Gracepoint: “Episode 5” Season 1 Episode 5 Review

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At the season’s halfway point, the reporters decide to play detective just as everyone becomes more and more suspicious.

Reverend Paul has a full house on Sunday when he delivers his sermon about neighbors turning against each other. The problem with living in such a close-knit community is that it becomes easy to place blame on the people you pass by every day. That man running the kayak shop? He always seemed sort of creepy. The lady who lives in the trailer park? I never could quite get a read on her. Everyone seems to be friendly on the outset, but when a crises like this happens it’s no surprise when all hell breaks loose.

There’s irony in Paul’s sermon. He condemns those who have come to Gracepoint to pit the community against each other. He urges everyone to look inward before judging others. Yet, his impassioned speech makes him seem more guilty than ever. Why is this priest so eager to get people to stop suspecting one another? It’s especially concerning that this sermon takes place right after Paul is questioned by Emmett and Ellie. Does he have something to hide?

He’s certainly not the only one. After the episode ends, all signs seemingly point to Nick Nolte’s Jack Reinholdt. News comes out that he has a prior conviction for statutory rape, causing him to act both scared and defensive. On one hand, he reprimands Owen for even suggesting that he’s guilty. On the other, he pleads with the Solanos to see that he didn’t do it before turning over Danny’s phone. The final shot of him burning pictures of him and Danny is the most alarming. Since we still have five episodes to go, I highly doubt he’s the killer. Still, his character just got a whole lot more interesting.

Jacki Weaver’s Susan Wright is another cause for concern, as it turns out Susan Wright is not even her real name. Her character is shrouded in more mystery than ever, but this episode saw her go from meek and isolated to aggressive and combative in one fell swoop. She clearly has something she’s hiding—other than Danny’s skateboard.

She’s become more intriguing as well, but I have a problem with the way her secret information was handled. If she’s so concerned about her real identity, why did she put her original social security number on a job application? Moreover, why did Gemma, upon finding this information, bring it to head news editor Kathy (Alisen Down) instead of the police. Reporters always make for good investigators in shows like these, but here they’re starting to feel like a nuisance. I almost wonder if this whole subplot was orchestrated just so Susan could storm into Kathy’s office and threaten her by saying she “knows men who could rape [her].” Still, that line would probably have had the same weight if it was said to Ellie, and it would’ve made the whole thing more sensical.

Paul’s sermon served as a dark centerpiece in an altogether bleak episode. The most haunting moment? A wordless Sunday lunch sequence which presents an idea of normalcy, and then slashes right through it. Beth tries to act civilized at the table with her friends and family—although why she continues to drink red wine is still a mystery. Has she already decided to terminate the pregnancy?—but her grief soon takes over as she realizes that she’ll never fully be able to fill the void left by Danny’s absence. Her following scene where she asks Tom for a hug is especially poignant. It’s the lack of physical contact that we often miss most when we lose a loved one.

Emmett too gets to show a more vulnerable side after his heart condition becomes too much to bear and he collapses. The always lovely Gemma comes to his rescue, and promises not to tell anyone if he promises to take it easy. It’s here that we finally see a softness in Emmett, who’s spent a majority of this season barking orders at everyone. He acts as though he’s the sharpest person in the room, but really he’s just as fragile as everyone else. A surprisingly affecting voicemail left on his daughter’s cell phone makes you realize just how much he needs to know he’s not alone.

Despite this episode’s heaviness, there’s a moment of levity during Emmett’s dinner with Ellie and her husband. The initial awkward tension is perfectly placed, and David Tennant nails his skepticism at the whole situation. What’s really a welcome relief, though, is seeing him crack a smile when Ellie’s husband tries to play off like his wife hasn’t been complaining about her new boss. On a show that’s dealing with a subject as harrowing as the murder of a child, it’s nice to have a breather of a scene such as this one, even if it only lasts a few minutes.

Once again, the episode ends with a cliffhanger. We don’t know what sort of information is on Danny’s phone, we don’t know what will happen to Mark and Beth’s marriage now that she’s told him she knows about Gemma—although hopefully Michael Peña will stop wearing a dumbfounded expression at every bit of information thrown his way—and we don’t know how Jack and a murder that happened 15 years ago in his old town are related to all of this. All we can say for sure is that the further this story goes, the less anyone can be trusted. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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