What is a human being capable of?
That seemed to be an underlying theme during the first series of Broadchurch.
“Anybody’s capable of this murder, given the right circumstances.” – Alec Hardy
But was he right? Is anyone capable of murder? Most people have limits, lines they would never cross, which is something I talked about before. Unless you’re a sociopath, there are just some things you never do, whatever the circumstances.
But what if those circumstances involved your life being at risk? Or the life of someone you loved? I think many people would end one life, to protect another they genuinely cared about.
That was probably what Hardy was referring to. Perhaps the murder occurred because someone’s life was at risk. But Danny was just a kid. I highly doubt he could end up in such a murderous rage that a mere bop across the bonce wouldn’t have stopped him. So maybe what he really meant was that anyone could commit murder, even if their reasons are minor and irrational. Even if it’s something as spurious as: this kid’s going to reveal my darkest secret. And I’m not too sure about that. I don’t think anyone, with any moral compass whatsoever, would ever kill an 11-year-old kid.
But in that case, how does one explain the series finale?
After all, it was Joe Miller, Ellie’s husband, who committed this brutal crime. A man who seemed so kind, so caring, so loving to his family and community, that he couldn’t possibly be a murderer!
How does one explain that!?
Which brings us to episode four, in the new series of Broadchurch, where we meet a brand new, surprise witness.
This is a former partner of Joe’s, back when he worked as a paramedic; And she tells a story about one day, when Joe offered to give her a lift to the supermarket at the end of their shift, and some prick in a BMW took his parking spot. So, Joe responded to this by getting out of his car, and beating the living shit out of the guy. Nearly killing him.
Now, obviously there are a lot of douchebag drivers in the world, and I’m sure we’d all like to beat the crap out of all of them. But we don’t, because most of us have self-control. Which Joe obviously doesn’t.
And that explains everything! Turns out Joe was always capable of flying into a murderous rage, since that’s exactly what he did before. And everyone’s surprised by this, even Ellie.
“Who the fuck did I marry?” – Ellie’s Brain
I guess we can assume she never saw this side of him. That he was really good at hiding it. Much like he was really good at hiding his relationship with Danny.
And with this, plus Ellie’s sister as an eyewitness to Joe throwing some murder-supplies in the trash, the prosecution close their case, with one hell of a bang.
Now it’s the defence’s turn.
First question: Do they put Joe on the stand to profess his innocence?
Of course Abbie mentions that if they don’t do it, the jury may read too much into that. And I’m suddenly reminded of an old legal drama from the 90s about a man on trial for murder called: ‘Murder One.’
During one episode of that show, the accused told his lawyer he wanted to go on the stand to speak in his own defence, and his lawyer was against it. He thought there would be too much of a risk if they did. Eventually, he concedes, and puts his client on the stand, and I thought it went really well. Then, later in the series, he said that if he didn’t believe his client was innocent, there would’ve been no way in hell that he’d let the kid take the stand, no matter what.
So apparently, Teddy Hoffman has a very different defence style than this woman. And I find Teddy’s style more believable than her, especially since I once met a criminal defence attorney who said he would never knowingly take on a client who wanted his defence to be based around perjury; which is sort of in the same spirit.
But I guess to them, it’s more about the result, rather than how they get there.
So they decide to attempt a dry run. Interrogate Joe as the prosecution would, and see how he performs.
And he performs badly… really badly. He gets easily shaken and makes several mistakes, and eventually ends up practically confessing right there.
So they’re not putting him on the stand. Instead, they need to look for a few reliable character witnesses. But who could they possibly find that would act as a character witness in his favour? Everyone in town sees him as nothing more than a murdering bastard who lied to them! I don’t think he has any friends left!
So who could they use? I’ll come back to this, because we have other plot threads to deal with! Mainly the adventures of Mark “Fake-crying” Latimer!
And he’s suddenly turned very sentimental. With his new daughter now born, it brought on a new perspective in the man, and he’s planning on taking some paternity leave, so he can spend as much time as possible with Lizzie.
And because of this, he also decided the secret FIFA matches with Tom have to come to an end. And Tom, much like everyone on this show that receives moderately disappointing news, doesn’t take it well.
Fuck you, Tom.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I understand why he’s upset. What I don’t understand is why he, much like ‘Fuck You Beth’, is blaming Ellie of all people for the fact that Joe killed Danny. Because we see him shout about how shitty it is that Mark’s leaving him, much like his father and his mother. Except his father is a murdering bastard and in prison, and his mother… well, he pushed her away, not the other way around. So where is he getting this bullshit!?
And after he yells at Mark to go away, he decides to just wallow in pity in their secret lair, throughout the night.
‘But what secret lair?’ you may ask. Well, the secret lair that was formerly known as Susan Wright’s trailer, which Tom had the keys to, and she abandoned near the end of the last series, never to return.
And as Tom just despairs and plays FIFA, alone, a noise comes at the door, and all of a sudden…
I thought she said she’s never coming back!
Well, anyway, she’s back, and what for?
Well, if you’ll remember, just before leaving, she told the cops Nigel killed Danny. She also revealed the creepy bastard was her son, taken away from her when he was just a baby.
And now, when Nigel goes to confront her, he starts by yelling at her for having him thrown in jail, and leaving town.
Um… Nigel? If I remember correctly, you asked her to leave. In fact, you threatened her. Yes, how dare she do what you told her to.
Anyway, it’s here she explains that she’s not giving up on him, and she wants to make peace. Especially now that she’s dying of lung cancer, which should surprise no one given how much she smoked.
And how does Nigel respond to this? By telling her off, and walking away.
Well this comes as no surprise. He’s always been a prick, if I’m honest.
Which brings us back to the trial, when the defence brings out its first witness.
Guess what she testifies?
Yes, she tells everyone that she saw Nigel dump Danny’s body on the beach, just as she told the police last series. And I know, it was a hell of a long walk to get to this point.
And I guess this is going to be the defence’s strategy for the rest of the series, to try to pin the murder on Nigel. Well, given how much of a twat he is, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
So, to summarize, we have Joe’s trial going badly for the defence, and well for the rest of humanity. I mean, we are supposed to root for the prosecution right? Because the defence are such jerks.
I did say last time that we’re obviously supposed to hate Bishop because she’s being such an ass. But this episode, we have an interesting moment, where we see her scolding Abbie for her callous rhetoric.
“Do you ever listen to yourself? These are people’s lives you’re talking about… have some sensitivity.” – Bishop the oblivious
Yes, if only she thought of that during the last episode. Accusing Ellie of having an affair with Hardy, in the most callous way possible. I’m not sure if this makes the character inconsistent, or not-self-aware. Or she just has a way of justifying it in her twisted little head.
Regardless, it is bizarre.
But while all this is going on, Hardy and Ellie are still working on the Sandbrook case, which is still considered closed, and with all that’s been going on these past few weeks, he wants it reopened. So it’s back to the town of Sandbrook to get that done.
But before they get a chance to leave, Ashworth has something to say!
And it’s mostly paranoid horse shit, about how no one understands him and Hardy’s obsessed with Sandbrook because he slept with Claire and… what?
Alright, that sounds interesting. But it’s probably ridiculous. Right, Hardy?
Well, he doesn’t deny it, so… yeah, probably. Cheeky bugger. Though that… really needs some further explanation, because I’m just confused.
Though, he does explain, almost randomly, that the reason he’s so obsessed with the case is because he found the bodies of one of the victims in the river, and found it traumatic or horrific or something. Partially because his daughter was the same age.
You see, this is interesting, because I thought he was obsessed with Sandbrook because his failure to properly close the case made everyone think he was a shit detective. So, he wants to redeem himself. But this works as well. We’ll say it’s a combination of both.
Anyway, they head back to Sandbrook, where their first order of business is to investigate the crime scene, Lee Ashworth’s old house. And right next door lives the victim’s mother: Cate Gillespie.
Turns out she never moved.
So Hardy visits her, and they have a talk. And very quickly the discussion moves onto the fact that her marriage broke apart, but it wasn’t because her daughter was killed. It was mainly because he was a cheating bastard, who didn’t even try to hide it. Even sleeping around with Claire next door, and one of the bridesmaids at the wedding they were at during the night their daughter was killed.
Which shocks the hell out of Hardy because he never heard this!
Yeah, that might be relevant to the case here, Cate!
Meanwhile, Ellie investigates Ashworth’s old house, and nothing actually comes of it.
So then, they go to a diner where they meet a detective who can re-open the case.
Oh, and she’s Hardy’s ex-wife. And despite all the new evidence, she’s not going to reopen the case, mainly because she doesn’t want to after “what it did to [them].”
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the Sandbrook case that broke up your marriage, but you cheating on him, and losing the pendant!
That’s the odd thing about this episode, we have several characters just forgetting how cause and effect works.
Case in point: Ricky Gillespie, the victim’s dad. Who confronts Hardy at a Nando’s, for daring to try to reopen the investigation into his daughter’s murder.
Yes, how dare he try to bring this killer to justice!
Okay, yeah, that makes no sense, and thankfully Hardy realizes this. So now, Ricky Gillespie is our prime suspect.
It’s called the Streisand effect. Where attempts to cover up, or bury some piece of information, actually has a reverse effect, and causes more people to know about it. And Ricky here failed to realize this.
Then, as Hardy’s sharing this revelation, Ellie remembers something. During the last episode, she pulled the recent contact list off Claire’s phone, and it had only two numbers: Hardy’s, and one she doesn’t recognize. So they call it, but no one answers. However, thanks to the magic of television, we learn exactly who it is.
See, told you he was a prime suspect! Why the hell was he in contact with Claire Ripley? Oh, and in his office, is a framed photo of a field of bluebells!
What is up with these damn bluebells!?
I’m not going to say this episode was bad, just… interesting.
Claire and Ashworth I still don’t understand. They end up meeting up during this episode and start fucking like rabbits! And we have an interesting moment where Ashworth asks if Claire has slept with anyone, and she says no. But she did. If you’ll remember, during the last episode both her and Ellie picked up two randoms in a bar.
So she’s lying, quite blatantly. Then again, we also know she slept with the neighbour as well, and it doesn’t seem as if it tainted their marriage in any way. So she probably has a history of this.
Then she asks Ashworth the same question, and he more or less says ‘yes.’ But only french girls! That doesn’t count as cheating, does it? It’s in a different country!
By the way, before I get any angry comments, this is Ashworth speaking, not me!
So these two are weird. They’re not faithful to each other, and they both know it, and yet they’re still crazy for each other!
Love is weird.
Speaking of weird, Mark Latimer. Let’s go back to him.
I didn’t mention this earlier because I was too busy talking about Tom’s whining. But given that Mark decides to stop spending time with the kid, it makes me wonder what the hell was going on there in the first place! If Mark was planning some epic revenge, why is he just abandoning it now? Oh, he has a new kid now. But he knew Beth was pregnant well before now! What’s changed!?
Of course, maybe he wasn’t planning an epic revenge. Then why in the hell was he fake-crying during the last episode!?
I know I’m missing something, I’m just not sure what it is yet.
But since we’re talking about Mark being weird. Let’s talk about his wife, being weird.
You see, during this episode, we find out she wants to create a charity in her son’s name. But unfortunately, all her ideas have already been done to death, which means it’ll be impossible to get any money for it. They need an original idea if they want the charity to last. Which is why Paul, Maggie and Oliver suggest a cause that could really use some real support, but doesn’t get it because it’s… well… because most don’t see it as a ‘good’ cause, but a bad one. They suggest forming a charity that would assist convicted pedophiles, and provide them with whatever help they need to stop them from reoffending. Which is not an idea Beth is keen on.
“So, Danny’s legacy would be helping the sort of man who murdered him.” – Beth “Fuck You Beth” Latimer
Well, you could look at it that way. Or you could be sensible and say you’d be helping the children who might potentially be victimized by the sort of man who murdered him. You’d be preventing them from reoffending! Not providing them with a kid buffet!
Let’s be honest here, pedophiles are obviously sick in the head, and no mental illness is cured by the legal system! These people need real psychological help! That way, they won’t diddle with kids anymore, or potentially choke the shit out of one of them! If Joe Miller had that kind of psychological help, Danny would probably still be alive.
However, you’d have to identify him as needing the help first. Which is another issue. But hell, if there was a charity that said those with the desire to have sex with children shouldn’t be pariahed merely due to their desires, and that they can get proper help, I’m almost certain he would’ve taken it! Part of the reason he flipped out and choked Danny is because he was ashamed, and in denial over his own illness!
At least, that’s the argument one psychologist made. And I agree with her. You make them feel ashamed, and turn all pedophiles into social outcasts merely because of their thoughts, thoughts they can’t control, all it’ll do is drive them underground. They need support, and they need help. And throwing them in prison is not help.
But most people don’t see things that way. In fact I’m pretty sure most people think that anyone who even considers banging an eight-year-old should be drawn and quartered, regardless of whether or not they actually do anything. And I think Beth is one of them. Which is not good.
I hope she just needs time to think about it. It would be a great cause. If only most people weren’t scared of it.
Wow, I think I got a bit off-topic there. Let’s return to the overall episode.
I do find those little plot nuggets kind of disorienting. There’s Beth’s charity, Mark’s relationship with Tom, Susan’s illness, and we also have Oliver running a story on Lee Ashworth, which I don’t really care about yet. Each of these little plot threads, which all have plenty of potential, are only getting a few scenes in this episode. I’m guessing we’ll see much more of them in future episodes, but right now, it’s just these random scenes, not connected to anything, which just feels weird.
However, I guess this is how these serialized dramas work. A few scenes here, a few scenes there. I’d just like it if I didn’t have to wait so long for the payoff.
And we’ve also got a bit of character development. The new characters from Sandbrook are interesting, particularly Hardy’s daughter, who only got one scene in this episode, but is already more developed than her American equivalent from Gracepoint.
She’s spunky, I like her.
And I hope the show keeps on like this. Because it’s on an interesting path. I just wish we’d get a bit of closure, a few plot threads wrapped up, and a few characters coming to their senses. That way, we’d feel like we’re making some progress here, rather than just keeping a holding pattern for another four episodes.
But on the bright side: At least they’re moving… somewhere.