After every tragedy there comes a time when we have to pick our lives back up once again. In its eighth episode, Gracepoint and its citizens attempt to do just that – even though Danny’s killer is still on the loose.
This week the Millers get back what the Solanos did not: their son. Rev. Paul (Kevin Rankin) – the same man who found his bike – finds Tom (Jack Irvine) in the woods near the cabin of one of the prime suspects in Danny’s murder case. Unfortunately, Miller (Anna Gunn) and Carver (David Tennant) have no evidence on the man and are forced to release him.
The case treads water once again. This isn’t such a bad thing; with the detective work on hold, the show focuses more on the citizens as characters and not as cogs in the machinery of the lead-less investigation. The best example of this is the Solanos who demonstrate here that sometimes it’s possible to get back to normal without finding closure.
Beth (Virginia Kull) meets with a woman whose child was also murdered. The woman is consumed by her loss; the day her daughter died, she died, too. She seems to only be able to sleep, drink and pop pills.
This woman becomes Beth’s inspiration to start living again. She comes to find answers on how to cope, but seeing the woman’s inability to function triggers Beth’s desire to move on.
While the scene is heartbreaking, it also successfully highlights one of Gracepoint‘s themes: the vastly different ways in which people handle tragedy. Some simply cannot cope with their lives after losing their loved ones, while others use the prospect of turning into a living ghost as motivation to try and move on.
Beth falls in to the second category. She decides that she won’t be destroyed by her son’s death. She will not let her life crumble underneath her. Even if it’s not for her own well-being, she has a husband and a daughter to love and care for.
Speaking of her daughter, Chloe (Madalyn Horcher) also plays a significant role in Episode Eight. She leaves school early with her boyfriend because she feels uncomfortable being the “dead kid’s sister” and therefore wants to distance herself from her family. Mark (Michael Peña) sees Chloe leave, prompting him and Beth to try to find her.
Chloe’s avoidant reaction to the bullies at school ignites Beth and Mark’s parental skills. They’ve ignored their child for too long in the wake of Danny’s death; they’re now a family once again. The Solanos go to the local bowling alley to take a break from everything – loss, stress, anxiety and bitterness.
The scene is a bit happy-go-lucky, but that’s probably the point. The Solanos have held on to their grief long enough. It is time for them to let go. It’s cathartic to watch. It seems like the show has built to this moment. After weeks of watching them suffer, Gracepoint finally comes together for the Solanos.
Ostensibly, the best bets for who killed Danny at this point are either the reverend or Vince (Stephen Louis Grush), Mark’s business partner. They both sport shady pasts and histories of violent altercations. Moreover, they were both close to Danny. The show wants you to focus on them.
But I think Tom Miller is the killer. The reverend and Vince are a misdirection. We know Tom destroyed his laptop because he learned that information can still be retrieved from the hard drive even after it’s been deleted. He also acts strangely whenever he’s asked about Danny. These clues seem to suggest he’s hiding something big.
If it’s not Tom, it has to be someone we’ve already met. The main point of Broadchruch, and Gracepoint from what we’ve seen, is that sometimes it’s the people you know best who turn out to be monsters. It would be frustrating if Gracepoint steers away from this theme because it’s been executed so subtly and smartly thus far.
Gracepoint slides back into old territory this week with familiar plot from its U.K. counterpart. While Chloe Solano’s boyfriend and Carver’s daughter are Gracepoint original additions to the narrative, this week took on a few plot points from Broadchurch: Carver’s heart attack, the trailer park lady Susan Wright’s (Jacki Weaver) mysterious past and the reveal that her dog’s been kidnapped.
Fox executives have stated that Gracepoint will feature a different ending from Broadchruch, but with many of the same elements in place, I don’t know how that will work. Still, I have faith that Gracepoint will end differently even though the series has gone in such a similar direction. Either way, we’ll have to wait and find out when the show returns in two weeks for the final two episodes.