Broadchurch: Incest & Pitchforks in ITV's Gritty Murder Mystery

So our dramatic detectives managed to finally figure out who left the poor boy's body on a quaint beach in Broadchurch. Did you see it coming or were you as useful as Watson smoking Sherlock's opium?
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So our dramatic detectives managed to finally figure out who left the poor boy's body on a quaint beach in Broadchurch. Did you see it coming or were you as useful as Watson smoking Sherlock's opium?

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Well. If we could, we would try and put an hour of loudly shouting “OMFG” at the TV before spending the rest of the 35 minutes or so sobbing into our duvet because we just can’t take Olivia Colman crying. Seeing her cry is like seeing a box full of puppies crying for their mother, who was just run over before slowly starving to death, while someone tells you that you can stop this by donating just £2 a month. But seeing as essentially it would be a few hundreds words of stifled tears and lots of Nnnnnnnnrrggggs, that wouldn’t make a very interesting read. So instead, let’s look at the final episode of one of the greatest murder mysteries ITV has pumped out since Miss Marple gave up wanting to have a family and chose to solve crimes instead.

If you haven’t seen Broadchurch, and you’ve managed to get lost onto this page, I’ll sum it up really quickly for you; an 11 year old called Danny Latimer was murdered and dumped on a really quaint looking beach. It turns out that, while someone was murdering a kid, almost everyone else in the town of Broadchurch was up to no good. Some where shtupping people they shouldn’t, some were walking around because they have insomnia, and some were just being plain weird and walking a dog before smoking next to a dead body.

Anyway, as it turns out, and if you’d watched the series, this won’t come as that much of a shock, but the husband of one of the main detectives was the culprit what done the strangling, but in a move that kind of upset the balance of Broadchurch, there wasn’t that much paedophilia involved. Yes, for other residents of the tranquil town there was incest and, sort of acceptable paedophilia, but it only really served to demonstrate one of the main themes of Broadchurch: nothing is really what it seems when people get all pitchfork and torchy about things.

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In other dramas, the resolution that one of the characters was in love with an 11 year old would result in an almost generic paedophile plot that would end in the same sort of end, but Broadchurch kind of took a stand against that. It would’ve been very easy to fall into the same trap of having the paedophile being the evil baddy who kills children and runs around town covering up his crime, but this was different. This had to be different. It’s going to sound offensive, but it has become standard to have an evil paedophile creeping around places, and it’s a lazy trope now.

Chris Chibnall, the writer, ran the risk of over populating the small town with people who have links to sexual abuse; Pauline Quirke’s character and David Bradley’s stories were inextricably linked to paedophilia that it overshadowed the actual plot sometimes, but the eventual resolution, where everyone was sort of complicit in someone’s death was a scarier thought than anything a run of the mill paedophile could do.

All the while Chibnall has said that Broadchurch isn’t just a murder mystery, but it’s also a story about what happens to a small community when it gets cracked open and outsiders start to pick at the gooey insides; the outsiders being that pesky media who want to turn everything into a commercial story and to shape every opinion you have. The resounding message is definitely that small town matters should stay small town matters, or they result in someone’s suicide, which is always the way.

Although the villain of the story was certainly Joe Miller, no one really came out of it looking like their shit smells of roses, everyone looked like a bit of a dick; even the mother of the dead boy outdid herself in cuntiness. Which is where Broadchurch’s beauty really lies; in real life, there are no winners or losers in cases like this. Everyone loses. And as the story came to a close and our eyes started to sting, we started to realise that nothing was really going to be massively resolved. Yes, the killer might have been arrested, and yes, the family got some sort of closure in a Lord Of The Rings style show of support, but the story didn’t end there. Because the story doesn’t end there. Although people might still go about their lives the same way that they might have done, there’s still the niggling doubt in the back of the brain about that spot on the beach being where they found the body of Danny Latimer, or that hut being where he was strangled, or that woman being the poor dead boy’s mother. Life isn’t the same. On the face of it it might seem like life carries on as normal, but it’s a poor imitation of what originally was.

That is why Broadchurch is brilliant; although it might seem a little bit gritty to begin with, it doesn’t need to resort to bad language and graphic scenes to get the point across; the beauty of Broadchurch is in the writing. Without going all Waking The Dead on us, it still makes a stronger ending than any Taggart did.

Maybe it’s down to Olivia Colman’s acting, or Chris Chibnall’s writing, either way, Broadchurch is a solid look at life dealing with bereavement and, once the eventual shock of who the killer fades, still hangs around, making you feel a little bit icky and sad.