Gracepoint, Season 1, Episode Five, “Episode Five”
Written by Anya Epstein & Dan Futterman
Directed by James Strong
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
“I am so alone in all this”
The secrets of Gracepoint are slowly beginning to unravel as the search for Danny’s killer continues. While that mystery is fascinating, what the show has really succeeded at is showing its audience the darkness that often hides in a small town. With its abundance of characters, each is given the chance to share their version of the truth. Over the course of five episodes we have gotten to know just enough about the people of Gracepoint to keep us interested but with enough held back for them to stay fascinating.
The haunting image of that burning boat at the end of “Episode Four” opens this episode. While the show usually highlights its characters, this installment focuses on the monotony and paranoia of a small town whose nerves have frayed. Viewers are also given a deeper look at Jack (Nick Nolte) and Susan (Jacki Weaver). Susan’s true identity and the secrets of Jack’s past arrest might not turn out to be anything, but at this point, any answers given at all are helpful to exploring this world. The knowledge that Susan is really Ruth, a woman we know nothing about, leads to one of the episode’s most terrifying scenes. Her threats to Kathy Eaton (Alisen Down) are horrific and are more telling than anything else we’ve seen from her.
“Episode Five” gives us a deeper and different look at Det. Carver (David Tennant). He is still persistent and has a single-minded determination that is frustrating to everyone around him. “Do not get involved or you will live to regret it,” he threatens Raymond early in the episode. It is getting harder and harder to tell why he wants to solve this case. Is he truly driven for justice or is it just a puzzle to him? Is Danny’s murder a case that he has to solve before his health finally fails him? His dinner with Ellie (Anna Gunn) and her husband is one of the best scenes of the night. Not only do we learn that the mysterious Julianne from last week is the seventeen year old daughter he never sees and who lives with his ex-wife, but we also see his awkwardness and social uncertainty.
Secrets have been revealed over the previous four episodes, but the ones revealed here feel more urgent and lead to Gracepoint’s most intense and emotional episode yet. Beth’s (Virginia Koll) decision to talk to the press and her final scenes with Ellie’s son are genuinely heartbreaking. Koll has imbued her character with a sense of sadness, anger, and a desire to be useful in a situation that no parent even wants to imagine. That’s why she grants the interview with Renee (Jessica Lucas). Beth is searching for her place in a hopeless situation.
The episode’s closing scenes (Jack goes to the Solano family home begging them to trust that he didn’t hurt their son, Mark attacks a photographer on his property, and Carver continues to insist that they can solve this case) are filmed in a hectic and nervous manner. Add in the final scene of Jack burning the pictures of that he presumably took of the boys in his club and Miller learning that a similar murder took place 15 years ago in a town not far from where Jack used to live and we are left with yet another suspect.
“Episode Five” is a strong entry to the season. It effectively advances the central mystery, offers us some answers, gives us a deep look at the characters and creates even more uncertainty about some of the people of Gracepoint.