I remarked in my review of the first episode at how non-sensationalist the new series felt and though I’m still terrifically impressed with season three of Broadchurch the fourth episode had a few issues in my eyes.
My first issue was when Trish, having taken Ellie and Alec around the scene of her assault, proceeds to lie down in the spot where it happened. The idea of returning to the location seemed well played, with the smell of the water, leaves and vodka making her vomit, yet the moment in which she lies down feels very out of place to the point of ridiculousness.
My second issue was the almost sudden revelation that it was ex-husband Ian’s new girlfriend Sarah that sent the threatening message to Trish. As Alec and Ellie confront him she bursts in to reveal that it was indeed her, which could make sense if Ian wasn’t so intent on hiding something on his laptop.
My third issue comes from the introduction of new character, convicted rapist Aaron Mayford whose slimy brand of misogyny feels like one too many amongst the cast of many. His fetidness seems to hit many of the same beats of other characters, including his collection of pornography which Hardy points out “Quite the gallery you’ve got” “Keeps me motivated”.
The introduction of the character feels necessary at this point in the show but he’s almost a little too much of a cretin to add anything particularly new to proceedings. His taunting of Katie felt almost like an afterthought but I do think there’s something going on with her so I’ll wait to see where it goes.
Apart from these niggles, overall, however, the episode was solid yet again. A lot of interesting things happened, such as the revelation that it was Jim who Trish had slept with on that morning and therefore had almost been accused of the assault.
It doesn’t rule him out entirely as he may have wanted more but she turned him down, yet we’ll see.
The mystery of Ian’s laptop, Ed’s (possible) infatuation with Trish, Tom’s porn, creepy Clive and Leo and the rest still remain mysterious, yet the biggest moment of the episode was the introduction of a new character, Laura, who claims to have been raped two years prior and never came forward.
The best thing this series does is in its exploration of different ways people are affected by rape, rape culture and sexual exploitation and it makes sense that we’re getting this new angle. In the short scenes she had, there was a sense of real weight to her character and her addition doesn’t just make this the whodunnit show once again.
There are lots of complex layers and I predict that in the end, it won’t JUST be about one sexual assault but rather different types of abuse, such as mental, physical or even (I suspect in the case of Ian) the discovery of reprehensible pornography (in the mould of Black Mirror’s ‘Shut Up and Dance’).
There’s a lot to unravel and we’re not halfway in, so I’m expecting a lot of pertinent social commentary in the weeks to come. The only story I can’t really figure out its point is in Mark Latimer’s pursuit of Joe Miller, by way of a private detective. I mean, I get it. I just don’t get why the new series can’t separate entirely from the old.
Although, if this series is going in the direction of injustice in the judicial system, it may make some sort of sense eventually.
Outside the darkest elements, however, were plenty of lovely character moments for our leads. Hardy went on a date with a woman he met on Tinder (after his daughter set it up for him) and Ellie and he exchanged some cheery smirks when she found out.
Also, Chloe Latimer went to make friends with Daisy Hardy, which in an unexpected turn was both sweet and vaguely unnerving. Not to be cynical but knowing the structure of this series, a relationship like this wouldn’t spring up without it leading to something dark or destructive.
However, the episode had enough light relief in its character moments to mean that it could all just be a distraction. I like it when these characters are happy though I know it can’t possibly always be so.
For a show that really lost its way in series two, I’m really glad it’s back on track.