The Latimer case returns to the spotlight as the case hits a few emotional highs.
Let’s bitch it out…
There are a few interesting bits surrounding the Sandbrook case this week, including a few revelations that bring Claire’s (Eve Myles) reliability into stark question, but this is really an hour about the Latimer case. I’m happy to report that for the first time in many episodes spending time on Danny’s case didn’t completely fill me with dread. While I still can’t bring myself to give two shits about the rivalry between Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) and Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), series creator and S2 writer Chris Chibnall has at least finally remembered what made S1 so amazing: the characters.
Virtually all of the main characters from S1, save Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie (Olivia Colman), have receded into the background this year and that’s hurt the show. Even more problematically, when they do show up, they’re pale ciphers of their old selves, repeating the same conflicts ad nauseum or appearing so briefly that they’re inconsequential. Mark (Andrew Buchan) and Beth (Jodie Whittaker) are on the outs = what else is new? Paul (Arthur Darvill) is visiting Joe (Matthew Gravelle) in prison = who cares? Susan is back and Nige refuses to talk to her = oh my god, I forgot these two even exist!
Episode six helps repair some of the damage by doubling down on the emotional impact. When Tom (Adam Wilson) goes into the witness box to testify on his father’s behalf, there’s an inherent danger that this will yield another empty twist. Initially it does: Tom suggests that Mark confessed his guilt in Susan’s RV, which pivots the blame onto Mark and opens the door for a mistrial. Then something unexpected happens. When Beth hears about Mark’s nocturnal hang-outs with the young boy and Mark explains that it was about getting closer to Danny, the couple don’t fight, they share a moment of quiet intimacy. All of the suddenly they seem like real people again, not just pawns and the vulnerability that they share in the courtroom stairwell reminds me why I cared about them and their dead son for eight episodes last year.
Afterwards Mark knows that he has to refute Tom’s claim, despite Jocelyn’s concern about what will come out (ie: his missing hour). The truth is far less devastating to the case than to his marriage as Mark confesses that he spent the hour writing a letter to Beth that their marriage was over. This piece of information plays on their earlier reconciliation – they were moving forward and now suddenly they’re back on the outs. Mark’s confession ends up being the breaking point for the couple, but it does have a semi-cathartic end: Beth’s run from the courtroom reunites her with Ellie , who once again proves that she’s still Beth’s friend. Later Beth finally stands up for herself and yells at Mark to commit to their marriage or leave. Normally I would criticize Broadchurch for once again turning Beth into a harpy / shrew, but considering Mark’s behaviour for nearly the entire run of the show, her argument feels justified. At some point this couple has to mend fences or call it quits. The ultimatum only resonates, however, because of the groundwork laid in the earlier scene – we have to believe there’s something left in their relationship to care about whether or not the marriage survives.
The other highlight of the episode belongs to Olivia Colman, who at this point is pretty much single-handedly saving the series. After Tom is forced by Jocelyn to admit that he hasn’t been entirely telling the truth, Ellie confronts him and demands that he come home. He refuses and she rips into him. And let me tell you, after all of the bullshit that this show has piled onto Ellie week after week, this development prompted spontaneous applause in my household. If Beth needed to stand up for her marriage, then Ellie needed to stand up for herself even more. Listening to her rip Tom a new one was just so satisfying, it may have rescued the entire episode!
Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that we’re quite out of the woods yet. Despite Jocelyn’s ability to prevent Bishop’s injunction about the mishandling of the investigation, Abby (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) – Bishop’s aide – discovers something useful after she and Olly (Jonathan Bailey) spend the night together. Something tells me that it could be the missing element that will drag out over the next two weeks…just in time to produce a cliffhanger leading into the already greenlit S3. Ugh…
- At Ellie’s encouragement, Hardy kicks Claire to the curb in an effort to put pressure on her. This basically just gives her an excuse to whine and have more angry/scary sex with Lee (James D’Arcy)
- Further proof that Claire can’t be trusted: we see in flashback that she knew that Lee and Mrs. Gillespie were having an affair. Judging from the body positioning, Claire and Lisa (Eliza Bennett) may have been in cahoots. Did they both love Lee and conspired to frame him when they discovered he was cheating on them with other women?
- Oh yeah, Claire also totally stole that key piece of evidence – Lisa’s locket – from Tess’ (Lucy Cohu) car. Remember that this is the piece that cost Hardy his job and sent him to Broadchurch in the first place. In the present day Claire burns the picture that proves she had it. Shady, Claire. Very shady.
- Hardy finally deals with his heart issues. The hallucinations he experiences while on the operating table are pretty, but feel pointless (we’ve seen this all before). There is also a suggestion that he and Tess might get back together, so…yay?
- Finally: Jocelyn’s mom died. Meh
- Ellie (when Claire insists they’re friends): “Really? I think you’ve been playing all of us.”
- Ellie’s entire rant at Tom
Your turn: did you like that Broadchurch got back to emotional basics for this episode? Were you cursing Olly for inviting Abby back to his house? Do we care that Jocelyn will now be in distress?
Broadchurch airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on BBC America