Let’s put it right up front: Broadchurch is meandering somewhat this season. While it still manages to deliver a third act punch in every episode, the remainder of the episodes seem to be exposition-heavy and more filled with new surprise arrivals than the deepening of family and community distrust and conflict. But, we are getting there, and I say we should bear with Chris Chibnall; I think we still have quite a journey ahead of us, and it’s only when compared with Broadchurch that Broadchurch suffers.
The main emphasis of episode four was the trial of Joe Miller, and while Jocelyn valiantly and competently tries to prove his guilt, Sharon much more effectively pushes to put that guilt into doubt. While both Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste have been given somewhat clunky lines, the characters gamely battle on. The somewhat morally inconsistent Sharon delivered the killer blow with the return of Pauline Quirke as Susan Wright who, having failed to reconcile with her son, duly dobs him in on the stand. It was her son, not Joe, who she claims she saw carrying Danny Latimer’s corpse from the boat. Revelation, or outright lie?
It’s the trial that gets the shocks, but it’s the Sandbrook storyline that continues a slow build that we hope will pay off. A further link between Clare and Ellie is presented to us, in that both have been accused of sleeping with Hardy, and we meet his ex-wife in a somewhat awkward scene. But the new arrival to the show that really mixes things up is Ricky Gillespie, the father of the dead and/or missing girls from the Sandbrook case. Not only is he generally acting suspicious, not only was his semi-public affair with next-door neighbour Clare a little too convenient but, as we learn in the last moments, he has a particular obsession with the heavily foreshadowed bluebells. Suddenly that case has been utterly turned around, and instead of seeing how creepy Lee is, it would appear that Clare’s conscience isn’t quite so clear and Lee’s insistence of his innocence might actually be true after all.
So, halfway through the season and everything’s been turned upside down. We’re not sure of anyone, or what really happened or who to trust. And that’s exactly where we need to be at this point.