Gracepoint: “Episode 7” Season 1 Episode 7 Review

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In one giant leap, Gracepoint finally steps out from Broadchurch‘s shadow, and into some intriguing new light.

Gracepoint has done a solid job of continually peaking my interest, despite the lingering presence of Broadchurch in the back of my mind. New twists have emerged, plotlines have developed differently, and new characters have been added to make me believe this is a whole different show. Still, a part of me was always worried that everything was just going to follow a different path to get to the same conclusion. Well, consider me officially proven wrong. This is now a whole different show.

Tom’s disappearance marks the show’s biggest departure from its predecessor since it first began. The effects are harrowing. Just as the people of Gracepoint are slowly beginning to return to their lives, another missing child yanks them back into a realm of fear and confusion. It’s especially hard on Ellie, who is now both blinded and pushed forward by her need to find her son.

From the pilot on, Tom has remained an enigmatic character. He usually keeps quiet and is pleasant enough around adults, but small twitches in his expression convey a deeper sense of secrecy. We already know that he’s hiding something. What exactly happened to him is unclear, but my guess is that he took off to follow some sort of lead.

In an interesting reversal of last week’s town mob, the people of Gracepoint join together in support of the Millers and help them look for their son. For the Solanos, the search offers a surprising form of catharsis; allowing them to focus on something else besides their own grieving. The moment of comfort Ellie shares with Beth is brief, but very touching.

Just because the town has banded together, however, doesn’t mean that there are those without suspicion. Vince appears creepier and more guilty than ever, with blood on his hands and some secret that only Susan knows about. I think it would be a little too obvious if it turned out to be him, but he’s certainly trying to bury something dark.

Paul, on the other hand, is believably shady. Why is he so keen on getting closer to Mark, even though it’s clear he wants nothing to do with him? Why is he so eager to speak to the press and put his face in front of a camera? At Jack’s wake, Joe berates Emmett for questioning Tom about the priest and suspecting “the worst in people.” Emmett counters that his cynicism will have been worth it if he’s proven right. In the case of Paul, I think Emmett’s unbiased eyes might do a lot of good.

Meanwhile, the mysterious backpacker is finally picked up and brought into custody. He’s effectively eerie, but I think his purpose is more to highlight how alone Danny really was than to be an actual suspect in the case. Since it premiered, Gracepoint‘s MO has been to show us how little we know about the people closest to us. If the killer turns out to be this random backpacker, then all of the fascinating character work they’ve done will be for naught.

Anna Gunn gets a chance to really flex her dramatic muscles as she screams at the backpacker; unable to contain her emotions after he smiles at a picture of Tom. The scene wasn’t bad, but it felt more like a showcase for her acting than an actual part of the story. I much more preferred the moment when they found the backpacker’s lodging and she took over the crime scene with an ambitious finesse. Here, Ellie proves that sometimes a close relationship to the case can actually be very helpful. Her freakout in the interrogation room was deserved, but didn’t get any results.

With all the children who have literally been lost on this show, it was incredibly absorbing to see how Emmett has lost a daughter who’s still readily available to him. Their scenes together were small in comparison with everything else going on, but they worked to further humanize his hardened cop, and added a new layer to the threat he poses by staying on the case. Sure, his daughter arrived at a very inopportune time, but the fact that he’s so blindsided by her appearance speaks volumes about the way he throws himself into his work.

With only three episodes to go, Gracepoint is shaping up to deliver a truly shocking reveal. It’s anyone’s guess as to who Danny’s killer is now, meaning that, as Emmett says, it’s important to keep your eyes on everyone. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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