“I hope you’re happy”
“Why does everyone keep saying that to me today? I’m never happy”
While the central mystery of Gracepoint remains who killed Danny Solano, the show has evolved into much more. The town that looked perfect is full of countless devastating secrets and its characters are increasingly, deeply complex. Who Detective Carver (David Tennant) is and why he behaves the way he does has become just as fascinating as the search for Danny’s killer, and how the writers have woven these together has become the most exciting aspect of the show.
“Episode Four” continues to add to the investigation into Danny’s murder and the various suspicious characters that inhabit Gracepoint. How is Susan Wright (Jacki Weaver) connected to Vince? And why does Paul (Kevin Rankin) hate Raymond Connelly (Adam Gredon Reid)? His warnings to stay away from Beth (Virginia Koll) feel more like the concerned boyfriend he once was rather than a concerned family priest.
Gracepoint has brilliantly laid the groundwork for each of the characters and the questions surrounding them. We know just enough to make us curious: Susan has Danny’s skateboard, Paul used to be in a relationship with Beth, and Chloe’s (Madalyn Horcher) in a relationship with a drug dealer who had a friendship with her young brother. Who is the mysterious Julianne that Carver seems so effected by? We are presented these facts over the course of several episodes but “Episode Four” delves a bit deeper.
Viewers might not know exactly who Julianne is but when Carver collapses chasing a suspect, she’s the first person he contemplates calling. Susan is clearly hiding something, including the nature of her relationship with Vince. Her reaction to him skipping out on their dinner is the first time we see real emotion from her, but is that emotion anger or hurt? Chloe turns the tables on Mark by confronting him about his affair and it’s a devastating scene. The Solanos are turning on each other, showing how much pain Danny’s death has caused them.
“All we find out is how little we knew,” Beth tells Mark towards the end of the episode, after the whole family has been shown the video of Danny stealing. She understandably wants answers- she’ll lean on Paul, lash out at Ellie (Anna Gunn), and even go to Raymond to get them. That line, her desire for Mark to finally tell her the truth and to know just a little piece of information about her son’s murder, shows her desperate sadness and how uncertain she is about everything in her life.
As is the case with most of the other episodes so far, Tennant is the cast standout. The writers and Tennant have created a character that is a grand mix of contradictions- emotionally devastated, powerful, smart, and at times uncertain. On the surface, Carver seems cold and cruel, like when he tells Ellie towards the end of the episode, “maybe they deserve to be shattered,” but it’s easy to see how the case, and his mystery illness, is slowly breaking him down.
One of the most telling and best scenes of the episode is Ellie and Carver’s evening walk after talking with the Solanos. Tennant and Gunn’s chemistry is great, it has been since the show began, and this scene gives yet another example of it, bouncing from Ellie’s anger at Carver’s ambivalence, to her bafflement, to their mutual uncertainty with a touch of humor.
“Episode Four” smartly builds on not just the mystery, but the powerful characters Gracepoint has created. The episode is smart and exciting, continuing the series’ strong track record thus far and making it a show that is emotionally satisfying and darkly enthralling.