Warning: Contains spoilers for Broadchurch Season 3, Episode 5.
We still have three episodes left to go in Broadchurch Season 3, and at the moment there are way more questions than there are answers.
That doesn’t mean we can’t make wild predictions, though.
In an attempt to fill the nightmarish void before Episode 6 airs, I decided to have a go at predicting who the guilty party, or parties, are this season.
I remember trying to guess who the murderer was back in Season 1, and despite getting the spelling of Olivia Colman’s name hopelessly wrong in my tweet my prediction turned out to be correct:
Shameless bragging aside, though, Season 3 does have a lot of similarities with Season 1. Instead of a murderer we have a serial rapist, but aside from the crime itself there some clear, recurring themes: the constant red herrings, the large ensemble cast of shady characters, and the wide, wide net of potential suspects.
Based on the style and structure of Season 1 and how Season 3 is panning out so far, I’ve come up with two possible theories.
Theory #1: It’s the guy that owns the manor.
OK, this is a bit of a random one, but I do have my reasons.
First, if Season 3 is anything at all like Season 1, the perpetrator will have had little-to-no suspicion cast over them before their identity gets revealed. In the first season, we only had the subtlest of hints that Ellie Miller’s husband Joe was guilty until the big reveal came in Episode 8. Because of this, I’m immediately ruling out any of the characters that have already been portrayed as suspects.
Having said that, the guilty party can’t be too obscure: it will likely be someone who was introduced early on, and who has cropped up throughout the season so that they stay in our minds.
The owner of the manor where Trish Winterman was raped fits this description. Despite the fact that he hasn’t really come under the spotlight, he has said and done a couple of suspicious things since he was introduced.
First, he had the grounds of his manor cleared shortly after the crime happened (remember the wheelbarrow of objects David Tennant’s character spots when they meet him?), which seems like the sort of thing a guilty person might do to hide evidence.
Second, he claims in Episode 3 that he wasn’t at the party, but he doesn’t really have an alibi.
“I was at home looking after the dogs,” he tells DC Katie Harford. “My wife was having dinner with friends.”
He then goes on to talk about how he visited the manor as a boy, before giving this mildly strange description of the place where the crime was committed:
“When my father was alive, we’d spend the summers here,” he says. “Down by the waterfall, under the tree… that was my place. I’d sit, and no one would notice me.”
Theory #2: There were several people involved, and the attack was filmed.
Obviously there are a lot of suspicious characters in the show at the moment, and while it might turn out that none of them are the main perpetrator, there’s still the possibility that they’re all guilty of something else.
One way the show could differentiate its third season from the first, for instance, would be to have multiple criminals who are all connected to the main crime in some way.
My (very vague theory) is this: several of the new characters that have been introduced this season are involved in some kind of illegal pornography sharing ring.
First, there’s that bright light that Trish recalled seeing while she was being attacked.
As Colman’s character later points out, that light could have been from a building or it could have been the light of a mobile phone.
It’s impossible to tell either way from Trish’s flashback, but if it was a phone it could mean that her attack was filmed and that there were two men present during the ordeal.
There’s also the implication that some of the new characters like Trish’s husband Ian and garage worker Leo Sawyer, picture below have a darker connection to each other:
That gif is from a conversation Ian and Leo have after Ian’s been questioned by the police. Here’s how their full exchange goes:
Ian: “That stuff you did to the laptop I gave you, can you delete it?”
Leo: “Have you got the machine?”
Ian: “No, I just thought you could do it remotely?”
Leo: “No. That’s not how it works.”
Ian: “I don’t want anyone to find it.”
Leo: “Get me the computer, I’ll get it removed.”
Ian later asks his daughter to get his old laptop for him, but she refuses. At the end of Monday night’s episode we saw him breaking into Trish’s house, presumably to retrieve it.
Of course, this might be nothing more than a red herring: maybe it’ll turn out that Leo put some equipment on Ian’s old laptop that enabled him to spy on his wife, or maybe Leo was just supplying him with online pornography and Ian’s embarrassed. Then again, it could be something much more sinister.
Finally, there’s the side story about Miller’s son sharing porn on his phone at school, and Hardy’s daughter having one of her private photos stolen and shared by a group of boys.
I’m not saying these things are connected, but it could be a clever example of foreshadowing: maybe this theme of sharing images and videos in a group will recur later in the show, and connect directly with what happened to Trish.
Ultimately, though, who knows? There are still three episodes left to go, and with a show as twisty as Broadchurch it’s hard to predict where the story will lead.
Broadchurch Seasons 1-2 are currently available on NOW TV in the UK, and Netflix in the U.S. Season 3 is currently showing on ITV in the UK, and will be shown on BBC America in the U.S.