But despite a somewhat melodramatic, music-heavy opening, Broadchurch 2.0 is instantly compelling and nearly flawless. After the lukewarm Gracepoint, just the atmosphere alone is enough to evoke positive response, but Chibnall's writing is exceptional, and the acting is, as ever, superb.
I'd better go ahead and say that this will have spoilers not only for season 2, but also, necessarily, for season 1.
Both of my suspicions were confirmed as to plot. The Latimers and Co. are still involved in the old case, which has moved the the court phase. Not only that, but Joe Miller (who in a clever twist, was not mentioned in advertisements) has decided to plead not guilty. This means there will be a full trial, and lots more drama. For the Latimers, the rest of the episode is spent trying to hire the best lawyer in Broadchurch: Jocelyn Knight (Charlotte Rampling).
Unfortunately, Knight is a recluse, and it takes all the efforts of newspaper editor Maggie, combined with the announcement that Joe will be represented by one of Knight's old students, Sharon Bishop, to convince Knight to take the case. All this results in the exhumation of Danny's body, which itself results in an explosive confrontation between Ellie, Mark, and Beth.
In other news: Olly is still a jerk. Paul Coates and Becca Fisher are dating (hey man, remember that whole "unequally yoked" thing?). Mark Latimer is hanging out with Tom Miller which is both a little bit strange and rather creepily reminiscent of Joe and Danny. Tom has rejected Ellie, who's been working in a startlingly green Devon.
|And...where did THAT come from?|
Where a lesser writer would have allowed Ellie to wallow in grief for a few episodes, he quickly forces her to move on - which lightens proceedings a great deal. She's barely given a few moments before an insistent Alec Hardy recruits her to help out in this new crisis. She gets time to blast us with the full Colman heart-on-her-sleeve melt-down, but is also just as ready with a withering one-liner as she ever was. Tennant is back to his Scottish self, thank God, complete with no social skills whatsoever (he's been taking lessons on How Not to Offer a Hug from Chris Christie, I suppose). Colman and Tennant still have massive chemistry, which doesn't take long to show itself. Also, he of the great sorrow lives in a blue house now. Figures.
Looking at the big picture, this is an amazing show-opener. Not only does it reacquaint us with old favorites, but introduces new faces - it establishes both major storylines, and two new antagonists (Bishop and Ashworth) - has a great sense of humor, but also of sadness - throws lots and lots of information at us, but at a perfect pace, and plants the seeds for more trouble to come. I'm still reluctant to be completely positive - and I'm far from happy that all the emotional (and theological) closure from last season is being unknitted - but it's still very, very good telly.
My review of next week's episode