With ten episodes to tell its crime story — something some series do weekly, in an hour — one might think Gracepoint would take its time when it comes to plot or pacing. Instead, the investigation surrounding Danny Solano’s murder flows forth with incredible speed. Details emerge quickly, change, betray more depth, and then mutate again into something else. Clues are not hard to find, either. For detectives Carver and Miller, the problem is not in finding the information, but in knowing what to do with the deluge. Hit the jump for why you should never lie to the police.
Though “Episode Two” touched some on how the Solanos, particularly Beth, are grieving after Danny’s death, the hour was mostly spent around characters we hadn’t yet met — but who were teased — from the first episode. Particular time was given to a local Priest, Paul (Kevin Rankin), who is an old friend of Beth’s. He’s back after a number of years, and at just the right time to lend support. Though he doesn’t do much more than provide other characters someone to talk to for most of his time onscreen, that confessor role turned out to be key: Beth is pregnant, and as no idea how to welcome (or reject) this information in the wake of Danny’s death.
At this point, almost every character is a suspect. Everyone looks shifty, and anyone could have a motive. Seasoned crime show watchers and Agatha Christie devotees will know to be wary when it comes to who the show seems to be pointing to first (although some shows have subverted that as well — it’s uncertain which way Gracepoint will fall on that spectrum). Jack Ryan, the head of the local wildlife group, has a sudden recollection of a backpacker that no one else can corroborate. Is it to shift focus from him? Emmett thinks that’s entirely possible, in the same way he’s intrigued by the Solanos making an unsolicited list of potential killers (who, as Ellie mentions, include babysitters, teachers, and even their friends). Is that to keep the police from considering them?
Emmett’s instincts to go to the house on the cliff paid off when the investigative team found Danny’s blood there and a shoe print, which is surprising given that the rest of the house had been scrubbed clean (by Susan Wright*, the cleaner? Or by the killer? Or are they one and the same?) There was also one more bit of evidence: fingerprints on the sink at the house, belonging to Mark Solano.
Mark has been suspicious from the start, beginning with his unemotional response to the news that the body on the beach was Danny’s. Beth also didn’t seem to believe his story about taking a job late the night Danny was killed, and that story did fall apart when Emmett watched surveillance footage from that night showing Mark at the cliff house, waiting on someone. When confronted, Mark’s lies dissolved almost immediately, but he still withheld the truth while glancing anxiously into the house where Beth was. All of this plus Danny’s journals about needing to escape, knowing what “he” is doing, and thinking his dad will kill him seem like a false lead, though. In other words, if things were that clear regarding Mark already, well, there’s not much more story to tell.
But, again, it’s the second episode, and with the glut of information that we’ve been given already, there are sure to be more than a few red herrings. Further, every discovery only begs more questions. Who was Mark with that night, and was that person responsible for Danny’s death? Why would he lie about his whereabouts, and who is he lying to protect?
In addition to the introduction of Paul and his potential involvement (because, again, anyone could be in play at this point), the local inn-keep Gemma Fisher (Sarah-Jane Potts) got a side-story of her own that involved Danny’s sister Chloe. Investigators found cocaine in Chloe’s room, and $500 in cash in Danny’s (which are, at this point, not necessarily related). A seemingly innocuous tale about Gemma seeking it out for guests, and Chloe providing it via her boyfriend (who is afraid of the repercussions) have cleared everyone for now. But again, it raises more questions than it answers.
The meta story here is about how Ellie is coping with this as a person who is from the town and knows all of the players involved, while Emmett is the impartial and callous outsider who tells her to not be so trusting. In all likelihood, he tells her, the murderer is someone she knows. The more she distances herself emotionally from that now, the more clearly she might be able to see that picture. Of course, through Renee we also learned that Emmett is not infallible — he botched the Rosemont case, which dealt with 3 missing girls (though we don’t yet know the details or his side of things). As Ellie said, “here we go.”
Episode Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Viewers have been given small bits of information in each episode so far that Emmett and Ellie have not, like young Tom deleting his messages and his hard drive after learning of Danny’s death. In “Episode Two,” the hidden clue was a skateboard — presumably Danny’s — that was in a cupboard inside a trailer occupied by *Susan Wright (Jacki Weaver), a very shifty-looking woman who cleans the house where Danny was killed.
— A lot of setup, but something is still missing. Character development? Any struggle to find clues at all? (Everything seems to fall into their laps). Just something.
— The best scene in the episode was of Beth going stir-crazy, and having to leave the house. Her whole journey, from feeling everyone’s eyes on her as she shopped, to getting emotional at the children’s cereal boxes, to finally breaking down completely outside of her car, was all really emotionally compelling.
— Seriously questioning the camerawork on Emmett’s coffee-drop and shoot-up in the bathroom. It didn’t fit the tone or the style of the show at all.
— Renee doesn’t seem particularly trustworthy; her insinuating herself into Chloe’s life via the monkey was a smart, if kind of morally corrupt play.
— On top of everything, there appears to be a supernatural thread as well. The telephone guy says that Danny was transported by water around the time he was killed. Is this because the guy saw something, did something, or is actually in communication with the dead? (You never can tell these days on TV).
— Jack Ryan is not going to do himself any favors by lurking around playgrounds.
— Speaking of, I liked the scene where Ellie was confronted by another parent on the playground; it felt realistic.
— Owen’s boss Kathy is really blunt, isn’t she?