It’s backstory week on Broadchurch as the past comes back to haunt both Susan (Pauline Quirke), as well as Hardy (David Tennant). But are we any closer to catching the killer?
Let’s bitch it out…Episode 1×07 ends on something akin to a cliffhanger, and yet it’s very clearly an understated affair: Hardy recovers the contents of Tom’s (Adam Wilson) smashed computer and makes a shocking discovery. What that discovery is will have to wait until next week’s finale, however, since Hardy’s exclamation of “Of course!” are immediately followed by that damn song over the credits. While not as conventionally “exciting” as a shooting, an explosion or even Hardy’s collapse at the end of last week’s episode, I can definitely say that this cliffhanger has definitely made me desperate to watch the final episode.
This penultimate episode provides two significant backstories: Susan’s and Hardy’s. Both are incredibly compelling, though Hardy’s may be slightly less revelatory. It turns out that the mess at Sandbrook wasn’t actually his fault, but rather an attempt to protect his cheating wife’s reputation after she lost a key piece of evidence during a clandestine encounter. This is very much in keeping with the Hardy we’ve come to know over the run of the series: an emotionally bruised man who is dogged in his pursuit of the truth and justice, but not quick to trust. Now we know why he’s so weary of letting people in – not only was his trust betrayed by the incident, it cost him the killer. Tennant practically makes our hearts ache as he admits to Olly (Jonathan Bailey) and Maggie (Carrolyn Pickles) that the killer is still out there.
And then there’s Susan. The mysterious dog lover who’s always surly with the police and far too interested in children has a dark past much like dearly departed Jack Marshall. It turns out to be a history filled with incest, separated children and suicide – a powerful narrative concoction that despite my best efforts won me over to the sad woman’s circumstances. Naturally it’s at this point that the other shoe drops and we learn that Nige (Joe Sims) is her son. The fact that Susan is accusing her own flesh and blood of dumping Danny Latimer’s body on the beach doesn’t gel with Miller (Olivia Colman) until Susan reveals she’s doing it to protect her estranged son – in a strange way Susan is just like all of the other Broadchurch mothers: desperate to protect her child (even if it’s from himself, as she believes).
The dual interrogations are a nice trick to make us consider how both sets of cops and prisoners are alike. Susan and Nige have a prickly, contentious relationship – they’re representative of the fractured family that Broadchurch seems to specialize in. Meanwhile the parallels between Miller and Hardy are clearer than ever, especially in the moment when Miller throws her caring attitude aside and threatens to shoot Susan’s dog unless the prisoner tells her the truth.
By the end of the hour we’ve effectively cleared both Susan and Nige, though the police continue to tail the tall, bald-headed man with the size ten shoes (Susan meanwhile escapes into the night undetected). This leaves only one major suspect remaining: Miller’s son, Tom, who shows his darker side by threatening to lie to the police that Rev. Paul (Arthur Darvill) is a pedophile. That kind of malice – and the reveal that Tom and Danny had a big falling out – suggests Miller’s son had a hand in the death of his former best friend.
We won’t know for sure until next week…
- There’s hard and then there’s cruel. We had a big discussion in my house about whether Miller’s comment to Susan that she should have known what her husband was up to was out of character. Regardless of which side of the fence you come down on, there’s little doubt that it’s a harsh comment. It seems that the case has officially turned Miller into what she most feared: someone who can no longer interact without suspicion
- Meanwhile, Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and Mark (Andrew Buchnan) take two steps forward and one step back. Last week it seemed that they intended on keeping their unborn child, but this week Beth is back on the fence, wondering how she can care for a newborn when her “heart is filled with Danny”. The ultrasound appears to help her decide, but her confession during counselling with Paul that she would endure rape & torture to have Danny safe again is seriously alarming. I think Beth may need some more serious therapy
- As Louisa Mellor of Den of Geek suggests, there’s a great moment during the Latimer family dinner when Dean reveals that Danny was spending nights with Nige nicking pheasants. It’s the equivalent of throwing a ticking bomb onto the dinner table when someone asks for the salt. How have these secrets not come out until now?!
- Finally, there’s a strong suggestion that Hardy is doomed to die trying to catch the killer. His cardiac arrhythmia is exposed – first to Miller, then the rest of the task force and finally to the papers – and the moment the truth comes out, his tenure as DI officially runs out (just as he predicted). Hardy’s now under a strict deadline to bring the killer to justice, which is not going to help his stress levels going into the finale
- Susan (after relating her tortured backstory): “Death…once it’s got its claws in you, it never lets go.”
- Miller (when Susan suggests she didn’t see anything): “Like you didn’t see what your husband was up to?” Low blow, Miller!
- Miller (when Hardy reveals he told Nige about his sordid family past): “You’re the only one running out of time here. These are people’s lives you’re trampling.”
So this is it: last chance to compile the evidence before next week’s reveal. Is it possible the killer is anyone other than Tom? Were you swayed by Susan’s sad backstory? Do you think the dark sexual backstories are important? (If not, why do they keep coming up?!) And will Hardy live to see the end of the series or will he die trying to bring the killer to justice? Comment away below
Broadchurch airs its finale next Wednesday at 9pm EST on BBC America