Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gracepoint - Episode 10 - Review

My review of last week's episode

I've already noted that the Gracepoint showrunners completely missed the point of their source material, but this finale clinches it.

For those who saw episode 9, the killer reveal shouldn't have been all that difficult to predict. Several subplots had been resolved - the whole Jack Reinhold part (my favorite segment of the season), Beth and Paul, Emmett's background, Susan Wright's past, Vince's reason for threatening Susan. All that was done with, so it was fairly reasonable to expect the one unresolved thread to come to the fore, as it did.

(Spoilers for the endings of both Gracepoint and Broadchurch.)

Supposedly, the purpose of a remake is to, y'know, actually make something new. Therefore, the first half hour of this episode was a huge disappointment. We'd been assured that there would be a different killer, and that was really the only reason I kept watching. But to have Joe, once again, be the almost-pedophile killer (or...almost-killer) who confesses, who is then beat up by his wife, and confronted by Mark was a complete cheat.

Gracepoint is not at its best when it's remaking Broadchurch straight - it always seems like a sub-par copy. When this episode does break away, it's merely to add a sensational last-minute twist which creates an entirely different tone for the ending, and opens up half a dozen plot holes throughout the earlier episodes. For instance: why did Tom run away? Why was Joe afraid to let him go a few blocks alone? What were Tom's feelings about Danny - about his father? These questions may have answers, but we don't get them, and so this plot twist feels sloppy.

And frankly, I saw it coming. The only way for the showrunners to keep their word and have Joe confess to the crime was that he be covering for Tom. While it does explain some of Tom's odd behavior, the small twist has almost no bearing on the murder, and Joe committed the majority of the crime, so really, it's identical. 

It does result in an interesting denouement, which again focuses on Ellie. I found Anna Gunn's performance an interesting - not inferior - contrast to Olivia Colman's. The scene where Carver breaks the news is very intense, but her heartbreak quickly hardens into bitterness and resolve. Resentment against Joe (a feeling which doesn't quite have enough time to mature) leads her to cover up Tom's involvement and become an accomplice to the murder.

I didn't buy that. It's not that I thought this action out of character (it wasn't, for her - it would have been for Colman), but it happens too quickly. She's been investigating this crime for months, and oh, my family betrayed me, well, I'll be mad for a while, but it'll take about five minutes for me to coolly make plans. It's not helped by the fact that Carver abruptly shakes off his depression (despite feeling sorry for the destruction of Ellie's family, there is, apparently, immediate and complete catharsis in putting Joe away) and decides to go to his daughter's graduation. Also, after googling a diagram of a heart, he plans to get an operation. It all happens without any of the leisure Broadchurch allowed for us to process what was happening. Lack of time is a general problem, and I would've liked another episode to wrap up.

Let's face it - Vampire Paul just wasn't going to provide a good moral of the story moment, so I shouldn't be disappointed about that (though I am). More of a letdown is the lack of closure, both for the Solanos and for Gracepointers in general. Because there was so much plot going on in the Ellie-Tom-Joe-Emmett sector, it distracted from the funeral, sermon, and lighting of the beacons, never mind getting the Gospel across, as Broadchurch did. The whole sequence felt rushed, and the entire time I was wondering what Ellie was doing.

These things compounds to make this finale a fairly good cliffhanger, with some excellent cinematography and performances (kudos to Gunn, Tennant, and our two killers), but sacrifices a resolution of character drama for gotcha plot theatricals. Broadchurch provided a wonderful (and true-to-life) example of how Gospel-based forgiveness frees grieving families from a cycle of reprisals and despair. Mark in Broadchurch didn't forgive Joe, but he expressed a disgusted pity for him; Mark in Gracepoint swore revenge. Admittedly, Beth did not forgive Ellie in either version, but it was still the dominant sentiment for the conclusion. Maybe the word was good.
“The Bible says: ‘Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you.’  After what we’ve been though?  I don’t know.  But we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our try.” 

There is some good news, however. Broadchurch is getting a second season!

Hannah Long

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


  1. Well, one thing is sure--the Gracepoint experience was made tolerable by your recaps and analyses.
    See you for Broadchurch Sandbrook. I'll bring the Pimm’s.

  2. The "lighting of the beacons" totally lost its meaning in California. In Broadchurch, one could imagine villages with a thousand years of history lighting a fire in solidarity with the grieving family--every light marked a location known to most of the people at the ceremony. In California, it looked like random campfires around the bay. Is that the Hungry Dog by Rte 53?

    1. Truth. And not to complain about how lackluster Paul's speech was, but Paul's speech was really lackluster. It was also abridged. And no Olafur Arnalds. Without that, it was pretty kumbaya.

  3. According to the Daily Mail, Fox walked away from any additional seasons of Gracepoint. I don't know if I believe that.

    1. As far as I know, Gracepoint's ratings were fairly dismal, so I haven't been expecting a second season. This was another reason I was frustrated with the finale, because it was so obviously setting up more story that I knew wouldn't be forthcoming.


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