Ellie is under attack in court.

By Esther Zuckerman
March 19, 2015 at 03:01 AM EDT
Colin Hutton/BBC America
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Shippers: Feel terrible about your decisions. If you’ve ever wanted DI Hardy and DS Miller to be a couple, at the end of the third episode of the second season Broadchurch makes clear that an affair between the two would be terrible for everyone in the town. Joe Miller’s lawyer Sharon, revealed to be completely ruthless, is targeting Ellie by insinuating that she and Hardy were having an affair and falsely accused Joe in order to get him out of the way. Her prime piece of evidence? That Ellie went to Hardy’s hotel room to talk after Joe was arrested. Seemed innocent enough?

But let’s back up. This episode was packed to the brim, and starts, in media res, following the events of last week’s. Hardy is frantically looking for Lee and Claire, bellowing at Ellie, who is checking the cameras that Hardy set up and Lee found. “What is the point of you, Miller?” he screams. He takes her car keys, despite the fact that he shouldn’t be driving, and pursues the couple. Ellie, however, goes to follow after Beth, in labor. Beth, even in her state, doesn’t want Ellie around, though reluctantly leans on her, when Ellie demands. “I don’t want you here,” Beth says. “Well, tough shit,” Ellie responds. Perhaps there is hope for some reconciliation between Ellie and the Latimers. It at least seems that way as Ellie sits outside Beth’s door during her home birth and bonds with Chloe. They even clasp hands. But, alas, even in the morning, after the birth of the little girl, Beth remains steadfast in her hatred of Ellie. Ellie congratulates Beth. “Get that woman out of my house,” she says. Mark apologizes to Ellie as she goes. Beth tells him not to apologize. Though we know that Mark is harboring his own secrets, Beth is stubbornly reluctant to let Danny’s case go even a little as she lets the new child into her life. She says that she is going to court even on painkillers. Mark holds his daughter, cooing to her: “We’ll get it right this time,” he pledges tearfully, looking at Beth. The camera pans and shows a picture of Danny.

Hardy meanwhile has found Lee and Claire back at Claire’s. Lee pins him to the ground. Claire comes to Hardy’s aid. “You don’t say how long I spend with my wife,” Lee threatens, and then gives Claire the creepiest kiss—her eyes are turned toward Hardy as Lee’s mouth touches hers—before leaving. Hardy then focuses on Claire. He asks her about the bluebell; he tells her to tell him anything she may have kept quiet until this point. We flashback to an unknown time, Claire hits someone and asks, “what have you done.” Returning to the present, however, she maintains innocence. “I have told you everything,” she says. Later, Lee calls Claire. “I won’t make things difficult,” he says. “But when you need me, I’ll be there.”

As is becoming custom with this season, the episode is two-fold. On one hand we have the Lee/Claire/Sandbrook story; on the other, the trial.

Lee is up to something, milling about town. He heads into the Broadchurch Echo offices because he wants to put an ad in the paper for maintenance services, and then asks where the police station is. Why? Well, he’s going to rat out Hardy. After court a policeman approaches Hardy with the news that Lee has made a complaint against Miller saying he “imprisoned, illegally recorded, and physically attacked” him, but instead of dealing with it in a formal manner, the policeman escorts Hardy to hash it out with Lee. This is where we get another flashback. Lee, looking all buff, does manual labor and makes eyes at the Sandbrook girls in a window. An older woman then appears, looking stern. But perhaps there is something to Lee’s defensiveness. He arrives at Hardy’s in the middle of the night with some files. He’s been digging into the case on his own, posing as Hardy. There are still holes in his story—like how did the girl’s pendant end up in his car—but there are also holes in Hardy’s. Hardy asks him about the bluebell. How could he have sent one from France, he replies. “Do bluebells even grow in France?” he asks.

NEXT: Claire’s story crumbles

Claire, meanwhile, is another, entirely questionable story. Hardy instructs Ellie to be Claire’s best friend and that’s just what she does, appearing at her door and declaring that she wants to get “hammered.” So the two go to a bar. There is a partial sense of release for Ellie—she tells Claire about the one man other than Joe for whom she had feelings—but she’s also on the job. When Claire goes to the loo, Ellie grabs her phone, takes down numbers, and then checks her search history. She’s looked up “lee ashworth + guilty,” “lee ashworth + trial,” and “lee ashworth + pendant.”

When Claire returns to Ellie, it’s also a return to party mode. Claire points out two guys looking at them. She asks Ellie when was the last time she had sex. As the night wears on Ellie cannot extricate herself from the scenario. She is drunk, Claire is sloppy, and the two men come home with them to Claire’s. We don’t see Claire’s tryst, but we do see Ellie, lying still, as the man thrusts. She whispers, “Say you love me.” She gets no response. When the man leaves, Claire brings her a mug to gossip like girlfriends, but Ellie is serious. “Claire, what happened that night?” she asks. Claire first says she doesn’t know, but then answers. Lee drugged her. “He drugged me. I woke up at 5 a.m. and he was cleaning. He was cleaning the whole house.”  

Ellie knows there is something awry with Claire’s story. Hardy knows it, too. In fact, he’s known it all along. Claire’s not a witness. She’s a suspect.

In the courtroom, that lens of suspicion with regards to the Latimer case is going to be turned on Ellie—she and Claire continue to have a lot in common.

When Hardy is in the box, it’s clear Sharon is going after Ellie, noting that Ellie could have tampered with the Miller family computer. But that’s nowhere near as bad as it’s going to get. Jocelyn’s line of questioning for Ellie is familiar; she makes the point that when Ellie attacked Joe she did it as a wife, not as a policewoman. Sharon’s, once again, is brutal. She asks about Joe and Ellie’s “sex life” off the bat, but her real point is to come. She wants to get the jury thinking that Ellie and Alec had an affair. She wants them to think that Ellie is a bad mother, for leaving her children the night Joe was arrested to go talk to the man who had become something of a confidant. “You colluded that night to frame the defendant, your husband and to get him out of the way because you were having an affair with DI Hardy, didn’t you?” The episode ends with Ellie’s cry: “I am not the guilty one here. I am not.” It’s an outburst that unfortunately makes her sound like the guilty one.

But are we supposed to question the fundamental truths we know about Ellie? Or are we just supposed to think Sharon is an extremely good tactician?

Other suspicions

What’s up with our lawyers? Speaking of Sharon, she wakes up at 3:30 a.m. one morning to go on a mysterious errand. That errand? To visit her own son—or at least someone who calls her “mum”—in prison, where he has six more years. Was that why she was so mad at Jocelyn?

And Jocelyn too has her own dramas, into which we get some insight this episode. In one instance, she is feeding an elderly woman in a home. She is behind on her bill for the woman’s care. One night she crashes her car. Is this why she asked Maggie to read to her?

We also haven’t seen much of Paul Coates this season, but he goes over to visit Beth and Mark and their new baby. There, he attempts to put a cross on the baby’s head and Mark pushes him away. “God’s not in this house, surely that’s clear by now,” Mark says. 

Episode Recaps

The British import explores the personal lives and investigations of Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman).
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