Monday nights have become a bit surreal of late. As Broadchurch has become increasingly bonkers, they’ve taken on a kind of mad escapist quality, not always vastly satisfying, but unmissable nonetheless.
This penultimate episode however, did feel a little like an hour we could have survived without. There were a few revelations; it turns out Claire (Eve Myles) had an abortion years ago whilst Lee (James D’Arcy) was either in prison or on the run, I forget/no longer care which. We also learned that, with Alec Hardy (David Tennant) lying next to her when she awoke from the procedure in flashback, that perhaps they’ve always been closer than he would have people believe? Having had his heart surgery, it seems that Alec is going to survive until the end of the series after all, which is just as well given that he and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) have finally started to make some headway with the Sandbrook case, connecting Claire and Ricky Gillespie (Shaun Dooley) through the mysterious dialled number on Claire’s phone. Perhaps Lee is innocent after all? He’s creepy as hell, which by the usual Broadchurch standards means he hasn’t done a thing wrong.
So far so relatively logical, although none of this felt like it contributed to the wider plot in any significant way. It felt, and I hate to say it, a little filler. And then we had the madder scenes of the episode to contend with, the majority of which, now I think about it, seemed to happen around the beach and cliff areas. Ah, that sea air. We had Claire inexplicably choosing to hide out at the beach huts after Alec threw her out. ‘No one knows I’m here, do they?’ what, here in your secret hide-out on the beach in broad daylight? It’s hardly Fort Knox is it, love? And then the mad fight between her and Lee with them both seemingly attempting to drown each other in the surf, then giving up and realising that perhaps they’re not good for each other after all. Really, you think? And then to cap it all off, there was that kiss between barrister Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) and journalist Maggie (Carolyn Pickles).
In the right context, it could have been very sweet, albeit random. Unfortunately, this wasn’t that context, and it felt thrown in and a little insensitive. That said, there has been a bit of a theme in recent episodes of people changing their behaviour due to ill health, becoming more rash and emotional (Hardy, Susan) so given Jocelyn’s failing eyesight, meaning it (just about) fits the pattern, I’ll let this one slide for now.
On the plus side, at least Ellie seems to have her family and her life back together a bit now, thankfully. I never quite understood why her eldest son turned against her as he did, so I was pleased to see that rectified through another fabulous Ellie Miller common sense shouting match last week. She was beginning to turn into a bit of a downtrodden plot device, so it was good to see her firing on all cylinders again here, even if she has made a bit of a mess of her evidence in court on a number of occasions. It was also good to see Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s arrogant, self-serving Abby get a bit of a comeuppance, again in a slightly bizarre exchange, as lawyer Ben (William Andrews) took great delight in telling her what a horrible person she is. It was a laugh out loud moment amongst a sea (literally) of disbelief.
Despite all the madness, there was a little bit of tension to be found, as the case against Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle) finally came to an end. For a while it almost, almost appeared that we were going to hear the verdict in this episode. But of course we weren’t.
If nothing else, it would have been nice to give Matthew Gravelle something to do. He was outstanding in the final episodes of series one, yet this series all he’s really been able to do, albeit for obvious reasons, is sit behind bulletproof glass and widen his eyes occasionally.
Which seems a shame to me.
Will he be found guilty? All will be revealed tomorrow.