Gracepoint Recap: Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

Photo: Fox
Episode Title
Episode 8
Editor’s Rating

Not going to lie: I’m starting to get worried. Not for our dear friend Emmett Carver. I believe he will be fine (this is a belief based on Broadchurch plot points, so it will be addressed, as always, below the fold). I also think Ellie and Co. will be fine. So will the town of Gracepoint. But I’m not sure Gracepoint will be.

Let me explain. After last night’s outing, there are only two episodes left in our series. And I feel like we’re being set up for the killer to be someone that we’re not seeing at all right now. Why do I feel this? Let’s blame some two-plus decades of procedural-watching, shall we? I mean, I’ve been analyzing procedural plot structure ever since I could say Lenny Briscoe (RIP), and something is a bit stinky in the state of Gracepoint from where I’m standing.

My fear is that we’re going to get Lost, here, and I think that some other fans of the series share my trepidation (based on your comments on these recaps, and the comments from fans across other internet coverage as well). This feeling is being amplified by all the shade thrown at Creepy Lady With Dog and Paul the Priest in this and other episodes, and the frenzied nature at which this shade is being thrown. The writers are building a huge wall against these two, and smaller ones against a few others, and as a consequence — along with this huge, episode-long Tom detour — it all feels like misdirection that’s going to blow back in our faces. I’m prepared for the worst but remain hopeful for the best. This is the procedural fan’s wheelhouse, mind you; we all have that embroidery of “Bless This Predictable Mess” above our TVs.

We start back where we were, looking for Tom. The moment he’s found is nicely framed, with Paul the Priest’s flashlight slowly revealing him, from his toes on up. We see his bloody knee and remember the psychic’s words about Tom bleeding in the woods (delivered by Beth to Joe Miller in the last episode). He’s shaken and tired but okay. It turns out that he was looking for Lars Pierson’s shack, which he uncovered episodes back using his mother’s notes and a little bit of Google magic.

It surprised me that Emmett didn’t lose his shit hearing this — this is the exact kind of “breach” in cop protocol you could imagine him going bonkers over in earlier episodes. Is this meant to tell us he’s changed, or changing, along with him calling Gunn “Ellie” here? Or is it weakness, physical or otherwise? What’s Emmett’s deal? His dream — of the Rosemont girl, Danny, and Tom, walking backwards toward the cliff — is straightforward enough if taken at face value. But I also considered the fact that Emmett’s presence itself seemed to push the kids backwards, and for the first time in this series (possibly because our Rosemont mother appears a little later on), I entertained the idea of Carver as killer, even if for a moment. Damn you, writers! Damn me, brain!

More misdirection: Mark tells Emmett that Paul has always been in love with Beth, and we hear that he was Beth’s first kiss. (Can’t have been that good, since he became a priest. Right? Up top!) We also learn he’s in Narcotics Anonymous and that he’s had some violent episodes in his past. I might suspect something sinister if he hadn’t already been creepily singing in the woods. (Heavy is the hand that writes the creepy priest. Right? Up top!) Meanwhile, Beth admits she’s jealous that Ellie gets her son back when she and Mark don’t, and Creepy Lady (a.k.a. Susan Wright/Ruth Ehrlich) has enough in her past to bring Newspaper Kathy on the alert — and that’s before she stops by the Miller house with Danny’s skateboard, prompting her arrest. (Side note: Didn’t Carver say there was paint from Danny’s skateboard in the burnt boat? Did he have another skateboard? Vince makes those boards, right? Coincidence?) Renee Clemons is also back, and Beth finds her sleeping in her car after Gemma denies her a room at the inn. Meanwhile, they’re forced to release our PTSD-prone backpacker due to lack of evidence. Bye for now, Lars “Dead Eyes” Pierson! And speaking of Vince, he takes Susan/Ruth’s dog and briefly considers shooting it before relenting. Nothing more sinister than a brazen animal killer, is there? Or is there? “Look over here!” say the writers. “No, over here! Dizzy? Good.”

Leaving the tangled web aside a moment, I found myself drawn in to the idea of the Solanoses trying — and failing — to get their lives back on track. Mark’s workday is thrown by seeing the newspaper with his son’s face on it beside someone’s fireplace, waiting to be burned away to nothing (this is a poignant Mark moment, which I’ve been sorely missing since his dream about hugging Danny). Chloe tries to go back at school and bails, withering under classmates’ pity stares and not wanting to be just “the dead boy’s sister,” and Beth uses Renee’s return to pivot towards meeting with a Rosemont mother, who admits her life never really normalized after her daughter died. From here, the Solanoses are driven together, finally, at the bowling alley, where Chloe beats Danny’s old high score and Beth acknowledges, in a sideways way, that she might keep the baby.

Then there’s that whole chase from the murder hut, with what looks like a tall man taking off into the dark and thwarting both Ellie and an undeniably weakened Emmett. (“I think I’m dying” is a pretty straightforward line for Carver. Yikes! Is this also misdirection, or something greater?) And, of course, there’s shifty wee Tom. Fully recovered himself, he calls his cousin Owen to ask if data is recoverable from deleted hard drives. When Owen says it is, Tom takes to the driveway to smash up his laptop. He’s found out, conveniently, by Paul the Priest. (That guy’s always everywhere! Just like his boss. You know, God? Right? Up top!) Did Tom kill Danny? Seems unlikely, but who knows at this point. Anything is possible, but fingers crossed that whatever does happen is not so far-fetched that we’re left standing on a cliff, slowly walking backwards into oblivion.

The People vs. Gracepoint vs. Broadchurch (Warning: Potential spoilers ahead, or at least spoiler-y questions/observations)

  • Query the first: Are we headed toward the same revelation on Emmett’s part here as on Alex Hardy’s part in Broadchurch, vis-à-vis his cheating wife and the cover-up that led to him being blamed for the failure to solve Rosemont? Hmm?
  • Query the second: Are we headed toward the same revelation on Vince’s part here as in Broadchurch, vis-à-vis Creepy Lady being his mother (less obscured in Broadchurch) and there being a history of violence/pedophilia there? Hmm?
  • Query the third: If we’re not dealing with an analogous killer here, which we’ve been told we’re not, then what to make of Tom’s hard-drive deletion? What is he hiding if not messages about the killer? Was he telling the truth about his reasons for going to Lars Pierson’s hut? Hmm?
  • Query the fourth: There’s no analogous character to Pierson in Broadchurch. What do we make of him? Hmm?
  • Query the fifth: Though Chloe’s boyfriend appears to be a good guy, I’m still put off by how quickly he and Chloe were willing to throw Jack Reinhold under the bus a few episodes back. Does that mean anything now? Hmm?
  • Query the sixth: Are the whales gone? What ho, whales?