Gracepoint, Ep. 1.03, “Episode Three” highlights desperation and paranoia in small town

Gracepoint pic one

Gracepoint, Season 1, Episode 3, “Episode Three”
Written by Anya Epstein & Dan Futterman
Directed by David Petrarca
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox

“I hate the never-ending sky”

In just two episodes, Gracepoint has managed to introduce a show that is both a compelling character drama and a fascinating murder mystery. Leads David Tennant and Anna Gunn have slipped easily into their parts and Tennant in particular has been a standout.

Digging through evidence and misinformation, cops Carver (Tennant) and Ellie (Gunn) landed on Mark Solano (Michael Pena) as a suspect in his son’s murder at the end of “Episode Two”. One of the most fascinating things about Gracepoint is the town and how it is constructed, something that this episode highlights perfectly. The sense of community and paranoia that is building is slow and unrelenting. “Episode Three” is all about the mounting distrust found in the characters as the murder investigation continues.

Where that distrust pushes our characters is also interesting. Beth (Virginia Kull), more and more convinced that her husband possibly killed their son, turns to the psychic that insinuates himself in her life. She even goes so far as to tell her daughter that they can count on no one but each other, effectively cutting Mark out of their circle. Kull continues to surprise as the grieving mother. Traditionally a tricky role, Kull doesn’t just fall into the weeping emotional stereotype. Her portrayal of Beth is much more: angry, grieving, terrified, and uncertain.

The episode also shows Ellie’s growing trepidation. While she has repeatedly shown that she is smart, Emmett makes her question herself and makes her nervous. She’s from Gracepoint, she knows everyone and is very close to the Solano family. Her intense interrogation of Mark alongside Carver is one of the night’s best scenes. It’s an angry and upsetting exchange that defines where all of the characters are. Ellie is trying desperately to hang onto the idyllic life that Gracepoint offered before Danny’s murder, Mark is trying to keep his secrets under wraps and his grief in check, and Carver is fighting his hatred of the town and his frustration with the case.

Gracepoint pic two

“Episode Two” made it apparent that Tennant is the emotional center of the show and the mystery of who Carver really is, is becoming a powerful part of the show. The premiere found him looking haunted and terrified as he made his way to the crime scene, the second episode showed him shooting up with some sort of medication. Carver’s cold nature and dogged police work, along with his barely restrained anger at just about everything around him is phenomenal to watch and Tennant is so unbelievably good in the role.

Viewers get a deeper look at his hazy background when Renee (Jessica Lucas) tells him that she wants to find Danny’s killer because she was there for Carver’s last case and witnessed his failure then. That scene is so telling, and so wonderfully acted by both Lucas and Tennant. What are Renee’s motivations? Right now she seems like she simply wants a good story but reminding Carver of his past and telling him that she is still haunted by those events says a lot. The look of anger and anguish that passes over Carver’s face says even more. Was his unnamed medical condition caused by this case? How exactly did he destroy it? Who did he let down?

Gunn, so good when playing off of Tennant, imbues Ellie with the right mix of uncertainty and intelligence. “Are you sure he’s got nothing to do with it?” Carver asks after they let Mark go. “I don’t know” she answers honestly. It’s clear that her faith in everything from the Solano’s perfect life to the people of Gracepoint has been shaken.

“Episode Three” does an amazing job of continuing the tone established in the first two episodes, a feeling of paranoia and intrigue surrounding this devastating human drama. With fascinating characters and an equally enthralling mystery Gracepoint continues to get better and better.

Tressa Eckermann

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