broad021The most intense, emotionally devastating scene in this week’s BROADCHURCH involved a box of cereal and a grieving mother — and it was almost enough to bring a viewer to tears.

The investigation into the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer lurched forward this week when police discovered 500 pounds hidden in Danny’s room and cocaine secreted in Chloe’s (Charlotte Beaumont) room. Another forensics team determined via bloody fingerprint that Danny was killed at a shack a couple of miles down the road — and a print from his father, Mark (Andrew Buchan) was also found at the scene. What’s more, CCTV footage from the shack’s car park showed Mark lurking about on the night of the murder. Chloe said she didn’t know anything about the money in her brother’s room, but she got the coke from hotelier Becca (Simone Macaully) — who claimed she got it from Chloe for some guests, but when they checked out before she could pass it along, she returned the coke to Chloe. She got it from her shady boyfriend, Dean (Jacob Anderson).

As DI Alec (David Tennant) ramped up his investigation by focusing on Danny’s skateboard and mobile, he narrowly missed discovering that weirdo beach lady Susan (Pauline Quirke) has the skateboard hidden in her closet. Alec interviewed Mark, who seemed remarkably glib about the investigation and refused to name a mysterious friend he claimed to have been hanging out with the night Danny was killed. This left Alec deeply suspicious. Ellie (Olivia Colman) was already frustrated enough to call Alec on his aloofness. Alec, meanwhile, suffered from mysterious dizzy spells and popped some pills. Finally, Karen (Vicky McClure) continued to give journalists a bad name by trying to befriend Chloe.

broad025With all that went on, the episode was stolen by Beth (Jodie Whittaker), the mother who is just barely holding it together. Beth was in the grocery store when she happened to pass a box of children’s cereal. From her reaction, we could tell it was Danny’s favorite, but there was more to the scene. As Beth’s expression changed from stunned surprise to a warm smile to welling up with tears, a viewer could tell she probably was reliving Danny’s entire life through that box of cereal: Maybe he loved it as a small child but gradually his taste changed and he grew out of it as he got older. And now he’d never like any cereal ever again.

The connection with Danny made the stares of the other shoppers too much to bear, and when the old man in the parking lot tried to express the town’s collective grief, Beth didn’t react well and ended up crashing her car. That’s when Rev. Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) arrived and awkwardly (but a bit endearingly) tried to offer some solace — but only briefly, before packing up and going on his way. But not before Beth revealed that she’s pregnant — and it’s “complicated.”

The entire sequence — beginning with Beth going stir-crazy at the house — was a triumph of barely-contained grief and carefully controlled power for Whittaker. Without dialogue she was able to encapsulate an entire emotional journey with her eyes.

broad023Another emotionally-packed scene came when Mark confronted Paul after the man of the cloth went on TV and appeared to be using Danny’s death to try and drum up attendance at his church. His last service was attended “19 out of 15,000” residents, so it’s clear he needed the business. But there was probably an element of sincerity in Paul’s appeal — after all, he did try to (nominally) comfort Beth. But Mark throwing him against the parish door was the first sign of genuine human emotion the man has shown since his son’s corpse was discovered. Then again, maybe he was just angry that Paul was hijacking attention from the Latimer family.

And Mark might have just been projecting his own guilt onto Paul. The way BROADCHURCH is tilting the field to make Mark look guilty is just too pat and obvious for him to be the one who truly did it. The smirking manner with which Buchan plays Mark makes a viewer wish he’s guilty and want to punch his smug face, but while Mark is clearly hiding something he did wrong that fateful night, it’s far more likely that he was “merely” cheating on his wife and not murdering his son. In fact, he may even be covering for Paul — which would explain his extreme reaction to the reverend’s TV appearance.

Likewise Chloe’s drug-dealing statutory rapist boyfriend is probably another red herring. I don’t think he’s the killer — he’s just another wrongdoer worried about exposure as collateral damage to the murder investigation.

broad022So who did do it? Well, Jack (David Bradley) certainly went out of his way to cast suspicion on postman Kevin (Jack Ashton), who was casually dismissive and claimed to be partying with pals that night. (Hmmm, Mark and Paul?) And what about that weirdo Steve (Will Mellor) from the telecommunications department who claims to have psychic powers? I dearly hope the-powers-that-be aren’t going to inject supernatural B.S. into a reality-based program! At least viewers could understand how completely valueless was his statement that water had something to do with Danny’s death — in a seaside town! From the previews, it appears that “psychic” bastard is going after Beth next week. It would be sweet if he’s the killer and we get to see him locked up.

So who did? At this point, we don’t know…

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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