Yay, Broadchurch is back! It’s so great and compelling and oh God, that’s right, kind of bleak and depressing, and, um, where’s the wine?
As glad as we are to have Broadchurch return (especially after the horrific Gracepoint: let us never speak of the now-cancelled Gracepoint again), it’s clear from this first episode that we are in for a rough ride in season two. As much as we, and the people of Broadchurch, would like to put Danny Latimer’s death behind us, that dream gets squashed as soon as the monstrous Joe Miller says two words: “Not guilty.” Which will lead us to a trial, which will dredge up this entire horrific case again. The unearthing of Danny’s body at the end of episode was symbolic of the Broadchurch residents having to start all over again after the horror of Danny’s murder, as this investigation continues.
This will turn our detective drama into a courtroom one, with two formidable barristers: Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Charlotte Rampling. I can already see the tears and screams on the witness stand now. Jean-Baptiste is a dynamic cast addition, although, as her ex-boss points out, I’m not sure what’s in it for her to take on such a well-publicized, open-and-shut case, unless it’s just that publicized part (although she seems to be preparing to get Joe’s confession thrown out based on the fact that Hardy was the only one who first heard it). The cat-and-mousing with Charlotte Rampling throughout the episode is silly; she’s going to take the case because she’s Charlotte Rampling, setting up for an excruciating and hopefully riveting trial. (And it was kind of tacky that Jocelyn wouldn’t sign on for the case because people needed her, but apparently just to get back at a former colleague.)
Also new: So, Hardy had Claire socked away in an idyllic sea cottage all last season, did he? That seems a wee bit tacked-on, since we never had a hint of it before. But we need a new mystery for season two, and Hardy is overdue to solve Sandbrook, the case that has haunted his career and ruined his health. The medical procedure mentioned in the letter is a positive sign that he’s moving forward; actually, after what’s happened to everyone else in light of Joe Miller’s various revelations, Hardy now stands as the sunniest of our Broadchurchers, which is pretty funny (he’s also a bonafide resident now).
Fortunately Hardy knows at least one person who has never let him down, who he can trust, and it’s Ellie Miller. Unfortunately, at this point, she is no longer able to trust anyone, not even the poor guy who accidentally speeds because he’s heading toward his biopsy results. Everything has been stripped from her: her home; her job; her family, except for little Fred; and her only crime was ignorance. Still she blames herself, telling her therapist, “It’s all my fault.” Olivia Colman continues to be stunning, and her interplays with Hardy offer Broadchurch’s only moments of lightness, like when he ill-advisedly asks her if she needs a hug, or follows her to her therapy session.
The hugest step for Hardy is one of my favorite moments of the premiere: He needs her help. Yes, having a new project will help Ellie, but Hardy is reliant on her. He pleads, “I can’t do this by myself,” a far cry from the man who wouldn’t even go to the hospital last year. So Ellie, who needs a distraction and companionship, finally finds a new home.
Broadchurch is consistently well-done: the pounding dramatic drums of the score, the idyllic seaside town containing all sorts of secrets. But we have to talk about color. Mainly, this range of blue-teal shades that dominate this episode. In the very first seen, here are the things that land within those shades of blue: Hardy’s house, his table, his bathroom, his razor, and the font in his medical procedure letter. We move on to Pastor Paul visiting Joe in the prison visitor’s room: also blue. Ellie’s locker room. Joe’s cell. I haven’t been to England recently enough to know if this blue is their new go-to for all industrial settings, but it struck me as overwhelming.
And I’m far from a Tom or a Lorenzo, but let’s move on to the clothes in the courtroom. We see blue again in Beth’s dress and coat. Ellie’s outfit. Chloe’s jacket. Hardy and Mark’s ties. In the picture shown of Danny, he’s also in blue. Even the flower that Ellie finds is a frickin’ bluebell. Now, here it comes: Joe gets escorted out into his special glass cage, or whatever they have in English courtrooms along with those funky white wigs. And he’s wearing the same shades as our main players are.
Sure, you can blow this off: Blue is a very popular color! Lots of people wear blue! But let’s look at what Joe says to Paul about his reasons for pleading not guilty: It’s because “Nobody’s innocent, Paul. Everyone’s hiding things.” (Broadchurch, we absorbed this message the first time around, but it’s your thing, we get it.) Joe’s clothes make him blend in along with everyone else, even the victim’s family and the people investigating the crime. Maybe he is not any guiltier than they are.
Then when Mark and Beth meet Jocelyn on the beach: Beth is still in blue, Mark and Jocelyn are in red. It’s as if the red signals activity, while the blue, which matches the sky and the water of Broadchurch, places the wearer within the guilt and the secrets of the town. But Beth’s the one who breaks out of it when she says, “I don’t care about this town! I care about Danny!”
When Jocelyn comes into Beth and Mark’s house to take the case and tell them about the exhumation, the transformation is complete. She’s in red, and Mark and Beth are wearing shades of red as well. So is Chloe: even Ben’s tie is now red. They are all empowered now to take on Joe Miller.
We can only hope that they will be strong enough to win. Mark, of all people, says, “We just want the truth to come out.” Jocelyn stresses: “Knowing the truth and getting justice isn’t the same thing.” While most shows would offer at least a satisfactory sense of justice at the end, we know after season one that Broadchurch doesn’t guarantee us a happy ending.
- The neckbeard is back! So, blessedly, is David Tennant’s Scottish accent, after his torturous American attempts on that other show.
- The most disturbing thing about this episode, other than Joe’s plea, is where Mark has been spending his time. Yes, of course, he probably just misses his kid, but there are so many skin-crawling parallels to Joe’s setup with Danny: the secrecy, the secluded place that no one else knows about. Mark looked guilty, and the thumpy soundtrack drums didn’t help.
- Why is Tom so mad at Ellie? And I know it’s just a consequence of filming schedules, but he got so huge, I almost didn’t recognize him.
- “How’s Devon?” “Awful.”
- “What is the point of you, Craig?!”
- Broadchurch was the very first show I ever reviewed regularly for this site, way back in the summer of 2013. Awfully glad to be back and ready to go through this second season with all of you. And we can look forward to even more Broadchurch fun in the future, as it’s already been renewed for season three.