“Lies get exposed in court,” Jocelyn Knight tells members of the Latimer family and their friends in anticipation of Joe Miller’s trial. “You’re fine there; none of us have got anything left to hide,” Beth tells her. Is she so sure about that?
Joe Miller’s trial has the audience reinterpreting how we viewed season 1. While at the end of last season Ellie’s attack on Joe at the station seemed like a justifiable outburst—after all she had just learned her husband was a murderer and had been lying to her—it now seems like a reckless move that may sabotage any chance of justice for Danny.
The news that Ellie’s (and Hardy’s) actions could be detrimental to the case comes when Ellie and Hardy are summoned by Jocelyn, who shows Ellie and Hardy a picture of Joe’s substantial wounds. She explains that the defense could use this as an example of “police brutality,” implying that the beating provoked the confession (which it didn’t). “You have jeopardized my best chance of success before we even got going,” she tells Ellie. (Last season, before Hardy let Ellie see him, he foretold this, warning her about touching him.)
Previous to this reveal, it didn’t seem like the defense had much of a case. Danny’s new autopsy didn’t even turn up anything. Even after we learn that this could be in their back pocket, Sharon is nonchalant about whether she’s going to try to discredit the confession, but as soon as it starts she goes straight for everyone’s weaknesses. When Beth is on the stand, even though Sharon frames herself as a sympathetic mum herself, she asks about Beth and Mark’s marriage and whether anyone ever had an affair. Beth reveals Mark’s affair. Sharon asks whether Beth or Mark ever hit Danny. Beth resists answering, wondering why she feels like she is on trial, but finally gives in. “Once, it was only once,” she cries.
And then Hardy is questioned. Sharon argues that he “coerced” Joe, that Joe was going to report Danny’s phone, but Hardy made a “false conclusion,” reeling after being called “Britain’s Worst Cop.” Then, Sharon draws out the truth about Ellie’s attack against Joe—that Hardy let Ellie see Joe “against allowed procedure.” Though Hardy insists that the incident was his “error,” and that confession came before the beating—which footage proves—Sharon asks “why should we believe you?” According to Sharon, they “cannot discount the possibility that the injuries were sustained before his arrival at the police station.” The judge agrees with the defense and the confession is excluded from evidence. Sharon is good at her job.
Our two story lines—the trial and the Sandbrook case—end up merging because of this event. But more on that later.
At the outset of the episode Claire, our connection to Sandbrook, gets a call from an unknown number, it’s Lee. In a voicemail, he tells her he loves her and that he’s been thinking about her. “I’m close now. See you soon,” he says. She calls Hardy, and while they are on the phone Lee himself is watching. When Alec approaches, Lee asks where Claire is, he wants to see her. Hardy tells him the Sandbrook parents want to see their daughter. “You got it wrong,” Lee tells Hardy. “It’s over.” He wants his “life back.” He gives Hardy his number, and says, “sorry about your health.” (Remember, Lee rifled through Hardy’s home, finding a letter about his medical procedure.)
Ellie, meanwhile, is intrigued by the Sandbrook case, so much so that when she’s watching forensics take a look at Hardy’s broken-into place, she finds a Sandbrook timeline, and is looking at it when Hardy enters. Hardy, expectedly, is angry, but that’s not to say he doesn’t want Ellie to be a part of the case. Over salad—Ellie had previously confessed all she had eaten was a Kit Kat and a Scotch egg—he asks her to help convince Claire to meet with Lee. Claire is resistant to Hardy’s suggestion, but she goes and chats with Ellie in private. They eat chips on the beach and talk about their husbands.
NEXT: And then they bond…
Ellie and Claire are alike: two women, living in isolation, who feel responsible for the actions of their husbands, both of whom are potentially (likely?) child murders. Ellie and Claire talk about how they met their respective men. Claire used to be a hairdresser, and the sexual spark when she met Lee was instant. Ellie met Joe when he was working as a paramedic. She describes him as “kind and twinkly.” She is almost (almost) giggly at the memory. Claire sees herself and Ellie as victims of these men—she describes Lee as like a “drug” for her—while Ellie sees a cause in Claire. Ellie can help both of them rebuild: “I need to put something right. We could do it together.” All the while they are out chatting, Hardy is snooping and finds the letter with the bluebell.
At night, Ellie raps on Hardy’s door. Claire has agreed, but Ellie demands that Hardy promise her that Claire will be safe. For a meeting spot, Hardy picks Ellie’s old house, the one she hasn’t been in since the life she knew there was destroyed. She walks in to find yellow tape still there, mail piled up, photos of her now-broken family. Hardy arrives following the trial and bugs the living room with a recorder and cameras. They have agreed that Ellie will wait at the front of the house while Hardy will wait in the kitchen. The encounter will last 15 minutes. Hardy brings Lee to the house, takes his coat and pats him down, confiscating a Swiss Army Knife. Ellie delivers Claire. Alone, Lee says, “Oh God, I missed you.” But he says he needs to check her for wires and opens her blouse. It’s threatening but also intensely sexual, the chemistry she described between them was accurate. But we don’t hear much of their conversation, because the meetup goes awry.
Ellie has been followed by Nigel, who tells Beth that Ellie went back to her old home. Beth proceeds to go confront Ellie, who is on the phone with Hardy, keeping watch on Lee. Beth charges Ellie with having the gall to move back in after the news that her actions impeded the case. Beth starts pushing her, accusing her that she knew beating him would help him. In Beth’s frustration her water breaks; and in the hubbub Lee, noticing that Ellie wasn’t standing guard, escapes, taking Claire with him.
One one hand it’s hard not to feel for Beth. She’s a woman who lost her son, after all. Her mother has also died. Her husband is distant. She asks him to go out on a date and he brushes her requests for dinner or movies aside, saying that it’s too expensive. “I feel like we don’t see each other,” Beth says. Mark, however, is coping in his own way, playing video games in secret with Tom. Why? He tells Tom: “Maybe it’s because I think that if it was the other way around and Dan had been left behind I’d want someone looking out for him, you know? Part of me feels that it’s my fault, what happened to Dan and what happened to all of us. I just feel like I’m somehow responsible for it.” Still, Beth’s treatment of Ellie has been vicious, pulling our sympathies away from her.
Let’s end, however, on Joe. There has been nothing so far to imply that Joe did not kill Danny. The defense’s successes have not altered what we know about the circumstances surrounding Danny’s death. And while Ellie is on the way to accepting her fate, Joe wants his old life back, pleading with Paul Coates, who tries to convince Joe to change his plea, to bring him a photo of Fred and to tell Tom he loves him and that he’s going to come home soon. Could Joe be innocent on some level? Or is he just trying to save whatever’s left of his hide?