Broadchurch season 3 arrives on Netflix in timely fashion. Though premiered on ITV early in 2017, with a new allegation of sexual assault or misconduct in almost every news cycle, season 3 of this always excellent TV series puts the reality of rape front and center. The crime is horrific, but Broadchurch has never been better. The characters, the writing, the setting, and the slow burning suspense kept us glued to the screen from the first scene to the last.
The investigative team of Hardy and Miller is on firm footing again. Season 1 was personally devastating, resulting in Hardy and Miller moving away from Broadchurch. Season 2 brought them together again, but the connection was tenuous, as the Latimer case unexpectedly continued. The Latimers are still in Broadchurch and part of the story, but fortunately a new case is the basis for season 3.
Episode 1 opens with the discovery of a disoriented sexual assault victim, Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh). Hardy and Miller are quick to arrive, and it’s Miller who takes the initial lead. The early scenes are viewed through the lens of the victim’s experience, the process she must endure to report and document what happened. It’s unsettling, but necessary. A framework to the evening of the crime and the central characters emerges.
There is no shortage of potential suspects. The list narrows, but not too much. Four or five likely culprits emerge, with each of them seeming more or less likely to be guilty as the episodes progress. A couple of side stories arise, serving as welcome diversions to the intensity of the case. They also add to the richness of the story. After three seasons, we know several of these characters well, and they continue to go through life changes.
Broadchurch follows standard police procedural series format, but elevates it to a higher level. Season 3 is tense and gripping, with a steady pace, and flashes of dry, British humor. David Tennant, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Whittaker continue to shine in their roles. Hardy is continually exasperated but unrelenting, Miller much the same, though she expresses it in a different way, and Beth Latimer stays supportive, quietly strong, and honest.
To a large extent, Broadchurch is, and always has been, about the victims of crime. The series is never graphic or sensationalized, but it portrays the agony of Trish’s ordeal. The Latimers, three years later, are still coping in various ways with the loss of Danny. And, both of these crimes have impacted the community as a whole. When Trish’s daughter organizes a take-back-the-night march as a sign of solidarity for Trish and the women of Broadchurch, it’s a symbolic moment, not just for the characters in the show, but society at large in this moment of time.
The Broadchurch TV series was created by Chris Chibnall, who stayed with the story since its inception in 2013. Season 3 first aired on Britain’s ITV network beginning February, 2017. All eight episodes, as well as seasons 1 and 2, are available on Netflix. Sadly, from all reports, this is the end of series; there will not be a Broadchurch season 4. The end of episode 8 carries that sense of finality.