Broadchurch series two recap: Joe Miller pleads not guilty as Alec Hardy’s Sandbrook killer returns

Episode one saw Ellie Miller enlisted to help protect Claire Ashworth – wife of suspected murderer Lee – while Joe prepared to go on trial for Danny Latimer's murder

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Well, there you have it. After months of unbearable secrecy, we now have the basis of Broadchurch series two. 

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As tonight’s episode opened, Alec Hardy (David Tennnant) was being interviewed by Broadchurch Echo editor Maggie Radcliffe (Carolyn Pickles) and her young reporter Olly Stevens (Jonathan Bailey) ahead of Joe Miller’s trial – an event most of the town turned out for, including the nervous Latimer family. 

Joining Mark (Andrew Buchan), Beth (Jodie Whittaker) and Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont) in the courtroom were Arthur Darvill’s Rev. Paul Coates (who, unbeknown to them, had been paying visits to Joe in prison), Nige Carter (Joe Sims), Becca Fisher (Simone McAullay), Hardy, and – belatedly – Joe’s wife Ellie (Olivia Colman), drawing spiteful glances from Beth who muttered under her breath, “didn’t think she’d have the nerve”. 

But that brief drama was nothing compared with the appearance of Joe (Matthew Gravelle) who shocked the courtroom – and his legal counsel – by entering a “not guilty” plea, thus forcing the case to go to trial. All because, in his words, “I’ve had a lot of time to think. I can’t go to prison for Danny’s death.” 

The repercussions reverberated throughout the seaside community, with the Latimer family distraught at the prospect of justice not being done and Ellie so miserable in the women’s toilets that Alec attempted to give her a hug. Whatever next? 

Joe, knowing his big gob had all but got him convicted of murder, enlisted a fearsome defence team in the form of Sharon Bishop (played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and Abby Thompson (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). The Latimers were recommended the services of Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling) who hadn’t practised for three years and, despite Maggie’s imploring, refused to take on the case… until she realised she’d be up against her former pupil Sharon.

And so the pair prepared to do battle, as the defence played dirty, pressing ahead with the exhumation of Danny’s grave, much to the upset of the distraught Latimers. 

But running alongside the story of Joe’s trial was another plot thread, one we predicted from the moment we saw the first trailer for series two: Sandbrook. The investigation led by Hardy before he moved to Broadchurch – you remember, the case of double murder where a police officer (his then-wife) lost a pendant from her car, a crucial piece of evidence, while she was out drinking with her lover? The case collapsed, Hardy took the blame to protect their daughter, the killer of the two young girls walked free. 

But unbeknown to the viewer throughout series one, Hardy had moved to Broadchurch to protect a witness – Claire Ashworth (Eve Myles), wife of suspected murderer Lee (James D’Arcy) – whose safety evaporated when the trial collapsed and her husband was let off. Now Lee is back on English soil and clearly up to no good so Hardy rescues Miller from her militant patrolling of Devon’s clifftops and enlists her help to keep Claire from harm’s way. 

Can Hardy and Miller keep Lee at bay? We suspect not, but we’ll certainly be tuning in next week to find out… 

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Broadchurch continues next Monday at 9:00pm on ITV