GRACEPOINT: “Episode Nine”

The case and the show are finally coming together. That’s what happens when you stop stalling for time.

Death gets its claws into you, it never lets go.

–Susan Miller

Last we saw Emmett Carver he was collapsing in the woods and clutching his heart, telling detective Miller that he was dying while their suspect slipped away into the darkness. As their best chance to catch Danny Solano’s killer slipped through the detectives’ fingers, viewers were left wondering if Carver would survive long enough to continue the investigation. Fear not, Gracepoint fans. Detective Carver lives.

Carver wakes up in the hospital to find Miller watching him with a mixture of care and annoyance. When she informs Carver that their suspect got away from them, Carver corrects her. “You lost him,” he says. “You didn’t need to stop.” It seems that even a second near-death collapse hasn’t melted Carver’s icy disposition. His only drive is to solve the case, and he thinks they’re close. The murderer is getting sloppy, almost asking to be caught, and the detectives did get some important info from their near miss in the woods: The murderer is a man, of average build, and he wears a size 10 boot.

Carver still intends to solve the case, but his time is running out. The station head demands that Carver turn in his service weapon in light of his health scares, and he tells Carver that the medical chief will be reviewing his medical records the next day, and Carver will almost certainly be removed from the police force once that happens. It’s high pressure time. Carver has his best leads yet on the case, but he only has 24 hours to put it all together. Gracepoint is done stalling for time. Carver has to solve the case, and he has to solve it now.

The biggest benefit of Carver’s hospital stay is that it allows Detective Miller to do some actual competent police work. For a woman who was in line for the lead detective position before Carver’s arrival, I’ve always wondered just why she was a candidate. Familiarity with the community and seniority, I guess, because we’d yet to see Miller do any stellar police work. That changes in “Episode Nine.” With Carver sidelined, it’s up to Miller to rally the troops and take charge of the investigation, and she does an excellent job. With Susan Wright/Ruth stewing in an interview room and refusing to talk until someone finds her dog, Miller turns the tables on her, telling Susan that if she continues to refuse to talk, then she will be charged with obstruction of justice and jailed. With no one to look after her dog once it’s found, the authorities may have no options but to put it down. That gets Susan talking.

Now knowing that the murderer is a man, Susan is no longer a direct suspect, but she may still know something. She still has to explain why three of her cigarette butts were found by Danny’s body and why she had Danny’s skateboard. Like everything else on Gracepoint, the answer is complicated:

Years ago, Ruth was a married woman with two daughters. Her husband was sexually abusing her daughters, and the eldest was killed while trying to stop it. The husband claimed that the daughter he murdered had simply run away, but the police eventually uncovered the truth and charged Ruth’s husband with murder. Ruth insists she knew nothing about the abuse, but the police took away her remaining daughter and newborn son anyway. She, like Jack Reinhold earlier this season, moved to Gracepoint looking for a new start. She changed her name to Susan Wright in an attempt to escape her past.

But why were her cigarette butts at the crime scene? She claims she saw Danny’s body being placed on the beach, and she stood there smoking and wondering if her own dead child had looked as peaceful in death as Danny did. Not wanting to get involved with the police she mistrusts, she decided to leave the dead body be, knowing that someone else would soon come across it. Responsible for the murder or not, that is creepy as hell.

And Susan’s involvement doesn’t end there. Who was it that she saw putting Danny’s body on the beach? She claims it was Vince, Mark Solano’s plumbing apprentice. Furthermore, she says that he is the son that Child Services took away from her in the aftermath of her daughter’s murder. She found him via old adoption records and tracked him to Gracepoint. It explains her season-long fascination with Vince, inviting him over for dinner and constantly claiming that they are connected.

The evidence does not look good for Vince. In the aftermath of Danny’s murder he strangely had the child’s name tattooed on his arm. He also allegedly took Danny hunting without the Solanos’ approval. Susan’s missing dog, Archie, is found at his home. His boot size? Size 10. Have the violent genes of Vince’s father been passed down to his son? Susan sure seems to think so, and makes a strong claim for nature over nurture. Vince, however, disagrees. Once in custody, he maintains his innocence, claiming that whether Susan is his mother or not (he disputes it), he is innocent. He had nothing to do with Danny Solano’s murder, and she’s only fingering him as the culprit because she’s crazy. Vince just wants Susan to leave him alone, even threatening her from his holding cell. Did he kill Danny with the butt of his hunting crossbow, as Carver suspects? Time will tell, but the window – for Carver and the show – is closing quickly.

Meanwhile, Carver has his hands full even while he’s on the sidelines. He reluctantly agrees to an exclusive interview with the Gracepoint Journal about the Rosemont case in turn for their silence about his medical issues. Finally, we learn about Rosemont. Similar to the Solano case, a young girl was murdered there, but Carver was having trouble making the collar without one final piece of evidence. When the dead child’s pendant was found in the suspect’s car, it was the smoking gun the detectives needed. Unfortunately, the detective in charge of getting the evidence back to police headquarters stopped off for a drink to celebrate, and the pendant was stolen from the car. Without the pendant, the case fell apart and the perpetrator walked free. Carver was blamed, and left in disgrace. End of story? Not quite.

Carver, it seems, was not responsible. The detective in charge of delivering the pendant back to headquarters wasn’t Carver at all–instead, it was his wife. Carver took the fall to keep the story that she was having an affair out of the press. He wanted to protect his young daughter from learning the truth about her mother, and taking the rap for losing the evidence was his way of doing so. “It happened on my watch. It was ultimately my responsibility,” he claims.

Despite claims that he bungled the case and moved on, Rosemont is never far from Carver’s mind. The case was never solved, but it remains open, and Carver swears he’ll find a way to put the man responsible behind bars one day. Until he can, he sees the Gracepoint case as way to make up for his past errors. All in all, it seems that Carver actually has a noble side despite constantly trying to hide it.

Detective Miller is zeroing in on Vince as their prime suspect, but Carver has other ideas. The show has never cleared up the matter of what’s hidden on Tom Miller’s computer. The boy seemed intent of destroying it, first deleting it off his hard drive and later smashing the laptop. Thanks to Paul Coates, that computer is finally in Carver’s possession. Just what will he find on it? When he asks Miller if the boys were really as close as everyone thinks, Miller is adamant that they were, but can’t seem to recall the last time Danny was over at her house. Two months before the murder? Three months, maybe? Just what was going on between the two “best friends,” and what does it have to do with Danny Solano’s murder?

One of “Episode Nine’s” last scenes is Susan being released from police custody. Miller struggles to understand just how she could have no idea what was going on between her husband and her daughters. How could she be so oblivious? It’s a question she should probably ask herself.  Just what was going on between the two “best friends,” Danny and Tom, and what does it have to do with Danny’s murder?

I think this episode worked better than any other episode this year, but I question whether that’s thanks to Euros Lyn’s excellent direction or that Gracepoint is no longer spinning its wheels. Probably a combination of both. There’s only one episode left, and most of the evidence is pointing squarely at Vince: his boot size, creepy behavior, and Mark Solano’s refusal to give him a raise in the previous months. Even Detective Miller’s sister offers up a final nugget: she saw a man lifting a rolled up carpet into the Solano Plumbing van on the night of Danny’s murder. Thanks, lady. You didn’t think that information was relevant weeks ago?!

The case is winding down, but with only one episode remaining, will Carver be able to close the case before he’s dismissed from the force? And is the murderer really Vince or does Gracepoint have one final twist up its sleeve? It’s seems that it’s all about whatever is on Tom Miller’s laptop. We’ll know soon.

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