The way people respond to secrets is intriguing. We can fall head over heels for a person romantically or platonically, but the moment we find out they’re hiding something from us, we immediately change our view of them. It’s a classic trope used in everything from thrillers to romantic comedies. In the latter especially, the guy usually keeps some secret from the girl who eventually finds out and feels betrayed.
That’s the main issue with secrets: betrayal. We cannot understand how our friend, lover or family member could keep something from us. But there are other times when betrayal isn’t our first reaction. How would you respond if someone you thought you knew had been hiding a dark past? If that person was your neighbor, how would that affect you? What if it was your loved one?
Gracepoint’s citizens are faced with the very question. How are they to deal with Jack Reinhold’s (Nick Nolte) statutory rape conviction from years past? The townspeople, and even the cops, are guilty of assuming the charge had to do with a little boy when in fact, Jack’s story is much more tragic than that.
We learn that Jack used to be a piano teacher and eventually fell in love with one of his students – 16 going on 17 year old girl (bear in mind that the legal age of consent in some states is 16). When the girl’s father discovered their tryst, he called the cops. Jack spent two years in prison and was lucky to make it out alive. Upon release, he married the girl and they had a son together. Unfortunately, the boy died in a car crash when he was nine-years-old and the grief tore Jack and his wife apart.
Jack’s powerful line, “Parent’s shouldn’t outlive their children,” stuck with me. All he wanted was to do with his life was fill the void left by his dead son with a career working with kids. Knowing how hard his life has been makes his persecution difficult to watch. Nick Nolte’s years of acting solidifies Jack as a sympathetic character: a man who wants to live in peace, but cannot escape his past.
Mark Solano (Michael Peña) is the only one who comes to Jack’s defense. He’d experienced jail firsthand as a result of Danny’s murder investigation. His his empathy for Jack leads to one of Gracepoint‘s most moving scenes. Mark is the only thing standing between him and the mob of townspeople who want his head.
Mark’s reluctance to judge Jack works as welcome character development; until this point, Mark has been either a suspect and a cheater. To see him not fall into the trope of the grieving father who accuses the first reasonable suspect of murder is a relief. Mark understands what it’s like to live under scrutiny, and he knows Jack better than his peers. Jack’s skeletons don’t not persuade Mark to think differently of his neighbor.
Jack’s suicide is a powerful scene. He is stuck with an impossible decision. Does he stay in town where almost everyone thinks he’s a pedophile, or should he try start a new life at 73 with a name that’s been slandered across every newspaper? The choice comes to a head as he cries on the beach clutching a picture of him and his wife.
Once again, the ocean becomes a motif of life and death. This time, the obsessive pursuit of Danny’s killer goes too far and Gracepoint loses another one of its citizens. When Miller (Anna Gunn) and Carver (David Tennant) are called in following Jack’s suicide, Miller’s reaction is heartbreaking. She kneels down next to his body with her hand at her mouth and stifles a cry. The moment clinches one of the most emotionally impactful episodes of the mini-series.
Gracepoint‘s sixth episode – directed by Game of Thrones’ David Petrarca – slowed down to focus on the repercussions of the investigation; the search to find Danny’s killer became more of a a side plot this week. In one particularly raw moment, we finally see Beth (Virginia Kull) and Mark (Michael Peña) discuss their marriage and his affair with Gemma Fisher (Sarah-Jane Potts).
This couple has been torn apart not only by the unresolved death of their son, but the psychological damage of infidelity, too. And in answer to my question last week, Beth also coolly delivers news of her pregnancy. The Solanos have much to deal with that it’s foggy at this point whether they will be able to survive all of their emotional trauma.
Carver and Miller’s investigation usually unearths more questions than answers, so it was a pleasant respite not having them chasing after clues this episode. Week after week of dead-ends and mysteries has become tiresome. But while the protagonists take a backseat this week, the case continues.
CSI discovers that the burning boat from last week belongs to Miller’s brother-in-law. The problem is that he’s lived in Florida for years now. The only people who had access to it are Miller’s nephew, Owen, and his mother, but of course that doesn’t preclude anyone who might have docked near their boat with had pair of bolt cutters.
While it’s unlikely that Owen is the killer (why would he use his own boat to commit the crime?), this revelation does offer an interesting view into the killer’s mind. The murderer is obviously highly intelligent. Owen’s boat was easy to access and (presumably) unaffiliated with the killer. This makes the boat a good location for a crime since it will keep the police off of the true perp’s trail.
We are close to Gracepoint‘s end. With only three episodes left, the drama will undoubtedly amp up from here. The way Jack’s past was handled was more drawn out on Broadchurch, and while it took the main focus in this episode, it did not hold the same weight as it did in the U.K. version. Thankfully, these final episodes also mark the supposed significant break away from Broadchurch into its own show, so comparisons between the two series should become less obvious moving forward.
I cannot contain my excitement for what creator Chris Chibnall has in store for viewers as Gracepoint finally defines its identity.