At last, the killer was revealed. Was it a shock to you? Now, Gracepoint can come to an end as well. It was a ratings disaster, and an unnecessary remake (particularly since so much was so similar to Broadchurch, except far less affecting), but it had its moments. It introduced a lot of us to Virginia Kull, who was amazing; and in its last few episodes, it found a sense of urgency that it lacked in its first few hours (which might have turned a lot of viewers off). Hit the jump for a breakdown of that twisty finale, and some Broadchurch comparisons.
One thing that stuck out to me throughout Gracepoint — and one that kept me holding out the hope of a different killer than Broadchurch — was that the method of Danny’s death had changed. InBroadchurch, he was strangled. Here, it was blunt-force trauma. Joe’s relationship with Danny was also a little different. This time, it wasn’t overtly sexual, but only beginning to stir something dark inside of him. He also claimed he was a good man, and didn’t admit to having feelings for Danny that he understood. Joe’s Broadchurch counterpoint was far more deliberate with his feelings about their Danny, and far more violent, in the end.
But these small changes did lead up to something big: it was Tom who actually delivered the killer blow to Danny, with Joe taking the blame for it. Tom being involved was my original theory of the crime in Broadchurch, because that version really built up the animosity between Danny and Tom early in the series, and carried it throughout (Gracepoint did not). It also made a lot more sense than just Joe acting alone, because the only hints we got of Joe’s involvement was how he was the only man in town not considered a suspect. “Episode Nine” also dropped some heavy foreshadowing through Susan Wright’s case, like when Ellie believes Susan had to have known about the abuse in her own home, and then goes home to Joe and asks, semi-seriously, what he does all day.
While Broadchurch (I told you guys after Gracepoint‘s first episode that I would hold back comparisons until the finale; well, the flood gates are open!) wrapped up its story neatly because it never was supposed to get a second season, Gracepoint‘s was incredibly open-ended. In a very, very strange (and in my opinion, terrible) move, Ellie became part of the coverup of the crime, after learning the truth from Tom. Emmett is ready to close to book on Gracepoint and finally move on with his life, but something Tom said in his interview sticks with him, and Ellie ignores his call as he hones in on the full truth of the matter. Then things end.
Gracepoint was clearly built for a second season, because exploring Ellie’s complicated feelings about this are desperately necessary. Plus, now that we know Tom actually killed Danny and knew the truth about him and Joe, what was he doing in the woods that day he got lost? What was he trying to accomplish? Why didn’t he throw his laptop out there, and how much did he and Joe collude on things after Joe went and put Danny’s body on the beach? How did he and Tom talk about what had happened, or how could Tom handle all that had happened so casually? (Not to say that Tom wasn’t acting completely normally, but that is some heavy shit for a twelve-year-old to carry so well).
Like Broadchurch, there’s also no further exploration of Joe’s motivations. He’s a pedophile, right? Why didn’t he abuse his own children? Especially since Tom and Danny were the same age? What about Joe’s past might have given him these predilections? Etc.
Danny’s funeral and memorial bonfire should have really stirred up emotions, particularly as other fires were lit across the coast. That scene in Broadchurch made me cry, especially because Danny’s mother had a vision of him watching over the proceedings, and at peace. There was no such closure here, and the scene itself felt rushed. The show was already looking to the next thing, which was Ellie’s coverup of Tom’s involvement.
But “Episode Ten” did have a few genuinely affecting moments, like when Emmett confronts Ellie about Joe being the killer, and her visceral reaction to it (and her assaulting him later). Beth walking over and accusing Ellie of the same thing Ellie accused Susan of was also powerful, and all of those scenes were framed really poignantly. Some of that was undone with the scary lighting that fell on Ellie as she talked to Tom in that motel bathroom, and also by the show’s disappointing choice to make Ellie an accessory after the fact, if she continued to keep things from Emmett.
These highs and lows were a microcosm of Gracepoint as a whole, though. It was largely a wash, yet thanks to its needlessly open-ended finale, its legacy is definitely one of redundancy and a false hope that enough viewers would clamor for more.
On the more positive side: Broadchurch does have a second season, and it will be on BBC America February 4th. I suggest you tune in.
Episode Rating: B+
Season/Series Rating: C+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— If you enjoyed Gracepoint, I strongly encourage you to definitely pick up Broadchurch. Ideally, I would suggest watching it from the beginning to connect with that set of characters, but, it would be pretty easy to probably go to Broadchurch‘s second season from Gracepoint‘s first if you are looking for a further exploration of that world (just with other actors and some different names).
— “We were happy here” – Ellie.
— That was a really gorgeous scene when Emmett and Ellie were by the water talking, with the tide gentle lapping at the shore.
— Joe: “I never touched Danny.” Ellie: “You were going to.” Anna Gunn was in full Skylar White “how could you betray us??” mode in this episode.
— “A found out who killed Danny. Tom, it was Dad” – Ellie. Not exactly … it was Tom! But Joe helped. Also, Tom is going to need a lot of therapy.
— Emmett Facetiming with his daughter was cute. Too bad he probably won’t make that graduation or that heart surgery because he’s still going to be chasing after the truth in Gracepoint.
— So the psychic was right!
— “I never saw anyone else hit Danny” – Tom.
— “Look at us. Former detectives club” – Ellie to Emmett.