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Broadchurch - Episode 3 review

Broadchurch

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THREE episodes in and ITV drama Broadchurch just keeps getting better.

Not only does the identity of the killer remain a tightly guarded secret but the character development is first-rate – and none more so than the central pairing of David Tennant’s DI Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman’s DS Ellie Miller.

Whereas a lot of cop dramas rely on the close bond that exists between partners, Broadchurch has opted for the opposite path. They positively rub each other up the wrong way and it makes for riveting, often amusing viewing, that neatly offsets some of the more dramatic, melancholy elements.

Colman, in particular, is a gem. Her expressions are priceless. Her well-meaning Ellie wears her frustrations with Hardy on her sleeve. And it’s hugely enjoyable to watch as she struggles to keep a lid on her temper.

In this particular episode, a dinner invitation, reluctantly accepted by Hardy, was greeted with a disdainful follow-up under her breath that can only have prompted chuckles from those who witnessed it. It was perfectly realised. Likewise, a scene with the pair on a boat, during which Hardy revealed his dislike for being on the water. Ellie’s comeback, again, was pithy and expertly delivered.

But Tennant, too, is great. His troubled detective may have felt contrived when first introduced but peeling away the layers of the character is, thus far, fascinating. He’s a haunted, unhealthy man… a ticking time-bomb who views his presence in Broadchurch as “penance”. But what exactly did he do wrong last time out?

Nevertheless, he cares. That’s beyond doubt. And he’s dogged, never more so than when questioning witnesses to Ellie’s obvious discomfort and dismay. It’s a fascinating relationship to watch develop.

Elsewhere, the plot thickens surrounding the identity of the murderer. And we’re not going to speculate just yet.

But other highlights of the series include the performances of Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker as the grieving parents. Buchan, especially, had a tough time during this episode, emerging as chief suspect, and expertly conveying his frustrations, guilt (for different reasons) and anguish.

However, this is very much a series that thrives on the strength of its ensemble players and the quality of its twisting script. And so far, the balance between story development and character progression has been neatly achieved.

We’re gripped by the whodunnit element as well as emotionally invested. And we keenly anticipate the arrival of each new episode.