The medical turmoil faced by David Tennant’s Alec Hardy provides a fitting metaphor for series two of Broadchurch.
The copper started the series all wheezy and and de-energised, looking like he might flatline at any moment. But he has suddenly got his colour back and – pacemaker now inserted – looks in rude health. And so is ITV’s detective drama after a shaky start. Episode six powered through to another blood-pumping revelation: the discovery that it was Claire who stole the crucial pendant evidence which led to Lee’s iffy exoneration in the Sandbrook case.
She has been in the spotlight for a while now but matters came to a violent head even before the bombshell final montage that showed her breaking into Alec’s wife Tess’ car and stealing the piece of jewellery while Mrs H was getting frisky with a colleague.
What was Claire’s motive? The exact nature of her relationship with Tennant’s character has not been fully explained so she may have been wanting revenge on Alec’s philandering wife. But this seems unlikely. This armchair detective suspects that she was doing it for Lee, someone she clearly has a powerful and inexplicable bond with.
Back in the present, Alec has finally had enough of Claire’s lies and washed his hands of her. She in turn tore up virtually every fixture and fitting in her safe house. She certainly has a temper, that one.
There was more evidence that she is sexually imprisoned by Lee, responding to his violence with a come-on followed by some energetic against-the-wall bump and grind. We have rather got the message when it comes to deducing what makes these two tick rumpy-pumpy-wise. But is this a woman who could kill for kicks?
Things aren’t looking good for her but if there is a criticism of Chibnall’s writing, it is obviously setting up one character’s apparent guilt too early on for them to actually be the perpetrator. Surely he must have a few more twists and turns in his locker.
Still, there was much to commend. A neat structure saw reconciliations of varying degrees. Olivia Colman’s Ellie finally found her voice and – after her son Tom’s false courtroom testimony – finally had enough and ordered him back to live with her. He crumpled, as if that was what he wanted all along. It was a brilliant moment.
Alec’s heart has mended in more ways than one and he appears to be reconciled with Tess, and of course it looks as if Lee and Claire have a pretty unbreakable bond.
Olly Stevens, perhaps the least convincing journalist in TV drama history (although gamely played by Jonathan Bailey), was also in luck, managing to bed Sharon’s junior Abby Thompson (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). I don’t know what was more absurd – his pick-up line (suggesting a “woman beneath the wig” colour piece) or her response. But I’d award the wooden spoon to Abby for “I’m from London, I know what you are doing”. Yes, only people who live inside the M25 are capable of emotional sophistication and cunning.
Still, there was some fine work from Jodie Whitaker whose bereaved mother Beth Latimer was put through the wringer once again. Under cross-questioning from the snarling Sharon (who is becoming a bit of a pantomime villain these days) she was forced to watch as her husband Mark (Andrew Buchan) admitted to having sex with Becca Fisher while his son was being strangled. But instead of leaving it at that, he then told everyone how he went off to write Beth a Dear John letter. No wonder she fled the court howling.
But she too has found her voice, forcing Mark to tell her everything “or piss off” in a brilliant showdown.
And with Hardy’s heart now in working order and Ellie finally getting her act together, the stage is set for a thrilling final two episodes.
Strap yourselves in…
Broadchurch series two is on ITV on Mondays at 9pm