Gracepoint: Episode Two Review

The false suspect carousel gets started in a meandering second episode for Fox's Gracepoint.

By my (admittedly lacking) understanding, police work can be a boring job. Even during an investigation as emotionally charged as a murder, many tasks police must pursue involve ruling out suspects rather than zeroing in on one charismatic mustache-twirler in a black hat. 

It’s possible for a TV show to twist the mundane aspects of police work into something both realistic and interesting. Hell, one of the consensus best dramas ever, The Wire, was able to make detectives listening to phone calls while sipping coffee in a basement riveting art.* But frustratingly, most cop dramas try to extract intrigue from each “suspect” crossed off the list. That’s how The Killing somehow stretched one above average episode of Law and Order into a whole excruciating season of ultimately innocent suspects and false leads. Now, in only episode two, Gracepoint has foolishly stepped onto the same path. 

*I must acknowledge it’s unfair to compare almost any TV show to The Wire. It’s like getting mad at a 10 year old in a rec basketball league for not breaking Wilt Chamberlin’s NBA single game scoring record.

Mark Solano did not kill his son. True to my original “Gracepoint only” pledge, I’ve still not seen any episodes of Broadchurch not looked up any plot details. I’ve also not peaked ahead in the provided press screeners, wanting to keep “pure” the experience of watching this show. But I know Mark Solano did not kill his son, just like you do. All the evidence at hand currently points to Mark killing Danny, which in TV world means he is exonerated, since it is only episode two of a ten-episode series.

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It appears that Gracepoint will insist upon turning each checking off of suspect names’ into a cut-to-end-credits moment. This has already created a frustrating viewing experience where nothing we see onscreen can be trusted until minute 59 of the final episode. But for as frustrating as it must be for the audience, it must be as equally confusing for the characters, who don’t know their lives exist in-between commercial breaks. By the time Nick Nolte signs a written confession and provides pictures of him murdering Danny Solano but STILL somehow turns out to be innocent in episode six, Detectives Carver and Miller are going to be so confused. 

But that’s just how things work in Gracepoint, both the show and the town. The time constraint of ten episodes should have been a blessing; instead it’s created a whole town of characters who behave in wildly illogical ways to move the plot to its conclusion. Nobody in Gracepoint seems to understand exactly just how police do their jobs, or even have a basic understanding of what their town is. Miller takes a two second break to visit her family at a park and is immediately accosted by a local dad for not finding Danny’s killer yet. 

Dude, it’s been like a minute. 

And of course, angry people with irrational expectations exist, but they’re found almost exclusively behind keyboards. Newly introduced preacher Paul Coates  (Kevin Rankin*) grabs a drink Gemma’s empty inn where another patron laments the loss of tourist dollars due to a grisly murder.  Wasn’t this a small, isolated town? Is it a tourist town too now? Why would a murder curb tourism when moments from now Carver will tell a supposed medium that whole industries pop up around murders? Why are we watching this show? 

*The mere presence of Kevin Rankin is possibly the only saving grace of Episode Two.

This behavior even extends to the detectives themselves. Carver barks at Ellie that they need a list of suspects. Ummm, you guys are working on it. That’s what this whole 75-minute farce so far has been all about. Ellie tells Carver “you do this incessant question thing,” not even pausing for a moment to realize that might be a necessary trait for a homicide detective. And the now-confirmed innocent Mark Solano asks Carver “What’re you snooping on me now?” Yes, Mark. It’s his job. Remember when your son was killed? Remember that?

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Gracepoint is just wheel spinning until it gets around to answering the only question it truly cares about: who killed Danny Solano. And if the divergent plots like Danny’s sister having cocaine and cash are bad enough*, what’s truly egregious is turning every character into nincompoops all in service of needless plot munching.

*How telling is it for the writing of this show that the only black character introduced thus far sold someone cocaine?

Police work can be a drag but there’s no reason for Gracepoint to still be this much of one two episodes in.  

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1.5 out of 5