Gracepoint, Season 1, Episode 10 “Episode Ten”
Written by Anya Epstien and Dan Futterman
Directed by Euros Lynn
Aired Thursdays 9pm (ET) on Fox
“This is going to crack open a fault line in this town”
While Gracepoint hasn’t packed the same emotional wallop of Broadchurch, its source material, it has maintained a consistent level of intrigue, melancholy, and family drama, all aided by strong performances from a number of its central actors. For the majority of its ten episode run, the show has been exciting but it has struggled towards the end of the season.
One of the things done so exceptionally well in this season of Gracepoint has been its depiction of a family’s grief and a town’s paranoia. From the very first episode, viewers have known that the small seaside town of Gracepoint was full of more secrets and lies then any character would let on. It seems that pretty much everyone in the town has a secret and they’re willing to lie and die for those secrets.
Gracepoint broke from its predecessor in episode seven and in the finale, made the decision to let the audience believe for the majority of the episode that Joe, Ellie’s husband, was Danny’s killer. While Tom is a horrible man and directly linked to the boy’s death, writers Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman include Tom in the murder. Danny’s accidental death at the hands of his former best friend, while the two boys were trying to protect each other was a shock and added another level of sadness to the whole incident.
Gracepoint made the right decision by exposing the killer early in the episode because for the rest of the runtime, we’re allowed to see the various reactions to the news. Over the course of the entire first season viewers were asked a number of questions: How would you put your life back together after an unimaginable tragedy? What do secrets do to people over time? Leaving the Solano’s, at the memorial for Danny, shocked at the news of Joe’s arrest, gives each of the family members a sense of peace. Obviously the secret’s question will haunt Ellie for the rest of her life. When Beth asks her, “How could you not know?”, it is an amazing callback to Ellie’s interrogation of Susan in “Episode Nine”. Those two characters had an unusual connection that is only more pronounced now that they’ve both been touched by a terrible secret.
The various reactions to the reveal of Danny’s killer, ripple throughout the episode and are some of its best parts. Carver, after hearing Joe’s confession, going to Ellie and telling her the truth is a devastatingly sad scene and Gunn’s best of the entire series. The tension, anger and sadness that she exudes fits perfectly with the confused and scary moment. The scenes that follow, packing up her home, taking her children to a hotel, hiding from the town, and telling her son about her husband’s arrest, are full of the uncertainty that she is feeling.
While most of the episode is strong the finale’s one weak spot is its cliffhanger ending. Though Ellie’s decision not to tell Carver about her son’s involvement in Danny’s death isn’t surprising, the cliffhanger ending cheapens the emotional impact of the episode as a whole. It’s understandable that the writers would want something to do with a possible second season but Gracepoint needed a more concrete conclusion. While watching Carver’s hard expression as the screen cut to black is a chilling way to end the series and the audience was given much needed answers and a somewhat satisfying conclusion to the mystery, Gracepoint was always marketed as a limited series. What were the writers trying to do with that cliffhanger?
Over the course of ten episodes, Gracepoint has been a reliable, interesting drama and mystery. With the exception of that one moment at the end, “Episode Ten” is a wonderful, well written and well-acted finale.