17/04/2013

Broadchurch Episode 7



written by Chris Chibnall
directed by James Strong
 
One step away from unveiling the killer, ITV’s gripping drama hints at a shocking alternative..

The episode foc
uses mostly on Susan and Nige, two characters who have been clashing throughout. We discover the apparent connection between then during a series of tense interrogations but we are never sure what is truth and what isn’t. Both of their stories veer between the two meaning it is difficult for the police to ascertain the facts. Yet what it all seems to lead to is a single line of dialogue that suggests something even more shocking is lurking in the wings…

Beware- Lots of spoilers in the review from herein



"Do you know who did it?" "No. Do you?" "Er, no."



This episode actually reveals a lot more than previous ones and in lesser hands it could simply be a series of information dumps. Chris Chibnall’s economical dialogue though is a great foundation for some superb performances by Pauline Quirke, Joe Sims and David Tennant. By containing fiery Nige and scary Susan for much of the duration it creates two fascinating studies in damaged individuals.

The tale that emerges of Susan’s tragic past (abusive husband, murdered daughter) lets in a little sympathetic light but each time it is shut out by another of the character’s darker flashes. She believes Nige is her long lost son- he wants nothing to do with her. The ebb and flow of these revelations, delivered in the blank police interview rooms is riveting; Quirke in particular does this thing where she makes you feel sorry for her one second and terrified of her the next. If she isn’t up for awards at the end of the year, it will be surprising. I reckon Susan’s story is mostly true; certainly it explains her trying to befriend Tom Miller as well as her earlier attempts to keep quiet about her past.

Nige, despite his size 10 feet fitting the footprint found at the break in, seems less a suspect and more a victim now. In two scenes set in Susan’s caravan he has ample opportunity to attack her or worse but for all his anger and frustration doesn’t; for that matter he didn’t kill her dog either. So, I’ve ruled him out because if he was going to kill anyone it would be her, not Danny. Plus the weapons the police find in his shed were probably for the animal thieving expeditions he seems involved in.

David Tennant’s battle worn Hardy has the opportunity to similarly unburden himself after agreeing to an interview at the local paper. Seemingly resigned to the ordeal he reveals a personal connection to the failed Sandbrook investigation that goes beyond the public view that he let the families down. Turns out he took the blame for another officer – his own wife. She was having an affair and left vital evidence in her car during an assignation only for the vehicle to be robbed. Chris Chibnall has hardly put a foot wrong this far but I did feel this addition to the story stretched credulity just a little too thin. I like the idea of Hardy taking the media rap for another officer- it personifies his professionalism – yet the fact that she was his wife and the mistake happened because she was having an affair is just a bit much. Perhaps it jars because we’d only just had Susan’s complex revelations as well. Even so Tennant manages to sell it through the sincerity of his performance.

Director James Strong brings a lot of style to an episode that is largely static and conversational managing to keep matters fresh. His use of close ups and that pan in through the window of Susan’s caravan add to the atmospheric mix. Yet perhaps a lot of the episode is a means to an end, a way of showing how something unthinkable could happen. When Susan maintains she did not know of her former husband’s wrong doing, Ellie is disbelieving. “That man in your own house- how could you not know?” This may well be the key line in the whole episode because things are starting to point closer to home.

Ellie’s son Tom has gone to great lengths to both destroy his laptop’s hard drive and conceal his actions by threatening the Rev Coates.  So, what if Tom found out something about his own father from Danny? Admittedly this is sketchy so far but the show is running out of suspects with only one episode to go. It does seem likely that Tom has acted the way he has to protect his own father- perhaps Danny’s death was accidental but has been dressed up to look like a murder to avoid those nocturnal animal thefts being discovered? From the final scene it seems as if the clue is in Tom’s retrieved emails.

So then, with this being the penultimate episode and all it’s time for reviewers to say who they think it is and therefore I’m going for Ellie’s husband. I hope I’m wrong because Broadchurch has been a most extraordinarily engrossing thing that has certainly got people talking and guessing and it would be a pity if we could predict it. Even if we do you can guarantee there will be some unexpected forks along the way.


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