Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Broadchurch | Closing the Notebook - Spoilers

This will reveal the killer and discuss the ending, and the announcement at the end of the credits. If you have not seen Broadchurch Episode Eight - go away now! And watch it! Then come back, please.

I have to say, I have mixed feelings about Broadchurch. From episodes one to seven I haven't been able to fault it, it's been perfect. Beautifully written, directed, edited, structured and performed. One of the best dramas on TV for ages. But note - I don't call it a crime drama - because Episode Eight proved one thing. This is not a crime drama, or a murder mystery. If it was just a murder mystery, I'd be disappointed.

The good news is, I was right! Joe Miller was the killer, as was obvious from about weeks two and three for the viewer - because he was the least likely. So it was a clever move, in a way, to make him the killer. Unfortunately, the least likely became the most likely on the Internet and for the Bookies, and so the element of surprise or shock was non-existent when Joe was revealed. In fact, he was revealed in quite an undramatic way. I was hoping for a chase, or something, with Hardy following Joe onto the beach, and then Joe admitting he did it, standing on the spot he left Danny, with a crowd including Ellie gathering around him. My Northern friend Nathan Carter (he's on YouTube and Twitter, and not the singer) suggested that the hut might catch fire. Perfect! Another dramatic scene. But none of this happened. And in a way that's a good thing - how realistic would those have been? But in another way, it's a bad thing. Because if you've got the choice between a dramatic and realistic resolution, and a boring and realistic resolution - which would you pick?

Broadchurch went for the latter, and to be fair, in fitting with the tone of the series, the most real and least dramatic. Drama comes through the emotion, not the 'cheap' techniques that every series uses. And so, in a way, the revelation that Joe did was boring, but again, in another way, it was fitting. It's a battle between the two, and if I ever become a writer near to the standard of Chibnall, then I would go for an option in the middle. Personally, I wouldn't go for Joe standing in a shed. But the phone tracking scene, with Mark and Nige both possibly suspects, and a glimpse of Tom Miller, was brilliant. That is how you direct, people, that is how you edit, that is how you combine music and film perfectly. Excellent. But then you get to Joe in a shed and it's a bit... meh.

Albeit a realistic meh. So moving on slightly from that niggle, there's the question of: should he have actually been the murderer? Quite simply, yes. It couldn't have been anyone else, that wouldn't have been realistic enough. I was hoping for Dean, Chloe Latimer's boyfriend, or even Hardy - but again, how realistic would that have been? The killer is the only one that it really could have been - I just question one other thing. The reason.

Ok, so it was clever that killing Danny was more of an accident in a fit of anger that Joe had, but the "hugging" storyline was so predictable! Never mind realistic for that, surely, even if it was Joe, there could have been some other reason, some cleverer, less predictable reason, for him to have done it. To avenge Tom or to do something? Anything other than "oh we met up for hugs cos I was a better dad then whoops I killed him". The whole 'is he a paedophile' storyline was expected - and in a series that keeps twisting what you expect, it's a surprise that the only twist to that storyline was that it was just a hug. There could have been something more.

So a comment on all the red herrings and unanswered questions. First of all the clocks stopping - damn I wanted them to be important! Again, it might have added an extra edge to the storyline, if Danny was killed out of reason not out of accident, and the clocks stopped as part of that storyline. Second of all - Steve the psychic! He was there purely to add an extra dimension to the storyline, and it's a bit of a shame he didn't have any more to give than that. There were probably others I'll think of in time and tweet. (What do you mean you aren't following @trilbyauton?)

Another thing about the episode, and the series in general really, is the linear and realistic way it's been told. I'm very very glad that Joe didn't go from confessing in a shed to an interview room - but the 59 days earlier sequence felt a bit out of place for me. Perhaps it was too overly flashback-y, perhaps it didn't fit in with the mainly linear story that the series has told so far. It felt an odd (and surprisingly dramatic!) way to reveal what happened.

Anyway, enough of my small little problems with it. Overall, it's important to consider what I said at the start of this review. This was not a crime drama, which is just as well, because it would've been too predictable. But this was a showcase of emotions, a real drama, how one thing impacts on a community, and that has been shown perfectly. The acting, all the way through, has been incredible, as has the writing, all the way through. I am disappointed about the killer, to be honest, because I think it was the murder mystery/crime edge keeping people watching, rather than wanting to see Beth cry every week. But ultimately, I don't mind who the killer was, because I, and clearly everyone else judging by Twitter, can tell what the series was really about. And the emotion, the character, has been perfection all the way through. I can't fault the script (except maybe pick holes in the shed) and the dialogue has been amazing.

Episode Eight was predictably strong and emotional. It chose to reveal the killer early on (in a shed, just saying), so it could focus on the emotion. Ironically, it felt as if the impact of the killer wasn't felt enough, as if there needed to be more. I think that's maybe just cos I was a bit deflated about it being Joe, so when I rewatch it I probably won't notice that. But the way the news spreads around Broadchurch is typical of the whole series, and the cycle of the Latimer's finding out about Danny and then finding out about Joe in the same place, in the same positions, was excellent writing. The other fantastic thing, which I noticed back watching episode seven when I was adamant the killer was Joe, was the mirroring of Ellie's line to Susan. "How could you not know?". I'm not sure Beth needed to repeat it quite so explicitly, could that not have been a muted long shot to allow people to guess that the line was being mirrored?, but it was good to have that mirroring there. That just proves how clever and intricate the whole script has been. Perhaps that's why I'm so deflated about it being Joe- because the only thing that hasn't been clever and intricate is who the killer was.

Overall though - the series has been incredible. A special mention to Olivia Colman (not spelt with an 'e' Twitter) and David Tennant. David Tennant has portrays DI Alec Hardy well, without the shadows of playing the Doctor, and plays him as a full and believable character. The changing of how he acts when he knows that Joe is the killer, calling DI Miller 'Ellie' and the arrival of compliments (!) is perfect writing and foreshadowing. Ellie's reaction to Joe being the killer was also acted amazingly and with complete realism. Perfect.

And on the news of the next series. Well. We'll have to see how that one pans out. Another murder's unlikely - but doesn't Broadchurch then just become a soap? And how will we warm to detectives that aren't Hardy and Miller (if one could be said to have warmed to the former), without there being a contrived way of bringing them back?

I'm not 100% happy with the killer's identity, but I'm 100% happy with the emotion, the writing, the acting, the directing - in fact everything else.


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