'Broadchurch' Episode 3 TV Review: Increased Mystery Becomes Frustrating Instead Of Intriguing
Things are starting to pick up on Broadchurch, and it is glorious.
The series’ third episode was mainly focused on Mark, the victim’s father, as he went into the police station for basic questioning and wound up getting himself arrested. Let this be a lesson to viewers: if you’re going to rely on a friend for a fake alibi, don’t use the friend who is the worst liar on the planet and has a crossbow in the back of his van. This begs the question: Why does everyone in this town seem to have a secret? If it doesn’t have to do with Danny’s murder, what else is there?
Through subtle moments, it becomes clear that Detective Inspector Ellie Miller may not be the only one on the investigation who’s biased. DS Hardy was hell bent on trying to get a confession out of Mark, or at least enough to formally charge him with Danny’s murder. This is done through multiple hints and clues, the most obvious being Hardy’s questioning of Miller’s son Tom. Hardy asks him, point blank, how Danny got along with his father. (Tom already seems a bit suspicious after he was shown deleting data off of his computer and phone that definitely had something to do with Danny and what he was up to that may have resulted in his untimely death.) If a kid is astute enough to know when to cover his tracks when his friend’s body is probably still warm, it is beyond possible, maybe even likely, that he recognized a bait question and instead of answering it innocently, turned it on its head and used it to deflect any attention away from himself. When Tom answers that Mark hit Danny sometimes, it may not even be true, but it certainly feeds into Hardy’s slowly crumbling idea that Mark murdered his own son.
Through a combination of cinematography and soundtrack, the show is fantastic at blurring lines between reality and fantasy, which is a great way to portray the haze of shock into which the family is slowly settling as the investigation proceeds. At the opening of the episode, Mark wakes to find Danny sitting in his room, soaking wet and sobbing. In a glaringly heartbreaking moment, Mark embraces him, apologizing profusely for not protecting him, and then wakes up again in his bed, jarred by Danny’s absence. He takes his wife’s hand while falling back asleep, a gesture very out-of-character.
Since the show began there has been an obvious rift between the two which was very apparently already there by the time Danny dies, but made much worse when Mark is taken in for questioning and arrested… and not repaired when it comes out that his alibi for the night Danny died is actually a tryst with the local hotel owner. Uh, whoops. When he meets up with his mistress after his day at the police station, she says it was a mistake, he maintains it was not, and that he wants to continue. If they did wind up being an item, their anniversary would also the anniversary of his son’s death. No one can blame her for wanting to jump ship. Immediately.
Where this show excels is in character development. The protagonists are not pushed upon the audience all at once: information about them trickles in at a perfect pace. However, it is frustrating how little the audience knows about Danny Latimer.
Though that could be a device to accurately reflect the shock in the town (as information about his shadiness surfaces, it becomes doubtful that anyone really knew him as well as they thought they did), it still feels lacking. It is especially confounding in episodes like this one, where there are still no hints of a motive, and no further explanation of Danny’s character- just an exploration in his father’s sleaziness fraught with guilt and Ellie Miller’s icy gaze.