Broadchurch Series 1 Episode 8 (ITV) Review

There will be those who grumble about this final episode of Broadchurch and the reveal that so many of us had already figured out but, by the end of the hour, I realised that the eight hours I had spent in the company of Hardy and Miller hadn’t really been about catching Danny’s killer. Broadchurch was a special kind of show that moved beyond its genre while still staunchly obeying all of its rules – it was about the effects of tragedy on a small town, and our individual reactions to it. It was also really, really entertaining.

Just some 15-minutes into the episode, Joe Miller was revealed to be Danny’s killer and, after a short ad-break, we saw exactly why and how. This is where I felt a little let down, with Joe’s reasons for murdering his neighbours son not quite ringing true for me. The fact that Hardy had been such a good detective meant that all of the evidence collected was exactly what it seemed (with the exception of witnesses mistaking family-man Joe for creepy Nige), and the second part of the episode was an exercise in telling us what we already knew.

But what of the other 30-minutes? Well this is where Broadchurch stepped up, throwing out the answers we all thought we wanted in double-quick time just so we could get down to the real story. The tracking shot of Hardy walking through the house to find Danny’s misplaced phone was a beautiful exercise in building suspense, but it could never match up to telling Ellie the truth about her husband. Watching him try to protect her from the truth for as long as possible, and then draw out the ultimate confession for almost as long, gave us so much more than an unexpected killer could ever have done.

Having two actors like David Tennant and Olivia Colman can only yield good results, but they really deserve all of the awards the industry can throw their way after this. Colman, especially, did what she does best by repeatedly breaking the nation’s hearts. She cried, she stiffened her upper lip and she kicked off quite spectacularly – but she did all of it with such conviction that you couldn’t help but wholeheartedly believe in her. Tennant might have had a smaller job this week, and may be forgotten when people talk about Broadchurch from now on, but his part to play was just as important to this finale.

This series was a rare thing in that, when the finale aired this evening, it felt like a national event – usually only reserved for X Factor finals or sport – but the pesky new way that we watch, with the aid of twitter and online forums, might just have ruined the big reveal for a lot of us. Those who enjoy crime shows simply for the chase, and get some satisfaction from guessing the killer’s identity before the characters do, will have noticed nothing different when experiencing tonight’s Broadchuch. It’s sad that those who didn’t want to know will probably have been influenced by various headlines and online polls before watching.

But for me, it didn’t matter one bit once the whodunit had been done away with. I realised that I hadn’t eagerly awaited the show each week because of the mystery, but for the characters and the exploration of human nature the show often delved into. That’s a heck of lot to ask of a drama on ITV, and it’s a rare thing for a British series to have this wide-spread popularity and admiration, but creator Chris Chibnall deserves every morsel of praise his little show has gotten. I would hate for the ‘obvious’ or ‘easy’ conclusion to mar the good will it’s generated, and I don’t believe it will.

Oh, and, at the end of the bonus scene posted below, the words “Broadchurch will return” pop up. We might ask how they can get another series out of this, but then ITV’s always been known for grabbing hold of whatever sticks and never letting go. When they delay the 10 o’clock news for a drama, then you know they’re supportive. I’m not complaining.

What did you think of the episode? Was the identity of the killer important to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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