Gracepoint: “Episode 3” Season 1 Episode 3 Review

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More character work is done as the mystery continues to bristle with suspense.

Trust, or lack thereof, is a very common theme on today’s television landscape. The frenetically fun How to Get Away with Murder posits a worldview in which no one can be trusted; where no one is who they appear to be. Conversely, the spectacularly subdued Parenthood is all about trusting your loved ones; confiding in them because they’re the people who know you best. A dozen other shows offer variations of both these themes, coming down sternly on either side. Either you can trust people, or you can’t.

The interesting thing about Gracepoint is that it seems to offer up a bit of both. According to Emmett, everyone is a suspect. It makes sense that in a town as small as this, the killer is likely someone they’ve already come across. So, in search of the truth, he becomes relentless. He holds Mark at the police station for several hours, even arresting him when he can’t get his story straight. It’s a justified move. Mark’s confession doesn’t add up, and his supposed alibis turn out to be nothing but lies upon further investigation. So, what is he hiding?

As it turns out, an affair with Gemma. At first it seems ridiculous that he would keep this a secret from the police for so long, especially since it’s taking time away from finding the real killer, but consider the nature of this small-town dynamic. In a place where everybody knows everybody’s business, it would be easy for something like this to slip out. Mark didn’t want his family to hurt any more than they already did—although it seems his daughter Chloe was already aware. It was a terribly stupid tactic to use, but it makes sense. Now if only Michael Peña would stop using the same glum expression in every scene.

Emmett doesn’t stop after Mark is released. He continues to berate Ellie and insist that they do more to solve the case. The truth is, he’s desperate. His instincts about Mark were mostly wrong, and now he’s grasping at straws. Through reporter Renee (an underused Jessica Lucas), we learn that he’s botched up a case before, resulting in the unsolved murder of a young girl. This bit of information—along with the ticking timebomb visit from his doctor—gives Emmett a greater sense of urgency. We now understand why he’s so distrustful and unpleasant. He’s making sure no stone is left unturned so he doesn’t repeat his mistake.

On the other side of this is Ellie, who is still willing to see the good in people despite some pretty damning evidence. She tries to give Mark the benefit of the doubt during questioning, and is unwilling to further bother the Solano family after he’s let go. In a tense scene—and another excellent moment for Anna Gunn—she tells Emmett to back off, and that she’s going home. He might be the hardened cop who’s seen it all before, but she still believes the people of her town are good, and that the Solanos are just grieving for their son. Also, she wants to get home to her own family.

Ellie’s empathy for those around her can sometimes come off as naïveté, but her character is still unafraid of asking difficult questions. Emmett often jumps to conclusions, trying to wring out a confession as quickly as possible. Ellie, on the other hand, just wants to make sure she’s seeing the whole picture.

Somewhere in the middle of all this is Beth, who both gains and loses trust in the people around her. Gracepoint continues to seamlessly alternate between a eerie mystery and a mournful family drama, making the most out of the Solanos’ moments with each other in the aftermath of this traumatic event. Beth is distressed by her husband’s prolonged detainment. She becomes nervous, and even tells Chloe that the two of them are in this together no matter what.

When Mark comes home, their reunion is anything but warm. In a heartbreaking scene, she finally asks him the unthinkable question when they’re in bed together: did you kill our son? Mark is outraged, and leaves…to go meet up with Gemma. Because this is a TV show, Beth sees them kissing. What’s interesting, though, is the look on her face when she does. It’s not so much a look of surprise as it is a look of quiet acceptance. It feels like Beth had suspicions about her husband long before her son was killed.

Beth might not be able to trust the man lying next to her in bed, but that doesn’t mean she’s ruled out people all together. She opens up to the psychic Ray, wanting to hear as much of Danny’s voice as she can. Sure, he’s probably a fake, but he offers a form of solace for a mother who just lost her child. Additionally, she invites the Reverend (Kevin Rankin) over to help console her—although why she was drinking a glass of wine is another mystery to be solved.

Beth represents a medium on the show’s trust spectrum. She’s become very wary of the people around her, but she hasn’t given up hope on humanity just yet. I think the message of this episode, and perhaps the show in general, is that you can’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder, but you can’t dismiss everyone either. It seems simple, but within the dichotomy of can’t trust/can trust, it’s strangely comforting to watch a show that just says, “you’ll have to wait and see how people turn out.”

Once again, the final moments of the episode offer a suspenseful finish. A CSI officer pulls Emmett aside to tell him they found a note in the lining of Danny’s jacket. The note has a number in it, which of course Emmett must now look up on the police database. We’ll have to wait till next week to find out who it is, but as Ray said to Beth when she met with him, it’s probably someone we already know.

Gracepoint is certainly growing on me, and Gunn continues to impress. The show can be a little slow at points, but I can tell that’s because it’s gearing up for something really exciting. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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