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Broadchurch: “Season Two, Episode Seven”

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Broadchurch’s last episode seven was a steamroller of revelations that catapulted us straight into the finale. In this one, we’re all just treading water on that beautiful Broadchurch beach as we wait in anguish for next episode’s reveal.

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Unless we go swimming with Claire and Lee. The couple, who make Sid and Nancy look like a portrait of domestic bliss, finally appear to cross the line into being over. Only they could segue from kissing on the beach to getting dragged into the water, taking turns beating on each other. Claire now lives in a beachhouse, and is so down on her luck she takes sanctuary in Paul The Priests’s church, surely the last refuge for us all. With no other options, she takes that godforsaken pendant in to Hardy by the end of the episode.

Hardy rages, “You had it along!” But let’s not forget to give him credit for making all of this happen in the first place. A Lazarus-esque, pacemakered-up newly strong Hardy starts attacking Lee, pecking away at him until he crumbles and then goes after Claire. Not only are these one-on-one scenes majestic to behold, they’re such a credit to the acting prowess of David Tennant. Crawling back from his near-death plague-victim-like persona for 14 complete episodes, he is now rejuvenated. We see how much the Sandbrook case was killing Hardy, and how life-affirming it is for him to be this close to catching the probable killers, who don’t even seem able to keep lying to each other, or themselves, at this point. With the tie between Claire and Lee undone, and she taunts him about no longer having to save his secrets, all bets are off as she storms into the courthouse.

It’s fortunate that she does, because it’s about the most exciting thing to happen in the courthouse this week (or most other weeks, really). Even the judge looks comatose. I would give a lot for the barristers to actually get hopped-up about something, maybe a “No, you’re out of order!” or “I’ll put the system on trial!” Again I am perplexed as to how the defense can come up with this absolutely preposterous case against Mark with no evidence but the testimony of a clearly crazy person. Can’t the judge point out that yes, Mark was questioned after Danny’s killing, and then released? How can Abby use that bank-account statement she found at Ollie’s house when she didn’t have a warrant or anything? Can we blame this pitfall in the prosecution’s case on Ollie? Because I would really like to.

I fervently hope the Broadchurchers are just trying to amp the ante here before next week, because if Joe Miller is found “not guilty,” this derails the entire series. It makes all of the detective work Hardy and Miller did last season irrelevant if a child murderer goes free. I also hope this is not setting up a template for next season: If the Sandbrook case gets closed, will season three feature a new case (Sharon’s son’s, I’m guessing) and then the Sandbrook trial? Because I don’t know if I could take another season of mannered, stilted, British court drama. I’m sure there are excellent ones (If you know of any, please speak up in the comments. Rumpole Of The Bailey?), but this is not one of them. The energy of every episode dies as long as we’re in that blasted wood-paneled room with everyone looking around anxiously at each other.

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Perhaps this week’s unofficial theme is “revelations.” With only one week left to go, realities slowly get exposed. Hardy and Claire and Lee all throw the truth out into the open, finally. Jocelyn expresses her true feelings for Maggie. And in possibly my favorite moment in the series (certainly of season two), Jocelyn’s assistant Ben tells Abby what he really thinks of her. This is awesome for several reasons, not the least of which is the smug look on her face as she thinks that he’s about to profess his lust to her or something. One reason that Broadchurch works so well (and is so much better than its beyond-failed American counterpart) is that English culture is known for its manners and politeness, a sense of reserve. (I lived in Brighton for about a year, a lovely seaside town with no murders that I know of.) For Ben to tell Abby how horrible she is is nothing less than revolutionary, which is what makes it so very satisfying.

But that scene is only a brief spot of life in the courtroom. I don’t like how things are looking for our side, and so am facing next episode with a vague sense of trepidation. See you then for the verdict.

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Stray observations:

  • Hardy always loves it when people start to panic!
  • First-time Broadchurch director Mike Barker took over this week, and probably my favorite scene was Claire leaned up against the row of blue beachhouses. A lovely setting, but not much of a home, and I liked the parallel as she watched the ocean and said that her life was “destroyed in the ripples, I don’t think it’s ever going to stop.”
  • This week’s random speculation: Even though Lee and Claire appear to be goners, let’s toss in the jumpy stalker kid from the car wash as an accomplice.
  • Outside of the courtroom, Jocelyn’s grief was also a momentum-stopper, and I’m not sure what it added, what with the sniffing of yarn and the rubbing of hairbrushes. (One of those would have been touching enough.) Maybe her mother’s death brought her back to Maggie? I’m glad they’re together, but it seems like going blind would be enough tragedy for one person to have to endure in a season.
  • Okay, so it appears that Hardy didn’t sleep with Claire after all. Thank God.
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