurate portrayal of the fallout from a violent sex attack. This week, Trish reached the angry phase: “I hate myself, I don’t want to be in my body, I don’t want to be in my’s made me so scared, it’s not fair.” Julie Hesmondhalgh continues to act out of her skin and the new icy dynamic between her and Cath is quite brilliant. Cath, who should be the wronged woman here given Trish slept with her husband, came round to say she wanted to cut contact: “You behave like you’re better than the rest of us, but you’re a girl, on a till, same as me,” spat Trish before making Cath go out the back entrance. “Slink out like your husband did.” These sort of insults sound better in the west country accent. 

Cath also came round to say that she and Jim might be scarpering “to start a new life”. Do they think it’s 1995? I’m not sure in this internet age, you can run away to the Costa del Crime and begin again without a few people googling you. I know you can on EastEnders, but c’mon, this is Broadchurch

We also still don’t know what is on that troublesome laptop. Ian claimed it was “PowerPoints of osmosis, reproductive systems, the cellular life of plants.” PowerPoints my arse, but it almost veered on The Fast Show territory here. You could imagine the new character: Professor McSleeze, the creepy science teacher. Even Twine Boy wanted nothing to do with him. 

So there are still many questions to answer, not least whether DS Miller and her husband will get their final showdown.