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[pagebreak]
So this season has been set up to be twofold. On one hand, the Sandbrook case, and on the other, the reopening of the old wounds of the Latimer case. We know from the start that Joe hasn’t been entirely isolated from the town: Paul Coates—now with Becca Fisher—has been coming to see him, secretly. Still, neither Paul nor his barrister knew what he was going to plea. “I’ve had a lot of time to think, okay? I can’t go to prison for Danny’s death,” he tells his frustrated barrister, Abby Thompson. But Abby isn’t giving up on him. In fact, she’s intrigued enough by “discrepancies” that she presents the case to her boss, Sharon Bishop (Marion Jean-Baptiste), who decides to take his case.
Given this turn of events the Latimers also need an equally skilled prosecutor as the case goes to full trial, and while there is a great option locally, getting to her isn’t easy. Maggie goes to the woman on behalf of the Latimers to make their case. Clearly, they have history. When the woman—Jocelyn Knight, played by Charlotte Rampling—doesn’t answer the door, Maggie finds her key and let’s herself into the overheated house. Jocelyn, however, stands firm in her decision not to take the case. When Maggie asks why, she says, “You know why.” She even resists the pleas of the Latimers themselves when they intercept her on the beach. Jocelyn argues that she isn’t practicing and it’s not her responsibility. Beth insists she shouldn’t take the case because of the town. It’s about doing right by Danny. “I can’t give myself to another child when I failed the last one,” Beth tells her. (Mark doesn’t want her to say such things, but she snaps back at him.) Jocelyn tells them to leave her alone.
So what gets her to change her mind? She sees Sharon defending Joe on the TV. “That’s really not fair,” she says. She meets up with Sharon, Joe’s Queen’s Counsel and her former boss, on the beach. She asks Sharon not to take the case. Why? “Because I’ll be prosecuting,” she says. Sharon is angry and hints at whatever’s in Jocelyn’s past: “So you’ll do it for them but not—” Sharon stops herself.
The Latimers’ relationship isn’t just strained because of this new development. As is to be expected, they are still very much grieving Danny, but they are also preparing for the new child who’s coming. (Beth wants a home birth.) Mark is distant, and Beth is quick to lash out. At Danny’s grave she curses Ellie: “This is on you, Ellie. I hope you rot in hell for what you’ve done to us.” Ellie isn’t the only target of her vitriol. In the courtroom she notices Becca Fisher, a reminder of Mark’s infidelity. “You’re kidding me,” she says. Mark is going off somewhere. Another affair? Not quite.
Nigel calls Beth to ask if Mark is with her; Beth assumes he was with Nigel, because he had left hours before. Nigel tries to placate her worries. She calls his phone. He doesn’t answer. Later, Beth and Chloe are sitting down for dinner and Mark isn’t there. He’s still ignoring Beth’s calls. Where is he? Playing video games with Tom Miller in an abandoned trailer. There’s an eerie parallel there. Joe Miller was meeting up with Danny in secret before Danny’s death.
And what of Joe Miller? Why did he make the not guilty plea? He tells Paul, who insists that he “can’t put everyone through a trial”: “Nobody’s innocent, Paul, everyone’s hiding things.”
That should be Broadchurch’s new town slogan.
- Lucy Stevens, Oliver’s mother, mentions that she thinks she’ll have to give evidence at the trial. Oliver is as confused as are we.
- What’s Sharon angling at with her interest in Hardy?
- What about the woman who gave Tom her keys and then “disappeared”?