‘Broadchurch’ Final Season: Creator Chris Chibnall and David Tennant Talk Episode 4

Mandi Bierly
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Jodie Whittaker, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Olivia Colman, and David Tennant in “Broadchurch.” (Credit: BBC America)

Each episode of Broadchurch‘s final season has ended with a bombshell, and Episode 4’s is the biggest to date: After reading about Trish’s assault in the Broadchurch Echo, a woman came forward to tell Hardy (David Tennant) and Miller (Olivia Colman) that two years ago, she was tied up, gagged, and raped in a field while walking home. Trish’s attacker could be a serial rapist.

The hour began just as chillingly as Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh) — accompanied by Hardy, Miller, and Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) and hoping to remember more details to aid the investigation — walked through the manor where Cath’s birthday party was held and outside to the grounds, where she’d been attacked. The exercise was worthwhile: she remembered seeing a light and smelling alcohol on the attacker’s breath, and Hardy spotted a cricket bat whose missing partner may have been the weapon used to knock Trish unconscious. But it was heartbreaking to watch, flashing back to see how happy Trish had been at the start of the evening and then seeing her lie down on the ground at the scene of the crime.

“I think it was an incredibly, characteristically brave and bold performance by Julie Hesmondhalgh. I think it’s credit to Olivia, Jodie, and David as well, who were there that day,” creator Chris Chibnall tells Yahoo TV in our weekly postmortem. “That whole sequence, the slow buildup culminating in that point — the purpose of it, really, was to take you, as a viewer, a little bit closer into Trish’s experience without it being explicit or overly voyeuristic. Something as simple as an actress lying down on the ground actually becomes incredibly painful and upsetting and brave and emotional. I can’t speak highly enough of the actors in this show; they are just wonderful and always exceed my expectations. And it was really great to have our advisors — both the advisors who worked for the sexual assault services and our police advisors — on hand for all that.”

Convicted rapist Aaron Mayford (Jim Howick) surprises DC Katie Harford (Georgina Campbell) on a stakeout. (Credit: BBC America)

Other discoveries in the fourth hour included Hardy and Miller learning that it was Jim Atwood (Mark Bazeley) — Cath’s husband — that Trish had slept with on the morning of the party; that the troubling text messages Trish received after the attack were actually from her estranged husband’s new girlfriend, who didn’t know Trish had been raped; that the kind of blue twine used in Trish’s assault is also used for the local soccer nets, and that a convicted sex offender named Aaron Mayford (Jim Howick) was released 10 weeks ago and moved back into the area.

Aaron admitted to Hardy and Miller that he’d met a woman at a conference, they’d gotten drunk, and he’d tied her to a hotel bed and gagged her. But he said it was consensual rough sex — and claimed she’d only said otherwise because she was married. He pointed out that people are reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the bus, and that jurors, as Miller knows, sometimes get it wrong. “His behavior and his attitude are pretty unapologetic. He verbalizes a lot of those things that, really, people shouldn’t be saying in this show,” Chibnall says. “To have a character who is relatively shameless about what he’s done, and also to bring that ambiguity about, well, is he guilty or isn’t he — he’s a different flavor to some of the other characters within the show.”

Hardy attempting to have dinner a woman he met online. (Credit: BBC America)

There were three non-case developments in the hour: Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) was given an address for Joe Miller and failed to convince the Rev. Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) to join him when he pays him a visit. Chloe Latimer (Charlotte Beaumont) reached out to Hardy’s daughter, Daisy (Hannah Rae), because she thought she could use a friend after something happened that the audience is still not privy to. And … Hardy went on a date.

Chibnall says he enjoys seeing Hardy and Miller after they’ve clocked out of their office jobs. “Even though they’re working long shifts, nobody just stops and then switches off and then goes to bed,” Chibnall says. “Hardy is so in control in his work environment and so sure of his parameters, what’s great is being able to put that character in a situation where his lack of social skills — which is sort of made up for by Ellie when they’re out talking to people as a double act — is more exposed when he’s out by himself. To see him on the back foot and vulnerable — you want to see these scenes because David can play the comedy, the emotion, the humanity. It’s all about trying to show these fully rounded characters, and it’s the great thing about having eight hours in which to tell this story.”

Tennant agrees. “When you have a character who is so buttoned-up, you want to set him off balance and see what that does to him. I think Hardy is a difficult man to be around, but I think he’s hard not to admire because he has that moral compass and that purity of purpose. As a viewer, hopefully you want the best for him. I think you’re willing him on to have a bit of personal happiness, and at the same time knowing that he’s almost certainly not going to because he’ll manage to f*** it up somehow,” he says. “That’s indeed what we see him doing, because he can’t quite remove himself enough from the job at hand. He can’t ever stop being the policeman long enough to get to be a human being, which of course is his great virtue and his great flaw, I think.”

Broadchurch airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.

Read more from Yahoo TV:
‘Broadchurch’ Season 3, Episode 3 Postmortem: Creator on ‘Seeing Hardy in a New Light’
‘Broadchurch’ Season 3 Episode 2 Postmortem: Creator on Season 3’s Growing List of Suspects
‘Broadchurch’ Season 3 Premiere Postmortem: Creator Chris Chibnall on the Final Case
‘Broadchurch’ Final Season: David Tennant Previews Hardy and Miller’s Slight Role Reversal

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