Reviewed by John Hussey

One of the elements that I love most about Broadchurch is its many layers of mystery. Like a good crime drama should be Broadchurch keeps you second guessing, right up until the culprits reveal, and even then you are begging for answers. Broadchurch is certainly good at throwing curve-balls as it constantly highlights characters that you could easily stick the blame on. But Chris Chibnall writes the underlining mystery so well that any one of his characters could easily be the killer, or in this case, rapist.

Though Series Two lacked as many suspects, it still kept you guessing for the most part, which resulted in a great conspiracy upon the culprit’s unveiling. Series Three returns to the style of the first series in which we have a wider range of suspects, with Episode Two quickly finding characters to point the finger at. We were led to presume that both Cath and Jim Atwood (Trish’s friends and the hosts of the party in which she was raped at) may have something to hide at the conclusion of Episode One.

This was enhanced upon Alec and Ellie interrogating Jim at his workplace as part of their extensive enquiry. Alec noticed that Jim had fishing equipment laying around his garage which could link back to the fact that the rapist used wire to bind Trish’s hands. Then the blaming game turned to Trish’s husband (whom are now split). Ian Winterman acknowledged the fact that him and Trish got into a fight during the party, and it is clear that he isn’t fully happy with seeing Trish fooling around with other men knowing full well she is technically still his wife.

What intrigued me the most about this particular enquiry was Ian’s information regarding Trish’s sexual behaviour. According to him Trish fools around on a regular basis which means she’s not shy to the sexual scene, which could mean that her defence could easily turn against her. Plus it begs the question of whether or not Trish provoked the rapist, or perhaps already knew him through a previous sexual encounter. The mystery thickens.

Then there’s the obvious suspect, i.e. the taxi driver. It is known that he took Trish to the party and was supposed to pick her up, but didn’t, and instead took other guests backwards and forwards without any good reason, followed by the fact that his radio was conveniently broken around the time of the assault. This seems too obvious and so I’m going to quickly roll my eyes and move on. But then again, Chibnall is known for delivering the most unlikeliest conclusion. Who’d have thought that Danny’s killer in Series One would turn out to be Ellie’s husband Joe, the person she would least suspect? And then in Series Two who’d have thought that Pippa and Lisa’s killer would be the trio of Claire, Lee, and Ricky?

I also liked how doubt began to creep back into my mind concerning Trish and the incident. Not that I don’t believe her but Broadchurch has never been straightforward. There’s always something else going on behind-the-scenes, which is usually followed by further revelations. Trish is clearly hiding something and this secret is proving to be her downfall in producing clear evidence. Why wouldn’t she tell Alec and Ellie who she had slept with on the morning of her “apparent” sexual assault? Could this person be a key suspect, or is that she’s simply ashamed to reveal who the person was?

As usual the characters got their fair share of development. Alec continues to be the determined, and blunt, officer on the job as he strides his way through each scene searching for evidence to help him with the case. Ellie continues to take the emotional front and questions Alec on his rash actions. He is quick to push Trish into giving them a statement but one has to wonder why he’s so desperate. Is he just being the good cop, or is there something he’s not telling us? My bets are on the fact that he’s worried that someone else could suffer the same fate as Trish, particularly his daughter Daisy.

I liked how Beth got some neat character development this week and actually showed me that she could evolve and move on from the tragic events that happened in the previous series. It’s clear how she uses her own strength (which she used to conquer her demons) in order to help other’s. Though it does seem convenient for the plot that she happens to be a support worker for rape cases, but either-way, it adds to the ongoing narrative and helps to bring closure to her particular arc.

It’s clear that she has moved past Danny’s death and simply learnt to live with the facts placed in front of her. Mark, on the other-hand, has not. He’s still plagued by the loss of his son, in particular that Danny never reserved justice. Joe was allowed to walk free in the most disgusting exploitation of a court case. Mark feels like he made the wrong decision by letting Joe go, terrorised by the knowledge that he got to walk free and continue his existence knowing he killed his son. It’s a horrid feeling, considering he could’ve met another woman and started a new family over the last three years and his new family would be oblivious to his evil deed. It’s quite sick really but that’s the British justice system for you.

The last two series of Broadchurch have resonated with me on a personal level. Series Two’s court scenes reminded me of my horrible experience during my Jury service, which happened to be a rape case, which brings us into Series Three. Having been a Jury member it’s easy to see why the evidence was turned in favour of Joe’s innocence because the Jury are bound by the facts and not their personal feelings, meaning if the evidence (for whatever reason) doesn’t seem to add up, or simply doesn’t stand as definitive proof then they have no choice but to find the defendant not quilty.

Unfortunately it’s a lot harder to find definitive evidence for a rape case because of all the implications, and Trish’s evidence is already beginning to fail her because of uncertainty, the fact that she was drinking on the night of the incident, and the simple fact that she’s withholding evidence. These three elements ultimately makes her evidence unreliable and untrustworthy as evidence in court.

Things are beginning to thicken as the narrative pushes forward, and after only two episodes Broadchurch‘s final series is shaping up perfectly. The mystery is solid, the drama is dramatic, and the characters (as ever) are well rounded. All the pieces are slowly coming together and I get the feeling we’ll be performing the guessing game for many weeks to come. All I’ll say is I can’t wait to see the evidence unravel as it brings us one step closer to discovering who the culprit is.

Part of me has a suspicion that perhaps the culprit might not even be a man, which would add a neat twist to the entire mystery. Or perhaps it’s as simple as Trish already knowing who the rapist is, which connects the dots to the mysterious text message warning her not to come forward with any further evidence. And then there’s the annoying attitude of Detective Constable Katie Harford and the fact she might end up compromising the case due to giving information to her father, who is written down as a suspect.