Broadchurch: The Compete Second Season

| May 12, 2015

When I wrote in my review of Chris Chibnall’s ITV series Broadchurch’s first season that it left me wishing I had had more of this mystery to marathon right there and then, I don’t quite think I was hoping for the sort of experience that the series’ second season would provide. I don’t mean this as a slight against the second season, nor do I intend to express even the remotest level of disappointment with the experience. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The second season of Broadchurch succeeds in some truly remarkable ways in continuing a story that was all but totally resolved.

The first season irresistibly strings you along with its perfectly paced whodunit, its fascinating cast of characters, and its perfect balance of heartbreaking drama and naturally humorous character moments. This second season attacks a new, though not unfamiliar, mystery as Detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) find new leads in the unsolved murders that drove Hardy to the coastal town of Broadchurch in the first place. This season retains the previous season’s cast and even adds a few notables to the parade of characters. And the characters’ relationships are even more nuanced and charming than ever, with Hardy and Miller’s reluctant friendship in particular blossoming in spite of themselves.

What’s different about the series this time around, apart from the exciting additions of Eve Myles (Torchwood) and Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia, Zardoz) to the cast, is the immense stress that watching the second season induces. Generally speaking, one of the most amazing things about the way humans interact with media is our capacity to be emotionally moved by that which we watch. To me, it’s a great testament to the strength of any series, book, game, or movie when it can inspire such an incredible, visceral reaction that I physically dread what will happen next, that my heart beats wildly in anticipation. This is what Broadchurch’s second season did to me. It made me apprehensive even as it glued me to the screen for hours on end. I walked away from the first pair of episodes with my hands literally red from having clasped my fists so tight out of worry.

But why? How is this season any different from the first? After all, it’s still ostensibly about the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer. It’s still about the people of Broadchurch and the secrets they keep. It’s still a brilliant piece of fiction exploring the emotional toll of being caught up in a real life murder mystery. It’s everything the first season was, but it’s poignantly so much more than a whodunit. We knew at the end of season one that we could relax because the killer had been caught, or at least that’s what we thought.

In the second season what’s at stake is not finding a killer. Even in the newly explored murder mystery in season two, we’re not necessarily that concerned with who did it. We have a pretty good idea from the start who did it. What’s at stake is bringing those killers to justice, which isn’t quite so easy as securing a confession and rolling your credits as they do in like every episode of CSI. And it’s this very notion that bringing known killers to justice might not be so easy as knowing definitively that they’re killers that makes the second season so agonizingly stressful.

Broadchurch: The Complete Second Season is now available on DVD from Entertainment One. The 3-disc set boasts an impressive array of special features including behind-the-scenes featurettes and cast/crew interviews. Much of the standalone interviews included here are merely expanded versions of the interviews featured in other featurettes on the set, but they’re fascinating to see in their entirety nonetheless.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
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