It’s the penultimate episode of BROADCHURCH, and the dominoes are beginning to fall — not only in the Danny Latimer murder case specifically, but also the pieces of the puzzles behind some characters have come together, including Detective Inspector Alec Hardy’s Sandbrook misadventure and Susan Wright’s mysterious past (and reason for the name change).
But there are still several key pieces missing, and I expect next week’s finale to be a pretty jam-packed episode. As suspects like Susan are eliminated, others become more likely. But I’m still holding out for a less-usual suspect. I’m not buying Nigel as the killer; I would be more satisfied if Steve were the perp and he got himself caught by insisting on interfering in the investigation. But my pet theory pointing to Ellie’s husband got a big boost this week.
Alec (David Tennant) awakens in the hospital once again, where Ellie (Olivia Colman) tells him that of course the suspect escaped last night. Alec admits to suffering from severe heart arrhythmia, and knows that he’ll be taken off the case once this gets out. Nevertheless, he checks himself out and returns to the station. Ellie interrogates Susan (Pauline Quirke), getting her to talk by threatening to have her dog put down. Susan reveals that her husband had been abusing their oldest daughter and killed her. Then he hanged himself in police custody, so that’s why she hates the police. Then she tells Ellie that she saw Nigel (Joe Sims) drag Danny’s body from a boat and leave it on the beach. Oh, and she believes Nige is the son that was taken from her by authorities back when her husband was arrested.
Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and Mark (Andrew Buchan) seek counseling from Father Paul (Arthur Darvill), who suggests Beth keep the baby. When Maggie (Carolyn Pickles) and Olly (Jonathan Bailey) get wind of Alec’s hospitalization that bully him into granting an interview, during which he explains the Sandbrook mistakes: One of his sergeants found a key piece of evidence — a pendant — in the killer’s car, but before turning it in she stopped in at a pub. Her car was broken into and the evidence stolen. Alec took the blame for the theft because the DS was his wife, and she was having an affair, and he didn’t want their daughter to find out about it. Paul later gives Alec Tom’s computer, which he caught the boy trying to destroy. He also tells Alec that Tom (Adam Wilson) and Danny were enemies, not pals — a fact that seemed to take Ellie by surprise. Later, she searched fruitlessly for Tom’s computer — a search that seemed to upset husband Joe (Matthew Gravelle). Up against the deadline of meeting a police doctor in the morning, Alec was working late when he received an e-mail that made him exclaim, “Of course!”
As I predicted earlier, when the idea of a mistake being made in Sandbrook was first raised, Alec was protecting someone else in the investigation — but I never guessed it would be his wife. There’s something noble and self-sacrificing in Alec’s bearing that told me he wasn’t the type to screw things up. And that kind of tortured guilt comes from bearing multiple secrets. I liked how he wanted it included in the story that the Gillespie case is still open. Alec is determined to nail that perp, if it’s the last thing he does. But finding Danny’s killer may be the last thing he actually does.
It’s an interesting variation on the theme to have a detective who is literally dying on his feet. I didn’t think heart arrhythmia was that serious, but I suppose that Alec’s refusal to treat it properly is making it worse. Still, collapsing every couple of paces is going to make it difficult to slap the cuffs on Danny’s killer. I was surprised that Alec went to “psychic” Steve (Will Mellor), but I can understand how desperate he was. He must still have been woozy from the hospital to let Steve take credit for his boat prediction (in a seaside town) and mentioning the pendant from Sandbrook — which was in the papers, so it required no special supernatural knowledge — but at least Alec recognized the worthlessness of saying Danny knew his killer. It has been emphasized over and over that in tiny Broadchurch, everyone knows everyone.
I am thoroughly convince that the killer is Joe — and the final nail in his coffin came in the last exchange between Ellie and Susan, when Ellie expressed her disgust for Susan not knowing that her husband was abusing her daughter: How could she live in the same house and not know? The judgment and hubris in Ellie’s voice demands to be paid back with the revelation that she’s been living with a murderer.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Ellie was just giving voice to her own frustration over not knowing about secrets in her own house, like Joe and Tom going to play paintball, and her seeming to never know where her husband or son are — at the skateboard park, or somewhere else?
And how does Nige fit into all this? If he was merely the person who staged the body on the beach, why was he willing to play that part? Either he was a willing participant, protecting someone else (like Alec in Sandbrook), or was forced into it (by the threat of something worse than a murder rap?). If more than one person was involved in Danny’s death, that suggests something widespread going on in secret in Broadchurch, and there’s been no suggestion of that (beyond and organized pheasant-poaching operation). And, of course, the seemingly secret boys’ club comprised of Mark, Danny, Nigel, Joe and Tom.
Does anyone else remember the postman? Why was that element dropped into the story? It was even brought up in one the “Previously on BROADCHURCH” episode recaps. Why would Jack have lied about that incident? I’ll admit though, it would be mighty unsatisfying if it turns out that that little-seen character is the killer. It’s more likely that he had a role in whatever secret network might have been operating in Broadchurch. Perhaps he’s a courier of some sort. And where did Danny’s hidden money come from?
All will be revealed next week, so it’s time for my official prediction: Joe did it.