After the wild head rush that was Broadchurch’s season-three premiere, we’re brought down to Earth in the second episode. While we can definitely expect to catch Trish’s attacker in the seven hours of TV stretched ahead of us, we’re going to first encounter red herrings and a veritable clown car of creepy men, all of whom are just a bit off. That’s the break you get with mystery storytelling, but if the first season taught us anything, it is that Broadchurch is not at all interested in leaving Agatha Christie–style clues around for the extra-attentive sleuth viewers. We learn and move at the same pace as Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller. The latter’s husband was kept to the fringes in season one, and while our “oh, shit!” moment probably came a few minutes earlier than it did for Hardy, it was unforeseeable. Expect more of the same here.
“Sexual offenses never get the same resources as murder,” Hardy grumbles at the beginning of this episode, like an office employee who’s just been asked to move desks for the day. As if this task doesn’t seem insurmountable enough, they’re forced to work with a skeleton crew, as opposed to the war room they had when investigating Danny Latimer’s death.
On with the chase, then. The first stop is what Hardy charmingly calls the “rope factory,” which is very Clue. Who’d have thought the ins and outs of rope manufacturing would come into play so sincerely and so early as a major part of the investigation? The 23-year-old acting manager at the factory definitely has some weirdo vibes, butting heads with Hardy and Miller seemingly for the sake of it. But he wasn’t at the party and has an all-night alibi. Hardy and Miller seem keen on following up on him purely because he was such a shit. Ah, I missed these two going to work on a putrid suspect together. I can’t say it enough: David Tennant and Olivia Colman are a wonderful double act. We’re lucky to have them leading the line on a fraught, risky show.
Speaking of risks, the decision to have Beth Latimer as Trish’s trauma counsellor still feels strange. It’ll no doubt cause friction between her and Miller as the case goes on — already a tenuous relationship given that, y’know, Miller’s husband strangled her son to death and all. Iffy storytelling aside, Jodie Whittaker and the fantastic Julie Hesmondhalgh sell Beth and Trish’s early relationship. Bonding over the unspoken shared experience of great trauma, Beth is able to put into words feelings Trish can’t articulate yet. The two women are victims in very different ways, but in Beth, Trish has the support and confidence she’d never have found otherwise. Miller and Hardy can only be so sensitive to Trish, since she is, for lack of a better word, also their best evidence.
We see as much when Hardy steamrolls both Beth and Miller’s concerns and softly demands a full interview with Trish later that day. Hardy’s obsession with truth, even when it comes at the expense of sensitivity, is both his greatest strength and weakness. He’s tired of waiting. “It’s easy being you, Miller,” he says, seemingly forgetting what his best friend and partner has lived through for the past four years. “I’m the one who has to decide. Can we just focus on the ex-husband?” It’s hard to track whether Hardy’s compartmentalization is a help or hindrance. In Broadchurch cases, things are rarely black-and-white.
Much like Rope Boy, the Ex-Husband cuts a shady figure. (Side note: These nicknames are for my sake, since they help to identify the characters so much better than their actual names.) He admits to fighting verbally with Trish, and doesn’t have an exact time on his leaving the party, nor do the people he was with in the cab. He also turns down giving a DNA sample, which in today’s world isn’t that strange, I guess? The cab driver who took Trish to the party is probably the most interesting suspect so far: His radio wasn’t working for most of the night and he drives off looking very worried. If he didn’t do it, he definitely knows more than he’s letting on.
It turns out Trish is keeping some secrets of her own, too. During her invasive interview, she reveals our shifty cab driver, Lucas, previously held a flame for Trish and they’d gone on a bad date once. More curiously: When asked when the last time was she had sex before the assault, she answers it was just hours prior, the morning of the party. Trish clams up when asked who it was, saying it was someone she’d met online, then demanding the interview be stopped. If it really was a dating app stranger, I’ll print this recap out and eat it on Facebook Live.
The episode’s emotional centerpiece is Trish’s reunion with her daughter, Leah, who’s been away and is blissfully unaware of just how her and her mother’s lives have changed since she was last in the house. It’s a masterful scene in which we see Trish’s instincts as a mother override her experience at first. She’s smiley and chatty with Leah before quickly running out of steam, telling her daughter about the attack. “I was raped,” she says repeatedly. It’s the first time she’s used those words herself, and the impact of them hits her as hard as they do Leah. If there’s a connecting thematic thread between the three seasons of Broadchurch, it’s how trauma has the insidious ability to linger and resurface, again and again.
Elsewhere, the episode’s B plots mostly play a game of Keeping Up With the Latimers. Mark and Beth have received a standard £11,000 check for the murder of Danny. “What, a grand a year, is that what he’s worth?” Mark asks, initially refusing the money. While Beth has thrown herself headfirst into helping Trish and others as a way to deal with her grief, Mark is still obsessed with Joe Miller’s acquittal. “We should have just thrown him over that cliff when we had the chance,” he says to Paul. Although I’m coming round to the inclusion of the Latimers this season, Paul has very little to do. Arthur Darvill is a fantastic actor, but there’s been no need for his character since 2013. This being the last season of the show, I’m excited to see what he does next.
So as it stands, we have a growing list of very interesting suspects. Ed and Jim from last week’s premiere don’t have much of a presence in this episode, but they’re still very much in the running along with Rope Boy, Ex-Husband, and Terrified Cab Driver.
Speaking of Ed, he shows up at the end for our requisite cliffhanger. Turns out he is D.C. Katie Harford’s father. Harford has already clashed with Miller and Hardy in the very photogenic, elegant Broadchurch police station (seriously, that thing is beautiful), and the fact that she hasn’t revealed her ties to one of the case’s main suspects is … extremely unprofessional and dangerous, right? Let’s see what she has to say for herself when this shit inevitably hits the fan.
A note to end on: This season of Broadchurch has already aired in its entirety in the U.K., which makes it a bit more difficult for those of us who don’t want to be spoiled. If you’re inclined to leave comments on these recaps, please don’t include any details about the weeks ahead.