Television: Broadchurch, Episode 1.4

We're now halfway through the first series [season], and the more the field narrows, the wider it becomes.

Here is the problem with sleepy little towns: They are cranky when you wake them. Start looking into everyone's business, and you won't always like what you find. And once you know, you can't un-know. So you'll never look at your friends and neighbors the same way again.

We've ostensibly ruled out Danny's father Mark, who has an alibi for the night Danny was murdered. So unless he did it before, during, or after his extramarital rendezvous . . . And I'm still wondering about the house that Elaine/Susan keeps the keys to, the place they think may have been the site of the murder, the place Mark's prints were found (though Elaine/Susan says she never gave them to him). Has anyone checked that list she keeps? Not that she couldn't doctor it, I suppose.

Because, hey, she has two names. No one honest has a reason to change their first names, do they? Unless it's a witness protection kind of thing? We also know she has Danny's skateboard in her closet, and now she's threatened Maggie (the local newspaper editor), warning her not to ask any questions. Also, she's having fights with Nigel, Mark's plumbing partner. But over what exactly?

Then there's Jack, who runs the little newsagent. Danny worked as a paperboy for him, and Jack also helps organize boys for the Sea Brigade. Alas, it turns out Jack has a prior conviction for sex with a minor. At the end of this episode he's seen burning photographs from the Sea Brigade (it was mentioned he's an amateur photographer). I have to say there have been a few times I've felt the police force has been sloppy. They brought Jack in to question him, then released him and . . . Did they go straight away to his house to have a look around? Apparently not. Which gave Jack plenty of time to get rid of evidence that might incriminate him.

Jack also handily "found" Danny's missing mobile phone. And it turns out he lived only five miles from another, similar murder some years before.

And what's up with that psychic guy?

Oh, but finally there's Reverend Paul. He has no alibi (but then neither does Jack). And no one knows much about him. He's only lived in the area a couple years and he seems a bit shy. Keeps to himself. Though he did teach a computer course at some point, which Danny and his friend Tom took. And we know, as an aside, that Tom felt the need to delete a bunch of stuff from his phone and computer after Danny was murdered. Hmm.

Really, the more they try and turn the attention to Jack, or even to Elaine/Susan, it all smells of misdirection. It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for, isn't it? Still, the show keeps one guessing and wondering. Broadchurch, more than any other procedural or mystery I've seen in recent years, does a nice job of weaving a tale. The characters are brilliantly manufactured, as is the town as a whole. It is a Rubik's cube of storytelling, each plot point a colored piece of mosaic to be twisted into place.

Only one irksome bit from tonight, and that was when Alec woke up in the hospital and found Becca there pretending to be his wife. What hospital is this? Nothing too local, else they'd know she wasn't married to him. (Well, and she smilingly admitted she thought they'd figured it out pretty quick.) But what really bothered me was Alec begging Becca not to tell anyone he was sick. It puts her in a place of power over him that I can't entirely like, and more than that, it seems like a terribly manufactured device. Everything else in this show has been so good, this twist felt like a slip. I'm hoping it won't result in too far a fall, for Alec or the show.

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