Gracepoint: “Episode 9” Season 1 Episode 9 Review

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In the season’s penultimate episode, damning evidence is brought up against Vince. But in this town, nothing is ever what it seems.

One of the more interesting aspects of Gracepoint has been it’s refusal to close the book on the majority of its suspects. The only one who’s really made it out of the crossfire is Jack Reinholdt, and it unfortunately took killing himself to do so. Sure, Mark Solano has an alibi, Paul has answered every question the detectives have thrown his way, and the hitchhiker was released from custody, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the clear. A thick cloud of uncertainty hangs over each of them, and “Episode 9” makes it abundantly clear that it’s still too soon to count any of them out.

Even more fascinating, is that the show does this in an hour that seems to solely point to Vince as the killer. Susan claims she saw him drag Danny’s body onto the shore, Ellie’s sister said she saw a man driving Mark’s work truck and carrying a large, plastic-wrapped object, and the fact that he held Susan’s dog hostage despite wanting nothing to do with her is extremely peculiar. His smug face during his interrogation with Emmett doesn’t to much to help things either.

This is the episode where we finally learn Susan Wright’s story. It’s as disturbing as it was when it was relayed on Broadchurch, but Jacki Weaver is finally allowed to show her incredible range. Instead of just being the creepy trailer park lady, she shows a scorned, vulnerable side of herself that’s both engaging and unsettling. The reveal that Vince is Susan’s son isn’t necessarily shocking, but their connection—forged by a grotesque tale of rape, murder, and loss of custody—is a tough pill to swallow.

Equally as compelling during these scenes is Anna Gunn, who gives her sharpest performance yet. Now that she knows of Emmett’s health problems, she takes it upon herself to be much more assertive. Yet, in her scenes wit Susan, she’s simultaneously able to play both the good cop and the bad cop. Her voice is soothing and sympathetic, but when she threatens to have Susan’s dog put down if she doesn’t answer her questions, it’s an unexpected jolt of intensity.

So things look really bad for Vince at this point, but the episode plants some seeds to make you continually question everything that plays out. Danny’s camping trip injury has always been a small, but noteworthy detail in this mystery, and the fact that it’s now being connected to Paul makes it all the more important.

Paul is perhaps the most annoying character on Gracepoint, but his ceaseless need to be a “do-gooder”—and to be seen being a do-gooder by others—suggests that he’s desperately trying to maintain control of his own image. What makes him get involved with Tom and his broken laptop? Is it because he actually cares? Or because he already knows what’s on the hard drive? Perhaps his decision to bring it to the police is more of a way for him to get in front of his own narrative than to actually aid in the solving of the case.

Mark raises some eyebrows as well, getting ridiculously angry at Beth for going to visit Paul—and get super creepily hugged by him—in a time of need. He lashes out at her, but really, does he have a right to? He’s the one who cheated on her with Gemma, how can he be mad at her for just talking to an old flame? Maybe this is me jumping to a conclusion, but Mark’s anger at Paul could be rooted in something else besides his past with Beth. Everyone in this town has secrets, and Mark could be harboring the biggest one of all.

Meanwhile, Emmett gets a chance to show his noble heart after he reveals to Owen and Kathy that he botched the Rosemont case in order to protect his daughter from his ex-wife’s affair. It’s a touching moment, but it’s a bit marred by the fact that almost everything involving the reporters this season has been a bit of a nuisance. I appreciate the show’s attempt at examining the role of the media during a major crime, but with Owen, Kathy, and Renee playing such small roles, it just feels very tacked-on to the central storyline.

The season finale airs next Thursday and, just like in Broadchurch, we still have no idea who Danny’s killer is. Gracepoint has been masterful in leading us down a rather twisted path, but with the clock ticking away, it won’t be long until this mystery is solved. My excitement levels during this season have been very up and down, but I can honestly say that, with no clue as to who the culprit might be, I can’t wait to see how this all ends. Grade: B+

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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