Broadchurch series 2 episode 6, TV review: Claire Ripley in a hoodie - and even a few laughs - but not enough of an emotional buy-in

Drama has gone from 'Boredchurch' to 'Breathless-with-all-that's-occured-Church' - but however will it end?

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The Independent Culture

Finally! After weeks of wondering about those blasted bluebells, looking into the puppy dog eyes of the mysterious Claire Ripley and watching Lee Ashworth lurk in fields, we have at last learned something about Sandbrook. And tonight proved a considerable improvement on last week’s hair-tearingly tedious instalment. There were even (dare I say it considering the general misery?) a few laugh-out-loud moments.

Everyone seemed to be getting it on: Hardy (David Tennant) is being nursed back to health by his ex-wife. “No more broken heart,” he jokes, referring to the pacemaker he’s just had fitted. The wonderfully abrupt lawyer Abby Thompson (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) shags journalist Ollie (Jonathan Bailey), combining their brief union with some of the best lines (to his mother’s outraged “What are you doing in my house?” a sarky “Bad luck, shagging your son tonight”). Ashworth (James D’Arcy) and Claire (Eve Myles) are at it again in the windowless stone cottage the former appears to live in - helpfully proving that violence is a turn-on in their relationship.

 

The drama is all pointing to Ashworth and Claire as weird, kinky killers. They had “a plan”, apparently, and Claire messed it up. How? By being chucked out of Hardy’s house? By showing Miller a photograph of her wearing a dead girl’s locket? The fact "Dave" - the man supposedly having it off with Hardy’s wife - looks suspiciously like Ashworth will have left most of the nation (those not engrossed in New Tricks, anyway) with their chins on the floor. And Claire broke into the car and stole the locket? Curiouser and curiouser. Except, if Chris Chibnall’s previous handiwork is anything to go by, we will be learning of some elaborate means by which both the apparently guilty-as-hell pair are exonerated next week.

Meanwhile in court little Tom Miller (Adam Wilson) lies to try and save his dad- provoking a brilliant show of maternal rage from Miller (Olivia Colman) who practically drags him home “Because I’m your bloody Mother!”. And Mark and Beth Latimer take yet another blow as the true level of Mark’s affair is picked over in court before the QC for the defence tries to have the whole case dismissed on a technicality. Got that? Luckily the might of Charlotte Rampling’s Jocelyn Knight kept Joe Miller on trial.

All told Broadchurch (which some quarters of Twitter have nicknamed “Boredchurch”) is rumbling along with the help of some good one-liners and an excellent cast. But the suspense of the first series has not been exhumed along with Danny Latimer’s body. While the Sandbrook murder case is intriguing we have no emotional buy-in for the weird Gillespies and even less for Ashworth and Claire - all of whom might well be guilty without any of the pangs of outrage and disbelief which accompanied the truth of Joe Miller’s crime. Too many threads, not enough connection to the main players. However will Chibnall conclude it? To satisfy the appetite he whetted with his neat award-wining first series he’s got a lot to live up to in the final two episodes.

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