Broadchurch returns with Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman, Tyrannosaur) now a hard-bitten uniformed beat officer in Devon, and an on-medical-leave D.I. Alec Hardy (David Tennant, Doctor Who) quickly reunited. But now they appear to be going rogue. Hardy has Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) in an unofficial witness protection cottage. She is the husband of the biggest suspect in the Sandbrook case, Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy). Miller’s head is still in bits, and although expresses her disapproval of Hardy’s antics, still seems to be at his beck and call. As a partnership here, they are a little bid shoddy – in spite of their differences they were closer to silver service in the Danny Latimer case, but now they are dropping trays, and there is broken china on the floor. Is this the despair of the characters or a glitch in the writing?
Elsewhere, young Tom Miller does not want to speak to his mother and is currently not staying with her. This, while his murderer father Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) pleads “not guilty” in court, to the shock of everyone, including his own counsel Abby Thompson (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and us, the audience. We were not expecting a dragged out court case were we? What is also surprising is Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) giving Joe personal guidance in prison – and nobody knows about that can of worms yet. Later, the clergyman also appears to be kissing the bed and breakfast owner Becca, who already has damaged her reputation by sleeping with the Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) in Season One.
There’s still the tension brewing between him and his wife Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker, Attack The Block). She is now heavily pregnant and has upped the rage gears. Mark on the other hand seems to be doing a disappearing act, and we find that, rather than answering Beth’s constant calls, he is actually hanging out playing FIFA with Tom. Very odd under the previous circumstances. The mind boggles. Also, Beth’s anger-ball lashing out at Ellie is uncomfortable to watch, not more so when Danny’s grave is dug up for another autopsy as requested by Joe’s new legal defence.
His defence lawyer is Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Without A Trace), working with Abby after some minor persuasion. Semi-reclusive / semi-retired barrister Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling, Dexter) takes a little more pushing however, but surely we know by the sheer casting of Rampling that her constantly saying ‘no’ to her request to be the prosecution will eventual turn to ‘yes’. The defence and prosecution then go head-to-head like an old grudge match – Jocelyn was once Sharon’s boss.
The narrative pacing is fine, as it always has been, though the story strands here feel a little scrambled on occasion. This is not so much a flaw – it just seems rather close to tripping over the edge of the consistently sombre tone of the first season. It is a compelling start to the season I suspected would struggle to match its predecessor. I am not sure if writer Chris Chibnall has got a bit too trigger-happy or has not done all his research – maybe a bit of both. The music volume has increased too, and won’t quit. Is Christopher Nolan directing the sound guys?
That said, there was more than enough “oomph” in the first season to not have to drag us through this with much resistance. And there are plenty of new subplots thrown at us to keep us on board. The production is certainly still spot on overall, not to mention that strong emotive jab, those forty-five minutes flew by. Fewer comparisons to the first series and more focus on this one as a new dramatic venture might be the way to go. The audience anticipation is alive and kicking, for now. And what’s the significance of the bluebells?