Gracepoint, Season 1, Episode Nine, “Episode Nine”
Written by Euros Lynn
Directed by Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman
Airs Thursdays at 9pm (ET) on Fox
“If you’re going to lie to me Vince, at least have the respect to lie well”
With just one episode left, Gracepoint has been a powerful examination of grief and paranoia in a small town. While not as consistently effective as its source material, Broadchurch, this adaptation has been clever and aided by exceptional performances from David Tennant, Michael Pena, and Virginia Kull. But somewhere around the seventh episode, when the show started to break from Broadchurch’s plot, it began to suffer. There were good moments like the bonding scene between the still healing Solano family in “Episode Eight”, but the “disappearance” of Ellie’s (Anna Gunn) son, Tom, felt false. It was an overly complicated plot device, an unnecessary twist that detracted from the aspects of the show that are so good.
Before the show went on hiatus, viewers were given the arrest of Susan (Jacki Weaver) and Tom destroying his hard drive and whatever evidence it may hold. The episode ended on a stunning, nerve-wracking rain soaked chase scene that ended with Carver (David Tennant) collapsing and proclaiming that he thought he was dying. When “Episode Nine” opens we find Carver in the hospital barely alive and in need of surgery with Ellie taking over the case.
Carver’s illness, now out in the open, has put a time limit on his and Ellie’s investigation. With just one day left to make a dent in the case viewers get to see Ellie take on a more prominent role in the investigation. When she tells Susan that she’s “been working this case a long time” it’s said with a hint of exasperation, sadness and anger.
While the show has dealt heavily with secrets, “Episode Nine” sees many of those secrets coming to light. We get a small, tragic look at Susan’s past and a deeper look at Vince. Fittingly “Episode Nine” sees the most progress in the case. Finally we now know that Susan is the birth mother of Vince, and that’s why she took Danny’s skateboard. Viewers are given answers in what Carver is running from, the Rosemont case that had been haunting him from the beginning. His admission, that he wasn’t the one who lost the crucial evidence in that case but that his wife who was having an affair did, is shocking and sad. The moment tells us so much about who Carver is. He is above all else and almost to a fault, dedicated.
In “Episode Nine”, Carver is a man quite literally facing death. “The Solano case, I’ll take anything because I’m running out of time” he says after growing desperate and turning to the psychic he had originally scoffed at. His failing health could also be the biggest reason he seems to give Ellie more to do- somewhat. He still isn’t happy about not having control but when he tells Ellie to interrogate Susan, perhaps it is because he knows he might not survive to see the end of the case and he has to know that he’s leaving it in good hands.
It’s episode’s quiet scenes between Ellie and Susan that are its most powerful in “Episode Nine”. They are deeply unsettling, not just because of what we learn about Susan’s past but because there are still so many questions left about her. Chief among them, is she telling the truth about Vince? The scenes also offer up what is perhaps the creepiest moment of the entire series. Susan, speaking quietly tells Ellie about finding Danny’s body. “He was beautiful” she whispers. The problem is viewers just cannot trust anything she says, especially to the police. After she tells Ellie that the police destroyed her family there is a sense that she could still be and probably is lying about a great number of things.
“Episode Nine” is a strong lead into the final episode that finally gives viewers a fuller picture of Carver and offers at least a small glimpse into Susan.