The second series of Broadchurch is nearing its end and while last week’s episode was a strong comeback for the series, unfortunately episode six is not as strong.
The episode begins with Tom Miller (Adam Wilson) being called to the witness box to give evidence to help defend his father Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) where he predictably reveals his secret meetings with Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) to the court. For once, this trial scene and all of the trial scenes this episode were very well done and emotionally powerful.
Sadly though the same cannot be said for the Sandbrook case. This week it was just not interesting to watch. Even the ‘twist’ ending that reveals who really stole the pendant from Alec Hardy’s (David Tennant) car that fateful night isn’t really that shocking.
However, seeing Claire (Eve Myles) finally start to crack under the pressure was engrossing. It’s always been hinted that she may have been the crazy mastermind involved in the Sandbrook tragedy, and this week, she exploded. Her big outburst after Hardy orders her to move out of the witness house was a big shock.
Although the Sandbrook case wasn’t so gripping this week, thankfully the trial scenes were. Mark too was called to the witness box and instead of telling us facts that we already know from the last season, this time it is revealed that after Mark’s affair with Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay) he was in the process of preparing to tell wife Beth (Jodie Whittaker) that the marriage was over!
This leads to an extremely moving scene between Beth and Ellie (Olivia Coleman) where Beth breaks down. It is in this scene that we finally see how much this trial is destroying the Latimer family. Will Beth and Mark still be married when the series ends? Only time will tell, but it doesn’t look good for them.
Speaking of family, the episode also focuses on Hardy trying to reconnect with his own family and it actually really works. It is very refreshing to see Hardy act like a family man (after FINALLY having his operation) instead of an obsessed detective. However, the scene where Hardy asks his wife if they can be a family again feels very rushed and awkward. In fact a lot of the scenes in this episode feel rushed. For example, Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) and Joe Miller finally share another scene together, and while it is powerful, it is also far too short.
The writing this week was for the most part very good. The scene where Ellie takes charge of the situation with her son Tom, and orders him to come back home to the family house with her is written and acted brilliantly. In fact it could be argued that Olivia Coleman delivers her best performance as Ellie so far in this scene, and considering that her acting in this show has been truly astonishing throughout, that’s saying something.
But there are some scenes that are not written so well. Sharon’s (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) subplot and Ollie Stevens’ (Jonathan Bailey) sudden love affair with one of Joe Miller’s defendants are both handled very poorly. The dialogue that comes out of these characters mouths is awkward and occasionally cringeworthy.
The cinematography is great as always, leading to some very tense visual scenes that make for some great cliffhangers (the cliffhanger during Hardy’s operation halfway through the episode is far more interesting than the cliffhanger at the end).
This episode’s saving grace was a good theme of family and how important it truly is. Overall, not the best episode of the series, but certainly not the worst. Hopefully the final two will provide us with a satisfying and rich conclusion that the first season did.