Broadchurch Episode 6

Written by Louise Fox
Directed by James Strong

Is it Scary Susan, Nasty Nige or someone closer to home? The speculation hots up in tv's drama of the year....

When you think about it, rarely does a TV drama of this nature venture so far from the original crime it is depicting; normally the case is solved. 8 weeks after Danny’s death with the autumn emerging this episode deals primarily with how people are adapting- or not- to circumstances.  The direction and the always haunting score are a perfect fit for this. We see each of the Latimers try to find something to divert them, to help them deal with things. Mark goes back to work but as soon as a customer opens the front door there is sympathy rather than the normal reaction to the arrival of a plumber. Chloe goes back to school but the stares freak her out and when she sees a football match it is too much. Beth has a different way of dealing however...

"Oh no, that David Tennant's in something else next week."

 Warning - Spoilers ahoy if you go beyond here.

She meets up with the mother of a girl murdered in the notorious Sandbrook case. This scene, in an isolated roadside cafĂ©, is quite harrowing as the mother offers no optimism and describes how emptiness and loss has led to drinking. Watching Beth’s reaction to this- when she was expecting something optimistic- makes you wonder what she can do. Jodie Whitaker continues to impress with Beth’s oscillating reactions to events which are so strong that a later sequence when the family have an enjoyable day out seems somehow poignant rather than uplifting. “I need a break from being sad” says Chloe in the `happy` room her boyfriend has created for her. In a story that emphasises the bad side of people this is an unexpected gesture though it does fit in with us not necessarily accepting people on face value as her parents have with him.

In the search for suspicious behaviour the episode lands on two characters whom we might not normally suspect- the Rev Coates and Ellie Miller’s son Tom and one we most certainly do- Susan Wright. Coates has been an intriguing sort of character whose shifty countenance sometimes morphs into compassionate concern. While his comings and goings have aroused suspicion it turns out that Hardy’s dislike of him stems as much from an antipathy towards the Church. In the episode’s best scene he suggests the Church always hogs the limelight whenever there is a tragedy; Coates argues that people turn to them at such times whether or not they are particularly religious. Arthur Darvill makes the most of his character’s central position this week with a sermon that firmly focuses on the responsibility of the town for Jack Marshall’s death and the revelation Coates is a recovering alcoholic.

As for Tom Miller and Susan Wright you begin to wonder who has more to hide. I can’t have been the only viewer who felt more than a little nervous when the boy accepted the invitation into Scary Susan’s caravan given that we know she has Danny’s skateboard. Pauline Quirke’s look as she closed the door was chilling. Yet during this episode Tom is giving off waves of aggression himself- he tells Chloe he hated Danny while concern over the information he thought he’d deleted in episode 1 grows to the point where he takes  a hammer  to his hard drive (which is recommended apparently if you do want to permanently delete something).

This episode is where what some people have called slightly slow pacing (though measured is a better way to describe it) pays dividends. Susan’s arrest may seem to mirror what happened with Jack though with more justification. Like him, though less surprisingly perhaps, Scary Susan has a criminal past but her reaction to questioning is far more stony faced. Indeed she is more worried about her dog, which has been carted off by Nige with his own score to settle. Nasty Nige has a crossbow to go with his attitude and remains my number one suspect; after all could any of the others match the athleticism the masked person at the end of the episode manages? On the other hand who phones Ellie during the chase? One theory is that it is her own husband and that her son’s behaviour stems from something he found at home relating to his Dad’s complicity that he is trying to erase. It is an interesting idea largely because Mr Miller has been a supporting character so far while others have been in the frame.  Of course it could just be the rev Coates phoning her to tell about Tom smashing the laptop.

This sudden burst of action at the end of the episode comes as a surprise and focuses on Hardy’s ill health. Having seen him collapse a few times and neck plenty of pills it could be he has some terminal- or at least very serious- condition. Perhaps this case is so important because it is literally his last chance? Maybe it’s just an ulcer! Whatever it is it comes at a time when his and Miller’s working relationship is thawing slightly. This has been done with considerably subtlety; the odd quip here, the occasional grudging co-operation there and makes them an interesting duo to watch. They have influenced each other in small ways too; particularly in making her more suspicious of everyone. You could even say that in a strange way he has made her a better police officer.

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