I can’t get over my dislike of Anna Gunn’s portrayal of Ellie, and that’s a major sore spot in Gracepoint. Ellie is written differently than how she’s played by Gunn. She’s written with a sense of humor, with a core vulnerability that’s slowly toughening up as she witnesses horrors amongst her tight knit community, and she’s compassionate. But Gunn typically comes off more exasperated than sarcastic in her jests to Carver; the vulnerability comes across as whining; and the compassion is lacking in her actions. Gunn and the character Ellie simply don’t mesh, which is befuddling when you know just how talented Gunn is.
The same can be said, to a lesser extent, about David Tennant’s Carver. However, I grew to like him a tad more in tonight’s episode when he joked around with Ellie’s husband, the two of them finding more screen chemistry in the 30 seconds of screentime than the whole time that Gunn and Tennant have been paired together.
The real problem though, aside from not exactly enjoying watching the two leads, is that we’re at the halfway mark of the show and nothing has really been done to shake anything up aside from the beginning of Jack’s storyline. Jack’s storyline was a tough one to watch on Broadchurch with David Bradley as the character, and despite being a gruff presence, I can only assume from the snippets we see tonight that Nick Nolte is going to work wonders with Jack getting some light shed on his character.
I wish I could say the same for Jacki Weaver’s Susan, or Ruth, but all she seems to be doing currently is messing with people and getting herself into situations that she shouldn’t be a part of. She goes to get a job at Gemma’s inn and is turned away and later, in a particularly upsetting scene, she threatens the town’s newspaper editor with rape.
So I can cross Susan off the list of characters I need to see each week. Let’s add the medium as well, since he’s back this week and I hate him.
The big piece of storytelling that goes on this week finds itself centered on the Solano family, of which Beth still seems to be the only one grieving. I’m not here to have a monopoly on grief; everyone grieves in their own way, I know. But, giving Mark a chance to expand on his feelings of his murdered son would be a welcome character beat. I was often frustrated with the Mark on Broadchurch because he was a bit of a boorish ass, but he was interesting and his anger was compelling due to the nature of it. Michael Pena is a talented actor, but so far his emotions have been apathetic.
However, it is an interesting and true-to-life bit when Renee talks to the family about writing a feature on them, and about how the media responds to certain tragedies in certain ways, and how Danny didn’t fit the right demographic to inspire as much attention. So, Beth and her relationship is the heart of the feature written about her by Renee as a chance to shed some light on what their family is feeling.
This causes ramifications as Carver had insisted the family stay away from the press. They’re told to appear in a press conference to try and reach out to their community and convey their heartbreak all the while painting the picture of a perfect family unit that’s been torn apart emotionally by the death of Danny. But as viewers know, and as Beth finally drives home as she tells Mark before stepping in front of the inquiring cameras that she knows about his infidelity, the Solano family isn’t a perfect family unit. There’s distrust, there are lies, and there is misaligned anger and resentment. They’re a family who are bottling their feelings, not even content to share them amongst each other.
That paints an interesting dynamic.
This episode adds a bunch of side plots that will be examined as the season finishes up. Owen’s destructive mother is back in town, Paul is continuing to act super shifty and weird (and let’s all keep an eye on him), Jack has been revealed to be a convicted felon who was charged with statutory rape over twenty years ago, and Carver’s illness is beginning to get the best of him as he’s rushed to the hospital in the middle of the episode after passing out in his hotel room.
The episode ends with yet another piece of evidence coming forth: a piece of hair from the burning boat from last episode that matches Danny. Carver wants thorough background checks on Jack and Paul, and we can only wait and see what they’re able to dig up.
Am I the only one frustrated with the Ellie and Carver characters? Let me know.