ReTake: Broadchurch E1-7 (ITV)

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ReTakes are second looks at things that have previously been reviewed on this site, with the intention of updating previous takes on the subject.

When I first reviewed Chris Chibnall’s story of a community struggling to come to terms with the murder of a local 11-year-old boy and the search for his murderer, I said that I didn’t understand the fuss and adoration that the series appeared to be getting from all quarters. While good, it didn’t seem to me to be that special, I wrote.

I largely feel the same way, to be honest, but want to add that the most recent half of the series has been a lot stronger and more gripping than the first half and that I’m certainly very pleased to have watched it from the start. I certainly wouldn’t dream of missing this Monday’s extended final episode in which all is (hopefully) revealed.

A lot of the things that niggled at me in the opening episodes have been attended to in what is clearly a meticulous and intelligently thought-out overarching plan. For example, the clichéd angst-ridden nominal star of the show – DI Alec Hardy, played by David Tennant – has been transformed by later events surrounding his health and revelations regarding a previous botched investigation elsewhere. And the co-star – DS Ellie Miller, played by Olivia Colman – has developed wonderfully. I originally criticised a scene in which she struggled to give a morning assignments briefing to the murder team, but in episode 7 there’s a reprise of that and her no-nonsense, hard-hitting professionalism is an effective demonstration of how hardened she’s been made by the events in the meantime.

So, fair play Mr Chibnall – you knew what you were doing, and you executed it brilliantly.

The last hurdle will be delivering an effective, satisfying climax and resolution to the story. This is easier said than done: even the superlative Forbrydelsen managed to not quite deliver the knock-out punch at the very end of its original 20-episode run. Will Broadchurch? I worry that, like its Danish antecedent, it might have shot its bolt too early: two moments in episode 7 – the appearance of the man that Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke) said she saw on the beach with Danny’s body; and the final words that Ellie says to Susan – point unequivocally to one suspect, and it’s someone who has topped most internet polls since almost the very first week of the show.

If it really does turn out that the solution is that ‘easy’ and obvious right from the start then it’s going to take some of the power out of the entire series. Even a late swerve from the ‘obvious’ suspect to the idea that he was merely covering up for someone else in his family would be a touch anti-climactic at this stage, and yet it seems that structurally at least the show has left itself no other path to go down in its final minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s what happens, and how well it can pull off the big reveal by which it will surely be judged down the line.

The final episode of Broadchuch is at 9-10.05pm on Monday April 22 on ITV. It will be available via ITV Player for a week afterwards. The series is released on DVD on May 20, 2013.

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