Last night’s Broadchurch certainly picked up the pace a bit compared to last week’s somewhat lacklustre episode, and again fills us with hope and mystery. The three main strands, Sandbrook, the trial, and the secret history of the two jurists involved in the trial, are still separate but gained some much needed momentum.
The trial of Joe Miller progressed, at first with customary sluggishness, but erupted in drama once Ellie was put on the stand. The difficulty of the prosecution, that their star witness is both a police officer in good standing and a wife raging against the horror of not seeing the monster in her home, was brought forward in a good way. And Sharon utterly destroyed her on the stand, a competent, clever defence of Joe Miller that, while not proving his innocence certainly shrouds his guilt in layers of doubt. While describing that Ellie was medicated on the night in question, and suggesting she was having an affair with DI Hardy, she won herself no fans, except amongst the defence team.
The history of Jocelyn and Sharon was also illuminated somewhat; Sharon’s son is in jail while she works on his appeal. It appears that the increasingly unwell Jocelyn refused to help Sharon help her son, and it is this that drove a wedge between them.
But the main thrust of the episode was the repercussions of Sandbrook. As expected, Lee didn’t abduct Claire. Blaming her ever-present addiction to Lee, Claire went willingly and has begun to distance herself from Hardy. Ellie stepped in, being clever and cunning and personable enough to start to find the cracks in Claire’s story; inconsistencies that, when combined with Lee’s insistences that he is innocent, begin to open cracks of doubt in our minds. We’re no longer sure who did what. Was Lee involved at all? Was Claire? And if neither of them, who sent Claire the bluebell? While Joe Miller’s trial is heaping plausible deniability onto a guilt we are already sure of, this strand of Broadchurch's narrative is keeping us guessing.
I’m enjoying the mirroring of narratives between the Sandbrook and Broadchurch murders, equating Ellie and Claire in our minds. Both are ostensibly wives of murderers and both were allegedly medicated on the relevant night. While suspicions rise, there is a bond forming between them which it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
Overall, while Beth Latimer seems to have been reduced to shrieking a lot and Alec Hardy is continuing to make worse and worse decisions, season two seems to be all about the rise of Ellie Miller. She began in season one as competent but replaceable in her career, and began season two as a broken woman, defeated by circumstance. But as the second series continues Olivia Colman shows us a strong, capable woman on the rise; passionate, clever, empathetic and clearly deserving of the promotion she was cheated out of by Hardy’s arrival at the start of last season.
While Broadchurch may not be pleasing audiences as much as it once did, I still think Chris Chibnall has some plot twists and amazing character development in store for us.