Broadchurch series two review: The good, the bad and the downright bonkers

West Bay 2 - Broadchurch

Spoiler Alert: This review should only be read if you have finished watching series two of Broadchurch or if you are not that bothered about what happened.

And so it ended, not for good as perhaps it should have, but at least for another series.

The problem with a programme like Broadchurch is that as long people watch in their millions, television companies will commission more and more episodes; meaning a show that began as a gripping look into one town’s reaction to an abominable crime will ultimately become a caricature of itself.

Much has already been said about the differences between the first and second series of England’s latest water-cooler show, so it is enough to say the first was full of great characters and heightened tension, while the second was spent mostly watching people staring, sometimes out to sea, other times out of windows, looking either sinister, sombre or a combination of the two.

Except of course when we were in the courtroom, where the world’s angriest defence barrister Sharon Bishop – played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste – earned her wages by shouting at whoever was in the witness box.

That is not to say I did not enjoy the second series of writer Chris Chibnall’s show; there was much to admire but all of it involved the characters from the initial story.

The ongoing grief of Mark and Beth Latimer (played brilliantly by Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker) was hard to watch but perfectly played, as was the superb dynamic between David Tennant’s Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman’s Ellie Miller.

The problem was those characters belonged in a different programme to the ones introduced in series two.

Bishop’s work in the courtroom was terrifying to watch, but only because one increasingly wondered why the judge did not tell her to calm the hell down.

Then there was Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy) and Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) – a couple who may or may not have been responsible for the murders in Sandbrook that so nearly killed Hardy prior to his arrival in Broadchurch.

The trouble was, Claire was clearly a crazy person and Lee hovered on the periphery of scenes like the grim reaper, staring at Hardy with an invisible sign which read ‘I’m dodgy, me’.

The couple’s behaviour got increasingly erratic until Claire attacked a kitchen before lying on a beach with stones covering her eyes while sleeping rough in a beach hut and then on a park bench.

At the same time her husband lived in what looked like an old stone chimney and spent a lot of time building a fence.

It was all just a little too weird, and that is before you get to the fact that a gate door leading from Ashworth’s garden to that of one of the murdered girls was only discovered when Hardy and Miller reopened the case. Surely that would have been noticed the first time?

And what of the fact that Hardy’s wife left the vital piece of evidence on her backseat as she popped off for a bit of nookie? Why would she not have taken it with her, knowing it would make or break the case?

Add in the fact that Charlotte Rampling’s Jocelyn Knight was not only the prosecuting barrister but was also going blind, had a car accident and saw her mother die all in the space of eight episodes and you would be tempted to ask why a show that prides itself on the small moments had to throw in so many big ones.

The first episode, which led up to Joe Miller’s not guilty plea, was a wonderful starting point, and I was captivated all over again, but over the next six instalments nothing really happened.

Claire and Lee looked increasingly guilty, there were lots of courtroom scenes where we were told what we already knew and every fifteen minutes there was an apparent cliffhanger and some rousing music right before the adverts.

But the final episode of series two repaired a lot of the damage, explaining Lee and Claire’s roles in the two Sandbrook murders and seeing the Latimers exercise a restraint that spoke volumes.

The only real issue I had with the final episode was the fact that Claire killed Pippa Gillespie even though at that point neither she nor Lee had done anything wrong.

Yes, Lee had sex with Lisa Newberry but it was Pippa’s father Ricky who bashed her head against the floor, so there was a point when Claire or her partner could simply have called the police and let things play out.

Instead there was some alcohol-laced Rohypnol, a bit of late-night lounge remodelling and a quick dash to a bluebell-covered field. In short, it was frantic and unrealistic, when the beauty of this show used to be in the quiet reality of everyday lives changed forever.

See also: Those complaining about the end of The Missing are missing the point