Broadchurch is back, and I think it’s making a point about our criminal justice system.
The thoroughly unspoiled series (writer Chris Chibnall’s embargo has been so successful that we’ve mainly been treated to trailers consisting solely of long shots of the sea) has followed through on its cryptic message (and hashtag #theendiswhereitbegins) by showing us the process by which Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) is charged. It seemed to be so simple, but it has been wildly complicated by Miller pleading not guilty. In this episode, we also have the introduction of two heavyweight lawyers (the reluctant prosecutor, played by Charlotte Rampling, is already my favourite character) who seem set on making this a real battle. They also bring with them new back stories and relationships, which are necessary in order to refresh the series.
The standout scenes continue to work off the back of David Tennant and Olivia Colman’s chemistry as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, and Police Constable Ellie Miller. The most memorable scene is that in the bathroom where he offers her a hug because “people do that”, to which she reacts with horror.
Their reluctant friendship is the backbone of the series, because it is not a simple relationship. The fact that is it wholly unromantic is refreshing, and makes for a complex and interesting dynamic. The episode parallels the first of the last series by once again bringing up secrets of the town of Broadchurch, which the muck-raking trial proceedings look set to uncover in much the same way as the police investigation did last series. I’m hoping that they focus on the secrets revealed during the murder investigation that were not quite followed through on – like the implications that murdered child Danny Latimer was abused by his father Mark (Andrew Buchan) – rather than manufacturing new secrets for everyone, as this might feel a little forced.
All this ended with a heartbreaking scene of Danny’s body being dug up for another autopsy. It followed by a flashback to Sandbrooke – a case where Hardy thought he had the right man until it fell apart at trial.
This all seems to be part of the new aura of uncertainty surrounding the conviction of Danny’s killer, a move that allows Broadchurch to move away from ‘whodunnit’ and still maintain the suspense we felt in the first series.
Altogether, this was an exceptionally impressive return for the much anticipated second series.