IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THE LAST EPISODE OF BROADCHURCH, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T READ THIS
Broadchurch started off with such promise. A small town full of suspects in a young boy's murder. Many people with secrets to hide. Sinister surprises at every turn. We knew this because the camera kept zooming in on suspicious things, and DUN-DUN-DUN type music played to show us that characters were up to no good.
The whole fun of mysteries is figuring out who's guilty, usually one step ahead or one step behind the detective(s) on the job. We have to trust the mystery to trick us a little, give us unexpected twists. But a mystery can't be STUPID. It can't trick us so much that we no longer trust the mystery itself. And that's what happened with Broadchurch.
David Tennant's seasoned detective keeps telling his partner (played by the excellent Olivia Colman) that she's too trusting. We know she's going to be upset to find out that anyone in her town could commit murder. We know she's going to learn her lesson, but good, by the end. And that we too should distrust everybody.
But the show does us a disservice when it pounds this lesson home to Ellie. At one point, she self-righteously claims that no woman could be unaware her husband was abusing their child. We're all in her shoes at that moment in the show: we, too, distrust the woman she distrusts, and for good reasons (the DUN-DUN-DUN music, etc.).
We're, therefore, meant to be as shocked as Ellie is to learn that Ellie's husband is the murderer. The lesson for the viewer is supposed to be that we can't ever really know anyone, that we shouldn't trust our own best beloveds.
Thanks, Broadchurch, but the lesson I took away is that I should never have trusted the writers of this show. You can't play scary music and zoom in on every tiny hand gesture and manipulate your audience like that and then expect us to nod and smile when we take our punishment for believing what you were telling us.
In other words, this would have been a better ending: