Broadchurch series 2 episode 6 review

Episode six leaves one candidate clearly in the frame for the Sandbrook murders now, but did they really kill Pippa Gillespie?

This review contains spoilers.

The unravelling personality of Claire Ripley was the meat of this week’s Broadchurch episode. Is Eve Myles’ character psycho, nympho, klepto, or drongo, boyo? (One thing she obviously isn’t is a decent hairdresser – Ellie’s ‘do hadn’t changed a lick despite all her al fresco twiddling and prodding.)

Claire spent the episode demonstrating the many and varied ways she could be the Sandbrook killer. First, she took out her post-eviction stress on a box of Cornflakes in a violent tantrum that almost certainly lost Hardy his deposit from Massive Cottages For Hobbyist Witness Protection Programmes R US. Next, she and Lee punctuated their angry, abusive sex with vague comments alluding to how they “had a plan” and “can’t do this”. And finally she unwittingly presented bezzie-cum-freelance gumshoe Ellie with evidence that she once wore the murder victim’s pendant, then burnt that evidence, then starred in a moody cliff-hanger revealing that she was the one who stole the pendant from Tess’ car in the first place.

Only if Claire had spent the hour dancing around the Dorset countryside wearing Lisa Newberry’s skin as a cape and singing “I did it. I did it. I bloody well did it” could she look more guilty at this point.

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So do we think she’s the killer?

Nah. With two episodes to go, it’s too early a reveal by the logic of television. She’s obviously one Jaffa Cake short of a full box (“Can I come and live with you?” Er, no love), and she’s even more obviously been lying her head off for months, but did she kill Pippa Gillespie? Unlikely.

Look away now if speculation isn’t your thing. Currently, the sensible candidate for Pippa’s murderer is still-missing Lisa, presumably helped to flee by Lee and Claire, both of whom were involved in some shady business with their neighbour landlords. Ellie mooted that theory last week, but the discovery of that grisly agricultural incinerator hushed her mouth and our inquisitive brains. We may as well chuck in the notion that Ricky Gillespie is in on Lisa’s escape plan too, and is keeping quiet for his own dodgy drug-dealing/niece-shagging reasons. With nothing better to go on, that’s the leading theory as it stands. If Lisa Newberry doesn’t reappear as next week’s cliff-hanger, then I’ll happily eat those words. End of speculation.

Did you notice what just happened? We’re suddenly back in Broadchurch mode, piecing together evidence, swallowing clue morsels, and coming up with theories. The whodunit game is afoot once again, it just took longer for the series to get there and lost more than a few of us along the way.

Overcrowding and inconsequence have been the problem with Broadchurch series two. Whittle it down to its political stuff on justice and the law, and its central emotional stories – grieving parents, struggling marriages, families rebuilding their lives after a trauma – and it’s as strong a drama as it ever was. The work of loyal fans has been in unearthing all that from under the shovelfuls of salacious scandal, new tragedies and losses, none of which we have the time or inclination to care about.

Be honest, who feels truly engaged by the story of Sharon Bishop’s unjustly imprisoned son? Or Alec’s failing heart? Or Reverend Rory’s relationship with Aussie Becca? Or Susan Wright’s cancer diagnosis? Or – and this is the best of that bunch – even Jocelyn Knight losing her eyesight, mother, and one true love (Maggie, surely). Involving as the court case is, and utterly joyful as Charlotte Rampling has been to have on screen, that lot are the Psychic Steves of series two. Superfluous, unexplored and unmoving.

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Nobody could say the same about Olivia Colman’s gold medal-winning performance at the enraged shouting Olympics this week (“He’s a murderer and a shit”). Or about Jodie Whittaker’s superhuman ability to crumble like an Oxo cube before an audience’s eyes. And as for Andrew Buchan’s heartrending performance on the witness stand… That’s the strength of this series.

As is its handsomeness. Episode six, also directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, had all the visual flair of the previous hour, which was similarly packed with dramatic silhouettes (Lee and Claire were shot like Marvel’s Avengers on that post-coital clifftop), extreme wide shots and arty flashbacks (who was Hardy’s anaesthesiologist, Terrence Malick?) The camera crept guiltily out from behind trees and walls so often that I’m starting to think it killed Pippa Gillespie.

We’ll soon know who did, at any rate. And for those of us who’ve stayed the course, Broadchurch series two is now starting to pay real dividends. Mondays are finally getting exciting again.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode, here.

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