24 February 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.8


In what feels like something of a rarity for mainstream television, the final episode of Broadchurch's second series leaves the viewer with more answers than questions, probably making them somewhat nonplussed about where a third series could be drawn from. 

But to dwell on this episode for a while before the speculation begins, I thought it did quite well to avoid a lot of expositionary pitfalls. Broadchurch has demonstrated time and again that Chibnall knows that it is much more satisfying to show an audience rather than tell them, making it even more of a mystery why his Doctor Who scripts seem to exhibit the opposite belief. It's not a wholly gratifying experience for the viewer though, it must be said. The solutions to the murders come out of left field to a certain extent, and as such undermines Hardy and Miller once again. Rather than actually figuring out the murders of Danny Latimer, Pippa Gillespie or Lisa Newbery, one killer simply confessed, and the others were simply bullied into admission for two years.

I did like the way writer Chris Chibnall and director Mike Barker told the full events of that night though. They were beautifully shot and executed. One omission that feels staggering to me is Pippa's mother. She doesn't appear once throughout this whole episode, which is peculiar in the least given how much it revolves around her daughter's death. Perhaps it would've been just one character too many.

Back on the Joe Miller storyline, and it seems my prediction last week was correct: the murderer was released. The town's decision to banish him may seem noble and heartwarming on the face of it, but if you think about it for a second, the concept falls to pieces. Hardy informs us that the case can't be reopened unless substantial new evidence comes to light. Instead of searching for said evidence, Broadchurch's residents seem to simply give up. After such a show of determination for two years, this feels remarkably uncharacteristic. And Ellie would surely want to know where he was, to know that her children were safe? I can't help feeling too that a child killer arriving in a new town where no-one knows his history is surely only asking for trouble.

All in all, this isn't as grand a finale as I had hoped it might be after this series' first episode. If we'd had glimpses of the lengthy flashbacks we're treated to in this episode before now, the Sandbrook mystery might've been more compelling. Despite that, the character drama that's consumed this series has been enjoyable, often riveting. There have been some powerhouse performances. Joining David Tennant (who I still think completely owns this show) and Olivia Colman, Eve Myles, James D'Arcy and Shaun Dooley are all worthy of at least appropriate award nominations. The returning cast have mostly been superb too, but I've been blown away by newcomer Charlotte Rampling as Jocelyn Knight. Here's hoping she's back for a second series.

And speaking of the future, I do wonder where a third series could go. Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe featured an amusing segment a few weeks ago in which gifted speakers Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas questioned the need for a second series. I can't wait to see what they'll come up with next time around. If it's to be a direct continuation, the obvious next step for me is that Hardy suddenly realises something doesn't fit, and rushes back to the police station to throw open the Sandbrook case once more. Coupled with some new apocalyptic threat, naturally.

As a series, this doesn't marry up totally convincingly for me. Think how terrified Claire was in the first episode of the series when Lee arrived back on the scene. In the context of what actually happened, this doesn't make sense at all. The Lee of Sandbrook is kind, gentle and quite soft - a million miles away from the picture Claire paints of him. It's been an enjoyable ride though. Let's see if Chibnall and co. can make it three for three.


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