GRACEPOINT: “Episode Three”

With the murder and investigation established, Gracepoint turns to the possible suspects

What are you looking for, Miller? An easy answer? The least pain? It doesn’t work like that.

-Detective Carver

Would you enjoy working with Detective Emmett Carver? Would anyone? The type of man so self-absorbed (though he’d probably say “deep in thought”) that he wouldn’t even thank you if you gave him a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning? As Ellie Miller asks him, “Do you have any kids? Because I doubt they have very good manners.”

I said last week that the relationship between Carver and Miler is the key to the show. Miller, with her shocked naiveté, continues to butt heads with Carver and his sense of distrust. It’s old hat to point out that Miller, the insider, represents the close knit town of Gracepoint. She’s the voice of familiarity, known and trusted by the quaint townsfolk. When someone has a question about the investigation, they take it to her. No one wants to deal with Carver. Miller is the closest thing Carver has to a friend in Gracepoint, and she explicitly tells her husband that she can’t stand him in “Episode Three.” Like I said, would you?

But just because Carver isn’t warm and cuddly doesn’t mean he’s a bad cop. Again, he’s the only choice to lead the investigation into Danny Solano’s death. He’s the only Gracepoint cop with murder investigation experience. Can you imagine what things would look like if he wasn’t around? Gracepoint’s police force would still be committed to Whalefest instead of the murder inquiry. They aren’t Keystone Cops inept, but they weren’t ready for this job. In “Episode One,” before Danny’s murder was even discovered, Miller’s boss tells her that the lead detective position has been given to a man with “a lot of experience” – Carver. Hopefully Miller and the rest of the Gracepoint PD can learn from his experience, and his innate sense of analytical distrust. When Miller (STILL!) can’t bring herself to accept Mark Solano, Danny’s father, as a potential suspect, Carver tells her to “look at the evidence…and draw conclusions from that.” If Miller is in position to learn from Carver, and we’ve already covered that the two detectives represent the town of Gracepoint and the cold, analytical view of an outsider conducting an investigation, respectively, the question by association becomes: will the town of Gracepoint learn anything from Carver’s investigation?

Oh yes. Gracepoint is hardly the innocent town it once seemed.

The complicated plot of Gracepoint makes the show difficult to break down linearly, so this week I’m trying a different tactic. The investigation is beginning to focus on suspects, so I will too.

Mark Solano – Danny’s father

“Episode Two” ended with sights set squarely on Mark Solano. Video evidence revealed that he was present at a seaside shed on the night of Danny’s murder, and not fixing a burst pipe as he originally claimed. He was evasive with police, and his fingerprints and Danny’s blood were found inside the same shed. The shed is believed to be the scene of Danny’s murder, and Mark was obviously there. He claims he was there to fix a burst pipe, and he says he got the keys from Susan Wright, the cleaning lady. When Carver and Miller ask her to corroborate this story, she claims that it never happened.

Mark’s story isn’t getting any clearer, either. Knowing that the “late night job” story won’t hold up, he texts his friend and coworker, Vince, and asks him to tell the police that they were together the night of the crime. It’s a lot of very suspiscious behavior for a man who still claims that he had nothing to do with his son’s murder.

Examining the cliff that Danny presumably fell from, Carver finds no evidence that the boy actually died falling from the cliff. He begins working on an alternate theory that Danny was killed in the cliffside shack and then purposely placed on the beach below, knowing that the tide would wash away most of the evidence. There weren’t any footprints on the beach, so placing the body must have been done by boat. Does Mark Solano own a boat? Of course he does, and, worse for him, the bottom of the boat has traces of Danny’s blood all over it. In light of this mountain of evidence and his refusal to account for his whereabouts on the night of his murder, Mark is placed under arrest.

Case closed? You know that Gracepoint is scheduled for ten episodes and not three, right?

At the urging of Chloe Solano, Mark’s daughter, town innkeeper Gemma Fisher comes forward to account for his whereabouts. Chloe, Gemma, and Mark are the only ones who know the truth: Mark was having an affair with Gemma, and they were together on the night of Danny’s murder. The revelation also accounts for Mark’s evasiveness as he didn’t want anyone to know about the affair, which he claims was a one-time mistake that would destroy his family. The blood in the boat came from a fishing accident. Mark isn’t an innocent man, being complicit in an affair and all, but he no longer seems guilty of Danny’s murder and he’s released. He’ll have a whole host of problems back at home.

Vince – Mark’s friend/coworker

Vince was willing to lie to the police about Mark’s whereabouts on the night of the murder. That’s not a positive checkmark in his file, even if his mother claims that Vince was home with her on the night of the murder. We know that she suffers from dementia, so could she be wrong? Vince also reveals that Mark doesn’t pay him well. Could he have been angry enough about his salary that he murdered Mark’s son? It’s something to keep an eye on.

Gemma Fisher – Inn owner/Mark’s lover

She already has a cocaine possession incident on her record due to the investigation. Could there be a murder to go with it? Maybe she murdered Danny to sow the seeds of mistrust between Mark and his wife, hoping to destroy their marriage? Unlikely. Mark claims they only slept together once, and it was the night of Danny’s murder. If they cleared him based on that information, it has to account for her, too.

Susan Wright – Creepy trailer park cleaning woman

Despite Mark being cleared, there’s still a major discrepancy between her story and his. Mark still claims that Susan gave him the keys to get into the shack – just on a different night than the one of Danny’s murder. She insists that this never happens. Susan remains creepy and cold every time we see her, and she isn’t exactly helpful to the police despite her insistence that they need to solve this case to protect the rest of the town’s children. Most importantly, Danny’s missing skateboard – one of two missing pieces of evidence from the night of his murder (the other is his missing cell phone) – is secretly stashed away in her closet.

Tom Miller – Detective Ellie Miller’s son/Danny’s best friend

There aren’t really any new revelations about Tom this week. He’s finally interviewed by Carver, and he reveals that Mark Solano beat Danny once or twice, further adding to the pile of evidence against Mark before he’s finally cleared. Again, the damning evidence against Tom comes from a previous episode – deleting all of his texts with Danny and wiping his hard drive. What is he hiding?

“Surely a 12-year old boy couldn’t have committed this murder?” you might ask. Stop. That’s an Ellie Miller way of looking at the evidence. We’ll look at the facts with Carver when the time comes.

Raymond Connelly – IT man/psychic weirdo

On an otherwise straightforward murder mystery show, Raymond is an outlier. He claims to get psychic visions from the dead, which includes Danny. Carver and Miller scoff at his “visions” when he tells them that Danny’s murder involved a boat, but the investigation bore that point out. The question is if Raymond really saw the boat in a vision, or if he was involved in the murder.

Admittedly, Raymond is a weirdo (as anyone telling you they get psychic visions from their spirit guide usually is). He also has an unsettling relationship with Danny’s mom, Beth Solano. He continually tries to meet with her, and puts notes under her front door. It’s a strange way to approach a woman who just lost her son (priest Paul Coates is being a little weird towards Beth, too, but we’ll get to him another week). Lastly, Raymond urges Beth not to look for Danny’s killer. He claims that the murderer is someone close to her, and the answer will only bring her more pain. Of course you’d want a murder investigation dropped…if you were the murderer.

Chloe Solano – Danny’s sister

Lastly this week is Chloe Solano, Danny’s sister. Once Mark Solano is cleared, Chloe becomes the focus of Carver’s investigation. The source of the cocaine she gave to Gemma Fisher remains unclear to the police (viewers should have picked up on the hints that she got it from her boyfriend). Carver is convinced that it’s linked to the (unexplained to everyone) $500 found in Danny’s room. Any investigation is sure to lead to Dean, Chloe’s secret boyfriend. It’s telling that Chloe was one of the few people to suspect Mark’s affair – she’s conducting a secret romance of her own. It takes one to know one. My guess would be that Chloe and Dean are the focus of the investigation in next week’s “Episode Four.”

—–

Around the town:

-Though she’s not really a suspect, Beth Solano is having one hell of a difficult time. When Mark leaves in the middle of the night, pissed that she directly asks if he killed Danny, she follows him and sees him kissing Gemma Fisher. Add that affair to the anguish she’s feeling over Danny’s death and her confusion over what to do with her unplanned pregnancy. It’s no wonder she’ll take answers wherever she can find them – be that with priest Paul Coates or “psychic” Raymond Connelly.

-Cub reporter Kevin Zegers seems to be having financial problems, noted by the way he’s beating on an ATM machine when it tells him he’s overdrawn.

-Honestly, I’m not impressed with any of the show’s acting. I’ve never been a member of the Anna Gunn Fan Club, but I’m shocked to find David Tennant equally unimpressive. He’s excellent in Broadchurch, but something got lost in translation. His take on Emmett Carver just doesn’t work. It’s almost as if he’s playing the stereotype of a gritty American cop rather than properly developing his character. There’s still plenty of Carver meat left on the bone though (his obvious health issues, whatever happened in Rosemont, his statement that his work in Gracepoint is a “penance”) so we’ll have to see what happens.

-We can’t forget the most important development of the episode: REAL EVIDENCE. The forensic team finds a slip of paper with a phone number on it hidden in the lining of Danny’s jacket as the episode ends. It’s the best hard evidence Carver and Miller have while Danny’s phone and skateboard remain unaccounted for.

This is a plot point original to Gracepoint. It does not appear in Broadchurch. Gracepoint is 10 episodes while the original series was only 8, so this may be the kind of new development meant to flesh out those two additional episodes. We’ll see how it goes. Thus far, originality is something that Gracepoint is sorely lacking.

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