The season premiere of Broadchurch is about digging: digging into the past, and, quite literally, digging up a body. The body? Danny Latimer’s for a new autopsy. But metaphorical bodies are also being unearthed as the British mystery returned. When season 1 came to a close, it seemed so certain that Joe Miller was the culprit, but now he has pleaded not guilty, reducing the town of Broadchurch to shambles again.
“Knowing the truth and getting justice isn’t the same thing,” Queen’s Counsel Barrister Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling) tells the Latimers. And in this second season Chris Chibnall apparently plans to rip away what truth we thought we learned in season 1.
One new revelation? Why DI Alec Hardy came to Broadchurch in the first place. The episode opens with a man walking through a field of bluebells. There are hazy images of two girls. These are the girls from the Sandbrook case, the one that plagued Hardy before he came to Broadchurch. And Hardy’s coming to the titular town was more wrapped up in Sandbrook than we knew. The morning of Joe’s plea Hardy, now living in a waterfront house, reads a note about his “procedure,” indicating his continued health problems. He goes to the beach for a hostile interview with the local journalists Maggie and Oliver. (“You can probably stop taking the asshole pills, Oliver.”) During the interview he gets a call from someone named Claire. Claire keeps trying to reach him, and even shows up at the courtroom. He looks horrified to see her, and ushers her out. “I think he’s back, and I think he’s looking for me,” Claire says. She has had a series of missed calls. But Hardy insists that he’s had a trace on him—whoever he is. He tells her to go out the back. When the hearing is over, Hardy goes to visit her in a cute cottage. She pleads, “Promise me I’m safe, Alec.” So who is Claire? And why does Hardy eventually bring Ellie to her, wanting Ellie to help?
Claire is in a “sort of” witness protection. Sort of meaning she’s not really, but Hardy’s been keeping her safe. She’s the reason he came to Broadchurch in the first place. She’s married to Lee Ashworth, the primary suspect in the Sandbrook case, which concerns two cousins—one whose body was found, a 12-year-old, and one who is still missing, a 19-year-old, who was babysitting the younger girl. Claire vouched for Lee, but her alibi was false. She wasn’t with him—she was at a friend’s house. Hardy still thinks he can solve the case, but Ashworth’s presence is menacing, even if Hardy says that is a part of Hardy’s plan. It seems he has broken into Hardy’s house, and taken some of his papers, including the note from the National Health Service saying Hardy’s test results came back positive. At the end of the episode, as Danny’s body is being taken out of the grave, he stands on a hill, watching over the proceedings.
While certain people in the town are in the process of rebuilding their lives, Ellie’s has collapsed. She has taken a step back from detective work and now simply hands out traffic tickets with little leniency. Her son, Tom, doesn’t want to be with her, and she has become a pariah in town. Beth Latimer, especially, is cold to her, blaming her even for Joe’s actions: “Didn’t think she’d have the nerve,” Beth says, but of course Ellie is devastated by Joe’s “not guilty” plea. She locks herself in a bathroom stall, crying. Hardy enters, putting up a cleaning sign and ordering another woman out of the bathroom. “How is this my life now?” she cries. Hardy offers an un-Hardy-like hug. “What? No!” she responds. “What’s the matter with you?” (That this scene was also imbued with humor is a testament to the show.)
Her thoughts about Joe have turned violent. She tells a therapist: “Do I still fantasize about beating him with a hammer until he’s dead? And do I still daydream about that while I’m making toast? And thinking how often I’d hit him before wiping the blood and the brains off the hammer? And do I worry if those thoughts make me the same as him? Not as often, no.” She thought that he would plead guilty and then she could return to Broadchurch and eventually get Tom back. It all makes her feel “guilty,” she tells the therapist. “Because it’s my fault.” (Olivia Colman is just incredible throughout this entire episode.)
Hardy is waiting outside when she emerges, and brings her to Claire. When he reveals he’s been hiding Claire, she asks him if he’s “out of [his] head.” She’s even angrier (“you wanker!”) when he says that he took the job in Broadchurch because of Claire—remember she was passed over for the job he received. But, despite her frustrations, she stays the night. An envelope wrapped in lace with Claire’s name on it falls out of a cupboard. Inside the envelope, a piece of paper with a single bluebell—just like in the field we saw someone walking through.
NEXT: The second case becomes the first case