There is a sense of camaraderie and community in small towns. But in aid of maintaining that picturesque setting, dark secrets begin to grow because everyone has something to hide. Small towns can be scary, a theme this week’s episode of Gracepoint seeks to prove. Apparently Danny knew his killer well. The implication of that knowledge is astounding. If Danny knew his killer than that means we’ve already seen him.
Going into this the third week into the investigation of the Solano murder, Carver is narrowing in on a suspect. Naturally, as it is in every murder case, the family is the first to be questioned. While Beth (Virginia Kull) is the only one is the town whose grief seems to point to innocence, her daughter, Chloe (Madalyn Horcher), and husband, Mark (Michael Peña), are hiding more important pieces of information from detectives. And, as it is soon revealed, Chloe’s secrets are nothing compared to her father’s.
The deeper Carver (Tennant) and Miller (Gunn) dig into the death of Danny Solano, the more guilty Mark appears. As evidences stacks up against him, Mark refuses to account for his whereabouts on the evening Danny was killed. We all have our secrets, but if your son died, wouldn’t you do anything to catch the person who killed him?
The Solano family are far from the only people in town with skeletons in the closet. We learn that Danny knew his killer well, a fact that doesn’t surprise considering that establishing shots of Gracepoint’s beach are interspersed with shots hinting that everyone is guilty of something. In the real world, we all have secrets – that goes without saying.
However, it would seem as if the people of Gracepoint have Olympic medals in the art of nondisclosure. In Gracepoint, these secrets range from gossip to key revelations that put people’s lives at risk. The problem is, Miller and Carver are not aware of all of the town’s secrets but the audience is. This dramatic irony heightens tension in the episode. As pressure builds, suspicion pairs with grief and then tears people apart.
Continuing her arc from last episode, Beth’s breakdown is getting more severe. The number of people she trusts is shrinking. Her lines “When did I become someone who cares about clothes on the floor?” and “The problem isn’t waking up. It’s once I’m up, where do I go?” highlight her loneliness and despair.
But although she mentally casts aspersions on her friends and neighbors, Beth’s true grief comes from not being there for her son. She was too busy worrying about appearances and “making bagged lunches” to appreciate her family while she had them. Her guilt may be the worst of all. I can only imagine that any mother in Beth’s situation find themselves thinking the same things, a fact that makes the episode all the more powerful.
Meanwhile, Miller’s empathy for the suspects is getting in the way of the investigation. At one point Carver even says to her, “Stop acting like [Mark’s] lawyer.” Miller is too invested in her town and the relationships she has with its people to remain objective. But after learning about Mark’s suspicious activities surrounding Danny’s death, her trust in the townsfolk of Gracepoint seems to be wavering.
When Miller doesn’t let her emotions rule her, it’s obvious she is a talented detective. She picks up on small details that rivals Carver’s impressive reputation. Carver may have the résumé to be head detective, but Miller is clearly just as capable, which drives home Carver’s blatant disrespect for Miller’s less fancy reputation.
This condescending attitude is demonstrated most obviously when Carver sets Miller up to run a briefing she’s not prepared for. Having seen Miller contribute significantly to the case, this sequence puts Carver in a surprisingly bad light. He is already an outsider to Gracepoint, and this stunt only makes him more unsympathetic.
Miller and Carver continue to butt heads on where the investigation should go. This conflict begs a question of the audience: whose method is more efficient? Should the go with Miller’s sympathetic touch or Carver’s driven pragmatism? The show doesn’t offer any answers just yet.
Beyond drama, the detectives’ relationship is certainly a lighter highlight of the show. Miller’s one-liners and reactions to Carver’s fish-out-of-water antics never fail to garner laughs. Gunn delivers a fantastic opening line to Tennant’s disapproving face as she pours herself some coffee. “What? Am I too clangy?” she asks sardonically. Miller’s general nonchalance and sarcasm as a defense against Carver’s apathy make for a great dynamic.
I absolutely adore the show LOST. However, I benefited by binge-watching the show entirely on Netflix. Therefore, the show’s habit of introducing more questions than answers never bothered me as much as it did other viewers. Watching Gracepoint week-to-week, I’m beginning to understand how frustrating that narrative approach can be.
Although there have only been three episodes of Gracepoint, I already feel like the show has raised more questions than answers. Every mystery that’s solved leads to four new ones. It’s a maddening feeling. I can only hope that the show will avoid a LOST-like ending and offer the viewers some modicum of closure.