Broadchurch: Our Review Of Episode Two

Read our review of episode two of Broadchurch, the gripping ITV drama series starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. This review contains spoilers for the episode which aired last night on ITV.


Episode Two

The second episode of Broadchurch proved that this is more than a simple whodunit as the drama continues to explore the impact of a shocking tragedy on the rest of the community, of an extraordinary event in a very ordinary setting, and also sets up a myriad of mysteries to be slowly unpicked over the coming weeks. There are many more questions than answers, but at the quarter point of an eight part drama that is just how things should stand.

Forty eight hours have passed since the body of young Danny Latimer was found on the beach and the town is still reeling from shock, ripples spreading out from the event, touching and affecting everyone in its wake, emotionally and financially, and rocking their trust in their neighbours. Early tensions are starting to bubble to the surface - the angry businessman in the bar, the frightened family who corner Ellie in a cafĂ© – perhaps early signs that something big is brewing in this formerly peaceful and settled place. Local vicar Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) tries to preach calm and support to the population, but his message only reaches the ears of a tiny fraction of them. Most are disinterested in what he has to say.

Detectives DI Hardy and DS Miller (David Tennant and Olivia Colman) are stepping up their investigation and still circling one another warily. “I don’t drink coffee” he snaps to her proffered peace offering. “Of course you don’t” she responds equally curtly. Ellie tries in vain through her natural empathy and kindness to crack the hard shell of the inflexible Hardy, but she cannot accept his emotionless insistence that she step outside her community to get a clear picture of what is going on. Even Ellie can’t be a saint forever and she berates him for his rudeness on more than one occasion, although it apparently does little good. He has his detective hat too firmly on his head even to accept her offer of a chip shop supper with good grace. The tension in their working relationship is never far from the surface, but in spite of their differences their enquiries are making progress, and their leads throw up questions about a number of members of the community, some of which are uncomfortably close to home.

The Latimer family are still numb with shock. Jodie Whittaker as Beth continues to excel as the grieving mother, particularly when a quest for a few moments of normality leads to a public meltdown in a beautifully set up moment in the mundane setting of the local supermarket. Andrew Buchan as Mark is quietly simmering with hurt and rage, and it is inevitable that the explosion will come eventually. When it does it is shocking that it is the community’s embodiment of peace and love that he targets. But what is more astounding is that neither of their children are innocents apparently, as the police search of the house reveals.

The press, of course, are still sniffing around, and it’s clear that they are still very much portrayed as the bad guys. Ambitious Olly (Jonathan Bailey) is keen to get in with national reporter Karen (Vicky McClure), even if it means betraying his home town to do so. Karen is worryingly creepy as she starts to worm her way into Chloe’s (Charlotte Beaumont) trust.

Two of the more mysterious characters instantly arouse suspicion. Pauline Quirke is loner Susan, an unpleasant character who is as rude and abrupt as Hardy himself, who reveals to the audience that she has something that the police are looking for stashed in the cupboard in her caravan. Meanwhile telephone engineer Steve Connelly (Will Mellor) puts himself straight under police scrutiny when he claims to be receiving messages from Danny from beyond the grave. The claim is received with a volcanic explosion of contempt from Hardy – that is until Connelly fires a parting shot back at him that sends him reeling.

The questions mount up. What is behind the story about the postman that paper shop owner Jack (David Bradley) tells Hardy? Why can’t Beth confess her secret to her family? Where was Mark really on the night of Danny’s death? What happened after the CCTV footage ran out? Why did Danny have all that money? What is Ellie’s son Tom (Adam Wilson) so scared of? How did Susan come by Danny’s possessions? A print off of Danny’s Facebook statuses reveals that he had information on people. Will this be the key to discovering the killer?

And what of Hardy himself? Slowly his own secrets start to emerge. It’s known that he came to Broadchurch under the cloud of his previous investigation. Is the memory of what happened there the cause of his apparent panic attacks, his vertigo and his pill popping? Or was this the cause of his earlier professional failure? Who is the girl whose picture he carries in his wallet? A sister? A daughter, even? What is the significance of the pendant? It’s clear that the identity of the demons that haunt Hardy will not become known for some time, but these moments allow Tennant to show glimpses of a more fragile, vulnerable side to the otherwise steely Hardy.

Episode two effortlessly sets up these questions and leaves them tantalisingly unanswered. It also ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and one last question – surely we don’t know the identity of the killer already? 

Watch episode 3 of Broadchurch on Monday 18th March at 9pm on ITV