I have resisted mentioning much of Broadchurch up until this point because while the shows have been different, the major reveals have been largely the same. Not so in this episode. In this episode our detectives were forced to confront a frightening reality that never crossed their paths in Broadchurch: Ellie’s son Tom has gone missing.
Throughout the series Tom has appeared surly and detached, but that, for the most part, could have been credited to the fact that he’s a young boy who just lost his best friend. But let us not forget, he also has something to hide—in the first episode he deleted files from his phone and his computer.
When the town is gathered at Jack Reinhold’s wake, Emmett notices Paul Coates put a hand on his knee, just before he has an episode. Emmett uses his momentary slip as an opportunity to sidle up to Tom and start asking him questions. He asks if Tom is alright, and if he and Danny got along with Paul. Joe interrupts him. “You assume the worst in people at every single moment,” Joe tells him. Ellie asks her son if he is okay and questions about Danny, and he lashes out at her. “You don’t even know anything about me anymore,” Tom says.
On the way to school, Tom’s little brother drops his toy. He’s going to be late and is three blocks away, so Joe, reluctantly, let’s him ride his bike ahead. A short while later, Ellie gets a call from the school, revealing that Tom never showed up. A look of horror crosses her face. Suddenly, she is on both sides of the case. She calls Joe who insists, “this isn’t what happened to Danny,” but what does he know about that? “Of course that’s what I’m thinking,” Ellie replies. This, as it should be, is a moment of friction in what was previously a seemingly perfect marriage. Ellie, as hard as she may try not to, initially places blame on Joe.
Ellie and Emmett initially focus on one of Tom’s teachers, who was on the list of suspects the Solanos gave them, but that ends up to be a false lead. Soon enough the entire town is out searching for Tom, led by none other than Mark Solano. The Solano family in general is coming to the aid of the Millers—Beth gives Ellie a tragically knowing hug, and Beth’s mom and Chloe make sandwiches to hand out to the search party.
By the end of the episode, the entire town is led to a wooded area in search of Tom as someone spotted him on the road. They approach Ellie in a massive pack, and Ellie and Joe reconcile. And then there’s the shocking conclusion. Paul Coates—a man who has been an object of Emmett’s suspicions—stumbles upon Tom’s bike. Abandoned.
NEXT: A mysterious man returns