As the series begins, we’re quickly introduced to Father Michael Kerrigan (Sean Bean). Kerrigan begins giving a sermon to a group of parents and their children. He explains that the children will be making their first holy communion next week. Christina Fitzsimmons (Anna Friel) arrives with her daughter a little later. During Father Kerrigan’s speech, it becomes clear the Christina is preoccupied with something else. We also see a flashback, in which Michael is harshly ridiculed by his mother. He is forced to recollect himself, before continuing. Eventually, Michael notices that Christina is distracted. He agrees to transport her daughter home, so she can rush along to her workplace. Christina meets with her boss, Jean (Rochenda Sandall). She apologizes for being late, before being asked about the IOU in the register.
Christina explains that she intended to pay it back when she received her paycheck. She simultaneously ridicules her wages. Christina is ultimately sacked. The two women get into a fight and Christina returns home with a bloody nose and black eye. She finds Kerrigan sitting with her mother and children. She subtly blames the church for her troubles, before asking why people go to Mass. Kerrigan offers his support before departing. Christina enters Lisa’s (Macy Shackleton) rooms and promises her wounds will heal before the communion. She also promises to buy her a beautiful dress for the upcoming event. While riding on the train, Kerrigan has a flashback to his school days. He recalls being paddled after being accused of cheating on his schoolwork.
Kerrigan meets with his brothers. He explains that their mother is dying and they need to share the responsibility of caring for her. It seems he is the only one that cares in the least. He leaves his brothers and immediately heads to his mother’s house. Beth tells Michael that his mother forced her to fix her hair. Michael holds his mother’s hand throughout the night. Meanwhile, Christina ices her facial wounds. In the morning, things get even worse for Christina. Her three kids refuse to eat after she burns the toast. And, she injures her hand. It is also revealed that she doesn’t have lunch money for the kids. After dropping the kids off at school, Christina heads to the unemployment office. She speaks with a woman about her recent dismissal and her current situation. It is clear that the future is not bright. She is told she’ll receive a letter either approving or denying her request.
Meanwhile, Michael sits down with Pauline Pickering (Naomi Radcliffe) and a few other church attendees. The small group plans the upcoming communion ceremony. Michael makes it clear that the expense of the ceremony has become a burden for some of the families. He suggests allowing the kids to do it in their school uniform. Pickering doesn’t like the idea and takes his comments as an insult. That night, Christina goes out with her sister Mariella (Clare Calbraith). Father Kerrigan is also spotted at the pub. The night doesn’t do much to quell their problems. In the morning, Father Kerrigan watches a soccer game at a local park. Then, he watches the school gate. Christina drops off her son and explains the money issue. Father Kerrigan promises to take care of it. He also offers her assistance, but she insists she is fine.
Next, Christina visits a pawnshop. She argues with the man behind the counter, before eventually selling two rings. When she returns home, she finds her mother dead and the phone still in her hand. She covers her mother and puts a note on the door warning the kids to keep out. She heads to the school and picks up the kids. She keeps her mother’s death a secret. Jean visits Father Kerrigan at the church. She tells him about the fight and also reveals she is having trouble getting pregnant. Kerrigan prays with the woman. Christina tells her children that their grandmother is sick and should not be bothered. Christina deals with more troubles in the morning. She learns that her request was denied. She returns and tries to get a loan. Unfortunately, he is told her best bet would be to sell more of her possessions. She returns home and pulls the ring off of her mother’s finger.
Kerrigan arrives unexpectedly. He explains that Christina’s mother called him. Since she was unable to make the meeting, he brought the paperwork along. Kerrigan also tries to give Christina vouchers for the food bank. She refuses to take them. Kerrigan is not let inside. Christina becomes worried when her sister, Mariella, arrives. Christina learns her mother was suffering from chest issues, before the couple pick up the children from school. Once they return home, Christina is no longer able to hide her mother’s dead body. Christina admits she cannot alert the authorities, yet because her mother’s pension is set to arrive the following day. However, she reveals she didn’t sell her mother’s ring. Nevertheless, Mariella is not happy. Christina pleads with her sister to keep their mother’s death a secret for another day.
That night, Christina visits the church and finds Kerrigan lighting candles. He explains he is lighting one for his mother. In the morning, Christina withdraws her mother’s pension. Then, she returns home and calls Kerrigan. Kerrigan quickly realizes that the woman has been dead for several days. Christina admits she took out the pension this morning. Christina becomes concerned that she could go to prison. They pray together as the episode ends.
Lets get this out of the way right away. Broken is incredibly slow. The slow pace will certain turn off a lot of viewers. Nevertheless, the pacing seems to work well for the type of story Jimmy McGovern is attempting to tell. Christina’s actions might seem a little unrealistic, but they’re not. I personally know several people that would do the same and you probably do as well. The first episode has done a good job of establishing believability.
The show is very deep. Many of the troubles Christina faces are widespread across the globe. They’re not solely isolated to the UK. Father Michael Kerrigan has his own set of problems. It is clear he was abused as a child. However, I expect more details to be revealed over the next few episodes. I enjoyed the first episode. It wasn’t perfect, but it was emotionally effective. The episode scores a 7.5 out of 10.