Not guilty. The gasps and emotions swirl around at the sound of that verdict in the courtroom, regardless of whether you thought that would truly be the case or not. After all we have been through, the audience watching and residents of Broadchurch, Joe Miller is acquitted of Danny Latimer’s murder. That is not justice, as Beth rightly says.
Sharon and Jocelyn lightly squabble over their respective roles in the decision, but no matter how you sugar-coat the job description of those that work in the justice system, there is no honour in letting a child murderer go free. At the final straight of the episode, Sharon agrees to meet up with Jocelyn again, who wants to work with her snarky former student to help her son. Light at the end of that tunnel at least.
Hardy reads Claire her rights, having handed that elusive pendant back, and he and Ellie interview her. I am not fully right now why exactly Claire gave the pendant back. This Sandbrook case has gone through so much mud this season you still have to doubt the apparent inefficiency of the original case. Needless to say, Hardy is more determined than ever to get Claire and Lee into prison.
Ellie really comes into her own in respect of her detective work (finally allowed to do so by Broadchurch writers and big mouth Hardy), when she has realises the change of boards on the Gillespie floor. Something the detective twigged when she saw photos. Ellie’s wounds almost surface again though as Hardy torments Lee about loved ones betraying you and being alone.
The whole Sandbrook murders flashback sequences should have been a wide-eyed horror show, but it was just a tasteless and sour in it’s execution. Cutting back and forth to Claire and Lee’s interviews while we see the revelations just feels a little bit like this was being made up as it went along. We know the girls die, we have known for a while, why do we need to see it in prolonged narrative form? I know, that’s drama.
The scene with little Pippa’s demise is drawn-out and lacklustre, though somewhat upsetting. Her dad Ricky, who killed Lisa by the way in a drunken rage, is taken to the field of bluebells in his heartbreak. Ah, now we get it. Though I suspect I am not the only viewer who was pretty much done with this intrusive and awkward subplot a long time ago for this to have the impact it deserved. What is far more emotive is Hardy’s declaration of the time and effort he put into the case, literally almost killing him. His penance finally comes, and we too feel a little redeemed.
This time last season I was grieving as well as being thoroughly enthralled by one of the best dramas in years. Season Two of Broadchurch has not made this a bad show by any means. Part of the blame actually goes to Season One for raising the bar so damn high. You also have to take responsibility if you try and move the goalposts on the back of such immense success.
So, Reverend Paul refused to help Joe earlier, and now the free man seeks out the clergyman again in his church. Instead of helping the child killer, he secretly seeks out Mark and Nigel, who proceed in dragging him out the church. For a moment you kind of fear or crave (depending on where you sit with this) some rough vigilante justice. Instead Joe is taken to the house (where he killed Danny no less) to face Beth and Ellie, with Mark and Paul waiting outside.
Beth’s “I will not be broken” and “we get to live” monologue is really something to savour. Ellie also chips in by promising Joe he will never see his children again. The verbal nail in the coffin for Joe is a real reward for us and the residents of Broadchurch for this whole God-awful ordeal.
The final moments are just brilliant, a warm and comfortable closure to some truly gritty drama. Hardy and Ellie say what could or should have been a very tearful farewell – but they settle on a handshake. On the beach, the Latimer family speak hopefully of their future, before being joined by Ellie and her two children. Hardy is about to get into his cab to leave Broadchurch again, the driver asks where he would like to go next. Of course, he does not say before we cut to black, but we suspect it will be season three. I wonder what is left is the tank.