Gracepoint Recap: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Photo: FOX
Episode Title
Episode Nine
Editor’s Rating

And then there was one. One more episode for this whole shebang to wrap up in a way that doesn’t seem flippant or false. A way that doesn’t seem like all of our pearl-clutching and close watching has been in vain. A way that helps us — and the Solanos, and the town of Gracepoint itself — heal. Too much to ask at this point? Most likely, but anything could happen in those last 45 minutes.

As for these 45, well: We last left the gang a pre-turkeyfied two weeks ago, with a mini-cliff-hanger that placed Det. Emmett Carver in dire straits (“I think I’m dying,” he said, in a moment of uncharacteristic candor and melodrama). Spoiler alert: He didn’t die. But he still could, and he’s likely to be fired, to boot. This fact propels him into extra-intensity mode, barking orders at Ellie and tightening the screws on our Creepy Lady With Dog (hereafter CLD) and, subsequently, Vince, who’s likely her son by her murderous pedophiliac husband (more on him in a moment). Little Gracepoint sure has some doozy backstories, don’t it?

On the Solano front, it’s ultrasound day, but Beth has lost that lovin’ feelin’ from the bowling alley, concerned that she and Mark are too splintered, sad, and angry to deal with a new life. She goes to Paul the Priest for solace and, as usual, finds a little more — a meaningful hug, a few intense glances — but reluctance on his part to help her with her marriage. (Side note: This episode’s Paul/Beth interaction made me feel like they’ve been leading us on with that story line the whole time. The lingering, slo-mo camera work was just a little over the top, and I started to think Paul’s just a red herring. Anyone else?) On her way from the church, Mark spots Beth, later confronts her, and prompts an admission both of love (for him) and fear (of the future). Where these two will land is still up in the air, but props again to Virginia Kull and Michael Peña for making Beth and Mark the most believable grieving parents to hit TV in a long while. Kull’s face as her baby is revealed in the ultrasound is a testament to what she has been so marvelous at all along — a specific admixture of fear, defiance, sadness, warmth, love, and anger, subtly mixed in a concoction that has fueled Beth Solano from the moment she ran down that road in episode one.

Elsewhere, the increasingly Damian-like Tom Miller confronts — and threatens! — Paul the Priest about the return of his banged-up computer. He promises that if Paul brings the computer to Det. Carver, he will tell Carver that Paul “hit Danny on that camping trip.” Did the hitting actually happen? Not sure, but Paul’s inference of incriminating material about Danny on Tom’s computer is just sideways enough to be leading. He could be concerned and trying to help get to the truth, or he could be at fault and trying to suss out what Tom knows. It’s a well-written moment, one that shows what this series sometimes gets wholly right in its dialogue and scene craft: We’re all, all of us, always hiding something.

Which brings us back to Vince. He’s been just out of reach as a suspect all along — he’s slightly menacing, obsessive, and armed — but he’s never been close enough to the center of the action to truly suspect. That all changes this episode, when CLD exposes his true parentage (and offers that he might be as murderous and pedophilic as his father), and when evidence from all sides — his mother, Ellie’s sister, Chloe’s boyfriend, that creepy-as-hell tattoo, his own garage — starts to tilt toward him. What’s he hiding, exactly? A predilection at best, a murder at worst?

We’re left on tenterhooks to consider all of this, as we must also consider Emmett Carver, living on borrowed time. In order to keep his health out of the news, he sits down with Owen and Kathy at the Gracepoint Journal to make a confession: All that business about Rosemont? Not his fault; rather, his philandering wife, also a detective, lost key evidence while mid-philander. Sure, Vince might be guilty, but Emmett’s not. And we all know what happens to redeemed heroes with a death wish, don’t we?

Once more into the breach.

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

Well, it seems I was right to query a few things from the last episode, because most of them came to fruition here (see queries the first through the third). Gracepoint hewed pretty close to Broadchurch with the Vince/Creepy Lady revelation story line, though it’s interesting that this version felt the need to intervene an adoption angle for Vince where Broadchurch just left that unexplained. Maybe there’s something in that about how information travels in small towns in the U.S. versus England? Or maybe I’m just overthinking it.

I did like the repositioning of Emmett’s health problems here as part and parcel of his desperation (in Broadchurch, his health felt more like a ticking clock, not quite so dire as here). In particular, I liked the use of Carver’s revelations to Kathy/Owen and the Journal both as a way to stop them from revealing his health in an article and a way for him to get this stuff off his chest. The intensity of that, as I alluded to above, makes me wonder if they’re going to kill Emmett off in the last episode. Over at Broadchurch, Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller are about to get a second season, but I am willing to bet this Gracepoint experiment is over for Fox. It would be kind of brilliantly poignant to have him die as the case is wrapped. If the case wraps. It has to, though, right?

Important final note: We got one big fat whale in the opening credits here, and that was very satisfying.