Broadchurch review: 5 reasons why the finale was an anti-climax

Perhaps the massively hyped last episode could only disappoint us. But Jack Seale has still listed the reasons why it did...

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1 The killer
Did it matter that more than half the audience guessed several episodes ago who the killer was? That’s what I was asking yesterday and I think the answer is… yes and no. The explanation was subtler than simply “Joe is a child molester” and just about hung together – his apparently healthy relationship with his own son is slightly hard to explain – and the way DI Hardy (David Tennant) cracked the case quite easily when the right evidence was available mirrors most real-life investigations. They don’t actually climax with the detective brilliantly pulling together obscure clues, and the identity and motive of the killer are normally banal and sad. Broadchurch has always tried to be more than a whodunit and so it was in the finale, as writer Chris Chibnall got the reveal in early and focused on the aftermath. But Broadchurch was still a whodunit: its early episodes toured all the suspects in classic Agatha Christie style, with cliffhangers and twists building up the mystery. It invited us to guess. So it’s a shame it was too easy and the game ended with a quick “Yeah, it is him”. After that, the last half hour felt a bit indulgent.

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2. The psychic
Was Broadchurch too long at eight episodes? I’d say so – and the first thing I’d strike out would be the character of Steve Connelly, the psychic telephone repair man. One of the lower-key moments in episode 8 was DI Hardy explaining that he’d “been there before” as a child holidaying in Broadchurch. Along with Steve’s spooky knowledge of Hardy’s previous cases and what proved to be a correct assertion that Beth knew her son’s killer, this implies Steve really was a seer. A crank who’s drawn to a murder case and makes things worse for everyone by pretending to be psychic: great idea. An actual psychic in the middle of a classy, realistic study of how a crime impacts on a community: no.

3. The beacons
This was meant to be a moment of redemption, as ordinary people in Broadchurch and beyond reached out to the Latimers to show solidarity with them. But since the locals’ attitude to the case and the victim’s family hadn’t been mentioned before, it felt tacked on. And what was with Arthur Darvill’s last lines? Paul the vicar’s flirty gallows humour with Becca the Aussie hotelier had previously been an unlikely, nicely inconsequential bit of fun. Placing them and their sexy banter at the centre of the last scene was just weird.

4. The slug
DS Miller (Olivia Colman) gets home after discovering her husband is a killer, sees a large slug on the living-room floor, and squashes it with her foot. WTF? Clunky symbolism ahoy!

5. “Broadchurch will return”
For the love of Jack Marshall, how is it going to run to a second series? OK, so Chibnall says series two will be “very different”, but surely it’ll have to be so different it might as well have a new title – unless we’re going to veer into Homeland/Life on Mars territory, where the premise can’t really sustain a second series but the show’s so popular everyone has to give it a bash anyway. A popular theory on Twitter is that Colman and Tennant will go into business together as private detectives, since all they have now is each other. Perhaps there might also be – oh God, no! – romance on the cards? Or something “very different” could happen in the town of Broadchurch in their absence, but that means ITV bringing back its biggest crime drama since The Sweeney without the two lead actors. Surely not. Just leave it be.

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