The ITV crime drama Broadchurch was one of the most gripping thrillers in recent years, with a well-written script and a stunning ensemble led by actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman.
Tennant’s Detective Inspector Alec Hardy was a socially awkward workaholic, determined to make amends for his past failures, while Colman played the genial but competent Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller. For both, their worlds were rocked by the cases they handled in the course of the three seasons, the first of which dealt with a child murderer, the second with two murdered girls, and the third with a serial rapist. As they addressed their emotional struggles, there were times when the fans felt bad for both Alec and Ellie.
10 Alec: When He Reveals His Penance
Alec Hardy has a dark shadow looming over him–the kind of shadow that is created when a police detective is unable to solve the murder and disappearance of two young girls, thus not being able to offer closure to the heartbroken family.
Following the debacle of the Sandbrook murders, Alec comes to Broadchurch, a small beach town in Dorset, where he is yet again confronted by a child murder, only this time he is determined to close the case. The trauma of his past haunts him as he needs to prove both to the world and himself that he is worthy of it. The moment when he tells his old acquaintance that Broadchurch was his penance is somber indeed, as fans realize the depth of his regret.
9 Ellie: When She Is Passed Over For A Promotion
When Ellie first comes to the Broadchurch police station, she is just back from a vacation in Florida with her husband.
Immediately though, she is swamped with bad news when her boss informs her that she had been passed over for a promotion, with the position having been filled by a more experienced male officer, DI Hardy. The moment is both sad and infuriating, resonating with women around the world as they continue to challenge a so-called ‘man’s world’.
8 Alec: When He Is Humiliated By Press
Alec is hounded by the press who label him ‘the worst cop in Britain’ after the media themselves had indirectly caused the death of Jack Marshall, the newsagent in season 1 who was falsely accused of being a child molester.
Alec takes it well, in spite of being affected by the public humiliation, but doesn’t let anyone see it, even as suspicions swirl around him as to whether or not he is competent enough. The fact that he faces everyone bravely despite the media outrage makes it somehow all the more poignant.
7 Ellie: Her Happy Family
In season 1, every moment Ellie is seen cheerful and content around what she considers her happy family, is a sad moment in hindsight.
Ellie is shown several times with her family, her stay-at-home husband, and two kids, and the impression is–of course, given intentionally, for all hell breaks loose soon after–that this is an ideal family, untouched by the violence of the outside world. The moments she spends with her husband, and that all four of them share together are in reality quite heartbreaking since these are the last few times the family will be together.
6 Alec: When He Makes A Pathetic But Hilarious Pass At Becca
Alec is shown to be desperately lonely, and not doing a lot to change the situation, since none of his colleagues really like him, including Ellie who just about tolerates him.
However, in one moment of weakness in season 1, he makes a very awkward effort to ask out Becca, the manager of the only proper hotel in Broadchurch, when the latter shows concern for his health. Alex asks her if she would like to relax with him, which is really rather pathetic as a pick-up line. Not surprisingly, Becca runs for her life, leaving Alec embarrassed, and the audience feeling sorry for him while they hold their sides in laughter.
5 Ellie: When Her World Is Shattered
When Alec finally tells Ellie that it was her husband, Joe, who murdered Danny Latimer, she is understandably shattered, after finding it difficult to fathom the news at first.
When Ellie rushes at Joe inside the interrogation room and starts kicking him, fans feel desperately sorry for her as her world comes tumbling down around her, and the fabric of the little haven that she had built for herself in that tiny beach town, with her loving family, is torn into shreds.
4 Alec: When He Reveals The Truth About The Sandbrook Murders
When Alec Hardy finally reveals to the local reporters that he had taken the blame for his wife who had really been the one to botch up evidence for the Sandbrook murders, fans naturally feel terrible for him.
Here is a man who is being hounded by the press, his colleagues as well as the public at large for mishandling a sensitive case. However, he never utters a word in protest and takes the flak for all of it, even though he had never been to blame. Moreover, things are even more twisted since his wife, whose career and reputation Alec is attempting to save, had been involved with another man at the time.
3 Ellie: When She Is Falsely Insinuated In Court
The second season is largely a taut courtroom drama when Joe Miller suddenly changes his mind and decides to plead not guilty for a crime he had definitely committed.
Ellie, among others, has to go through the harrowing experience of a trial, and the defense lawyer, a scheming, manipulative advocate, conjures up false allegations to mislead the jury. It is insinuated that Ellie was having an affair with DI Hardy during the Danny Latimer murder investigation thus practically throwing the entire case out of the window. It is hard to watch Ellie as she is driven to the edge by this barrage of falsity, on top of everything else she has been through.
2 Alec: When He Gets Surgery Alone
Alec is a lone wolf, but it is difficult to watch him go for a major surgery where a pacemaker would be placed in his heart, all alone.
Even though Ellie is by now an ally if not a friend per se, he doesn’t inform her of the surgery and only tells his wife although he doesn’t expect her to show up. She eventually does visit him, but Alec had been prepared to go through a potentially dangerous procedure all alone, not being sure whether he would even make it. Alec broke hearts here with his sheer loneliness and sense of hopelessness.
1 Ellie: When She Is Cold-shouldered By Her Son
One of the saddest moments when fans feel really bad for Ellie is when her son Tom refuses to meet her and live with her after his father had been convicted of the murder of his best friend.
It is difficult to know what goes through a youngster’s mind, and Tom, it seems, somehow holds his mother responsible for the mess the family is in. Instead of supporting her at such a difficult time, he grows more distant from her, making things all the more difficult for Ellie who is fighting a lone battle.
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