Broadchurch series 2 - review: Pauline Quirke returns to give rambling plot a kick

Meanwhile James D'Arcy is still lurking in fields as murder suspect Lee Ashworth

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We’re four weeks into Broadchurch's big return and still nobody knows why bluebells are so crucial to the ever-more-bewildering plot.

David Tennant and Olivia Colman are hard to fault as incongruent police partners DI Hardy and DS Miller but cast performances aside, far too much feels unresolved at this halfway point.

There are two detailed and seemingly non-connected storylines to detangle and tie up,  making it tricky to see how writer Chris Chibnall is going to nail series two down for another string of awards.

 

Fortunately, this instalment saw the surprise return of shifty caravan owner Susan Wright, played by an intimidating Pauline Quirke. Back with a terminal cancer diagnosis and a desire to 'make peace' with son Nige, her reunion attempt crumbles and she turns on him in the dock, claiming to have seen him laying schoolboy Danny's body on the beach. So not Joe then? Oh, we give up. More on the cliffhanger in episode five, if anyone has enough brain capacity left to give it a go.

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Matthew Gravelle on trial for Danny Latimer's murder as Joe Miller

No-one can complain that the twists and turns that made series one so gripping are lacking this time around. But while at least some of us are hooked, we're also baffled, not least by how Miller considers helping DI Hardy solve Sandbrook, a case she had no involvement in, more pressingly important than repairing her relationship with isolated teenage son Tom. There's a toddler we never see involved too, remember him?

Miller’s sister asking her if the defence's accusation that she was sleeping with Hardy during the Broadchurch investigation is true (“Did you shag him? Oh harder, Hardy!”) is a highlight, if only for some light relief, while Hardy’s revelation that he was the one who discovered Pippa’s body in the river poignantly explains his determination to bring closure to the Sandbrook case.

Elsewhere the sexual tension between Claire Ripley and her suspected killer husband Lee Ashworth is playing out brilliantly, despite the creepy lurking in fields thing getting a bit old. 

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Then there's the father of the victims, Ricky Gillespie, who has suddenly stepped into the spotlight as the possible real culprit. Why doesn't he want his daughters' case reopened, why does he have a photo of  bluebells on his wall (yes them again) and was he really having an affair with Claire?

Next week's Broadchurch needs to shed some enlightenment and fast if the drama wants to avoid becoming just another underwhelming sequel.

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