It’s ladies night as the women of Broadchurch – and more specifically Ellie (Olivia Colman) – dominate the third episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
First off: my apologies for missing last week. As you may have seen on our Facebook site (where we post lots of fun other stories – hint, hint) I suffered a computer meltdown. It’s a shame because my review was so witty and so vibrant, I couldn’t possibly replicate it (either that or I didn’t have time).
What you missed in that long-gone review was quite the rant. I was not impressed by episode two, which took all of the courtroom elements from the premiere and accelerated them to a ridiculous level. The suggestion that a murder trial of such a magnitude would begin without allowing either side the luxury of preparing their case was too much to swallow. Add to that the ridiculously obvious cliffhanger ending and I was miffed at the emotional manipulation of episode two.
Thankfully episode three proves to be a step in the right direction as we focus a great deal more on the characters. We begin in the wake of Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie’s (Olivia Colman) failed operation to entrap Lee (James D’Arcy). Beth (Jodie Whittaker), predictably, ruined everything when she went on rampage against Ellie, which allowed Lee an opportunity to spirit Claire (Eve Myles) away. Episode three reveals that this isn’t a nefarious kidnapping plot: Claire is fine and Ellie ends up helping Beth deliver her new baby, which proves that she hasn’t given up on their friendship (Side Note: it’s incredibly heartbreaking to see Beth kick Ellie out of the house the moment baby Lizzie is safely delivered).
For me, the main reason that episode three works so well is because Ellie is at its center. The character has always been the heart and soul of the show, but here Colman is allowed so much to play with that it’s a joy to watch her. Consider how much she’s grown since the first season: at one point Hardy tries to guilt trip her for allowing Lee to abduct Claire and Ellie immediately shuts him down. She’s still on-board with helping him (as evidenced by her night out with Claire when she sneaks a peek at Claire’s call history), but Ellie is through taking shit. It’s all a great set-up for the final courtroom scene, when Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) hesitantly puts Ellie on the stand after warning her not to get upset. Everyone thinks that Ellie is a delicate little flower, but that’s not her anymore. Yes, she does get defensive when Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) twists her words, but unlike S1 Ellie, this new Ellie is indignant and unwilling to simply accept things.
That’s why the final cliffhanger twist tonight works so well: despite all of the progress Ellie has made, she can’t control vicious gossip and speculation. S1 of Broadchurch worked because it played off of the tropes of the small town mystery where everyone has a secret. Ellie learned from that experience, but that mastery doesn’t help to prepare her for the political circus of the courtroom. By throwing Ellie, and to a lesser extent Hardy (whose testimony doesn’t really fare much better) into these new situations, Broadchurch ratchets up the drama once again. Thankfully this episode manages to strike a better balance between the courtroom shenanigans and the inter-personal pieces that help ground Broadchurch and give it its emotional oomph.
- Loved the compare & contrast between Ellie and Claire’s respective sex dates. It’s incredibly awkward and uncomfortable watching Ellie suffer through her experience, while Claire is presented as a much more willing and active participant. At this point we’re still really learning who Claire is, so all of their interactions – in the bar, in bed after the sex with cups of tea – are informing our opinions of her. It’s telling to me that even though Hardy is protecting her, even he has suspicions about Claire. This is a woman with her own secrets.
- Part of the truth comes out during that cuppa: Claire admits that Lee drugged her and when she awoke at 5am on the day the girls disappeared, he was cleaning the entire house.
- I’m excited that we’re getting both sides of the story and Lee isn’t simply some villain without motivation or personality. Lee visits Hardy (so tense!) to convince Hardy that he should be investigating the Gillespie brothers, the individuals Lee figures for the murder(s). Hardy dismisses the claim, but we should probably lodge that information in the back of our minds for future reference.
- I want to trust Lee (mostly out of carry-over goodwill from his time on Marvel’s Agent Carter), but he’s constantly acting shady. Why is he taking out an ad in the paper from Oli’s stupid mom?
- On the courtroom side of the drama, we also learn much more about both lawyers: Bishop has a teenage son in jail for murder and Knight has an elderly mother in a home that she can’t afford (Side Note: is this the reason Knight took on the case?). Jocelyn is also going blind, but she refuses to acknowledge it, despite driving into a tree (!). Hope those eyes don’t miss something important that allows Joe (Matthew Gravelle) to go free…
- Miller (when Hardy tries to blame Claire’s disappearance on her): “I’m sick of people putting their shit on me!”
- Miller (when Beth says she doesn’t want her there): “Well tough shit”
Your turn: what were your thoughts on episode two? Do you agree that episode three was better? Is Ellie the center of the show? Do you trust Claire or believe Lee? How do you feel about Knight and Bishop’s personal struggles? And were you surprised that the defence suggested Ellie and Hardy were having an affair? (I’m surprised it took someone this long to suggest it, personally!) Sound off below, but please bear in mind our No Spoiler policy. If you want to comment, please ensure you’re only addressing episodes that have screened in North America.
Broadchurch airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on BBC America. Next week Hardy is confronted by the parents in the Sandbrook case. Here’s a promo: