It doesn’t look like the A.V. Club is going to be reviewing Series 2 of Broadchurch, so I thought I’d do it myself. Feel free to comment – I’d love to hear what you think of each episode, and I get a notification for every comment so I’ll be here to respond even months or years from now (unlike at A.V. Club where the conversation moves on and crickets chirp in the hallways). But please do not post spoilers for upcoming episodes, even with a spoiler warning. I’m watching this as I post and I will see your comment.
Thar be SPOILERS ahead for this episode, though, so make sure you click the right episode for what you’ve watched. And these posts will be more discussion and appreciation of Broadchurch than critical review. For this first episode I have posted an almost-scene-by-scene recap, with my snarky commentary. I’m going to do it a bit differently for the remaining episodes, as I’d rather track each plot strand linearly and not jump around the way the show does. It’s okay on film, but damn annoying in print.
So, onwards. Episode 1.
Stellar additions to the already A1-luminous cast. A we-thought-it-was-over-but-it’s-just-beginning twist with a “not guilty” plea from Joe Miller that will allow for complete follow-through of the fall-out of Season 1. And a genius-stroke in the form of apparent back-story from Season 1 being pulled into a Sequel, rather than a Prequel. Broadchurch has segued neatly from Murder Mystery to Courtroom Drama. Get your popcorn and your tissues ready. And shed a tear for the loss of “So Close” on the end credits.
Where We Left Off
Only not quite. Going by the size of Beth Latimer’s belly, we must be about five or six months later... except Joe Miller is only now being asked to plead in court (which would surely happen within a few weeks at the most – especially if there’s a chance the defendant might be innocent). On the other hand, there's Tom - but we'll get to that. Anyway. Chalk it up to creative licence, and scheduling conflicts, if it doesn’t make sense.
First up DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) is interviewed by journalists Maggie and Oliver (also Ellie Miller’s nephew), establishing that Hardy has remained in Broadchurch whilst DS Ellie Miller has left.
Ollie seems to have ditched his earlier sweet innocence and become edgier, cockier, more aggressive this season – Hardy makes the comment that he’s been taking “arsehole pills”. And apparently Ellie’s son Tom doesn’t want to have anything to do with her anymore – her sister and Ollie are looking after him.
Then we discover that Ellie has moved to Devon, is back in uniform, and pulling up traffic offenders. But at least her partner seems kind and concerned (a little bit like the optimistic Ellie we were first introduced to last season (“Round here, we give people a chance.”)
Rev. Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) is clandestinely visiting Joe Miller in prison.
Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) is planning a homebirth (oh, how I cheered for a moment (as a double homebirther myself) – though, this being television, of course it will go wrong.
Then we’re all off to court...
And Eve Myles appears to throw Alec Hardy off – but (now that we know she is the mysterious “Claire”) why wouldn’t he just answer her damn calls, or text her?
...to hear Joe Miller enter his guilty plea... say what? Not guilty. Uh, oh.
Now for a bit of delightful Hardy/Miller riposte, when Hardy sets out “Cleaning in Progress” signs so he can go and find her in the Ladies’ and give her one of his famous pep-talks: “Don’t let it get to you.” / “Oh, thanks for that. Brilliant advice. God.” Hardy responds like this:
On her way out the bathroom, Ellie trips over the Cleaning sign and chews Hardy out for putting it there. LOL! Love them. I could watch these two talk for an hour about paint drying and love it. Tennant and Colman are perfect together.
Another amusing brief scene when Ollie and his mother Lucy spot Rev. Paul and Becca Fisher sharing a kiss – and not a passionate kiss really, a “we’ve been together a while, and I’ll see you later, honey” kiss. Apparently Lucy already knew about this; Ollie is the one caught off guard, and loses a bet to his mum. Ollie is posting live updates about the trial, and so excited about the whole thing that he has to be reminded, again, that it involves people he’s supposedly very close to. Tom, for one.
More mysterious interaction between Hardy and newcomer Claire. I’m not fond of this technique of making us guess, so I’m not going to. I’ll just sit here drumming my fingers on the table. When you’re quite ready, Show.
Ah, here’s Charlotte Rampling, and a delightful scene between her and Carolyn Pickles as Maggie. So this is Jocelyn, the former QC, who is holed up in a beautiful mansion with a stunning view that she pulls the curtains on while she listens to an audio book. She’s going to be fun:
Beth and Chloe have grown closer, and Chloe seems to have got herself together now. But Mark hasn’t – the first hint of things unravelling appears: he’s neglected the paperwork. Then Nige phones Beth and bumbles over Mark’s cover story. Where is Mark, and why is he not answering? Oh, right, he’s with Tom (Adam Wilson), playing video games. Seriously? His wife is, what? nine months pregnant? and he just glances at the phone when she’s called him how many times? And if you want to keep a secret, you don’t make everyone highly suspicious by disappearing for hours and not answering calls. FFS. I’m not liking this storyline. Nothing against Andrew Buchan (who is acting his socks off against such flimsy material), but Mark has always been my least favourite character (TSTL), and this is even more stupid than turning himself into a prime suspect in the murder of his son because he’d rather stonewall the police than admit to having an affair.
And, wow – has Adam Wilson had a growth spurt or what? Slow down, kid. There’s still Season 3 to come. You’re supposed to be eleven, not fifteen.
After reassuring Claire that Lee Ashworth was out of the country, Hardy receives a phone call to let him know quite cheerfully that Ashworth has been back for three days already. Gosh, doesn’t this remind you of the Latimers’-police-liaison-Ben? The Hardy-ist response: “What is the point of you, Craig?” Motivational.
Marianne Jean-Baptiste. Oh, this is going to be good. An echo of the Maggie-Jocelyn scene where Joe Miller’s solicitor tries to convince her boss (Jean-Baptiste) to take on the case. She’s “not interested”. Yeah, sure
Any time now we’re going to see a blue police box.
Mother Ellie is seeing a shrink, played by Adjoa Andoh, another Doctor Who alumna (Martha Jones’ mum Francine). We don’t learn much more, but we get some heart-breaking Elliest self-deprecation.
Meanwhile Rory Rev. Paul is a tad annoyed with Joe over the “not guilty” plea.
[editor hat] The narrative jumps around too much, particularly when many of these micro scenes don’t move the plot along or offer any new information. [/editor hat]
Doctor (okay, I’ll stop now) Hardy accosts Ellie outside “sort of” needing her help, and Ellie still has to ask, “Am I going to be annoyed by this?” Yes, you undoubtedly will be.
Beth and Mark’s turn to accost Jocelyn and beg for her help, only to be rebuffed. If it weren’t for the acting...
Finally, we get a proper introduction to the mysterious Claire. “Is she your wife?” No. Okay, glad we cleared that up (thanks, Ellie). She’s Lee Ashworth’s wife and Hardy is protecting her because she gave evidence against him. Now that he’s free and cleared of all charges, she’s vulnerable. And there’s no such thing as witness protection when the accused is considered innocent. We get a précis of the Sandbrook case, Ellie calling Hardy a “wanker” because she’s still upset about the job after all this time, and Hardy can’t remember that Ellie’s youngest is called Fred. Are you rolling on the floor yet?
This is a stroke of genius. Sandbrook—Hardy’s backstory from his introduction in Season 1—is not the prequel to Broadchurch, it’s the sequel. It’s not over. Hardy is determined to get it right no matter what, or how long, it takes.
Sharon Bishop QC (Jean-Baptiste) is taking Joe Miller’s case. She obviously saw something in those notes that convinced her she could win this one.
And Jocelyn Knight meets Bishop—her former protégé, it appears—on the beach, and lets her know that she will be prosecuting. (And, dare I say it? Black and white.) Let the chess game begin.
Just in case you hadn’t worked it out, Tom Miller confirms that it is indeed Susan Wright’s trailer where he’s meeting Mark. She disappeared, he still has the key. Convenient.
Miller and Hardy spent the night at Claire’s cottage. (No, it’s all innocent. Hardy was on the sofa, Miller in the spare room.) But now there’s trouble. Under protest, Miller drives Hardy to the church where (he couldn’t tell her this before she got all the way there, of course) Daniel Latimer’s body is being exhumed in Bishop’s opening move. Naturally, the Latimers turn up, too, along with Jocelyn. Beth lets rip at Ellie—devastatingly.
(And how does the actually stunningly gorgeous Olivia Colman do all that subtlety of emotion with her face? Compare this level of misery with her “guilty” face a few paragraphs back.)
Hardy attempts some sort of comfort towards Ellie, but he’s distracted: Lee Ashworth has appeared in the distance.
That’s clearly the same combo of Ólafur Arnalds and Arnór Dan, but the achingly beautiful song that closed each episode of Broadchurch Season 1 has been replaced by an only-almost-as-haunting song. (But I found a “So Close” fix on YouTube – see below.)
Your turn. Someone talk to me about the music score, lighting, colour – I noticed lots of beige, brown, and blue – I miss that commentary from A.V. Club.