I, amongst several people who have diligently and patiently stuck with season two of Broadchurch, heaved a huge sigh of relief last night. This was the Broadchurch we recall, high in tension, drama and wonderfully lush cinematography. It’s back, and not a moment too soon.
Courtroom drama began with Joe and Ellie’s son Tom taking the stand, a potential spanner in the works for the prosecution as he tried to blame Mark Latimer for the death of Danny. Thankfully Jocelyn managed to defuse this most artfully and the whole event gave the furious Ellie the impetus to finally lose her remaining passivity and take Tom back home with her.
After that, in a further sign that neither the defence nor the prosecution seemed to believe in preparing their witnesses, Mark Latimer took the stand and decided then was the moment to reveal the fact that he was going to leave Beth the night that Danny died. No heads-up for her ahead of time, no quiet chat to prepare her rather than finding out in open court. High drama for the screen sure, but unforgivable in character.
Elsewhere, on the Sandbrook case, Claire’s complex sexual power games continued to be revealed, hinting at her deep complicity in the murder of the two girls. But big and rich as all these scenes were, the part everyone will be talking about was the half-way point cliffhanger. In a luxuriating, tense scene David Tennant’s Hardy appeared to die of heart failure, many episodes ahead of when anyone expected this to happen. Of course he didn't die, but the tension was deliciously high at this point, for the audience as well as for the ever increasingly animated Ellie.
With this episode, Broadchurch rewarded the patience we invested in it with a strong return to form. I still think this season would have been better off with six episodes, and less meandering and irrelevant sub-plots. But all that is forgiven now, and I think the next two episodes will deliver the TV show we’ve come to expect.