Broadchurch sets up another thrilling climax – but will it all come to nothing?

The Dorset countryside was shown in all its bucolic glory tonight in the third episode of series two which raises all sorts of questions, finds our reviewer Ben Dowell

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Another episode of Broadchurch, another dramatic final moment. But haven’t we been here before?

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Just before the credits rolled on tonight’s episode we saw Marianne Jean-Baptiste’s hard-nosed barrister Sharon Bishop harangue Olivia Colman’s Ellie Miller in court with the bombshell claim that she was having an affair with David Tennant’s Alec Hardy. Bishop’s theory was that the two police officers concocted the entire case to frame her husband, Joe.

Preposterous, huh?

Well, of course, we viewers know that affair never happened which means this latest cliffhanger is likely to be demolished as quickly as the previous two.

The exhumation of Danny’s body at the end of episode one provided a dramatic (and implausible) moment which came to nothing.

And the conclusion to episode two followed suit, fizzing out quickly at the beginning of tonight’s instalment when Claire Ashworth (Eve Myles) was swiftly recovered after disappearing, supposedly kidnapped by her former husband Lee (James D’Arcy). Hardy tracked her down to her own home where he got a bit of a telling off for his troubles – Broadchurch is making a habit of these duff red herring episode climaxes.

Still, the whole incident threw up a whole new set of questions.

What exactly is Claire’s relationship with Lee? We never see her disappear so she could have gone willingly, and the way she kissed Lee before he left her house was highly suggestive, wasn’t it? There’s also clearly more to the damning pendant evidence than meets the eye and we’re still left wondering what the bluebell means. 

But of course Claire is not the only one keeping secrets. Even defence QC Sharon has them (well, she is a Broadchurch character, after all). We learned this week that she has a son in a young offender’s institution, having driven through the night to visit him before another day in court, while Charlotte Rampling’s barrister Jocelyn was spotted visiting an elderly woman – possibly her mother – in a care home.

Still, at least there were fewer errors in the courtroom. I was pleased to see the jury out when the judge was debating whether Ellie should testify, but was surprised to note neither the local reporter nor his editor taking notes when she did. Chris Chibnall didn’t think they should record her words, did he?

The look of surprise from Sharon and her junior when Jocelyn presented evidence about Joe’s phone records didn’t ring true either. Both sides in a court case will have known all the evidence before the trial begins because of disclosure rules. That might be another one for the lawyers to moan about.

I am also not sure I entirely believe that Lee was able to amass a whole stack of evidence around the Sandbrook investigation by impersonating David Tennant’s copper. So, the chief suspect talked to key protagonists from his own case by pretending he was the lead detective, did he? Mmm….

Still, there was stuff to commend. The cinematography was beautiful. Broadchurch always looks fabulously bucolic but tonight the lovely summer dawns and countryside was shown off to an even greater degree, albeit providing the setting for Lee’s white van (and, it seems, his makeshift bedroom).

And Colman was once again on top form, losing Claire but snapping back at Hardy when he dares to ask her, “What is the point of you, Miller?”

Her reply? “I’m sick of everyone putting their sh*t on me. I’m sick of taking flak for what I haven’t done.”

Well, that’s an understatement-and-a-half. Her character also showed that traffic duties haven’t slowed her investigating skills, cleverly getting info from Claire’s phone while on a night out in Weymouth. She also pulled, even if she ruined the moment of climax (the literal moment) by whispering to her bedmate, “say you love me”.

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And Beth finally had her baby in a moving scene which tugged at the heartstrings in the way Broadchurch does best, leaving us hoping the show sticks to strengths like these – and has fewer hollow cliffhangers next week…