Broadchurch series three, episode five: muddled messages

broadchurch laura“I know what happens. I read the papers. I’d had a lot to drink. I mean, a lot.”

There are many reasons why a person might decide not to report being violently rape by a stranger in a field, but I’m just not convinced by the line this series is pushing about victim-blaming.

Evidence about clothing and make-up really doesn’t seem relevant in these types of cases. Would any defence lawyer really try to imply that a victim knocked unconscious by a blow to the head had been “asking for it”, or sending mixed messages about consent?

We pick up the action as Laura is given a description of the attack two years ago, which is almost identical to what happened to Trish. “I could have stopped it if I’ve been braver,” she says through tears. “I know what she’s going through and it’s my fault”. I’m not sure that the usually ultra-sensitive Miller helps matters by telling her “you’re doing the right thing now”.

Trish has decided to tell Cath she slept with Jim, and in true Broadchurch style Jim responds by suggesting this will have terrible consequences, brushing aside the fact that Trish has been violently raped by a stranger and no-one else’s trivial concerns matter.

The scene between Trish and Cath is outstanding though. Cath has always seemed like a slippery fish – even before the relevation she’s slyly reassuring Trish “nobody’s judging you” – but the news knocks her for six and the gloves come off. The friendship shattered, she aims the lowest possible blow: “Of all the women at that party … why would somebody rape you?” She may be speaking in anger, but it’s clear the question hasn’t only just occurred to her.

I’d be interested to know if the actions of Beth and her colleague are consistent with the policies of real-life rape crisis teams. Wouldn’t discussing the case of a client who opted not to go to the police constitute a breach of confidentiality even if no names were shared? And would the¬†organisation then contact said client out of the blue, with all the potential emotional impact that might have?¬†And let’s not even get started on Beth using her position to do PR for the dodgier-by-the-week vicar, who’s not even trying to hide his desire to capitalise on grim local goings-on.

When faithless Jim’s van breaks down, it falls to dodgy cab driver Lucas to come and pick him up, and naturally he can’t pass up the opportunity for some rape-based banter en route. Jim doesn’t take kindly to this, so puts Lucas in a choke-hold and threatens to ruin his life. But wait, isn’t Cath already plotting to ruin Jim’s life? When will this cycle of life-ruining end? Lucas’s stepson is already in on it, joining in with the rest of the local lads in their mission to ruin Daisy’s life … but I’m a bit surprised all they’ve done is share a single nude picture. Just how sheltered are these kids? Vids or STFU, surely?

Meanwhile, the dodgy owner of the house of Axehampton has found a sock that may or may not have been used to gag Trish … and happens to match those worn by dodgy twine boy and all of his football-playing pals. That adds at least 10 more suspects to our lists of about 200 thus far. My money’s currently on the dodgy vicar.


Published by Shona Craven

Writer, editor, talking head

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