There was a moment while watching this episode that I actually exclaimed, “Poor Ellie.” That pretty much sums it up. Last week, Chibnall was reaching, this week he lost balance completely. But by a curious magic (characters I’m attached to, music, setting, cinematography), I still can’t quite disregard the series.
The cliffhanger from last week resolves fairly quickly. After a brief quarrel with a strangely unhelpful Ellie, Alec drives off to find that Claire and Lee have retreated to her cottage. Why? Claire mutters something unconvincing. Lee knocks Alec down and is macho and generally Suspicious which is a good sign that he’s innocent. (Once again, I’m startled by how different James D’Arcy is in this role—even if he doesn’t have much to do but smirk in a sleazy fashion and show off his biceps.)
It’s important that Elizabeth, “Lizzie,” represents a new beginning for the Latimers. Ellie’s presence, and Danny’s photograph, are reminders of grief, but Mark’s first moments with the baby are still filled with a fragile optimism which recalls the first moments of hope and healing in season one, and packs the most emotional punch of any moment so far this season. But while this, coupled with Chloe and Ellie’s conversation, provide some good anchoring moments, they feel sullied by the rest of the increasingly ludicrous story. (Also, why has Mark suddenly become all anti-God?)
William Garrow must be turning in his grave (sitting next to Beth, he certainly looked uncomfortable). It’s particularly unfortunate that this series comes close on the heels of the podcast Serial, which gave ordinary mystery lovers a glimpse into the legal process, and painted a very tedious, complex, rigorously professional picture.
Not so in Broadchurch. This courtroom is a hive of emotions gone wild. It’s only made worse when Sharon Bishop starts throwing around ridiculous assertions. Anyone in that police station would have testified that Ellie and Alec had a—difficult—working relationship, to say the least. They can still barely be together without fighting. Becca could surely confirm that Ellie had never visited Alec’s room before. And yet, an affair? Really? What can Sharon Bishop hope to gain from a tactic so easily discredited? And why I should care about her poor imprisoned son when she’s being such a jerk, I cannot tell.
All that is kind of interesting. But I'm not sure if it's enough to save the show. The legal quagmire has turned into a soap opera instead of an interesting, informing take on real life murder trials; the barristers' private lives are neither relevant or interesting; Ellie's misery is catching.
My review of next week's episode