RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,

Broadchurch: Season 1

"I cannot really enjoy [David Tennant's] face when he is so busy being an abrasive blowhard. Call me if he has a reason to comfort someone or otherwise display an ounce of sensitivity or internal pain; otherwise I'm out." -- from my soon to be relevant review of the Gracepoint pilot

Background: So, in the midst of my feverish Tennant-project content-digging, I got into the whump blogs again (please say this in the stern tone of someone describing a dog digging in the garbage, because that is what I am), and they showed me lovely things about DI Hardy being in hospital. Because of a heart condition. OH??

And then I found this and this and most of all THIS TAILOR-MADE-FOR-ME EPISODE GUIDE, and it was like, game on. I'VE BEEN CALLED! To the original rather than the remake, but same difference for the time being.

[EDIT: So I thought this was going to be a fun and semi-quick post but it turned into a massive project of 5,000 words that took me a month to finish writing, which is approximately 10x longer than it took me to watch. Oops. But now it is an even more tailored guide for Future Me's rewatch, so that's something.]

You should also know that less than 12 hours after finishing season 1, I typed Broadchurch into the search bar at Goodreads on a lark and OH WORD?? Apparently this season was commissioned to become a novel -- written properly as a mystery novel in a reverse adaptation, not a novelization -- which I immediately checked out of the library, and eagerly devoured less than a week later. I will talk about that more at the end, I just wanted to mention it now because I'm going to quote my favorite bits here and there as supplemental material.

Initial Impressions
My viewing came almost straight on the heels of The Escape Artist, which I finally posted about publicly (short version: AMAZING).

The first episode of Broadchurch was...Trying.

I'd forgotten that Gracepoint's first episode was a shot-for-shot remake of this one's. Which meant that everything I hated about the DREADFULLY slow pace the first time around, I had to suffer through again. On the upside, Tennant's natural and gorgeous accent flies free here, and the cast -- which is basically a game of Doctor Who Bingo -- is infinitely better, so once I gave myself permission to skip any scene that bored me (EVERYONE AT THE NEWSPAPER), it was modestly better.

-It took me a while to warm up to Ellie, because apparently an endless stream of gifsets from The Favourite has slowly annoyed the begeezus out of me. Thankfully I finally got over that.

-It also took me a while to warm up to the mother of the murdered boy Beth, because it appears I may have some latent resentment about the Thirteenth Doctor after all.[skip if you dont want to hear my un-pc grumbles]
(I figured I could hold my tongue and let this one go since the show no longer concerns me, but my hand has been forced so I have to say I am not a 'rah rah girl power' kind of fan. This should surprise no one, but I am very okay with things that have traditionally been men-only staying men only. The 'girls should get to see themselves in the iconic role too' argument is as ridiculous to me as saying boys won't enjoy 'girl books.' And to center this on me again, I don't want to have to say 'they' when referring to the Doctor's life as a whole. I have enough trouble with change as a whole; don't ask me to manage an entire gender perspective shift. There is a reason I've never gone in for genderbent fic.

Also Thirteen's outfit is terrible. (in for a penny, in for a pound) The LEAST you could have done was reflect the fact that men's fashion could never, instead of choosing the most hideous suspenders and loose culottes. Was it supposed to be some sort of homage to past Doctors? I guess I should be grateful she didn't throw on a tie as well)

-However, Jodie Whittaker is an absolutely lovely woman -- in both face and personality; that, at least, I have known from the beginning, which is part of why I held my tongue -- and I was very glad when I finally got over it and was able to appreciate her in this character role. Amazing work, made me feel All Of the Hurt and Grief, ended up as one of my top 3 characters. (Miller & Hardy being the others)

-"God, don't do this to me." The first moment I knew that DI Hardy was going to have a much better go at my heart than Dt. Carver.

-Speaking of Hardy, I am finding him infinitely more affable than expected. Maybe just because now I know he's going to be worth it. I certainly NEVER like the abrasive jerk character, and I generally resent being expected to come around on them, but I think even if I had truly hated him at the outset, the fact that Ellie hates him until he proves his salt would be enough to carry me through.

(Plus they really do a magnificent job of slowly revealing that he is, in fact, actually a big dumb softie who hides his discomfort with social niceties behind a gruff workaholic mask and whose real flaw is caring too hard.)

Sidebar, the description of his first encounter with Miller in the novel is fantastic. Page 19-20, go.
"Shut it off?" She looks stricken and he knows how he's coming across, but it's either this or a slap to the face. It works. She stops crying.

-"BLOODY TWITTAH!" is my new catchphrase for both Twitter and just as a general curse when I am mad about something online. I have been laughing about it for days. (also I looked up a quick clip of Gracepoint, wondering if maybe the American accent was not as bad I remembered. FALSE: it is worse, and underscored by the fact that the clip I saw was this scene, which is extra blatantly inferior to the original in every way)

-I really like the inn owner Becca, even though on paper she is trash. Maybe I am just a sucker for her accent. Haven't had a good Australian lady on my screen in forever.

-I may have been so bored halfway through ep 1 that I looked up who the killer was for something to do, which I actually recommend because after I got over my ASDFJASDKLFSJDF?!?!?!? shock, it was really interesting to keep an eye on them through the series. I don't think there's anything to see, because it sounds like even the actor wasn't told up front, but just the knowing allows you to read all kinds of things into their actions -- what they might have been thinking at any given point.

(also, around episode 5-6, I actually started to doubt who it was because I could not see a way it was going to be them, and thought maybe I'd remembered wrong/mixed it up with Gracepoint or misread it in my hasty glance, since I didn't go on to read why they did it. See, I keep some surprises for myself sometimes!)

The Rest Of The Season
Episode 2 remained slow going, and I skipped a lot. (though I have since bounced through highlights of ep 1-2 many times, and it's quite good the second time around)

I used episode 3 to put myself to sleep.

BUT: the next day, I finished episode 3 and then proceeded to keep right on going to the end. It really sucked me in fast at that point, even if I did still skip some of the more drawn-out scenes with the town's characters. I'm meh on the vicar -- he's kind of squirrelly and weird, though I did at least always believe him to be genuine in wanting to help people. Not overly fond of the other Latimers or Millers (though I prefer the former, despite Mark being a Grade A Tool), very bored by Nige and Editor Maggie and only a little, near the end, interested in the very pretty out-of-town reporter and Young Whippersnapper Olly.

-Olly is mostly a pain in the ass, but eventually it is kind of fun to watch Hardy & Miller alternately tell him to buzz off or verbally slap him down like an impertinent mosquito. (Maggie dragging him in by the ear to personally apologize to Hardy was a real treat).

-Susan Wright chills the blood. Excellent acting. She also has an adorable dog, who warms the blood right up (and is apparently the actress's real dog! how fun)

-Beth asking Tom for a hug hit that very sweet spot of mine where the only thing that eases your pain is hugging someone who feels, a little bit, like the person you lost. You can pretend, even if only for a second.

-I did NOT expect a pregnancy out of left field for Beth, but I ended up loving the extra stress and strain it placed on the Latimer marriage. Poor Beth, but superb TV. Jodie Whittaker is...amazing?

(Oh No. I just became four percent interested in watching her on Doctor Who. That's at least three and a half percent more than Matt Smith ever got.)

-The Miller/Hardy relationship develops so organically from irritation to nigh-affectionate snark that you honestly almost can't see it change, and it's BEAUTIFUL. You weren't lying when you said this was the heart of the show! Millie in particular is Deadpan Sass Level Midnight and gets in so many beautiful jabs I lost count.

-Congrats on making me feel sorry for the old man from literally the first minute he was accused of being a pervert and protested his innocence. I still think 'a month shy of 16' with anyone 22+ is pretty unsettling, and I also think that if you want to protest the feelings are genuine, then you can bloody well coast on the strength of them in a celibate way until it's not illegal ("four weeks and a day, it would have been fine" THEN WAIT 4 WEEKS AND A DAY). But marrying that person - especially after a year apart - is gonna get me every time.

-I don't know what to do with Joe's explanation for what happened. I'm...glad you didn't outright make him an offending pedophile? I'm sure most viewers see no difference, but I've literally never seen anyone tell a story that was "I fell in love after getting confused about the difference between paternal and romantic feelings." The potential for grossness is heavily implied, but can't be proven that he would have progressed to that point and he seemed to have enough sense in him to know that feelings should not be accompanied by touch, so how do you even...categorize that. Besides "hella weird, and also plz do not be alone with children ever again."

-Ellie kicking the shit out of her husband with primal rage was extremely satisfying. (and definitely won't come back to bite us all in the ass when this goes to trial!) (<--- snarky notes from a person who has taken so long to finish making this post fit for public consumption that she has already finished season 2)

-I just swore there because this show has some Language and the weird thing is that for possibly the first time ever, I was zero percent bothered?? I don't know if I like that adjustment, but it did make viewing significantly more bearable. Maybe it's that swearing doesn't sound so bad in British accents.

The Stellar Highlights (a.k.a. The Alec Hardy Stan Tour)
(if you think this list is missing some bits, you're right and you will find them in the next section)

1. My favorite thing that I wish I could find in a comparison gifset: 1x02 vs. 1x03.

1x02: "Are you just making one for yourself then?" Ellie passive-aggressively manners-shames him for only making a single cup of tea, and he just looks surprised, like it never occurred to him he should do otherwise.

1x03: Ellie comes up to chew him out for making her do the presentation without warning, but before she starts he -- without prompting -- very deliberately sets a mug on the counter in front of her, which I can only assume is something made for her since he has his own in hand, i.e. he is not completely feral and can be housebroken. No one acknowledges this gesture, and for that subtlety I love it so much. Am kinda mad that the book entirely changes this to him "reaching for the last mug on the shelf" and her "slamming the cupbard shut, sadly missing his fingertips," entertaining as that alternative is.

(Side note: the bit in 1x02 is followed by an immediate dizzy spell (possibly that was why or contributed to him not making the second cup -- he's kind of out of it) and a bolt for the bathroom to get his pills down. 1x03 is followed by a highly entertaining bit where Ellie's all "GOD YOU'RE SUCH A..." and his expression barely changes but there is definitely a hint of interest there to find out exactly what she'd like to call him. Oh?? Mumsy can fight back.)

2. DINNER AT THE MILLER HOUSE, Y'ALL. As if the asking process wasn't hilarious enough ("IT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO!") -- also I still have questions about why he thought flowers and chocolate would be appropriate or necessary gifts in addition to a bottle of wine -- I love all the tidbits about his personal/family life you get in two minutes flat. Also his grim query about whether Ellie likes him -- something he seems to actually care about at this point in time. ("I think I annoy her." HE THINKS) -- and the drunken/wine-giddy laughter when he correctly interprets Joe's poor attempt at diplomacy as "she absolutely thinks you are a knob."

3. "Would you want to relax a bit with me, here? Tonight?" I AM DYING. One, rude AF of Becca to stand there with encouraging body language and every possible signal saying "go ahead and ask" before bursting out laughing with a "GOD no." (what...where did she think he was going with this conversation? what does her coy little "I have my ways [to relax]" even MEAN if not code for "hook up with people for the night").

But two, I think I have rewatched this at least 20 times because he's so uncertain and he backpedals SO FAST and cannot shut down this conversation and get her out of the room fast enough. Let the floor swallow him, let his heart kill him right here, this is the most humiliating thing and it needs to be over. Nope, no need to explain your response! Totally fine! Done talking forever now! (except she DOES explain, and christ, that's worse than outright rejection. You can deal with a woman not being attracted to you, but her assessment that you're too weak to handle what you're offering is worse. Not least because she might be right.)

I really wish the mirror on the opposite wall was hung a little bit higher, because I like the side-angle-from-behind but also I want his expression during the peak KILL ME mood, muttering a string of curses under his breath, right after she leaves.

Also, because it's secretly 3 weeks later and I am now looking at this with Seasoned Pro eyes, I love how significant this is in the Alec Hardy Craves Physical Intimacy story. He is positively touch-starved, but he clearly got that way because he sucks at figuring out how to obtain it. It's actually quite sweet/sad how he tries -- harder than with anyone he's spoken to in the series to date -- to open up an actual conversation with her, encouraged on the flirting front by her apparent interest in him, until SHOTGUN DOWN THE AVALANCHE.

P.S. I still cannot believe that the book DARED to cut this glorious scene out, and went on to explicitly pretend he just went "wow guess Becca and the vicar are hooking up. oh well, maybe in another life." Don't let me try to write my own clumsy version because YOU KNOW THAT I WILL!.

4. Episode 6: THE PHONE CALL TO DAISY('S VOICEMAIL). "I love you, darling." The catch in his voice before he hurries to finish the ending. The absolute dorkiness of "Right, well, that's me. This is Dad. Signing off." And the utter layers to "I do think about you. Every day. Sorry, not getting soppy. Had my warning on that." ("soppy" is not a word I would have applied to first-episode!Hardy in one million years)

And from the book, p.309:
He is debased with longing to hear her voice, her real voice, not the chirpy voicemail greeting.

5. The Emotional Breakdown (which happens immediately on the heels of the above): where the combined effects of that call, the cumulative exhaustion, the rapid sense of everything slipping out of his grasp and a sudden "agonising pain, a huge fist squeezing his heart to the bursting point" come together to make THIS HAPPEN? Amazing.
"I can't do this," precedes his collapse, if you believe the book version.
+This imagery was good as a hook but it's SO MUCH GREATER with 6 episodes' worth of context.

And then to make it more amazing, there happens to be a spectacular fic supplement (The Light Fails and the Fog Rolls In), in which Miller gets a ride back from the pub to collect her car keys, and finds him there. This story only came into existence 3 months ago and I am frankly BAFFLED as to how I would have lived without it. I knew there was something I needed done while I was torturing myself watching that gifset after I'd seen the episode, but I didn't know exactly what it was...until I read it for myself in fic form.

P.S. 2 weeks later, I JUST NOW saw an awesome parallel in the 'I'm never alright' at the end of this fic -- a rare honest truth from Hardy -- and 'I'm always alright' from the Doctor in 2x04, an obvious lie. Unsure if intentional, but either way, nice.

6. HOW DARE YOU COME FOR MY HEART WITH HARDY'S FINAL CONFESSION TO THE REPORTERS. Protecting the person who broke your heart -- at great personal and professional cost -- for the sake of your daughter, who doesn't know it and thus also blames you...

Also the way his voice thickens and nearly breaks when he insists he hasn't given up on Sandbrook is A Lot 2 Cope With.

7. I know I'd already seen the gifset, but Hardy laying a hand on Miller's shoulder with genuine empathy and regret in his eyes in the finale did me in.

"I'm sorry." The word has endless applications. Sorry it took so long. Sorry it's him. Sorry it's you. (p.403)

"You're wrong."
"I'm not."

(And well before this, I like how he does what he can to protect her from this knowledge as long as he possibly can. And how he breaks all kinds of protocol in an attempt to give her what temporary closure he can.) <---- also def. will not come back to bite us at trial!!

8. The Hotel Room Conversation
I should make it clear that I am definitely not shipping this -- this is the most BROTP I have been since Doctor/Donna, and even there I was capable of being swayed by the right people -- but boy, if it doesn't lay amazing friendship foundations right here.

Stan Tour Part II: The Health Department
a.k.a. I enjoyed my time just watching the story so much I almost forgot the part I came for.

* I love the subtle nods to his condition -- "I don't drink coffee" and "I can't eat that." I love that even the second time, Ellie doesn't pick up on the term "I can't" and just grumbles at him about not being a proper Scotsman. (I also like that he looks vaguely put out by her complaint that he can't even accept takeaway dinner without grumping about it, and makes a concentrated effort to at least try the chips.)

* The secret politeness continues when he makes zero fuss about having a Mexican dinner and multiple glasses of red wine, two things that are GREAT for heart conditions.

* At first I couldn't understand the point of the meeting with the doctor -- the book changes the meeting to letters, which allowed it to make nice use of him describing the warning as being "he has a bomb in his system, and he's kicking it harder and harder" -- but in retrospect, I quite like how it allows him to explain he's there as penance.

* Episode 4: the collapse in the bathroom? A+.

Where are the spares? Where the fuck are his spare pills? (p.193)

* If I hadn't seen the gifsets, I certainly wouldn't have expected a full-fledged ambulance ride and hospital wake-up. You can tell I'm writing this section last after 3 weeks of working on it, because I've run out of time and energy to go over it in detail, but just know it's great, between Hardy's WTFBBQ reaction to Becca claiming to be his wife, and his heartfelt plea for her not to tell anyone.

* Look at me, so spoiled for choice I forgot that episode 6, the greatest of all episodes, opens with him sitting bolt upright and shouting upon waking from a nightmare. BONUS: this immediately gives way to his heart giving him a kick in the chest because It! Does! Not! Like! To be startled!!

* The collapse and nearly-dying bit on the chase, that's quite good too.

* Episode 7: Hospital Scene / Wakeup, round 2: HAVE I EVER BEEN SO SPOILED FOR CHOICE IN A 4-EPISODE TIME SPAN. I'm not even gonna detail this, I just enjoy every second. Including the hilarity of him still trying to order her around when he can't even sit up. And also "I'm sensing you're angry with me." Also the possibly-unnecessary but excellent seconds of him getting redressed later on.

* Literally staggering back into work (and may I just say I LOVE the back-and-forth here)

M: Don't be ridiculous.
H: Don't start, Miller.
M: You can't be here.
H: Well, I am.
M: You'll kill yourself!
H: If that's what it takes.
M: No, it's not worth dying for.
H: Not for you, maybe.
M: Go away! We can manage without you.
H, loaded for bear: That's what you've wanted right from the start, this job. Job you think I stole?
M: What? For God's sake, sir.
H: Come on, Miller. Me out, you get to lead. Dream come true.
M: I wouldn't want your job.
H: Don't be daft. You get offered it, you'd take it.
M: No, I wouldn't be up to it.
H: ...yeah, you're right.
M (now Extremely Offended): WHAT.
H: Well, it's a tough job. You've found your level. [a/n: oh, suddenly we found our sass button, huh?] Rural DS, keep within your limits.
M: Don't tell me what my limits are!

And sharp left to deadly serious: "Then don't tell me to go home."
+ His voice almost breaking on "I can still solve this. Otherwise, why am I still here?"

+ The embarrassing stumble into the door, his hand suddenly no longer cooperating with things like "eye coordination" and "grasping."

Deleted Scenes
Fully 27 minutes of them!! They are mostly pitch perfect -- interesting enough to watch, not great enough that you're upset they aren't in the Netflix version -- with the exception of one that absoLUTELY should have been left in, you trashbags: Hardy snapping awake to an incoming call on his cell, and immediately doubling over in pain at a reminder from his heart to NOT DO THAT, and needing several seconds to compose himself enough to answer. Yes, you already had a scene like that, but this one is better and also you can't have enough of said scenes.

There is also a nice confrontation between Hardy & Katie (finally, I remember Reporter Girl's name! not gonna fix this post, though).

You may have noticed my IMMENSE FONDNESS for finding book-shaped versions of everything I watch. Finding out this actually existed as a novel -- that a professional writer was going to take the expressions and actions I'd just watched and translate them into text, embellish them with internal thought processes and use eloquent language to summarize the montages, do proper character analysis...WELL. I went around the bend. I was very tempted to just rip it apart in search of my favorite scenes to see Erin Kelly's take on them, but I made myself be patient and read properly, and I'm SO glad I did, because it's genuinely worth it.

To quote from my Goodreads review, "As a viewer I was less than thrilled by the overly lingering dramatic shots, the montages, and most characters not named Hardy, Ellie, or Beth, but those problems are helped immensely by the text medium. The writing is so crisp and vivid in bringing the landscape to life, shifting some of the show's dialogue around to turn it into introspective reflection instead, and adding additional character insight and thought processes, as well as most if not all of the deleted scenes.

It loses some of snappy snark between Ellie Miller & Hardy, which is a proper shame. But it does quite decent work in conveying more about his heart arrhythmia, as well as the confessional interview with the Echo staff at the end. I know I am being real subtle about my favoritism here, but it really was a treat to be inside that broody bastard's head.

Long story short: what a worthwhile murder mystery, what a treat for fans of the show, and what absolute nonsense it is that season 2 and/or 3 did not get the same treatment."

Spare Book Quotes
(guess who they are all about!)

Because I have not kept this book out of the library weeks past reading it, despite my 20+ other checkouts, to NOT transcribe all the bits that make me giddiest. They may or may not double as my study guide for when I start stitching up bits of season 2 for my own amusement. Who can say.

p.34: I like the bit of embellishment here --
To one side of the door frame Danny's height has been recorded through the years, inked on the wall from his 4th birthday to a couple of months ago. (...) The lines come to an abrupt halt somewhere near Hardy's elbow. Heavy sadness pierces his professional armour and he sinks onto the bed and lets his head drop into his hands. For some people tears dam behind the eyeballs, but when Hardy wants to cry he has to hold them in using the back of his throat. He sometimes feels it's the only strong muscle in his body.

When he looks up again, Beth is on the landing, staring right at him. He's seen that expression before, on another mother, and he has to turn his face away. It's not the grief he can't handle. It's the trust, the unquestioning trust she has already put in him.

He quite likes Becca, likes looking at her anyway.

p. 117
"Hardy hates being on the water. The to and fro of the waves is a cruel mockery of the symptoms that plague him," which is just the beginning of a real solid paragraph analyzing his internal observations, followed by "Miller jumps on board and holds out her hand for him to follow. Hardy refuses. The realisation shoots from nowhere that he can't remember the last time he held a woman's hand. It is unexpectedly, inconveniently painful."

Also check p.155-156, a bit of an extension on the first (refused) meeting with Katie and a bit of extra transition that leads into, I think, the deleted scene about him waking up gasping to the shock of a ringing cell phone.

It is times like now, when everyone else has gone home, that he misses Tess the most. He misses the informal debriefing at the end of the day, the final volley of ideas and theories. He has yet to meet a copper so entirely on his own wavelength. Even towards the end, they always had work in common. It was the last thing to go.
a.k.a. HECK YEAH EX-WIFE REFERENCES. (just wait for my season 2 post)

For a moment, he thinks about telling Miller about Tess, that he knows what it's like to be betrayed by your spouse. As soon as the thought is formed, he understands that he can't insult her with the comparison.

"If there's anything you need me to do on the paperwork or stuff I've been following up on, my desk is a mess..."
"It's fine," soothes Hardy in the low hush of a father reading a bedtime story. His tenderness is more than Ellie can bear. She longs for the old world order, the sarcasm and the sparring and the knowledge that she could put up with his shit at work because she always had her family to go home to.

And the final words:
She gets it now. The trick is not to let Danny go. The trick is to keep him with her. The fight isn't over and she will not let Joe Miller win. Her job as Danny's mother is not over.

Some lights can never be put out. He will shine through her. He will

Final Verdict on Season 1: So much more amazing than I could ever have expected.
Tags: broadchurch, fic rec, giffy, tv commentary

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