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!