My review of episode 3
Last week, I was about to abandon ship. Happily, episode 4 is beginning to renew my interest. Part of the attraction is a small shift in Anna Gunn's character. The writer's attempt to give her clever dialogue has so far come off as cheesy and forced, but somehow, the bad puns in this episode lent her some awkward charm (and dove-tailed nicely when she hilariously tried to invite Carver for dinner). I don't think this was intended, and it doesn't entirely work, but the suggestion that her stupid attempts at comebacks stem from awkwardness rather than acerbity makes her more likable. Also - less whining is good.
The other thing is, this is the first time Gracepoint has dramatically stepped out of Broadchurch's shadow. In this installment, Carver and Ellie spend most of their time simultaneously investigating the suspicious backpacker (a new character) and following up on Chloe's cocaine source (this subplot meandered off in the original show). In other suspicious news, the Creepy Woman With Dog has taken up killing chickens and staring at empty chairs. She also has some sort of connection to Vince.
We now know the backpacker was named Lars Pierson, and had met Beth before, even commenting on a picture of her children.
It turns out that Danny may not have been the innocent kid everyone thought he was. Turns out he was with Dean when Dean bough the cocaine (from a quirky but a bit too clean-cut man named Mickey - suspect?), and also managed to pinch a crossword book from a local 7/11.
Dean doesn't like the police. Emmett Carver doesn't like red tape. These two things result in a chase down a pier that doesn't feel entirely necessary, beyond giving our two heroes chances to wave guns in the air and threaten to shoot people. (Really? Sure, we're going to shoot some teenager because he's running from us. Talk about a PR nightmare.)
Tom is even more actively suspicious - flipping through his mom's notes when she isn't looking. He's also visiting Vince. This kid knows something.
Beth is desperately trying to keep her life together, and Paul Coates (even more vampirish) is threatening the nice psychic Raymond if he keeps bothering her. The tension eventually builds to produce a family explosion in the Solano household. Ellie's starting to learn - she takes a cue from Carver and just watches it all fall apart. It may be unfeeling, but it is effective.
I remember that in Broadchurch, I felt like the pacing began to wind down around the sixth episode. This hasn't been a problem with Gracepoint, and the surge of events in this episode almost create the opposite problem.
Meanwhile, how does Carver know the eighth commandment? I can name most of them offhand, but order would puzzle me for a while. Is this a Sinister Religious Background? Is it an Interesting Religious Background? Who is Julianne?
But the biggest question is obvious. Carver and Miller having dinner - what'll it be like? Break out the popcorn and get ready for some bad puns, Anna Gunn style.
My review of next week's episode.
Want something good to watch? Check out my full list of good detective shows.