Gracepoint, Ep. 1.06, “Episode Six” movingly explores the suspects

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Gracepoint, Episode 6, Season One, “Episode 6”
Written by Jason Kim
Directed by David Petrarca
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox

“I need my anger right now Paul. It’s all I have left.”

As much as Gracepoint is about the mystery of who killed Danny Solano, it is also about the deadly paranoia that can infect a small town. “Episode Five” found Carver (David Tennant) and Ellie (Anna Gunn) stumbling upon more secrets and realizing that Jack (Nick Nolte) may very well be their most viable suspect. The final moments of the episode had his past arrest for statutory rape and his presence fifteen years earlier in a town that had a similar murder coming to light. But this episode is quiet except for a few acts of shocking violence.

“Episode Six” opens with a public spectacle through the center of town. As Ellie and Carver try to put a time frame together for the murder, Tom, Ellie’s son, plays the part of Danny. The townspeople and press come out to watch. The moment highlights what Gracepoint is going through, the push and pull between what the town and its people used to be and what they are now.

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The episode is a culmination of the fear that has been building for the last five episodes. Nolte’s powerful, desperate performance as Jack is one of the best things about “Episode Six”. He tells Carver and Ellie a small portion of his story, but it is his moving admission to Mark (Michael Pena) that he married the woman he went to prison for seeing and that they had a son that died as well that bonds Mark and Jack in a way neither could have ever imagined. It’s a very effective scene that shows Mark and the viewer’s where Danny’s death could leave his father, in time. He’s looking at his future, a man who has lost everything in his world and been left alone. Mark’s later scenes with Beth (Virginia Kull) show that while they are far from healed, they are at least trying to understand everything that has happened to them. “I’m not pressuring you; I just want to look at my boy. I just want to spend five minutes with him,” he tells Beth while looking over photos of Danny.

“Episode Six” ends on Jack’s decision to end his own life. Gracepoint is really about the terrible toll of paranoia and the agony of loss. Jack’s death is devastating and shows the power of the town’s fear. Of course, Vince may have his own motivations for going after Jack early in the episode. His mysterious relationship with the increasingly creepy Susan (Jacki Weaver) is one area of the show that hasn’t been explored in depth yet. No one seems reliable on Gracepoint and while that may be frustrating in other shows, here the writers have managed to balance they mystery and the simple lies.

The finest scenes of the episode belong not just to Nolte but again Kull, who is incredible as the grieving mother trying to reclaim a piece of her life before her son was murdered. “Episode Six” finds her veering between emotional outbursts and quiet revelations. She confronts Gemma over her affair with Mark, finally tells him she’s pregnant and tries to figure out if she really wants the child. Her confession to Paul that she hates the baby she’s carrying his wrenching. “I want Danny not something in his place” she says.

Many television mysteries that focus on one event struggle to maintain balance and remain interesting but with only four episodes left Gracepoint has benefited from its limited run. The writers and actors have been allowed to create a show unafraid to explore loss, family tragedy, secrets, lies, and what happens when all of these things crash together in a small town.

Tressa Eckermann

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