WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Last week saw the ITV drama Broadchurch return with a fantastic series opener which saw murderer Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) deliver a shocking “not guilty” plea at his hearing. The series also introduced another subplot of Alec Hardy (David Tennant) revealing he was protecting Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) from her husband Lee (James D’Arcy), whom he thinks is the killer in the Sandbrook case. The second episode continues to prove that bringing the series back was a good idea.
This episode is just as engaging, exciting and explosive as the first one, if not more. We begin with Hardy at his new job; a lecturer of police training. And what a surprise, he hates it. He finds it tedious and boring. Luckily for him, tension begins to build as Claire receives a voicemail from Lee. He wants to meet her. Upon hearing the news, Hardy immediately meets Lee in a huge field and considers a possible arrangement. The scene is so huge and tense, it almost feels like a western.
Meanwhile, Joe Miller’s trial is about to begin and the Latimers, Beth (Jodie Whittaker) Mark (Andrew Buchan), Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) and everyone else who was involved in the murder investigation from series 1 are summons to witness. While this is going on, poor Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman) tries her best to look after Claire and to avoid confrontation with Beth, who exploded at Ellie last week after she discovered that Joe’s defense team had ordered Danny’s buried body to be exhumed.
The biggest strength about the series so far is that both of these stories are engaging. Each one presents the audience with shocking reveals and new questions that need to be answererd. The more mystery is thrown at the audience, the more intrigued they are. Watching Joe’s trials slowly begin is exciting and tense and joining Hardy on his investigation is both fun and mysterious. Another positive point is that the series manages to cleverly bring plot threads from series 1 and make them connect perfectly into this series. For example, Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling), who is now prosecutor for the Latimers, questions Hardy and Ellie and is fuming to find out that Ellie assaulted Joe when she found out he killed Danny. Because of this, she will now have to justify her actions to court, thus making the job of proving Joe’s guilt all the more difficult.
Once again, Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) visits Joe in prison and it is just as uncomfortable as it was before as Joe constantly asks to see a photo of his son Tom (Adam Wilson), who is secretly meeting Mark. It seems that Joe doesn’t care about Danny’s death at all and he’s certain he will be coming home soon. Is he playing a long game? No one knows for sure, but one thing is for certain, Joe seems to be getting more dangerous and spooky everytime he’s on screen.
Ellie and Claire seem to be developing a nice friendship, but Ellie is still concerned as to why Hardy thinks Lee is guilty. It wouldn’t be the first time he was wrong. There is a particularly well done scene where Ellie tells the story of how she and Joe first met to Claire. It starts off touching, but ends on a very sad note as it’s just another painful reminder of how far Ellie’s life has sunk. The bluebells return again and so far, there has been no explanation to them at all, but that’s good: It keeps the mystery building.
The Latimers also have more screen time thankfully. Beth in particular gets the best line of the episode. She states that no one will lie when called to the witness box as “No one has anything left to hide anymore.” The moment that line is said, everyone in the room looks away. Without a word of dialogue, the scene shows that Beth’s statement couldn’t be more wrong. There will always be secrets in Broadchurch.
The acting is once again spot on, and the characters are still very well written, for the most part. Unfortunately Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and her assistant (Joe Miller’s defense team) both act like villains we’d see in a Saturday morning cartoon a lot of the time. They seem a little out of place in this episode, with the assistant providing silly unfunny dialogue between her and Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay) and Sharon acting like Dr Evil from the Austin Powers franchise with her cocky attitude. Still, Sharon provides a little bit of mystery when she shares an emotional phonecall between her and an unnamed caller. The town journalist Ollie Stevens (Jonathan Bailey) also seems to be acting like an immature idiot so far. Previously, he was goofy, but had a good heart and cared more for his family than he did the story. Now he just seems to be only focused on the story. A little more character development for him would be quite welcome.
Also, the cliffhanger from the previous episode has a disappointing conclusion which could have easily been revealed in the first episode. The reveal is so obvious that it didn’t really need to be a cliffhanger.
Still, the episode has some great build up throughout. Claire agrees to meet Lee at Ellie’s old house, which leads to a sad scene when Ellie takes a trip down memory lane. Also, Joe Miller’s trial finally begins and slowly falls apart when secrets from the past are revealed in front of the town and Joe’s confession is excluded from the prosecution after Ellie’s assault is revealed. Once again, the scenes in the courtroom are handled fantastically, full with emotion, tension and a very powerful performance from Jodie Whittaker as Beth, when she enters the witness box.
The episode has a terrific conclusion when Lee manages to escape with Claire after Beth unknowingly ruins the secret meetup that Hardy and Ellie had arranged. And to make matters worse, Beth’s waters have broken! This episode manages to deliver on both tension, emotion and shock all at the same time.
So far, the new series of Broadchurch has a very different energy about it and that can only be a good thing. The story is very slowly falling into place and is doing a great job at keeping the audience hooked. Hopefully episode three will continue the success.