‘How did you not know?’
Well it was hinted at in the penultimate episode when Pauline Quirke’s character, Susan Wright, talked about her husband who had abused and murdered her daughter. Ellie Miller, played by Olivia Colman, was incredulous that Susan hadn’t known. And from the start, Alec Hardy, played by David Tennant, had told Ellie that the murderer would probably be someone she knew from the town of Broadchurch. And she did. Because it was her husband, Joe.
The final explanation for the murder may have come out of nowhere but if Ellie is the main character, which she has always seemed to be, then we’ve been seeing it through her eyes. She really had no idea that her husband was having a ‘relationship’ with Danny Latimer, that he had been seeing Danny for ‘hugs’ and was ‘in love’ with him. Nor that he had been out that evening – it had always seemed like he had a solid alibi as the whole family had just come back from holiday – and that he had been capable and level-headed enough to murder and then cover up.
In the end, he finally gave himself up to Alec Hardy because he couldn’t take it anymore. And it wasn’t premeditated murder. But he sure had been meticulous in trying to cover his tracks by cleaning up the hut and burning the boat. And now Ellie and her sons Tom and Fred will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. She’ll move away, she tells Hardy at the end, and build a new life for her sons away from the stigma. Presumably she’ll give up police work. If this case had actually happened and we’d read in the papers that the murderer was the detective’s husband, we’d all automatically assume that she must have known something subconsciously or that she was very stupid and naive. But this drama has given more nuance to those kind of tabloid attitudes.
So the final credits ended with the image above – Broadchurch will return. With the title of the drama series being the name of the town, will the second series remain in Broadchurch? There can’t be another murder in the small town, that would be stupid. And there can’t be a reason for David Tennant or Olivia Colman to stick around for another case, so how will it work? Well I don’t know what Chris Chibnall has planned, and I’m sure he has ideas. But, if the series were to follow the trial then perhaps that would be a good idea. We’d get to see how how the community deals with the muck-raking the trial will bring up and how the community is rebuilding itself. I’d get rid of the ‘psychic’ Will Mellor character though, who didn’t add anything – were they implying that he wasn’t a charlatan? Ellie will have to come back for the trial – and so will Hardy – how will people react to them? How are the Latimer family – and the family and particularly Jodie Whittaker were always the emotional heart of the show – getting on? I’d continue to watch that.