VOD TV review: Broadchurch Season 2, Episode 1 (spoiler-free)
Same old story8
Ivan Radford | On 06, Jan 2015Reading time: 4 mins
Warning: If you haven’t seen Season 1, this will contain spoilers. There are also mild spoilers for Season 2.
And we’re back. Back in Britain’s most miserable town. And just in case you thought creator Chris Chibnall was going to surprise us all by turning his ITV drama into a bawdy seaside comedy, rest assured: Broadchurch is as miserable as ever.
There are two types of people in this world: those who watch Broadchurch and are dismayed by how depressing it is, and those who secretly open up Rightmove in the ad breaks to look at houses for sale nearby. If Season 1, which shocked with the revelation that Ellie’s husband, Joe, had killed Danny Latimer, was all about isolation within a group, a study of grief and its power to pull things apart, the start of Season 2 develops that theme into the fragmented community’s decision to stick together.
“How is this my life now?” asks DI Ellie Miller (the typically heartbreaking Olivia Colman), as she hides away in Dorset issuing speeding tickets, only to be dragged back to Broadchurch by Joe’s arraignment. But while the once optimistic woman of the people tries to withdraw, the opposite seems true of DI Alec Hardy (the still impressively bearded David Tennant), as he agrees to meet reporters on the beach for a photo opp and news piece about the murder charge.
“I thought you might leave,” comments Olly, “now you have no reason to be here.”
Hardy, though, is here for the duration. It’s telling that one of the major new locations introduced for this season is Hardy’s home: a sky blue chalet sitting next to the water. His attitude is shared by the resilient Beth (the fantastic Jodie Whittaker), who is still holding on to her family following Mark’s infidelity and the loss of her son.
Part of the pleasure of Broadchurch’s return, of course, is seeing old friends again, such as Arthur Darvill’s earnest priest, but new faces are arriving on the Wessex coast – and, to Chibnall and the cast’s credit, they blend in perfectly with the locals.
It helps that they are mostly previously unseen residents, such as Charlotte Rampling’s Jocelyn Knight, a retired lawyer who reluctantly becomes involved with the Latimer/Miller case. Her decision to be a part of the story is a contrast to Eve Myles’ Claire, a figure from Hardy’s past who turns out to be the unwitting reason for Alec to remain in Broadchurch. Inevitably, her presence summons the ghost of his former (failed) case Sandbrook, which has haunted Hardy for some time.
Flashbacks to Tennant (sans beard) reveal him to be even colder in his younger days: scenes where he pleas with Ellie for help give us our first glimpse of a more compassionate side to the detective. That change from the previous season could seem unnatural, but it’s offset by the pair’s continuing friction: if you’re worried Miller and Hardy are now best friends, you’ll be happily reassured. (“Do you want a hug?” he awkwardly asks at point, only for her to erupt in his face.)
Frosty working relationships. Ólafur Arnalds’ melancholic music. Beautiful beaches. It’s business as usual in Broadchurch, then, but that’s precisely what makes Chibnall’s script so quietly bold: Season 2 isn’t another murder mystery set in the same location, but reveals itself to be a continuation of the same story, as the process to convict Joe begins. Grief was the main course of last season, but there’s dessert too.
Reverend Coates dares to comfort Joe in prison, as Miller’s husband prepares for the big hearing. But as a growing number of people come together to help the community move forward, the guilty suspect decides not to conform to that narrative, a move that provides the shocking opening to this new season – and leaves everyone stuck in the limbo of the first.
“There’s a difference between truth and justice,” warns Jocelyn, who finds herself caught up in her own grudge match with a figure from her past. Combined with the appearance of James D’Arcy from Hardy’s dangerous history – not to mention hints of bluebells teasing us with Sandbrook’s secrets – there are still plenty of bodies to literally dig up from the ground. But Episode 1 of Broadchurch Season 2 reminds us that the show’s never been about crime: it’s about crime’s impact upon this closed society of individuals. With each character committing to stay in town for another eight miserable episodes, it’s no surprise that we find ourselves following suit, already counting down the days until next week. Broadchurch is back. Now, where’s that Rightmove page gone?
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.
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Correction: This article was updated on Tuesday 6th January to change the incorrect crediting of Anna Chancellor as Jocelyn Knight.