I was, somewhere in my mind, still applauding Olivia Colman’s acting in the Season One finale of Broadchurch when I tuned in to the second episode of Season Two. And so far, early in, police detective Ellie Miller (Colman) has so far resisted further flip-outs or deal with her son not wanting to stay with her – she is perhaps too preoccupied running around doing errands for the all over the place Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant).
Hardy is so swamped in the Sandbrook end-trails he can barely see anything else around him. His focus is haunted (and was largely in Season One) on the case of the two girls, 19 year-old Lisa who babysitting for her 12 year-old cousin Pippa, when having stayed the night away for a wedding, Pippa’s parents come back to find both girls missing. Lee Ashworth, according to the obsessive Hardy, was / is the main suspect for the death of Pippa – with Lisa still missing.
The current case then, the attempted prosecution of Joe Miller (the killer of Danny Latimer) who pleaded not guilty to everyone’s astonishment. The prosecutor Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) firstly sits with Hardy and Miller to abruptly inform them that Miller hitting her husband in the interrogation room a result of her finding out that awful news, is now making it hard to sell the confession. I understand that this is damaging potentially to their case, but rather harsh given that finding out your husband is a child-murderer perhaps could have warranted a far more severe beating.
Rampling is given a lot of the big, crucial lines, and this kind of stands out, perhaps distractingly so. On the defensive side is Sharon (Marianne-Jean Baptiste), who is also a large, dominant presence. Even the local bed and breakfast owner Becca comments on this following some resident complaints. Is the once small-town story now giving a little too much limelight to big fish? Too early to tell surely.
The court case scenes so far are also varied in mood, terrific at times, twisting things right around while poor Beth Latimer (Jodie Whitaker) wonders what the hell is going on when her husband Mark’s (Andrew Buchan) affair comes into play. And then Hardy on the stand is questioned it results in the confession of Joe Miller being excluded from the case. I can’t help feeling this just seems too off-road for a show were composure and realism in drama were two of its key strengths – but it is gripping all the same.
Elsewhere, Reverend Paul is still visiting Joe in a hope of some form of redemption. And although he feels passing on messages to Tom or requesting a photo of Freddy is inappropriate, he is still going to ruffle a lot of feathers when people find out. Especially Beth I expect, who calls Paul at one point as she would like to talk to him. Mark is asked by Tom as they hang out in the caravan (remember Susan and her dog just fled?) why he does this, and the grieving father demonstrates some kind of compensating guilt that he was not a good parent.
What lets this episode down a tad is that when Hardy has Miller get Claire and Lee to meet up (in Miller’s house of all places) it seems a little odd considering the tension built up so far between this enigma of a subplot. A final sequence that has heavily pregnant Beth walk all the way to Miller’s house to unleash more resentment on her as well as a bit of pushing around, results in her water breaking. Beth even says, “See what you’ve done.” Really? Meanwhile Lee and Claire have vanished in those very few seconds of commotion, and Hardy can’t find them anywhere. Far-fetched to say the least. Right now, Broadchurch needs to chew before it can swallow or else it may well choke.