Caution: This review contains spoilers.
In case you missed the news, the second season of “Broadchurch” is now available on DVD. Is it worth adding to your collection of UK television shows? Season one set the bar rather high in terms of viewer expectations. The success of the program spawned the American version, “Gracepoint,” with David Tennant in the lead role again: a venture that sank miserably to a dead last on the nights that episodes aired. Everyone hoped that at least season 2 of “Broadchurch” would set things right.
However, the second season of the show falls short for most of its run. Firstly, there is the shocking development that Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle), husband of Detective Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), pleads not guilty in the murder of Danny Latimer. What ensues is a revisiting of the first season, throwing obstacles in the way of Ellie and DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) as their methods are aggressively questioned by QC Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) from the defense. It seems more like Sharon Bishop is throwing anything at the wall in hopes it will stick, even an accusation that Ellie and Alec were having an affair! The prosecution is being handled by Sharon’s one-time teacher, Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling).
The season is not merely a rehashing of the Latimer affair because the Sandbrook case is back in play and could provide answers on the murders of Pippa Gillespie (Hollie Burgess) and Lisa Newberry (Eliza Bennett). It’s the case that threw Alec’s life out of sorts, shedding some light on why he decided to come to Broadchurch. He has a woman named Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) hidden away from her husband, Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy), the acquitted Sandbrook suspect.
The opening episode for season two was gripping and evoked a bit of the tone from the first season. However, from there it just seemed to spiral out of focus and into a disappointing mess. The rivalry between the lawyers Sharon and Jocelyn feels very forced and does little in accomplishing anything substantial, much like the other secondary characters. Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) and Tom Miller (Adam Wilson) spend hours playing video games, a friendship that lasts until Mark’s daughter Lizzie is born. It also quickly becomes clear that Claire and Lee have a twisted and disturbing relationship through a pendulum of manipulation and angry love-making. What’s up with the towns of Broadchurch and Sandbrook?
To be fair, the pieces line up much better once you reach the finale. Or perhaps it’s better to say if you reach the finale. Many viewers “left in droves” during the second season in frustration over the plot developments. The finale covers the details of the Sandbrook case immediately after Joe Miller is found not guilty. Far more interesting than Joe’s verdict is how the Latimers and Ellie decide to handle his freedom. It’s a pity that the momentum and quality of this season finale was not used throughout the earlier episodes.
Save your money and stream the episodes of season two of “Broadchurch” on Netflix or another platform. The good news is that if you’re left feeling dissatisfied by its end, a third season is in the works by creator Chris Chibnall. There’s some debate as to whether it’s truly necessary, but one can only hope that season three won’t let the viewers down.