Today, the lovely Leah is back with her thoughts on the latest episode of Broadchurch.
Title Episode 2
Two-Sentence Summary The preparation for and the beginning of the trial occur, which results in Joe’s confession being excluded from evidence. Alec and Ellie convince Claire to meet with Lee in the hopes that he’ll reveal something incriminating, but their plan goes awry when Beth unwittingly provides a distraction that lets Lee escape and take Claire with him.
Favorite Line “Because my life, my old life, is gone. And I made so many mistakes—some big ones. And I need to put something right. We could do it together.” (Ellie Miller)
My Thoughts I want to admit something, so you know where I’m coming from while I discuss certain parts of this episode: Personally, I am not a fan of shows that focus on courtroom scenes or the technicalities of the legal system. They usually infuriate or annoy me in some way—probably because of the way the victims or their families are often treated on the stand and because the audience usually has to spend a lot of time with the guilty party (or their lawyer) making smug faces. Thus, because of my bias against those types of scenes, I felt a fair dose of annoyance along with the enjoyment of other aspects of this episode.
Since I prefer to end things on a positive note, let’s start with the storyline that annoyed me more: the trial. A lot of this episode was spent in following the setup for and then the start of Joe Miler’s trial, and we got to see Jocelyn scolding a lot of people and the first witnesses giving their testimony. Most of the trial scenes were centered on one aspect of the case that the defense would attack heavily: the circumstances around the arrest of Joe Miller. Here is where my annoyance starts, and a lot of it is from what I touched on in my review last week. In going through this trial realistically, the show is asking me to apply reality (or at least some version of it) to the very emotional events of the Season One finale, which felt to me to have more impact because of the decisions made to not have it follow strictly realistic police procedure and instead let it play out in a more dramatic way.
When I look at Joe’s arrest from this new point of view, it’s no surprise to me that Joe’s confession was tossed out as evidence. Despite knowing that the confession was not coerced, I thought that Sharon provided a strong enough argument to create reasonable doubt that his confession was made freely. Unsurprisingly, this will make the case a lot harder to prosecute. It will be interesting to see what evidence Jocelyn focuses on in making the prosecution’s case, since I feel like, without Joe’s confession, most of the evidence that we know of is circumstantial.
It also appears that the defense is going to try to provide the jury with Mark as a credible suspect to create reasonable doubt, and it makes me sad for what’s likely to come for the Latimers as the defense digs into their family. Beth’s exclamations of “Who’s on trial here?” are essentially what I hate about these court scenes, and I dread the seemingly inevitable reveal of what Mark has been up to with Tom. Without Joe’s confession, Sharon can paint Joe’s time with Danny as innocent in nature, or at least will be able to question whether Joe’s actions are all that different from Mark’s. With the admission forced out of Beth that Mark did hit Danny once, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Mark will be utilized by Sharon and the defense team to create reasonable doubt via another possible suspect.
The parts I enjoyed the most in this episode centered on Ellie, as she seems to be the show’s heart this season. While trials undoubtedly have a huge impact on the victim and their family, I think we often forget that the defendant’s family is affected as well. Ellie’s emotional struggles have been one of the most nuanced aspects of this season so far, as she deals with many emotions—including guilt over not seeing what was going on sooner, fear of losing her son Tom completely, anger over being betrayed by her husband, and self-doubt over her own personal and professional judgment. Nuanced and complicated emotions are what this show does best, and Olivia Colman is doing a great job portraying Ellie’s internal conflicts.
One of my favorite moments in this episode was the scene between Ellie and Claire when Ellie was trying to convince her to meet with Lee. While they got a bit more confrontational than I wanted in their conversation (I was hoping maybe they’d become friends.), I did really enjoy seeing them bond a bit over how much they have in common. They’re both struggling to wrap their heads around the idea that someone they loved and thought they knew could be capable of such a terrible thing, and they’re both dealing with all the emotions that come with that realization.
Unsurprisingly, the episode ended with a very dramatic scene. Claire and Lee met at the old Miller house, with Alec and Ellie standing guard nearby for Claire’s safety. Beth, after receiving a phone call from Nige, went to the Miller house simply to yell at Ellie some more, causing herself more stress and making her go into labor—which she, of course, blamed on Ellie, because that’s all she seems to want to do lately. In the end, Beth managed to be a distraction for not just Ellie but Alec as well, which gave Lee the window of opportunity he needed to escape and take Claire with him.
• Beth is so heavily pregnant that she goes into labor at the end of this episode, but they can’t even give her a chair to sit on while she’s testifying at the courthouse?
• Lee grosses me out. Even if he ends up being innocent via a show twist, he somehow manages to combine creepiness with sexual overtones that just make me shudder in repulsion, no matter how attractive I find the actor.
• As much as Beth is annoying me with her reactions to Ellie, I am glad she seems to be trying to deal with things in mostly healthy ways, as we see her asking to talk to Paul and trying to schedule a date for her and Mark so they can get a little downtime.
• I don’t know if it’s just me, but throwing a party for those who are testifying sounds like a great way to make it look like bribery or trying to gain favor with people. Bad idea, Latimers.
• Sharon’s past rears its head again in her mysterious phone call with a loved one who appears to be in the middle of a conflict. I’m sure we’ll learn more about this later.
• I’m very curious about Maggie and Jocelyn’s relationship, as they seem to be closer than I thought. Unless I’m reading the scene incorrectly, Jocelyn’s request for Maggie to read to her after leaving the Latimer house definitely implies some level of friendship. Has Maggie been occasionally looking after Jocelyn for a while now?
I am with you on the courtroom side of this. I find the whole thing to be frustrating, and I am beginning to worry how much it is going to effect my enjoyment of this season. I think the hardest part for me is the naivete of the Latimer’s. I want to feel for them, but right now I just want to yell at them for being clueless. I also want to yell at their lawyer. Are they not allowed to vet witnesses in the UK?! The questions the defense are asking are questions the family should have already been prepared for, so I am having a really hard time connecting emotionally to the Latimer’s and their friends right now. Especially when Ellie is someone I do empathize strongly with, and all they have been doing is attacking her.
I will have to see where this goes. There are moments where I still see glimpses of what made season 1 so great (mainly everything not happening in the courtroom) and I am hoping I am able to reconnect with these characters and care about them like I did before.
One final note, I have been assuming since the first ep that Maggie and Jocelyn were are mother/daughter but I guess that was presumptive of me. I totally get that vibe though.
I am someone who likes watching the police half of every Law & Order episode and doesn’t want to see the legal/courtroom half, so I knew this was probably going to frustrate me and, like you, it’s affecting my enjoyment of the season.
I definitely agree with you on the Latimers – I get that they’ve lived in a small town so maybe they haven’t had first-hand experience with any trials, but I’m a little surprised how they didn’t seem to realize it could hurt them a lot. And yeah, I don’t quite understand why Jocelyn can’t prep them for these types of questions, I think normally a good part of her job would be to prep the witnesses for the stand, even if it’s just telling them how to calmly answer questions and such. I also think that the courtroom scenes have felt sort of tabloid-y and written for the drama, which is not really what I’m looking for from this show.
I definitely agree with you that for me, the stuff outside of the courtroom are the parts I’ve liked best. This season seems to be a little more plot-driven than character-driven so far and I’m not a huge fan, because Season 1 seemed for the most part to be the opposite of that. Right now the only character who I’m fairly invested in is Ellie, so we’ll see how it goes.
Oh, could be! It’s certainly possible that I may have missed something in their first scene together while trying to take notes. I have noticed that they seemed to know each other because it was clear that Maggie had visited Jocelyn at her house before, but I don’t remember if the show ever explicitly stated what their relationship was.