Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 8 - Review

My review of last week's episode

And...that was a let-down. It's not a terrible episode, but a few logical fails manage to dispel much of the story.

Speaking of dispelling tension, we start by finding Tom, who is indeed in the woods bleeding. Paul Coates is creeping along singing hymns out of tune, because apparently that's what Hollywood people think priests do. The moment when he does find Tom is appropriately scary, but most everything's down-hill from there, because Ellie and Carver completely buy Tom's explanation that he was going looking for Lars so that he could confront him with...knowledge of his sins. Do normal children do this? I think not.

Tom must have been thinkingIncredible! One of the worst performances of my career, and they never doubted it for a second...

Ellie and Carver are starting to have some real chemistry - he used her first-name (which, Broadchurch fans know what I mean, makes me start suspecting her family less), though she's not allowed to use his. He's having nightmares about children - Tom, Danny, and Julianne - falling off a cliff.

Mark and Beth are finally making some progress. After meeting a mother from Rosemont, who told her that her life completely fell apart, Beth is making more of an effort towards reconciliation. The family outing scene has a completely different vibe from the agonizingly bittersweet version in Broadchurch, but I really like it - this light-hearted sequence was much needed, though it feels a little out of place coming right on the heels of Tom's disappearance.

In general, everyone seems to forget that whole ordeal pretty quickly - it's back to business as usual in Gracepoint. The whole story-line seems to serve no purpose beyond stretching out the story for one more episode. Tom isn't even grounded, and he's quick to open the door to a menacing Susan Wright/Ruth Erlick, who, after giving him Danny's skateboard, goes to have another show-down with Kathy at the paper.

In other news, we find out that Paul Coates goes to Narcotics Anonymous, and that he was involved in a bar fight with a guy who took issue with his sermon (this, I could believe.) His confrontation with Emmett is odd, because it almost works but doesn't. Because of the character's atmosphere, when he talks about helping people, it seems like he's doing it not because "They needed me" but because "They needed me." I haven't actually seen Paul helping anyone. He makes speeches occasionally, twice on TV, but all his counsel sessions with Beth are tainted by their shadow of their past relationship.

In Gracepoint, Carver's observation that Paul's involvement can be chalked up towards self-aggrandizement has weight - in Broadchurch, it came off as petty, since Arthur Darvill's priest was so obviously sincere, and Alec Hardy's depression so intense. So while Coates has some good observations about the realities that Carver cannot, as a policeman, address, the lack of practical examples cripples his witness. How does your faith address this fear? Mostly, it seems to do so by denying people's flaws - in Broadchurch, it did so by forgiving their flaws - a crucial difference. Still, the scene is well-written, and is still very dramatic.

Theories: a friend had a neat idea that Tom may have killed Danny (perhaps accidentally) and that the nocturnal Paul Coates observed the crime and staged a cover-up. This makes a lot of sense, though since both characters are blatant suspects, it's a bit easy. Currently, just for the heck of it, I'm thinking of the least suspicious characters. Dean is a bit too perfect, and he was quick to frame Jack Reinhold. Not to mention the fact that he and Danny had a history, which they did not in Broadchurch. Kathy seems to serve no obvious purpose, but she has no plausible connection to the family. What about Hugo? His advances on Ellie were very unusual, and could have easily have been him fishing for information.

Lastly, a piece of advice: if you are dying, do not volunteer to head up a stressful police investigation. And definitely do not go out to investigate a break-in with only one partner to back you up.

My review of next week's episode.

Want something good to watch? Check out my full list of good detective shows.

Hannah Long

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