els bastards

A welcome return to Broadchurch

If there was one series that took the English-speaking TV market by surprise in 2013 it was Broadchurch. Initially a modest production, it soon had an audience of nine million and was the object of great critical acclaim. No one was more surprised by the success than its creator Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who scriptwriter) and his bosses at the ITV channel. Broadchurch was initially envisaged as an eight-episode mini-series, but its success led to a second season that began only a few weeks ago.

In the series, the harmony of a lovely town in the south of England is shattered when the body of 11-year old Danny Latimer is found at the foot of a majestic beachside cliff. The mysterious death destroys the boy's family and turns all of the town's inhabitants into potential suspects. A couple of police officers with their own personal problems and a poor relationship are sent to investigate. Alec Hardy is an officer on the way down after failing to come out on top in his last case, known as Sandbrook. His arrival in the town coincides with the promotion of inspector Ellie Miller, a local who knows the boy's family and therefore also has an emotional connection to the case.

Broadchurch paints a carefully-arranged portrait of how Danny's death irreversibly changes the lives of the locals as well as the investigating officers. Episode after episode, the series invites the viewer to guess who the murderer might be, although the plot's twists and turns demand a constant re-evaluation. As we gradually learn more of the personal secrets of the various locals involved, the mystery narrows to the point of discovering who is truly responsible for the boy's death.

The second season takes advantage of the original scenario, following the trial of Danny's presumed murderer, while introducing a new thread in the shape of Hardy's former involvement with the Sandbrook case. The raw material of the scriptwriters are past secrets and conflicts, while a conjunction of errors, represented in the character played by David Tennant, come back to haunt the victims of the case and provide a springboard for the introduction of new characters.

Meanwhile, the trial of Danny's alleged murderer is another quake to hit the families involved, provoking harsh conflicts. The addition of conflictive characters played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Charlotte Rampling just adds fuel to the fire.

The rhythm of this second season takes its lead from the unravelling of the case in the courtroom, a case full of discrepancies and hindered by the consequences stemming from the arrest of the suspect by Hardy without any witnesses. There is also a new, mysterious criminal who takes up a parallel storyline in the form of Lee Ashworth, the main suspect in the Sandbrook murder case mentioned above. In fact, we learn that Hardy has continued to secretly work on the key case in his own time, even though the authorities closed the case as resolved.

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