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Broadchurch (Episode 1) Review

Warning: Spoilers ahead…

The long awaited return of Chris Chibnall’s award-winning crime drama Broadchurch, starring the emotionally distant David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy and the emotionally turbulent and fierce Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller has hounded back onto our screens. You’d be lying to say you hadn’t gasped in shock when the revealed killer from series one – Joe Miller – stood in the docks to deliver his verdict: not guilty.

Hardy’s look of terror pervades the screen as the title Broadchurch scrolls into place as we wait an agonising three minutes for advertisements to end (damn you ITV!). There’s no doubt about it, the whodunit everyone has been talking about is back – with a bang.

Chibnall’s well received first series was up and above the average whodunit story with twists, turns and an alarming amount of red-herrings set in an idyllic town; a town that has never experienced such emotionally scarring events. The enclosed number of suspects allowed for a tense eight episode run and when we finally discover who the killer was, we took a sigh of relief. But now, with series two on the war path, everything comes into question: did Joe Miller really kill the eleven-year-old Daniel Latimer? Is he covering for someone else? Or does he simply not like the idea of a lengthy sentence behind bars? Whatever the case, surely to be revealed in seven weeks’ time, it has me hooked.

Those unfamiliar with the show (I displeasingly shake my head lightly in shame) will need reminding that series two has a clear focus on the events that took place before Danny Latimer’s death – Alec Hardy’s Sandbrook case: the death of two girls and the falling apart of the trial, which occurred when vital evidence in the form of a pendent was stolen from one of Hardy’s DI’s car (this happened to be his wife’s car, which she left unattended with evidence… to have an affair – ouch). It appears these events will be a focus in this series as Hardy has one new arrival character, Claire (Eve Myles) in his own personal ‘witness protection’ which is most likely to end badly. In essence the series remains a crime drama, but is clearly ready to curve off in a new direction; a direction that gives crime drama fresh roots as many opt to change the cast, or indeed, introduce a new whodunit when a series like this returns to the small screen (True Detective, Luther and so on are prime examples).

The opening episode is a distressing rollercoaster for cast and viewers. The performance given by Olivia Colman is stellar throughout and we truly fall into her world which has been ripped apart since the devastating events leading from series one. This leaves only an echo of the cheerful, non-suspecting detective that bounced onto our screens in 2013. “The series explores grief,” Jodie Whittaker (Beth Latimer) in an interview said, and in more than one way it appears so as Ellie mourns her old life as her eldest son Tom turns his back on her. I expect a heated, heart-warming (and heart-straining) confrontation between the two at some point during this series.

Complex and well-crafted new characters arrive in the story as a murder trial heavily lingers over the strained Latimer family. Charlotte Rampling (Jocelyn Knight) gives a convincing performance as a woman desperate to just be left alone as she is requested to prosecute against Joe Miller. Adamant she is against the idea from the start, it is only when she gets a glimpse of an old face, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Sharon Bishop), who is revealed to be out to defend Miller – but what lies at the heart of Knight’s change of heart: personal gain? A clear tension exists between the two, and the fight to victory is more likely to cause more harm than good.

He’s standing trial, but Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) himself said everyone is hiding secrets, and these secrets are sure to come spilling out at all angels once the trial is underway. More lives – no doubt – will be left in tatters, but with such a forceful cast and intriguing writing, you can see they will withstand all the challenges Chibnall throws their way.

 

Broadchurch continues Monday nights on ITV at 9pm.

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