Ahead of this last episode, speculation was rife that Joe Miller was in fact legitimately innocent. The most popular theory was that Joe was covering for his son, though there was also a wild theory doing the rounds that it was all the vicar’s doing. So, when the verdict finally came in of Not Guilty, there were plenty of people somewhat disappointed. It felt to them like the build-up, the end of episode cliffhanger from last week, was squandered. There was no deeper mystery, no conspiracy, no further cover-up: He was guilty, but the jury were unable to look past the procedural missteps of the police and the prosecution. And that’s it. Trial over, and all the subplots between the barristers just fizzled out.
But the people of Broadchurch weren’t done with Joe Miller. Wheels were put in motion, confidences betrayed and Joe Miller was bundled off to the scene of the murder to be confronted by his wife and Beth. Instead of the lynching we were led to expect, these women showed their strength, and their teeth, banishing Joe from Broadchurch and their lives. A fate worse than death: Isolation, no chance of redemption, and a halfway house in Sheffield.
That only left the Sandbrook case, a culmination that began with Alec arresting Claire in the courtroom of Joe Miller’s trial. Despite the bold move of her handing over evidence, presumably to scare Lee into either shutting up or doing something other than standing in fields and staring into the distance, she then went back to obfuscating under questioning. Luckily, star detective Ellie had discovered some mismatching receipts, so the whole manipulation fell apart. That’s what they whole thing rested on in the end. Duplicate receipts.
So, Ricky Gillespie killed Lisa in a jealous rage because she was sleeping with Lee. Pippa was a witness, so Claire convinced Lee to kill Pippa and convince Ricky it was his fault. Claire masterminded the whole circle of secrecy thing, while keeping her hands mostly clean, while Ricky and Lee were the ones with blood on their hands. Cleverly done but unfortunately I, like many viewers, was no longer invested in the conspiracy. There were so many twists and turns, but instead of feeling engaged, we were kept at a distance, merely waiting for the answer.
And so, season 2 of Broadchurch came to an end, with all the ends neatly tied up. Alec has a pacemaker and resolution for the case that nearly killed him, the families of Broadchurch have regained an element of peace and agency, Ellie has her son and presumably her job back, and Ricky, Claire and Lee will all go to jail. Or, if we’re really unlucky for the already announced season 3, there’ll be problems with the evidence and we’ll have another eight episodes of trial.
Just shy of eight million people watched the finale, and though it was a good series, nobody felt that it had the greatness of the first. This didn’t make it bad, in my opinion it was only a little long by two episodes, but it does mean that Chris Chibnall has his work cut out for him for season three.