Season 1 of the BBC series Broadchurch followed the homicide case of an 11-year-old boy found on a beach at the bottom of a tall cliff. The setting was Broadchurch, a small, coastal town in Dorset, South West England. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else’s business, or so it seemed. As the first season proved, even in tight quarters like Broadchurch, people can harbor secrets.
That case, the death of Danny Latimer, was investigated by an experienced detective newly arrived in Broadchurch, Detective Inspector Hardy (David Tennant), and the woman whose job he essentially took, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). Miller’s involvement with the case was complicated because Danny was a good friend with her son, Tom, and she was close to Danny’s mother, Beth (Jodie Whittaker). As the intrigue built, we learned that Beth’s husband, Mark (Andrew Buchan) was having an affair at the time of his son’s death, that Hardy has serious health issues and a scandal ridden past, and ultimately that Danny was murdered by Ellie’s husband, Joe (Matthew Gravelle).
The ending of season one was shocking, horrible and tragic. It left you wondering what creator Chris Chibnall (who had worked with Tennant on Doctor Who) would come up with next.
Well here we are, a year later, and Broadchurch Season Two is now available on DVD. The story picks up soon after the arrest of Joe and follows the fallout out from the events of the end of season one. Ellie has moved out of her house and lives in a flat with her toddler son, while Tom lives with his aunt because he blames Ellie for what happened to his dad. Meanwhile, the rest of Broadchurch looks at Ellie with disdain because they can’t believe she didn’t know that there was a secret relationship between Joe and Danny. Beth, in particular, now hates the woman she called her good friend.
The trial of Joe Miller leads us into season two and with this storyline, the series welcomes two powerhouse actresses: Charlotte Rambling as a former barrister who comes out of retirement to prosecute Joe, and Marianne Jean-Batiste as Joe’s lead defense counsel. This being Broadchurch, the women have their own demons, intriguing details that help make their characters fully realized.
Joe’s trial is just one part of season two. A second plot involves one of Hardy’s old cases and, as we learn, the real reason he came to Broadchurch. Before transferring, Hardy was investigating the death of a young girl and the disappearance of the girl’s 19-year-old cousin. The case nearly broke him, and when key evidence went missing under his watch, he was buried in scandal. The chief suspect in that case was Lee Ashwoth (James D’Arcy), who lived next door to the dead girl’s parents.
Lee fled the country and Hardy took his wife, Claire (Torchwood’s Eve Myles) into protective custody because she named her husband in the case. Hardy fears for her life. Alas, Claire is full of secrets, too. When Lee returns to England to find Claire, Hardy pulls Ellie into the situation in hopes that she’ll be able to draw new info out of Claire. Just like in the first season, as each episode unfolds, everything you think you knew about the suspects and the case are turned on their head. You’re left guessing up until the eighth and final hour.
The quality of Broadchurch ranks near the top of any drama on TV. The acting is top notch, the writing crisp and smart, the cinematography and editing rivals anything you’ll find in the movie theaters. Tennant and Colman are a great onscreen duo and truly inhabit their roles. I don’t want to say that you have to watch season one to follow what happens in season 2, but I highly recommend it. This season kicks off as if you already know what’s happened without any recaps or annoying expositional dialogue that explains everything. This is smart television done well and one that shouldn’t be missed.