The less said about the plots of the first two series of Broadchurch the better, but at first glance it looks as though writer Chris Chibnall has opted for a brand-new story here, with the good-cop, annoying-cop pairing of Ellie and Alec (Olivia Colman and David Tennant) investigating a fresh case.
Trish has reported a sex attack. She’s covered in nasty injuries and hesitant to talk about what happened – though it’s not clear whether she’s suffering memory loss, is shell-shocked or is scared to fill in the blanks.
Is it really plausible that a prime-time drama in 2017 will hinge on a false rape claim?
From a dramatic point of view, Chibnall may have boxed himself into a corner here. Before there’s any reason to doubt her account, Trish seeks assurance from the police that they believe her. Then it emerges the attack happened more than 48 hours earlier, and she’s omitted key information from her account. But is it really plausible that a prime-time drama in 2017 will hinge on a false rape claim?
Alec thinks there’s a good chance the attacker was a stranger to Trish, perhaps because of the violence involved. Ellie cautions against drawing this conclusion, perhaps because of both the statistically improbability and the fact Broadchurch is a tiny place, neighbouring other tiny places where total strangers are few and far between.
In fact, so small are these places that when Trish is referred to a rape support service, her worker turns out to be none other than Beth Latimer, the mother of the boy whose body was found on the beach way back at the start of series one.
Apparently it’s reasonable to compare a 15-year-old watching porn to his paedophile murderer dad
Meanwhile, Ellie’s home life shows little sign of improving. Her widowed dad’s moved in and thinks nothing of asking her to pop to Tesco for a loaf on her way home from the sex crimes unit, and her son’s been – gasp! – emailing porn to his pals … an offence that’s apparently considered so grave in Broadchurch that it merits a week’s exclusion from school. “I will not have you be your father’s son!” she snaps, because apparently it’s reasonable to compare a 15-year-old watching porn to his paedophile murderer dad. I hope she’s saved some of her police wages for the poor lad’s therapy bill.
Perhaps the most interesting issue raised so far is the notion of anonymity for rape victims in tiny towns and villages – practically speaking, Alec and Ellie can’t investigate without giving away enough clues for Trish’s identity to become obvious. The dodgy behaviour of Cath and Ed, the couple who hosted the party where the attack happened, suggests the news of it hasn’t come as a surprise. If it turns out they were hosting some kind of Eyes Wide Shut-style village orgy (the male:female ratio sounds odd for a woman’s 50th) then this series will top the first for implausibility.
The suspects so far: Trish’s unseen ex; the dodgy dad who lives down the road; Trish’s boss at the farm shop (Lenny Henry); her colleague’s inscrutable, condom-owning husband (and co-host of the party where the rape happened); Mark Latimer, who’s regretting collaborating on a misery memoir about Danny’s murder and skulking around in his bachelor pad; and Ellie’s utterly deviant son Tom.