Gracepoint, Episode 7, Season 1, “Episode Seven”
Written by Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman
Directed by Ali Selim
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
“They hounded that poor man to death.”
“Episode Six” of Gracepoint ended with Jack (Nick Nolte) driven to suicide after the small town learned of his past arrest for statutory rape and assumed that he was Danny Salono’s murderer. While the character’s decision might not have been a complete surprise it was still heartbreaking to see a relatively innocent man persecuted by a modern day lynch mob feel as if he had no other place to go.
The episode begins with the townspeople and police quietly reassessing their hasty judgment of Jack but terrifyingly a good number of the townspeople don’t seem to upset Jack is dead. Rather than looking at themselves, Paul (Kevin Rankin) and the rest of the town turn their attention to Carver. With a newspaper headline proclaiming he is the worst cop in California it is easier for them to blame Carver for Jack’s death than themselves.
“Episode Seven” features perhaps some of the worst decision-making the show has presented viewers so far. Ellie’s (Anna Gunn) husband, Joe, lets their son, Tom, ride to school on his bike alone (all so he could go back and get his other sons dropped stuffed animal. A stuffed animal- consider how ridiculous that is). Then there’s in the scene of Joe telling Carver he “always believes the worst in people,” and he’s easily the most unlikeable character on the show this week. Turning on others in a situation like the one Gracepoint has created makes sense but the silly decision making is upsetting. Thus far, this has been a very smart, clever show and with only three episodes left it’s a bit strange that characters would start making stupid decisions that cheapen the show.
Even with that misstep, “Episode Seven” manages to be very good. It introduces Julianne, Carver’s previously unseen daughter. While the episode is mostly dominated by Ellie’s fears over her son, viewers also get the chance to examine Carver’s unusual but understandably strained relationship with his daughter. Not surprisingly Tennant is excellent. He’s wound up, angry, and terrified. Carver is a man very familiar with his past mistakes and viewers can sense how scared he is that he will make another misstep and screw up another case.
The most exciting aspect of “Episode Seven” is that this is the first time Gracepoint has strayed from its source material. Creators have said that this show will end differently than Braodchurch. For fans of the original that was a scary thought and even though there were a few bumps “Episode Seven” still manages to be an entertaining and exciting change of pace. With just three episodes left this season it feels like time the show tries something different.
It may be a bit clichéd to see Ellie’s son go missing, but this does lead to some of the best scenes of the night. From the beginning the two detectives have had a vastly different style with Carver being more cold and detached while Ellie is emotionally involved with everyone in the town and the case, but this is a more unhinged emotion coming from her. She’s not just desperate to find Danny’s killer, but to find her son. Her silent hug with Beth (Virginia Kull) is one of the starkest, saddest images the show has provided so far. The two mothers cling to each other, one facing her worst nightmare, another already living that nightmare.
On a show full of creepy and suspicious characters it isn’t the traumatized hiker that inspires fear, its Paul the priest who seems to relish poking at Mark and finding a camera to give a sermon to. Then there is of course Susan’s (Jacki Weaver) ever-mysterious connection to Vince. Each scene Weaver plays Susan as a hybrid of demented and spaced. We’re never sure where she’s at. Her threatening of a number of people continues to be the eeriest element of the show.
“Episode Seven” has great moments and even better performances but something about it just seems off. It’s disjointed and considering the emotional wallop that “Episode Six” delivered, this episode doesn’t compare. It’s the first disappointing episode of Gracepoint, but it says a lot that even when it is disappointing, the show still manages to be powerfully entertaining.