It’s time once again for the lovely Leah’s weekly take on Broadchurch!
Title Episode 5
Two-Sentence Summary The prosecution and defense teams trade off in witness wins with Susan and Nigel, and we start to finally get some sense of what the defense is going to provide as the alternative to Joe. Familial strife is abundant in this episode, and Ellie dives deeper into the Sandbrook investigation and manages to find a new clue.
“Look, Tom, I know you want that to be true, and I know you blame me. But your dad killed Danny. And if I could’ve spotted what was going on or if I could go back and make it un-happen I would, but I can’t.” (Ellie)
“I was reading about another family. They were saying that a trial was as bad as a murder, and I thought that can’t be right. But then going in there every day, seeing our lives get turned inside out…when all we did was love our son. I get it.” (Mark)
“Because I didn’t like you enough. And I always knew you’d blame me if you lost. Because that’s what you always did, every time you didn’t win, every time you missed out on a big brief—you always blame someone else.” (Jocelyn)
My Thoughts The more time we spend out of the courtroom, the more I tend to enjoy these episodes, and this hour was no exception. I also found myself enjoying the Sandbrook case more now that we’re focusing less on Lee and Claire, and more on the case itself.
The trial feels like it’s beginning to finally narrow in on a conclusion now that we know the basics of the alternative theory the defense will present to the jury. I am already dreading seeing Mark being attacked on the stand, but I do think that, from an outsider’s perspective, it’s a credible theory on some level. Tom’s testimony is probably going to be both frustrating and painful, because I’m not sure he understands what he’s getting himself into. From his conversation with Ellie, it seems like he doesn’t know very much about the details of the case and has tried to avoid dealing with the emotional fallout that would happen if he accepted that his dad killed Danny, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up hearing about a piece of evidence in court and has a moment of painful realization or (equally painful for the audience) denial.
Mark hit on the thing that I hate most about trials in his conversation with Jocelyn—that in some ways it’s as bad as the murder. When someone is killed, there are other people left behind who become victims as well. Trials too often feel to me like a reinjuring of those who are already devastated by the original event. It’s one of the worst parts of our imperfect justice system, and this second season is highlighting that through the way the Latimers have been attacked in this case, as well as Ellie, Alec, and a few other members of their community, too.
Family was a central piece of the episode in the ways it drove each person to act. We saw Susan and Nigel with their antagonistic relationship, Tom continuing to push Ellie away, Alec going to Jocelyn to write his will, and Mark almost obsessing over his newborn daughter. One of the more interesting and challenging characters in the show is Susan, and most of her story on the show has been about her family. I think her intent in testifying was likely either to try to get Nigel locked away because of her fears that he will be like his father, or—as Jocelyn implied—to get back at him for rejecting her. Either way, a woman who seems to live on the fringe of town the way that she does probably wouldn’t get involved in the trial without one of those two motivations. It will be interesting to see where this relationship goes now that Susan revealed to Nigel that she’s dying and left him a baby photo that seemed to affect him somehow. I couldn’t quite read Nigel’s expression in that scene, so I don’t know if he ran outside looking for a confrontation or to ask her about the photo, but I assume next time they run into each other we will be able to better read his feelings about the situation.
I hurt the most in this episode while watching Ellie’s scenes with Tom. It seemed clear to me that Tom is still living in denial and in his confusion has turned to anger, pushing away the one person he likely needs the most. Ellie is trying so hard, and he won’t even meet her halfway, which is both frustrating and sad for me to see. Ellie has lost almost everything in her life due to Joe’s actions—her friends, her son, her home, and her confidence in her own abilities. Since she feels like she’s failing at everything, she turned to the one thing she feels she has a chance to fix: the Sandbrook case. She seemed a little manic when Alec came back to find that she’d stayed at his house and worked on the case all night, but she did find a lead that he’d missed. I just hope she doesn’t get stuck in the mental headspace that Alec was in for a while, where the case is the only thing that matters.
While Tom dealt with the events of the past several months by pushing away his family and Ellie dealt with it by diving into the Sandbrook case, Mark has been coping with everything by clinging to his new daughter. I find myself going back and forth between whether or not I think Mark is dealing with the events well enough that his mental state can withstand the upcoming stress of being on the stand at the trial. Beth seems to be facing the loss of Danny head-on, as we’ve seen that she has been at least trying to get counseling from Paul and has been active in trying to set up a charity in Danny’s name. However, I worry that Mark’s focus on his new daughter has become a way to avoid facing the stress and that he’ll neglect other aspects of his life that he should be giving attention to right now. It also could just be that he has a different way of dealing with loss than Beth. People deal with grief and stress in so many different ways, and it’s hard for me to get a good grasp on how Mark’s method will turn out in the end.
• I am a little surprised that Tom, being at most 12 or 13 years old right now, is allowed to testify without parental or guardian permission when it’s not a custody battle, but I will admit I don’t know the rules of the court system in these types of situations.
• I’m worried about Alec’s health. The way he keeled over for a few minutes outside his house was definitely not good, and I would be surprised if we don’t see him struggling more in the next episode. I hope he at least tries to take care of himself, for his daughter’s sake if nothing else.
• I enjoyed the way the show has turned the tables a bit on the dynamic between Ellie and Alec, in that Ellie is now reminding Alec of the things he taught her last season. She’s opened up their suspect pool for Sandbrook and found what is likely to be a vital clue with the discovery of the furnace, and I’m excited to see her taking more of the lead here.
• I agreed with Jocelyn when she said that Sharon blames everyone else when something goes wrong. We saw some of that in this episode when she yelled at Abby for not knowing everything about Susan. But I also think Jocelyn does this sometimes, too. We’ve seen her scold Ben for not knowing everything about a witness before, albeit perhaps not quite as harshly as Sharon yelled at Abby.
• The way Sharon and Abby tried to manipulate and pressure Paul into testifying made me really uncomfortable. It felt like they were trying to turn his religion against him to use it for their own advantage, and that bothered me.