The reconciliation aspects of the end of S2 felt a bit too optimistic and too easy compared to the light-in-darkness ending of S1, or at least too quick--I felt we needed to see how we got there after such a devastating trial and especially the new cracks it made in the Latimers' marriage.
I also never felt that the basis of S2, Joe Miller's decision to plead not guilty, ever really made sense. How did he get from his guilt-burdened state at the end of S1, where all he wanted was to confess, to the self-pitying dead-souled monster of S2? It's something I could find perfectly plausible (he did, after all, manage to convince himself that his improper if not yet technically abusive relationship with an eleven-year-old boy was true love) if the show had laid the groundwork. We needed to see Joe's fear and self-justification develop, and a lot of the stuff about the old Sandbrooke case could have been cut to make room for it. Eve Myles and especially James D'Arcy were good as the creepy couple, and I can't entirely blame the showrunners for wanting to give D'Arcy plenty of scope to have sexual tension with every character in sight (not least with Alec Hardy) and to get his kit off as much as possible, but the plotline was a bit too distracting and the resolution a bit too triumphant for me.
Still, there were lesbians (older lesbians! who got a happy ending!), and a couple of women of color in prominent roles, and that was nice.
After finishing S2 I went looking for fic and discovered that by the time I filtered out all the crossovers designed to ship Hardy with Rose Tyler or some other Billie Piper character, and all the fics that ship Hardy and Ellie Miller, and all the weird fluffy crap in which Hardy is a super-great dad really and also a woobie, there wasn't much left. Certainly there wasn't the fic I wanted to read, which is the one about the fucked-up inside of Joe Miller's head, and how he lost his conscience and whether he ever finds it again. (All other things being equal, I will, it seems, be most interested in the character who is the biggest psychological, emotional, and/or moral mess. Cf. Will Graham, Erik Lehnsherr, Kerr Avon, Bill Haydon (and Jim Prideaux, equally though differently a mess), and on and on back to my first fandom loves, Rupert Giles (a secret mess) and his beloved nemesis, the chaotic Ethan Rayne.)
This goes back to my dissatisfaction with S2. S1 had a certain measure of compassion for everyone; it was even bold enough to show a little compassion to Joe Miller, confused reluctant pedophile and semi-accidental murderer. S2 withdrew the borders of its compassion somewhat, and in doing so became more conventional and less interesting. It reduced Joe Miller to a stereotype and it also flattened some characters who weren't on the right side, notably Ollie the journalist and the junior defense lawyer, whose name I can't remember and who never was allowed to rise above being the awful person that Ben called her in the empty courtroom. For me, a story in which all the characters, even the ones like Joe Miller who do terrible things and deserve to be punished for them, are fully rounded, fully human, is a better story than a less complex one where some people are just evil, or just empty and worthless.
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