Gracepoint: “Episode 10” Season Finale Review

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Are you f*cking kidding me?

So the killer in Gracepoint is different than the killer in Broadchurch…but not by much. As it turns out, Tom accidentally struck Danny in the skull with a paddle trying to defend him from Joe after—you guessed it, Broadchurch viewers—Danny escaped the cabin when Joe made an ambiguously sexual advance at him.

For a show that made such a point to clearly indicate its differences from its predecessor, this feels like a slap in the face. Why make Paul so suspiciously needy—oh my god, can we all agree that he ruined the ending sequence with his “I spread the word…I guess the word was good” line?—if it’s just going to turn out that he’s an obnoxious person? Why bother making Vince seem like a brute thug, if it’s just going to turn out that he’s, well, a brute thug?

Yes, yes, I know, red herrings. Gracepoint is full of them, which is a large part of the series’ appeal. How well do you really know your neighbor? Your friends? The person sleeping next to you? It’s a fascinating topic to explore, but I feel like the false leads reached their conclusion by “Episode 9.” There’s only so many times you can say, “hey, this person seems oddly mysterious, maybe they did it! Oh wait, it just turns out they have a dark, depressing secret.” Paul and Vince seemed abstained from this line of storytelling. Sure, they were off-putting, but they managed to float through the police’s questioning right up until the very end. It would’ve been wholly more satisfying if it was one of them.

But no, it was poor, misguided Tom Miller. I suppose it was slightly interesting to see the plot progress beyond a shot-for-shot remake of the Broadchurch finale—seriously, when the phone was traced back to the Millers’ house it was hard not to just stop watching right there—but having the “real killer” turn out to be a killer by proxy isn’t that exciting. In fact, it feels like a cop out.

For anyone who’s never watched Broadchurch, I apologize for my ranting. It’s just that this whole series now feels like a waste of time. On it’s own, it presents a compelling mystery that’s a lot more nuanced than many of its crime show counterparts. But this new twist just feels like an attempt to make an already dark show even darker. If you’re only going to change things in that small of a way, why change them at all?

I will say, though I was initially disappointed in Josh Hamilton’s performance during his interrogations scenes, they soon began to make sense once it was revealed that he was simply protecting his son. The one bright spot in this finale arrived from Ellie and Joe working through how to protect their child. Here Anna Gunn shows her talents once again, giving off a stern quality that’s reminiscent of some of her best scenes as Skyler White. Her interrogation room freakout didn’t feel as authentic as Olivia Coleman’s in Broadchurch, but, then again, maybe that’s because I knew it was coming. That’s pretty much the biggest downfall of this whole reveal. It sucked nearly all of the suspense out of the show.

The second biggest downfall is the now changed dynamic between Ellie and Emmett. The ending sees him figure out that Tom was somehow involved, leaving us with a budding animosity between the two. The past ten weeks have worked to slowly, but surely build their relationship to the point where they care about each other as more than just co-workers. Now, especially with David Tennant’s angry face, they might as well be enemies. It’s like going back to square one and then taking a few more huge steps back for good measure.

It’s a funny coincidence that the trailer for Broadchurch‘s second season debuted online the same day that Gracepoint wrapped things up. Or, who knows, perhaps it’s not a coincidence at all. It’s unclear whether this show will be picked up for another season, but if it is, I highly doubt I’ll be watching. There’s just no point in looking at the same thing through a slightly hazier lens. Grade: C-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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