The lovely Leah is back today with the first of her Broadchurch episode reviews!
Title Episode 1
Two-Sentence Summary Joe Miller sets the whole town into chaos when he unexpectedly pleads not guilty at his hearing, and new characters are thrown into the mix as legal teams are hired and begin to prepare for the trial. Meanwhile, Alec’s past with Sandbrook is looming even larger than last season as Ellie discovers that not only has Alec been protecting a key witness from Sandbrook all this time, but the suspected Sandbrook killer himself is in Broadchurch as well.
Favorite Line “Knowing the truth and getting justice is not the same thing.” (Jocelyn Knight)
My Thoughts This episode did a good job of setting up the rest of the season with the introduction of new information and new characters, all without managing to lose the nuances in behavior and the emotional impact that make this show so good. Two main plotlines were introduced in this episode that will likely be our main arcs throughout Season Two: Joe Miller’s trial and the reemergence of the Sandbrook suspect.
The first major event of this episode was Joe Miller’s hearing. Joe’s plea appears to have broken the fragile, peaceful equilibrium of the town, and there is definitely some emotional fallout. Everyone was expecting to gain some closure that day only to have it unexpectedly denied, and Joe is inflicting another wound on the Latimers and this community by forcing them to go through a trial.
While time has passed, the main people affected by Danny’s death are still hurting. Ellie is seeing a psychiatrist and feels guilty over the whole mess—not to mention that her own son blames her so much that he’s not living with her and doesn’t even want to see her. While the Latimers have started to move forward with their lives and prepare for their new baby, Beth is still blaming Ellie and herself, and Mark is escaping from his family for hours at a time to play games with Tom. I feel like at some point this season the Latimers (or at least Mark) may collapse under the weight of the emotional strain. I can already see potential for a major outburst, especially in Mark’s reactions in the courthouse and at the graveyard. My heart breaks for them, especially because I don’t think they quite understand what this trial is going to bring about. As we see with the exhumation of Danny’s body at the end of the episode, this trial is going to hurt.
Along with a full trial comes the need for new characters. This episode introduced us to the lawyers who will be battling it out on each side of the courtroom, with Sharon Bishop representing Joe Miller and Jocelyn Knight representing the Latimers. Since I always enjoy seeing more female characters on television, I am excited to see that the lawyers are both women who appear to be very good at their jobs, and the fact that they have a shared history will make for an interesting aspect.
I do have some reservations about the way the writing seems to be moving toward treating Joe’s trial at least somewhat realistically. It seems that Joe’s lawyer, Sharon, will definitely be focusing on some of the more technical aspects of his case, and taking apart the way the arrest and confession came about annoys me because, for me, it takes a little away from the beautifully orchestrated Season One finale. When I go back and re-watch that episode, am I going to be thinking about the emotions of the moment, or am I going to be thinking about how many mistakes Alec is making?
Another new character we meet in this episode is Claire, whose identity remains a mystery until Alec reveals that Claire is a witness in the Sandbrook trial and has been living in this secluded house all along. Other than the realization that no, there is not actually a system set up to protect witnesses if the defendant goes free, I think most of Clarie’s moments in this episode worked to give us the information we will need for the rest of this story arc. I do, however, think Claire may have a secret or two that has not been revealed, because the bluebell flower Ellie found in one of Claire’s letters seems significant to Alec. Whether her secrets are of a sinister or innocent nature remains to be seen.
While watching this episode I caught a few parallels, some of which I think are really interesting and may have a big impact on the show.
1. A fun parallel I noticed was the callback to the pilot, with a shot of Ellie in a bathroom stall, working through emotions. In the first episode, it was just after learning she had not gotten the police job, and this time it’s her dealing with Joe’s not guilty plea.
2. There were also some parallels between the Latimer case and the Sandbrook case, in that the Ashwoods were next-door neighbors with the family whose daughters were killed, and the Millers and Latimers were close friends and lived near each other. There is also the potential for Ellie to see a parallel between herself and Claire, as she realizes that this is who she could become if Joe ends up walking free when this trial is over.
3. The parallel of Mark stealing away for time with Tom is eerily similar to the way Joe would meet up with Danny, and I can’t help but think this is eventually going to leak to Joe’s lawyers, who will use it in the case in some way.
4. A lot of the major players here seem to have some sort of dark or conflicted past. Both Jocelyn and Sharon appear to have an event in their past that has made them reluctant to take on cases, and I am starting to wonder if those two events are the same thing or are at least related in some way. Sharon’s comment about Jocelyn taking the Latimers’ case when she wouldn’t come back for someone else is something I’m sure will come up later this season.
• The music is back! I noticed the return of the main theme when we were barely a minute into the episode, and I’m so glad that this season we’ll be getting more from the same composer for the score.
• I still really don’t like Olly.
• Becca and Paul are dating and are kind of cute together.
• Beth was one of my favorite characters last season, but she is going to annoy me if she continues to act like everything is Ellie’s fault.
• Tom appears to have grown from an 11-year-old to a 15-year-old in the several months since we’ve last seen him. I know it’s just due to the time between filming seasons, but wow does the actor look different! I will try to suspend my disbelief.
It seems to me that we’re in for an anxious, emotional, and tough season, so hold on tight!
P.S. I have very little knowledge of the U.K.’s court system, so please forgive me if I made a mistake while talking about it here. Feel free to correct me if you spot an error!
I just got a chance to watch the priemere, and enjoyed reading your review!
I made the mistake of not watching or reading a recap of last season before watching, so it took a little while to figure out who everyone was again, but by the end of the episode I was mostly caught up to speed. Aside from Tom. If you hadn’t mentioned it in your review I have no idea how long it would have taken me to remember that was Ellie’s son. BBC really needs to understand that you can’t go two years between seasons with teenage characters.
I was reminded quickly just how emotional this show is. The music and the cinematography just grab you and don’t let go. I am already feeling for all the characters again and dreading the pain they are all going to be going through.
You mentioned all of the same parallels I found, and if anything my one critism of the show is that I think they can be a bit heavy handed with them. Its how it was painfully obvious to me that Joe was going to be the killer last season. So yes you are right, Mark and Tom spending time together is definitely going to come back to haunt Mark and the rest of his family. It may just be Mark missing is own son, but that scene was the most upsetting to me just because I know how its going to end and I am dreading having to see the fallout.
It also seems weird to me that Tom would shun Ellie. I guess I just don’t understand why everyone is being so hard on her. She is not the accused child killer here, she is a victim too. Or maybe just I love Ellie and want to protect her. I also adore her relationship with Alec. Their bickering sibling dynamic brings some much needed humor to the heavy subject matter.
This season is going to be even more of a mess for everyone than last season, and I am looking forward to reading your reviews and being a part of the discussion! I honestly don’t know how they fit so many secrets in such a small town!
Sorry for the late reply, sometimes life just gets away from you. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my review!
I got lucky in that I just happened to watch Season 1 a few weeks before Season 2 started, since I didn’t even realize Season 2 was about to start! I did have to double-check a few names though, with so many people in that town it can get a bit much to remember. And yeah, Tom looks completely different. It probably would’ve helped if they had one scene with him and Ellie early on in the episode so that we could tell who he was before he randomly pops up later.
The music and cinematography continues to be one of the aspects that I think they excel at way past what’s done in most of the other TV shows I’ve watched, it’s fantastic.
I don’t think I noticed many parallels when I watched the first season, but that could be because I was binge-watching it so quickly that I didn’t take a lot of time to think over the mystery part of the arc, I was mostly concentrated on the emotional aspects of each character. I think I only figured out it was going to be Joe once we got to the last couple of episodes. I’ll have to pay more attention to the rest of the season to see if they get a bit less overt with the parallels.
I made the mistake of watching this right after OUaT and as a result, it took me about half the episode to really get into this show again. I think the tonal switch was just a little too much for me and the first half of the episode seemed to be a lot more dramatic than the second. One of the things that I loved so much about s1 is that it didn’t seem to be going for the “THIS IS A BIG DRAMATIC MOMENT” scenes and I felt like the courtroom scene leaned to far in that direction for my personal taste. Maybe it would have helped if the music was a a little quieter and I felt like the focus was more on the Latimer’s and Ellie’s reaction.
I was yelling at my screen when it was revealed that Mark and Tom had been hanging out regularly because you know that’s going to be a problem. As a viewer, I see Mark’s logic in trying to hold on to anything related to his son but we also see how terribly it’s going to turn out and I’m not looking forward to that fall out.
Sorry for the late reply, life just ran away with me for a bit!
Yikes, yeah that’s a bit of a weird contrast. OUAT can be anxious at times but usually it’s a lot happier and has more humor in it than Broadchurch does.
Yes, I agree with you that it feels like this season has a bit too much of that THIS IS A DRAMATIC MOMENT feel to it. I think I don’t like it very much because it feels like they’re trying too hard or something, and it distances me from the emotions the characters are going through. Also, I think having less overly dramatic scenes throughout makes the big ones that come at the climax of a season more impactful. Hopefully as the season goes on we’ll get away from that sort of over-dramatization.
Yeah, I could also see Mark’s logic for spending time with Tom but just watching that scene made me upset because of the anticipation of the fallout that we just know is coming. I don’t like the simmering in negative anticipation that happens for me with stuff like this so I wasn’t a big fan of that :p
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