This week’s episode of Gracepoint is about everything that falls between the cracks; the moments that mean so little when there’s nothing at stake but then mean everything when you’re facing tragedy. An empty swing set, children’s cereal, an empty bed or a beloved stuffed animal. For the Solano family, all of these are rich with Danny’s death and the idea that they’ll never see him partake in certain events, routines or practices again. It’s a sobering thought in yet another redundant episode.
“Excited” isn’t the word I’d use when describing how I felt going into this week’s episode, after the first drained me of most of my foolhardy hope for the remake. So, when I finally came around to watching it, it was with the exaggerated trepidation that only a bitter television fanatic can muster.
The Solano family continues to grieve this week after the wake of their son’s suspected murder. Detectives Carver and Miller find disturbing evidence in Chloe Solano’s room as well as incriminating evidence against Mark. This week, beyond even the family, we see the set-up for the “whodunnit” portion of the show. There’s Jack, the Wildlife Club instructor who conveniently remembers a piece of information that could connect to Danny. There’s Susan Wright, played by Jacki Weaver, an older woman who prefers her solitude, and whom we see has Danny’s skateboard in her closet. Paul, the local priest, has a history with Beth and could be seen as being too opportunist. There’s Jemma, the owner of the beachside inn who had Chloe find her coke for some customers. And then there’s Mark himself, who wasn’t where he said he was the night of Danny’s death and whose bullheaded nature is making himself seem guiltier by the second.
Virginia Kull is the star of the episode this week, and I wish the show would deviate from the source material a little bit if only to utilize one of its best parts, which is Beth. Kull has a youthfulness about her that makes the tragedy of what her life has become even more apparent. She’s so young and yet has experienced such grievous pain that it will never leave her and likely will age her beyond her years. Her breakdown in the supermarket parking lot and subsequent chat with Paul brings a sense of unnerving reality to what’s happening. She tells him that she’s pregnant and isn’t telling anyone else. This is her decision, and she wants only her thoughts on the matter, not Mark’s. She’s being forced to experience extreme highs and lows and her talk with Paul helps humanize her. Kevin Rankin, who plays Paul, is a remarkable character actor, and after the last few stints I’ve seen him in such as Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad, it’s nice to see him in a quieter, more self-reflective role. He is the first character whose plotline has seen a deviation from the original, which makes it easily the most exciting to me.
Elsewhere in the storyline there’s Ellie and Carver, and Anna Gunn continues to seem miscast to me. There’s too much of an edge in her voice, a severity, to be realistically playing the out-of-her-depth detective. In a heated discussion in which Carver’s cynicism and Ellie’s belief in people are revealed, she tells him that she can’t not trust people and she can’t remove herself and act as if she’s an outsider to the town because she knows them – I found it hard to believe. David Tennant’s Carver this week is revealed to have some sort of debilitating ailment that he needs medication for, although we don’t learn exactly what yet. Tennant is also, oddly enough, not easing into the role as seamlessly as one would imagine. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen him play the same part, read the same lines and do it better before, or maybe it’s too soon to tell, but currently, the character isn’t nearly as effortless as it once was.
Overall, it’s not a bad episode. It’s still wholly unremarkable due to the carbon copy feeling and how each shot is familiar, but it’s better than the premiere and sets up new notes here and there to keep me interested.