REVIEW: GRACEPOINT Episode 8: A Family Recovers

Episode 8 of Gracepoint aired in the USA, Canada and Australia last night. Read our review of all the action here - be aware that the article contains spoilers.

Episode 7 of Gracepoint ended on a thrilling cliffhanger and a hint that the plot of the FOX TV drama was now taking a dramatic detour from the original series Broadchurch. Would Tom Miller be found alive? Were the people of Gracepoint facing a serial killer? And would we delve deeper into the background of troubled detective Emmett Carver?

However, for reasons best known to themselves, Fox chose to reveal via promo photos and clips that Tom Miller (Jack Irvine) was safe and well before the episode had even aired, thus making his discovery in the dark woods by Reverend Paul Coates (Kevin Rankin) something of an anticlimax. And with mysterious backpacker Lars Pierson (Brendan Fletcher) still denying any connection to Tom at all, it fell to Tom himself to explain his actions to his distraught parents Ellie and Joe (Anna Gunn and Josh Hamilton). It turns out that the much vaunted detour into new territory seems to be merely a device for Tom to show that he is missing Ellie. He wanted to track down Lars himself, he said, he wanted to help solve the murder for Danny’s sake, and he wanted his mom back. Whether anything more is made of the incident will have to wait for now as episode 8, disappointingly, shifts straight back into Broadchurch territory.

After aspects of his parenting abilities were laid bare by the contrivance of his daughter’s appearance in town last week Emmett Carver (David Tennant) is back to his usual crotchety self. Very briefly he shows concern for his colleague Miller during her hour of need. He even deigns to call her Ellie. But he quickly backtracks on his inappropriate over-familiarity and has her back in work the moment Tom is safely home behind closed doors. It is with huge reluctance and concern that Carver and Miller have to see Pierson released from custody; however they have nothing to hold him on and he was apparently at a campsite 50 miles away on the night of the murder. There is still a deep sense of unease at seeing this very troubled man being driven away in a squad car when other children are potentially at risk.

Carver, though, is setting his sights on a new target. Still smarting from Paul Coates’ very public rebuke at Jack Reinhold’s funeral, he leaps with gusto on Mark Solano’s (Michael Peña) sly allegations that Paul may be up to something. Paul is jealous of the Solano family, says Mark, also that he too conveniently found the bike and then Tom, and, most damning of all, that he secretly attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings. A little digging and Carver has enough dirt to go and question Paul again: in his past there is a bar fight and a period in rehab before the transfer back to Gracepoint. For his part Paul doesn’t deny his offence or his previous addiction to painkillers, nor does he deny his past affection for Beth. In a fraught head-to-head at the police station it becomes clear that these are two men that want to do the right thing for their community. It’s just that one is motivated by suspicion and the other by faith.

Meanwhile an unwelcome face is back in town: Renee Clemons (Jessica Lucas) is tempted back by the news of Tom’s disappearance. The town isn’t ready to forgive and she is cold shouldered by journalists Kathy Eaton (Alisen Down) and Owen Burke (Kevin Zegers) as well as Gemma Fisher (Sarah-Jane Potts) who refuses her a room at the inn. However, what Renee does do is put Beth Solano (Virginia Kull) in touch with one of the Rosemont parents. Beth is still adrift, and while Mark and Chloe (Madalyn Horcher) attempt to return to their normal routines, she still feels that she needs some sort of guidance on what she should do next. The encounter answers none of her questions and the prospect of being that woman who lies in bed and drinks and cries and pops pills leaves her in utter despair.

In truth the other two Solanos aren’t faring much better. Chloe returns to school and becomes immediately conscious that she is ‘The Murdered Boy’s Sister’. Mark spots a newspaper featuring Danny crumpled up in a customer’s fire basket and realises that they are yesterday’s news. It is only when Mark spots Chloe skipping school in the company of Dean and he and Beth track her down to his uncle’s restaurant that they all realise that they are still living as three strangers under one roof and that Dean is doing a better job of caring for Chloe and recognising her grief than either of her parents. It takes some family time to make them start to feel like a family again and to break some of the unconscious taboos that they have imposed upon themselves surrounding Danny’s death. More significantly, it marks the first time that Beth has acknowledged the new baby that she is carrying and gives hope that the family can rebuild.

Kathy and Owen actually have other reasons for shutting Renee out – it turns out they are doing some digging of their own. Far from being cowed by the vile threat made to her by Susan Wright (Jacki Weaver), Kathy decides to find out more about ‘Ruth Erlich’, and what she uncovers is of great interest to the police. However, Susan also manages to draw attention to herself in a far more dramatic fashion when she returns Danny’s missing skateboard to Tom, a move that she must have known would bring the investigative spotlight swinging in her direction. She’s brought in for questioning, but on discovering that her beloved dog Archie has got missing, swiped by a vengeful Vince (Stephen Louis Grush), she clams up. Whatever secrets Susan may be holding will have to remain undiscovered for now.

Just as the viewer is lulled into believing that Tom Miller’s actions are motivated by a childish desire to put things back the way they were, the shifty-eyed boy seems up to no good again. Remember that wiped hard drive? Something has brought it to Tom’s mind again, and he quizzes Owen on whether the information is really gone. When he doesn’t get the answer he wants he takes the opportunity to sneak out of the house and smash up his laptop. However, he’s spotted by a suspiciously loitering Paul. For all of Tom’s public loyalty to Danny, he still has something big to hide.

The episode ends on another huge cliffhanger. Whatever plans Detectives Carver and Miller had in store for further investigations into Susan are scuppered when a torchlight is spotted in the sealed-off hut where Danny was killed. Whoever the intruder is, they are fit and strong enough to knock Ellie to the ground before sprinting away. However, their escape is overshadowed by Carver’s most dramatic collapse yet, one from which even the breathlessly gasping detective himself doubts he will survive...

Due to Thanksgiving in the USA, there will be two weeks to wait to see what happens to Carver, and what turns up next in the hunt for the killer of Danny Solano.

Watch Episode 9 of Gracepoint at 9pm ET on Thursday 4th December on FOX in the USA and on Global in Canada and at 8.30pm on Friday 5th December on the Universal Channel in Australia.