Warning: If you haven’t seen Season 1, this will contain spoilers.
Now, this is more like it. Episode 6 of Broadchurch Season 2 sees the show get back on the track it lost somewhere after the end of Season 1. Well, almost.
Chris Chibnall’s decision to continue the same story for another eight episodes has been both a masterstroke and a misfire. Struggling to come up with enough emotionally engaging or narratively intriguing story lines, he’s fallen back on contrivances and cliches to artifically bump up the tension. When Claire and Lee have another row, then, you’re prepared for another stroll down the lane of no consequence.
“We need to make a plan,” she declares to the dangerous former suspect she just can’t get enough of. “We made a plan and you screwed it!” he retorts.
Sure enough, some rough rumpy-pumpy follows – in the most hilarious of places – but their frazzled relationship is at its most interesting this week, as the pair of clearly disturbed outsiders try to be a typical Dorset couple. Scenes where they look at houses with an estate agent, eyeing up gardens, are a wonderfully odd sight.
That failure to establish a normal relationship becomes a recurring motif, from defence lawyer Abby’s pretence of a normal romance with Olly, which appears to have an ulterior motive, to Tom Miller’s attempts to be a loyal son by accusing another man of his dad’s crimes and, crucially, Mark Latimer’s own admission of not managing to be a faithful husband.
Those two latter scenarios are some of the best of the hour. Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) gently grills young Miller with a tender, but firm, hand – while Andrew Buchan is increasingly one of the strongest cast members, talking through his infidelity, while Jodie Whittaker’s Beth looks on, sobbing. It’s a rare example of Broadchurch going back to what it does best: character-driven drama. Unlike previous weeks, the testimonies at the core of Episode 6 are emotional and irrelevant to the wider mystery, as opposed to gimmicks conjured up to pad out another 60 minutes.
Those are still lingering, though, with Sharon trying to throw the entire case out of court for no real reason and DI Alec Hardy’s troubled heart rolled out to give viewers palpitations. But this week sees a renewed focus on the plot that does matter, as well as smaller, moving moments between characters: we finally get a major break-through in the Sandbrook file, as Ellie sees a crucial photo that reveals what happened to the victim’s pendant, which was stolen from Alec’s ex-wife and colleague Tess. It’s a revelation that’s spelled out explicitly in a flashback for those in the back rows, but the whodunit momentum kicking up a gear provides an undeniable shiver of excitement.
Most rousing of all, though, is Ellie Miller’s showdown with Tom: “I’m your bloody mother” she screams at Tom, trying to have a normal relationhip with her son and, unlike everyone else in the programme, succeeding. Olivia Colman yells her orders with a face transformed by grief and exhaustion. Broadchurch Season 2’s plan may not have worked so far, but between her and the Latimers, they just might un-screw it in time for the finale.
Season 1 and 2 of Broadchurch are available on-demand with ITV Encore, ITV’s premium subscription channel. ITV Encore is available through Sky on demand and Sky Go. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream ITV Encore’s catalogue through NOW TV, which costs £6.99 a month, no contract.
Where can I watch Broadchurch on pay-per-view VOD?