The 'Broadchurch' Series Finale Reveals Trish's Attacker & The Toxic Beliefs That Created Him
Broadchurch is more than just a mystery series; but even so, most of its series finale is devoted to answering the question of who assaulted Trish Winterman at her friend's birthday. Trish's attacker is revealed in the Broadchurch finale, but the recovery and survival of the woman who suffered all season retreated mostly into the background. The episode falls into Broadchurch's history of truth not necessarily being comforting or emotionally satisfying. Detectives Hardy and Miller are able to tell Trish that the person who raped her is Michael Lucas, the teenaged stepson of suspect and cab driver Clive Lucas. With the perpetrators identified, hopefully the women in their area will be safer. But Trish is not only shocked but appalled that her assailant is a child, who attends the same school as her teenage daughter.
In a series of flashbacks, it's revealed that while his family situation deteriorated, Michael's behavior had become increasingly erratic, misogynistic, and sexually aggressive. He shared porn with Ellie Miller's son; he was part of the crowd of boys harassing Hardy's daughter; and he was abused by his stepfather, who eventually wound up covering Michael's crime out of guilt.
The show demonstrated how the actions of Leo Humphries, the older mastermind of the crime, was responsible for the more lurid elements of the assault (using twine on Trish's wrists and knocking her out, for example). In the end, the show reserved some sympathy for Michael, but it also didn't shy away from how his actions spread toxic masculinity to all of the other people around him. Because he formed the friendship with Leo and because he chose to accept Leo's behavior as normal rather than talking about it with another person (possibly because of his chaotic, abusive home life), he is responsible for his actions.
The scenes between Beth and Mark Latimer in the first half of the episode feel a little out of place, with all of this going on. As the DIs investigate their suspects, this couple realizes that they're no longer in love. But their conversations are important too, as they serve as examples of two very different ways to deal with a life-shattering tragedy. Beth has finally moved on after their son Danny's death, able to find new purpose in her job as a crisis counselor; but Mark needs to leave Broadchurch — and, sadly, leave his family — in order to find inner peace.
Of course, the show's final moments are between Miller and Hardy: there's one last rebuffed invitation for a drink and a promise that they'll be working together tomorrow. Focusing on these two characters, whose relationship has grown from tense coworkers to incredibly close friends and colleagues, is a smart way to end the series finale. In the absence of this season's victim, Broadchurch leans on the empathetic performances of its two leads, who were the audience's entry into this town in the first place.