To say I have enjoyed this series would feel wrong. The aftermath and investigation of a brutal rape is never enjoyable to witness. However this series has gripped me where the last left me cold.
Hardy and Miller dealt would the rape case with both passion and compassion, whilst shutting down the inevitable nay sayers:
‘But she is sexually active’ ‘’But she had sex already that day’ ‘But she was drunk’ ‘But she’s not that pretty’ ‘But she can’t remember’ ‘But she could be lying’ ‘But she’s not very nice’.
Is it any wonder that so many women do not report rape, for fear that the investigation and trial will be just as de-humanising and traumatising as the assault itself.
Broadchurch dealt with the case cleverly – not showing the actual attack, but examining the aftermath under a microscope. The victim wasn’t our idea of the ‘perfect victim’ – a term is as grotesque as it is ignorant. She wasn’t a virginal 18-year-old with model looks, in jeans not anything revealing, who abstained from alcohol and maintained a Polyanna disposition at all times. The ‘perfect victim’ does not exist. Real victims do , and that Trish was flawed (i.e. human) made the story much more powerful.
Sure she had been drinking, she was having sex with her friend’s husband, she was an older woman, she had had sex earlier that day, she couldn’t remember all of the attack. She is still rape victim.
As Coleman tells a sceptical officer: ‘when you’ve completed your sexual offences training, Katie, you’ll understand that we always start from a position of believing the victim’
Coleman and Tennant (as Hardy and Miller) maintain the chemistry that lies the beating heart of the brutality – the lighter bubbles in the dark seas of Broadchurch. I particularly enjoyed Miller’s stunned exasperation when Hardy exclaims: “I’ve been too nice to people, Miller, it does no good”.
However the finale wasn’t perfect for me.
The skin-crawling toe-curling rapist who groomed the perpetrator gave a speech to boil the blood of the coldest heart, but a speech that felt a little too contrived for my tastes.
His villainy was so calculated as he stated rather than confessed his crimes. He would likely have been diagnosed a sociopath before trial, the lack of human feeling he exhibited as Miller hissed and spat that the bodies of his victims DID NOT BELONG TO HIM.
After a series which examined the investigation and aftermath of sexual assault so thoroughly, such a two-dimensional villain felt a little disappointing.
Rapists are not all disney villains, or we could spot them a mile off. They hide in plain sight. Some have warped ideas about consent, others long for power (which was hinted at here but not properly unpacked).
It would be easier to believe all rapists were sociopaths. But the world is darker than that.
However, in spite of this single criticism, I feel Broadchurch ended on a high.
Perhaps not a perfect finale, but a fitting conclusion to a narrative and performative triumph.
And no, of course they couldn’t go to the pub!