10 February 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.6

I hadn't really noticed it until I came to collect my thoughts about this episode, but the middle episodes of Broadchurch's second series have mostly been exactly that. The scores I've given are a testament to the quality of the series; even when treading water, if we're feeling really harsh, a high standard is met.

It was the momentum of this episode that made me realise just how long Chibnall's laurels had been rested on. Here, our main players really begin to assert themselves: Hardy kicks Claire out of the cottage; Miller drags son Tom back home; Paul gives up visiting Joe; Maggie forces Jocelyn to tell Ben about her deteriorating eyesight; and Mark breaks down in and out of court. There's plenty more going on besides this though, and it's quite a shock of action after the last few weeks.

Director Jonathan Teplitzky does well to fit so much into this episode without it ever feeling overcrowded or rushed. The highlight of the hour for me was the scene between Maggie, Ben and Jocelyn. There's clearly an unvoiced affection between the two ladies, and the excellent actresses tasked with portraying them (Carolyn Pickles and Charlotte Rampling respectively) do a fine job. The scene plays out very touchingly, if initially predictably. Ben (the underrated William Andrews) is a quiet character, and as such hasn't been afforded much attention so far this series. This episode puts that right though, and although it's more than likely he'll turn out to be just as inconsequential as he's currently made out to be, I'm glad of his inclusion.

Despite everything that's going on, most of which I haven't even touched on, this is indisputably Claire Ripley's episode and Eve Myles owns the part moreso than ever before. And that's saying something. It's clearly the writer's intention to paint Ripley as the prime suspect in the Sandbrook case here, but with two tantalising episodes to go before we expect to find out the killer's true identity, I can't believe we'd know already. By the mechanics of television, we can henceforth discount Claire from speculation. However, given the opportunity to show off her emotional range, Myles needs no encouragement. She can go from enraged (at her eviction) to terrified (of Lee) to desperate (for Lee) to protective (of her past) to stealthy (in a moody car park) to addicted (to Lee) with consummate ease. Off the back of this episode alone, there may be a little doubt in the tainted viewer's mind, but the obvious culprit is Claire.

And almost without knowing it, Broadchurch rediscovered its trademark identity surprisingly easily. It's got me speculating as to the identity of a killer without consciously looking for a mystery to solve. That said, it is a little Broadchurch-by-numbers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for the most part. The scenes on the periphery of the main plot (the aforementioned dinner, Miller and Tom painting, Hardy in hospital with Tess) were the effective in my opinion, but the way the wheels have started turning as we edge towards the finale is thrilling. I'm a big fan of TV drama, and when it's done well, I get a real buzz. At the moment we're on a low hum, but with such a wealth of talent onboard it'd be hard for the finale too be anything other than nail-biting.

Another gripping instalment to the ongoing mystery, and one that certainly ups the ante as we kick into the latter part of the series. Teplitzky is great too; I hope we see more of his work around as a result of this.

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