After nearly two months, it’s time to reveal the identity of the murderer of Danny Latimer as Broadchurch reaches it’s stunning first season finale. So who killed the eleven year old boy…and why?
Let’s bitch out…
There’s a ticking clock that presides over the final hour of BBC America’s electric Broadchurch, both within the diegetic world of the show (as David Tennant’s Hardy has a scant few hours to wrap up the case after being declared unfit) and because this is the final episode of the season. We know that it’s just a matter of time before the killer is revealed, and while the guessing we’ve done throughout the last seven episodes has narrowed the list down to a scant few remaining suspects, the why of the case remains tantalizingly unknown.
It doesn’t take long for the truth to come out. Following last week’s agonizing cliffhanger, a small flurry of evidence falls into place: the bald man that Miller’s (Olivia Colman) sister saw burying clothes in the trash, Hardy’s interview with Tom (Adam Wilson) which reveals Danny’s phone only had two numbers on it, and the final GPS tracking of the phone to the Miller household. I admit that I totally had an “ah ha!” moment when Hardy stops to stare at Tom in the living room – an expression that immediately turned into a slack-jawed shock as Hardy proceeds to arrest a devastated Joe (Matthew Gravelle) in the backyard.
So those of you who suspected that Joe killed Danny were right…though likely not for the reasons you may have suspected.
Looking back over the series, there have been plenty of hints that this was a crime of a sexual nature. There have been repeated stories about doomed/inappropriate romances: from doomed Jack‘s “child bride”, to Susan’s sexual abuser husband and even Mark (Andrew Buchnan) and Beth’s (Jodie Whittaker) implied-shotgun marriage. And we should have known that Miller’s spiteful words to Susan last week about knowing what’s happening in her home would come back to bite her. And so it does, as Miller’s own husband was carrying on an emotional (though supposedly not physical) affair with the young Latimer boy.
Oh Miller. How cruel of Broadchurch to deal such an earth-shattering blow to its most empathetic character. But if the series is mean to its nicest character, the actress playing her certainly owns the material. Following recent events, it’s increasingly clear that if there is one stand-out in this show’s amazing ensemble, it is without a doubt Colman. The woman sells the grief – and rage – of a woman who realizes that her entire life is a lie with 100% conviction. I’ll confess that I’m an empathetic crier, but watching Miller’s face crumble as Hardy confesses the truth to her in that interrogation room just destroys me. Even the subsequent scene, a stock-standard cliche that has Miller first confront, then beat her pedophile husband, has an unmistakable emotional realism because of Colman’s performance. If this woman doesn’t win a boatload of awards for this role, it’ll be a huge oversight because she has undoubtedly delivered one of the year’s best performances.
- The water works more or less continue well into the final scene. Although I do think the final moments drag just a little (a wee bit tighter editing would have helped), the ceremonial lighting of the bonfires is both cathartic and beautiful. These flames help to re-establish a sense of community as the town celebrates Danny, the end of the investigation that turned them on one another, and the start of the next stage of all of their lives, including Mark and Beth’s unborn child
- In keeping with the damaging effects of the investigation, both Miller and Hardy are geographically separated from the other characters, seated together far away from the bonfires. Both have paid a huge price to close the case and bring the killer to justice. Their reward is isolation. It’s a quietly powerful statement about the damaging impact that the case has had on a range of people
- I was initially uncertain about the flashback to the night of the crime. I had concerns that seeing the murder and how Joe orchestrated his cover-up would diminish its emotional effect and sensationalize the crime. Thankfully the flashback is tastefully done. If nothing else, it is revealing to see Joe interact with Danny as it helps us to better understand the depths of his despair. In a sick way, this really was a crime of (unintended) passion
- Another cliche that really works is Mark’s visit to Joe in jail. Traditionally these macho-encounters fall flat for me, but the framing of Mark and Joe’s bodies cut off by the narrow hole in the prison door makes their conversation feel appropriately intimate and dangerous
- Overall I have to say that this final episode really delivers. I was uncertain whether it would be able to explain the red herrings and the murder in a way that makes sense without being a big disappointment. Imagine my surprise that 1×08 is emotionally rich, as well as intelligent and satisfying. Guess the Brits just have a better sense of how to do one-season crime shows…
- Joe (describing his relationship with Danny): “I wanted something that was mine”
- Miller (as Hardy begins to interview her): “Don’t call me Ellie”
- Miller (as Hardy sends her away): “Tell me this isn’t happening”
- Miller (as she leaves her house): “We were happy here”
- Miller (when Hardy resists categorizing what Joe is): “I need to understand”
What are your thoughts on the identity of the killer? Are you surprised? Did you like the flashback to the night of the crime? Were you as impressed as me with Coleman’s performance? And where, if this isn’t the end of Broadchurch, can the series go from here? Add your thoughts below
Broadchurch has finished airing its first season on BBC America. It is due to air a second, though no details are available as to when new episodes will arrive or who will return