Comment: The ending of Broadchurch was one of the best pieces of television in recent years

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Over the past eight weeks, we have been guessing, pondering and theorising. The suspects were made clear (there were many) and the tension was growing. So tonight, committed viewers of ITV’s superb drama series Broadchurch sat down to find out who killed 11-year old Danny and left his body on the beach.

I hate to gloat, but I was right. It was who I thought it was. But the way it was revealed was surprising, hauntingly plausible and heart-breakingly sad.  And while I am not going to explicitly reveal the name of the killer in this piece, you may not want to read on if you do not yet know – what I say may still give the game away.

David Tennant and Olivia Colman have been the driving force of the series, and today they had their final act showstopper: a scene that started off amidst confusion and then built into an emotional atom bomb; a devastating eruption of shock and sadness and guilt. It started in the police interview room, with both sitting at the table, and it ended, once the identity of the killer had been made clear, with Colman on the floor crying and trying not to be sick, with Tennant clasping onto her arms. It was one of the most powerful scenes in a television programme I have ever seen.

The reason for Danny’s death turn out to be both what we suspected and completely different to what we’d presumed. Though there was no evidence that the young boy suffered sexual abuse, the relationship he had with his killer was a close and inappropriate one. Writer Chris Chibnall managed to pull off the extraordinary achievement of making the viewer both appalled at the crime committed by the killer whilst remaining desperately sorry for them.

The ending was beautifully done. After the commotion and emotional upheaval of finding out who did the terrible deed, the episode ended one a calm note, with fires lit across Broadchurch in Danny’s memory. The final shots of the boy’s mum, wonderfully played by Jodie Whittaker, reminded us that Broadchurch was not only a furiously addictive whodunit, but also a drama that attempted to navigate the difficult emotional landscape that surrounds families, friends and communities as they go about their day to day lives. And as one last treat, the closing credits were followed by a sentence that will delight all lovers of good television: Broadchurch will return.

Broadchurch is released on DVD in the UK by Acorn Media, Certificate 15. Some episodes are available to watch on ITV Player. 

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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