THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
That’s all, folks! Broadchurch came to a definitive end this week in the Series 3 finale. But did the pay-off manage to live up to its own hype?
This much-touted “final chapter” promised big things, with both the ongoing investigation and three seasons worth of stories to wrap up. As far as ticking the boxes go, it did both of these things. The mystery surrounding Trish’s attack was finally unravelled, while the rest of the characters all received some degree of closure. To what extent these elements worked in execution has certainly been up for debate – though for a series that has so intensely captured the public eye and scrutiny, it would be impossible to please entirely everyone.
The episode began with a swift reminder of the season’s opening chapter: “who did this to me?” asks Trish. Well, after two months of speculation, it was time to tie up the loose ends from the 8-week suspect-a-thon. Hardy begins by arresting cab driver Clive after his DNA shows up on the sock used to gag Trish. Meanwhile, Ed Burnett finds the bag of twine used in the attack outside his shop – ultimately planted there by the true culprit, as CCTV footage proves. Lenny Henry packs one last gut-punch into his performance, as he emotionally admits he “failed” Trish. It transpires that he (unknowingly) heard the rape and did nothing to stop it. We suppose that goes at least some way to explain his obsessive stalking, then.
With Ed in the clear, all evidence points to Clive, whose alibi is shot and is forced to admit he was at the scene of the crime. That is, until the CCTV identifies the car of one Leo Humphries. Turns out his innocent act last week really was all for show. In a shock turn of events, it was “swaggery little” Leo who did it.
It’s All About the Boy
Except, not quite. Nothing’s ever that simple in Broadchurch! It was Clive’s son, Michael Lucas, who actually raped Trish. But Leo had forcibly groomed him into doing so, essentially ‘gifting’ him the opportunity to become a man. In an interesting twist, slimy Clive somewhat redeems himself by trying to take the fall for his step-son, and there is a shred of pity for Michael as he is given no choice but to carry out the crime. But, at the end of the day, the law is the law and justice will be done.
Onto the biggie though: Leo’s eventual confession was truly sickening stuff – he’s actively proud of his disgusting behaviour, and it honestly made our skin crawl. He owns up to committing the previous two rapes as well, all caught on camera using his phone. What the police might call a rookie mistake, he considers a priceless memory. The sooner he gets his comeuppance for his terrible actions, the better.
For some, this outcome might not necessarily have the hit the satisfying sweet spot they were expecting. For a finale meant to tie up three series of Broadchurch, you might have expected a ‘bigger’ character to have been in the firing line instead. Leo and Michael, it has to be said, were given very little screen time compared to many other faces. But it’s undeniably dramatic, and Leo’s true colours make him a worthy suspect to bite the bullet.
Ex Marks the Spot
One slight criticism of this episode is that it takes a fair old while to actually get to the reveal. Joe Miller was unmasked within the first 15 minutes of the Series 1 finale. Here, nearly 45 minutes pass by before we see the reality play out. “Come on, come on, come on!” screams Hardy as the investigation stumbles at the final hurdle – a sentiment that some viewers might agree with. It all depends what go into this episode expecting to see. If you’re wanting not just the truth, but also the aftermath, then you may be a little underwhelmed. Trish, who was a dominating presence early in the series, hardly features at all here. The resolutions are left until the very last moments, and it’s a shame that there wasn’t more opportunity for these shock outcomes to sink in.
Meanwhile, the wider Broadchurch community receive their own respective endings, again to varying degrees of success. Paul Coates announces he’s leaving the church, and Maggie is off to start a YouTube channel. While a little sudden, the seeds for these exits were sown sporadically throughout earlier episodes. We’d have liked a bit more time with familiar faces across the series, but it’s nice that we get one last glimpse of them in a moving and defining congregation scene.
Beth and Mark Latimer, perhaps rightfully so, get the most attention out of the old guard. Their quiet conversations are touching and offer a definite change in pace to Hardy and Miller’s frantic last-minute scramble. Ultimately, it’s a bittersweet ending: they’re not getting back together, and Mark is left to drive off alone. Hopefully he’s learned something from his failed suicide attempt a couple of weeks prior.
It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for Broadchurch, with some definite ups and downs across the last 8 weeks. But the one thing that’s clear as day is that Series 3 was a vast improvement on Series 2, returning to the tried-and-tested formula and emulating at least some of the success of Series 1. Viewed purely from the investigation itself, it certainly also did what it set out to do, shedding light onto a terrible side of crime that often goes ignored. Arguably there was a little too much disconnect between the new story and the old, but it brought everything together in a perfectly logical way.
Alas, the curtain must fall and the final scene is left to the real stars of the show: Hardy and Miller. And what brilliant performers David Tennant and Olivia Colman have been, right down to the last moments. “We did our job, Miller” remarks Hardy in a typically spiky exchange. It’s a slight shame that, even in this farewell moment, Hardy refuses Miller’s offer to go to the pub. But we suppose some things never change! With a mutual “see you tomorrow”, the two head off in opposite directions and the camera sweeps out one last time to those iconic Broadchurch cliffs. They think it’s all over… it is now.