REVIEW: GRACEPOINT Episode 6 - "No Parent Should Ever Outlive Their Child"

Episode 6 of Gracepoint aired last night and saw another tragedy hit the small seaside community. Read our review here - please be aware that the article contains spoilers.

The power of the press to destroy lives is explored in Episode 6 of Gracepoint as the back story of one of the small Californian town’s most respected residents is uncovered and his reputation is thrown to the mob.

Feelings in the small town of Gracepoint have reached boiling point. An atrocity has struck at the heart of the small community and so far nobody has been punished for the crime. Therefore it takes a badly timed, poorly researched and unfortunately edited press article to give the people their first real scapegoat as the mob turns upon one of the town’s trusted citizens. Jack Reinhold (Nick Nolte) has worked with the young people of the town for years and years – many of the residents have at some point been a member of his Wildlife Group. The rumours have already started but the press revelations about his past cast a sinister shadow from which Jack will not recover. Nick Nolte demonstrates why he deserves his multiple Academy Award nominations in his moving portrayal of the once beloved old man whose life in the town he has come to love is collapsing around him. In Nolte’s weatherbeaten face there’s the look of a man who doubts he has the strength to start again. And if this isn’t sad enough, his history is positively heartbreaking.

Ironically there are parallels between Mark Solano (Michael Peña), the father of murdered Danny, and Jack himself. Both lost their son when he was a child. Both had sexual relations with their partner while she was still technically a child herself. Jack explains that his loss was the death of his marriage. Is this why Mark passes up the opportunity to call off and inform the lynch mob? Because Jack shows him what could happen to him and Beth (Virginia Kull)? Or because revealing Jack’s crime would invite questions about the legality of his own past? Or invite questions about what he will do to protect his own daughter, also underage and in a physical relationship? Whatever way, Mark cannot bear to look at Jack and rather than clear his name he advises him to move away.

Jack’s problems started with another betrayal, that of Owen (Kevin Zegers) under the misguided influence of the self-serving Renee (Jessica Lucas). Owen was manipulated into posting the piece by Renee with the promise of fame and money and a way of helping his mother out. Whatever happened between the post and the print run – and perhaps Renee had a hand in this – the piece is devastating for the whole town and Owen realises the damage he has done too late. He refuses to help Renee further. She is unfazed. Her work is done. When all news is exhausted here she will move to the next town and find more lives in which to meddle. But here she still has plenty of new material with Dean’s (Kendrick Sampson) testimony about Jack’s apparently tactile methods of working with the boys. There is another more damning story in this, and she won’t have to share the byline with a smalltown cub reporter.

Meanwhile the Solanos try to rebuild their lives. At the start of the episode there seems no hope, and the police reconstruction of the night of Danny’s death only serves to deepen their despair. They are three people leading separate lives in the same house: the parents creep round one another while daughter Chloe (Madalyn Horcher) gleans information where she can. It could be the end of the road for Beth and Mark who discuss the distinct possibility that they are drifting apart. Mark knows that he is the reason that Beth lost all of her dreams. He is dismayed that Beth is even considering getting rid of the baby that she carries. However, it’s not due to resentment of Mark that makes Beth despise her pregnancy so much – it’s a sense of betrayal of Danny. How can she bring another child into the world when she failed at raising this one? Beth needs to say this aloud – to Paul (Kevin Rankin), of course – before she can move on. She also needs to tackle the issue of Gemma (Sarah-Jane Potts), which she does in explosive fashion. By the end of the episode, both Mark and Beth seem to have exorcised some demons and they look to be in a place where they can start to mourn Danny as a couple at last.

Ellie (Anna Gunn) has her own family problems to tackle as she tries to support her sister Sara (Janet Kidder). Sara is after only one thing – money, to dig herself out of her latest hole. She thinks she’s found a way to guarantee some too. Apparently she saw someone on the night of the murder, and she’s going to make Ellie hand over cash for the privilege of hearing it. There’s another family link to the case. Owen discovers that his dad’s boat has been taken and it doesn’t take Hugo Garcia (Darcy Laurie) long to work out that it’s the burned boat, and therefore the boat used to transport Danny. And unbeknownst to her, Susan Wright (Jacki Weaver), otherwise known as Ruth Erlick, has shown an interest in her son Tom and has invited him round to help her walk her dog. 

There are new clues emerging. The phone that Jack says he recovered from a kayak is apparently Danny’s, but Ellie says that she is sure he had a smartphone. There are also three cigarette butts recovered from the beach, an unusual high tar brand. It also implies that the killer stood smoking by Danny’s body for some time after transporting him to the beach and arranging the ‘accident’ scene. So, who would smoke such a thing? Carver is still hoping that one of his three main leads – Jack, Paul Coates and backpacker Lars Pierson – will come to something. Carver seems pretty certain, though, that Jack is hiding something, and this perhaps fuels his reluctance to protect him. He is hoping Jack will crack and confess.

It’s a fairly tense and grim episode but there are some lighter moments. Carver seriously misjudges Gemma’s kooky friendliness as an attempt to flirt and is comically knocked back. Ellie too is the subject of male interest as Hugo asks her out for a drink, prompting a bit of lighthearted teasing from Carver. Carver certainly seems more relaxed in his dealings with Ellie, he even praises Tom for carrying out the reconstruction. But the bubble is burst when Ellie mentions Rosemont, and Carver is rocked by the assumption that she has always been considering his failure there.

The ending is a real tragedy, a life destroyed unnecessarily and an event that is bound to have implications for a number of Gracepoint residents whose actions contributed to Jack’s decision to take his own life. It also leaves the investigation floundering: Carver is not as certain about any of his other suspects and he has no evidence that points the finger at anybody. He needs to find something significant soon or Ellie won’t be the only person uttering the word ‘Rosemont’ around him.

The series continues on Fox in the USA and on Global in Canada on Thursday 13th November at 9pm ET, and on the Universal Channel in Australia at 8.30pm on Friday 14th November.