03 February 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.5

While it's probably a valid criticism that this second series of Broadchurch is being stretched a little thin, I for one am totally enjoying the format. True, if this were being commissioned now on the BBC, it'd probably only get six episodes instead of the eight we're getting, but in the extra time we're getting some lovely character moments. I don't just mean where Chibnall's pawns coincide, but sometimes entire scenes are devoted to just one character. We're allowed into their private world, to see how they think and operate. Though it may be a product of scheduling vs story, it only adds to the overall impression the producers are trying to create in my opinion. We see into their world, and either include or exclude them from our own personal list of suspects.

This episode sees Miller reunite with son Tom, who has of course been meeting Mark at Susan Wright's static caravan. The moment when they see each other again is quite heartbreaking, and it's still unclear to me why the teenager is willing to defend his father but has some kind of grudge against his mother which was previously assumed to be for not doing anything despite knowing. When he gives evidence in court next week, no doubt there will be revelations some would rather stayed private. 

To distract herself from the unenviable agony and trauma she's going through, Miller decides to bury herself in the Sandbrook case. "I'm gonna solve it." she declares resolutely, and this viewer has no doubt she will. Whereas last week, Broadchurch went to Southampton and immersed itself in the world of the earlier case, this week Sandbrook comes to Broadchurch in the form of Shaun Dooley as grieving father Ricky Gillespie. What I found most interesting about the fight between him and Lee Ashworth was how little resistance the former tenant put up. Although he is probably the more athletic of the two, and could have overpowered Ricky, he seems to consciously decide not to. Could this be out of guilt, and self-loathing? The plot thickens...

And nowhere is that more true than when Hardy and Miller pay a visit to an abandoned industrial unit in Portsmouth offering agricultural services. A furnace is deemed to be the final resting place of Lisa Newbery, perhaps the darkest this show has ever gone. It's never been flowers and all things pretty, but this really is a grim turn of events. It's a little surprising (and perhaps slightly implausible to me) that in the original investigation, not one of the numerous officers serving under Hardy thought to investigate it at all. Sure, Miller's great, but really? Anyway, Broadchurch shouldn't be dissected too thoroughly, else we'll be here all day with all the errors that have apparently surfaced this series. It's a thrill-based programme, and each episode of this series is trying to replicate the format of the last.

Whereas before, every instalment centred around one character, for the most part, here each act serves the same purpose. Clare Ripley is really on shaky ground now in my opinion. She was introduced as the victim all those weeks ago, but now the audience suspects anything but innocence. As this is a whodunnit, I suppose I ought to have a guess who indeed dunnit. This will no doubt change with every passing ad break, but at the moment I'm almost convinced of Cate Gillespie's guilt. Just as Joe Miller was present on the periphery of Series One, she has had a few short but crucial scenes this year. Her lack of screen time leads me to suspect misdirection on the part of Chibnall and co., but there really is no proof to back this up apart from the fact that each piece of 'evidence' is so vague it could be skewed in any direction at the moment.

The programme looks as beautiful as ever under the guidance of Jonathan Teplitzky and John Conroy. The imagery is so sumptuous and elegant you could almost believe this to be the source material for a modern music video. The fairground that's popped up in Hardy's back yard is one such example. And though I may not have mentioned the Scottish scowler so much this week, he is just as prominent and prescient as previously. Indeed, I thought at one point he really had died, something I think's becoming more and more likely with each passing episode. The way his and Miller's relationship is building is excellent too. It's the small things, like him pushing Fred, that help sell this partnership and this great episode.

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