Broadchurch series 3 episode 7 review: More questions than answers as the trilogy raced too quickly towards its conclusion

Sally Newall
DS Miller (Olivia Colman) and DI Hardy (David Tennant) were attempting to close in on the attacker: BBC

The problem with the end of a trilogy is you have to tie up all the loose ends. In the case of Broadchurch 3, that is a lot to fit into two episodes. It seems such a shame to hurry now, and that is how this penultimate episode felt: rushed and more than a little far-fetched in places. And why, oh why did we have to suffer through another community gathering? This time it was a march hastily organised on social media, then clumsily shoe-horned in. It was nice to see Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh) smile, but did they learn nothing from the football debacle in episode four?

The first big question we had from last week was quickly solved: did Mark Latimer’s suicide attempt succeed? No, the grieving dad had been hauled from the sea and woke up in the hospital surrounded by his wife and children. “There’s nothing now,” said Mark in scenes movingly played by Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker. “Your grief is still overwhelming you,” Beth implored. “Put things to rest and live in the present, please.” We saw him move back home and there was talk of “getting better”, but it’s testament to the way this show handles these big, sensitive topics, that all the viewers could see there would be no magic plaster for his grief.

Elsewhere DI Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Miller (Olivia Colman) were up against the clock and the script-writers had scant time to further confuse us, but they rose to the challenge. There were still skeletons to be prised out of garage drawers, filing cabinets and computers. There wasn’t even time to fit the entire line-up of suspects in the episode – there was no sign of Mackerel Man, or the Axehampton House owner this episode, and we only got a fleeting glimpse of seriously dodgy taxi driver Clive Lucas. It was enough screen time to sneer at his poor wife and get our antennae buzzing, though.

Hardy was on fine rottweiler form. He was the protective father dishing it out the local lads (including an uncomfortable-looking Michael Lucas) who had shared his daughter Dasiy’s compromising snaps: “If any of you even talk about my daughter ever again, let alone do anything to make her unhappy, I will find you and I will cut your tiny little cocks off." He was like a budget Robert the Bruce going into battle, but there was something heartwarming about him doing the dad thing.

Somehow, they managed to fit in Maggie the newspaper editor (Carolyn Pickles) standing up for her profession. She refused to write about Mark’s suicide attempt and then resigned from her role. “I hereby fire you and your declining industry from my life. I quit and if I see anything about the Latimers on the paper and the website, I swear I will slash your car tyres every week until they put me in a home.” It was brilliant, if slightly deranged, resignation. But I’d question whether anyone but people in the industry are really interested in a debate over what constitutes quality journalism (on a Monday night at 9.30pm anyway).

Thank goodness though that Maggie was levelling her anger at a female boss, in the interests of balance. I mean, I don’t want to accuse creator Chris Chibnall of misandry, but the men his writing team has created are an unlikeable lot, in contrast to strong, courageous women of Wessex. Would one small corner of the country really house that many slippery bastards?

Here’s what we learnt this episode about the key suspects.

Ed Burnett
Ed (Lenny Henry) was firmly in the frame last week, but things were never going to be done and dusted by episode six. He admitted that he had been angry after his row with Jim Atwood and slipped down a muddy bank to stain his “party suit”, as Hardy called it. He was believable in not wanting to hurt his Trish, but then we saw that he was back on the booze, despite claiming to be teetotal. Could he have got drunk and done the unimaginable? Highly unlikely, I’d wager, but I’m starting to think that anything’s possible.

Jim Atwood
Jim surely won the prize for the absolute worst man of the week, and that’s saying a lot. Cath went through her husband's pockets and found some damning evidence. It’s always the receipts that catch people out. What will these police procedurals do when we eventually all go paperless? Anyway, the discovery of the condom box purchase led Jim to confess that he was AWOL from the party because he was getting his end away up against the tree with a waitress. Is it plausible that you would have sex at your own wife’s party? Even for an addict, that’s a bit much. Plausible or not, Mark Bazeley has put in a brilliantly unlikeable turn as Atwood. “I’m just a bloke. I like sex,” was his defence. The whole exchange riled Hardy who piled on the scorn when Atwood suggested any man would have done the same: “No, I wouldn’t. I don’t subscribe to your version of the world, but I do worry about sending my daughter out into it with men like you around.”

Ian Winterman
I almost felt a bit sorry for weasely Ian when he confessed to having had spyware installed on Trish’s computer so he could keep an eye on her. He said he missed her and there was a chasm in his life. Then I remembered that he’d only told her because the detectives were onto his lies. As DI Hardy put it as only he can: “What’s the matter wi’ you, do you have no shame?” Though he did try and protect Leo Humphries, which is something, I suppose.

Leo Humphries
Talking of Twine Boy (Chris Mason), he went from being a cocky, arrogant blue-string seller who made jokes about finding a women to wash his football socks, to a contrite, eloquent chap who apparently was just trying to do his old teacher a favour. I’m not sure that the character development was believable really. We found out this episode that he was at the party, though we don’t know what he was doing for most of it. Fiddling with twine, in some capacity, I would think. I’m not convinced that he was anywhere near Cath Atwood.

Rev Paul Coates
Don’t tell me you forgot about the vicar? He was back this week offering Beth Latimer a shoulder to cry on and at the same time, managing to sound faintly suspicious. If he’s got anything to do with it, my faith in the entire male population will be lost.

In the closing seconds, we heard that DNA on the sock matched Trish’s and also one of our men. Dun, dun, dun.

I expect a return from Mackerel Man and an explanation of Clive’s creepy trophy drawer, and probably Nige – he must be in it for a reason, right? – Tom Miller and the porn are going to come full circle. This is a trilogy that needs to be neatly finished, after all.