It’s the end of the road for Broadchurch S2, which means the truth about Sandbrook and the jury’s verdict in the Latimer case are about to be revealed.
Let’s bitch it out…
Now that we’ve got the benefit of hindsight, I’m struggling to see the relevance of Broadchurch‘s second season. Along the way there have been memorable moments and the acting, as expected, has been stellar, but ultimately continuing this story has compromised the first season in some way. It became clear early in the season that revisiting the Latimer murder was a case of diminishing returns and tonight’s “not guilty” verdict bears a lot of the ill-will that’s built up over the last eight episodes.
The verdict feels more than anything like a ploy by creator and writer Chris Chibnall to wring one final shock out of the murder of a young boy. The problem is that this is the same ploy that was used in the premiere when Joe (Matthew Gravelle) plead not guilty – so we’re expecting something “unexpected”. Literally moments before the verdict is announced, when my husband asked me what I thought it would be, I said not guilty because it’s the option that would hurt everyone the most. Even if Joe’s eventual banishment outside of the hut by all of S1’s principle cast has a nice ring of closure to it, I realized as the episode closed that I still could have done without these eight episodes. Ultimately they added nothing and even took away from the events of S1. Revisiting the Latimer case simply didn’t justify the damage caused to the memory of Broadchurch‘s impeccable first series.
Unfortunately the meh resolution of the Latimer side of things hurts the revelation about the Sandbrook case. Because Chibnall is trying to wrap up two major story lines, we’re forced to jump back and forth between the two. The result is a pale imitation of the events of the final episodes of S1, up to and including parallel interrogations, last minute discoveries of incriminating evidence and theatrics by the individuals being charged.
We see in extensive flashbacks the truth of what happened the night that Pippa and Lisa Newbery (Eliza Bennett) went missing. If you’ve been paying even remote closely, most of the details make perfect sense: creepy Ricky Gillespie (Shaun Dooley) discovered confirmed womanizer Lee (James D’Arcy) having sex with his niece and Ricky murdered her in a jealous rage. Unable to calm Pippa down, femme fatale Claire (Eve Myles) encouraged Lee to kill Pippa to keep her quiet and then used the circumstances to ensure Ricky’s silence. I find it hard to believe that Hardy failed to notice Lee’s two purchases of flooring, especially since Alec was scrutinizing his actions so closely at the time, but perhaps this is simply because other key evidence such as the locket were missing.
The unfortunate effect of spreading the two story lines so thin is that the Sandbrook reveal feels awkwardly structured and quite rushed. I still maintain that dealing with the Latimer case early in the season and focusing on Sandbrook for the majority of the time would have helped to create a tighter, more emotional story line. As it stands Hardy’s angry comments about nearly dying for the case and Ricky’s resignation that he paid the price for his part of the crimes two years ago don’t land with the same weight. Like much of the second season, this season finale is tolerable, but very rarely great.
- I found Joe’s (Matthew Gravelle) banishment awkward. Nearly all of the major characters from town are present, regardless of their investment in the case (I’m looking at you, Becca). It’s the physical staging that’s bizarre: the group stands in a very rigid, unnatural configuration for Joe’s walk of shame to the cab. Even after he’s gone, it looks more like a publicity still for the series than a legitimate emotionally haggard group of friends and family.
- I’ll confess that I’m glad that Mark (Andrew Buchan) and Beth (Jodie Whittaker) didn’t kill Joe. Also: Ellie’s insistence that she would kill her husband if he ever tries to see their children feels a little unbelievable. I realize that much of this second season has been about toughening her up, but surely Miller realizes that Joe could fairly easily make a claim on visitation rights?
- Knight (Charlotte Rampling) and Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) don’t exactly kiss and make up, but they agree to work together. Presumably this includes Bishop’s son’s appeal. I…still don’t care. This is one of those cases where the second season dropped the ball and didn’t do enough to make us invest in these people.
- I do, however, care that Ellie and Beth rekindle their friendship. That scene on the beach between families feels authentically emotional in a way that few scenes have since the end of the first season.
- I recognize that we’re meant to view Claire in a particular way – a victim who is simultaneously also a manipulator – but what the f*ck is with that bit during her interrogation when she accuses Hardy of imprisoning and raping her?
- This second season was not well received in the UK, particularly the court scenes, and viewership dropped rather dramatically early on. After being attacked, Chibnall penned this explanatory piece, standing by the decisions he made. I’m curious to see what others think and if, upon reading his explanation, they agree or disagree.
- Knight (advising Bishop that she’s won a case that will keep her up at night): “I’d stock up on sleeping pills.”
- Ellie (as Alec says goodbye): “Yup – not hugging you.”
Your turn: in hindsight, do you think this S2 was worthwhile or should it have ended with S1? Were you surprised by any of the details in the Sandbrook case? Does Joe’s banishment satisfy you? Are there any lingering questions remaining? Where do you suppose Alec is headed – back to Tess (Lucy Cohu) and his daughter? Sound off below.
Broadchurch has been renewed for a third season in the UK. It does not have a premiere date yet.