Episode 8 of Gracepoint left viewers on a real cliffhanger. The closest encounter with the killer of Danny Solano yet left Detective Emmett Carver’s (David Tennant) life in the balance and there was an agonising seven day wait to see if he would pull though.
Indeed he did, and the opening of Episode 9 finds him as crotchety and demanding as ever, still pushing Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn) about even from his hospital bed. However, the consequences of his collapse are serious. Not only did they lose an opportunity to apprehend their suspect, but now Carver’s seniors know the seriousness of his heart condition and he has just 24 hours left on the case. Of course, this makes the driven and increasingly desperate detective all the more determined to finish the job, and he will snatch at any lead going. Including, it seems, revisiting the testimony of psychic Raymond Connelly (Adam Greydon Reid), who stresses ever more strongly that the killer is someone close to home. He also has more revelations about Carver himself, although Carver will not give him the gratification of knowing whether he is right. However, the consequences of the chase at the hut are that the police now have a clearer picture of their target – male, tall, fit and strong with a size 10 footprint. And what is more surprising, the culprit themselves seems to have made the call in about the intruder – the number was found to be that of Danny’s missing smartphone. Are they taunting the police? Or were they intending to turn themselves in then had a change of heart?
Meanwhile, the detectives have Susan Wright (Jacki Weaver) in custody and Miller, whose interrogation techniques are now as steely and unremitting as Carver’s - further evidence of her transformation from friendly local sergeant to hard-faced investigator - has succeeded in chipping away at the enigmatic woman’s stony carapace. Susan’s back story, when it eventually emerges, is simply shocking. This mother of two, whose daughter was abused and then killed by her father when trying to protect the younger child from his predation, has been living under a false name in order to escape the accusations levelled at her and the reputation of her husband. Before he killed himself in prison, Susan’s husband claimed that she had known all along and turned a blind eye. Susan denies knowing anything, something that Ellie cannot comprehend. “How could you not know?” she demands of Susan, incredulously. It seems obvious to her that a mother should know what is going on under her own roof. But, as it emerges, she herself has no idea what her own husband Joe (Josh Hamilton) does all day; nor did she have any idea that her eldest son Tom (Jack Irvine) and Danny had drifted apart as friends.
Ellie also states, “I’m a mom too and I’m sure that whatever my child did I’d want to protect him”. But so does Susan, who has other shocking revelations. Her biggest bombshell of all is that she gave birth to a son, who was taken from her and put up for adoption. This son, she says is Vince (Stephen Louis Grush), and Susan lives in fear that Vince carries with him his father’s wickedness and anger. She is convinced that she saw Vince carrying Danny to the beach. She took the skateboard, which she knew that Vince made for Danny, to protect her own son and to give him a reason to talk to her. Vince, however, won’t acknowledge her, and his adoptive mother is too far gone in her own dementia to acknowledge Vince as anything but her own flesh and blood. It’s is only after Detective Carver presents him with Susan’s casefile that Vince realises his dreadful heritage, and this makes him more determined than ever to reject her.
Vince is certainly the villain of the week this episode, and never before has the Solanos’ close family friend appeared so sinister. His relationship to Danny is called into question many times. “Vince loved Danny and put him on his arm,” his mother tells Ellie. Vince has in fact had Danny’s name – the name of his employer’s son - tattooed on his right arm, which Carver finds beyond belief. Then there are the secret hunting trips with Danny, which Dean Iverson (Kendrick Sampson) reveals to Danny’s shocked parents, along with the observation that the pair were ‘like brothers’ together. Even Mark (Michael Peña) is apparently starting to suspect his former friend. Vince isn’t even shy at displaying his disgust towards Susan in the form of a vicious threat through the cell bars, under the gaze of Detective Miller. He seems resigned to his fate, or maybe too distraught by the discovery of his past to care what happens any more.
Meanwhile the Solanos are continuing their journey back to normality, though with some hitches along the way. Beth (Virginia Kull) is still dithering on the fate of the baby and reveals her fears about Mark’s infidelity and her ability to keep the baby safe to Paul Coates (Kevin Rankin) who is all too pleased to comfort her: Paul is not one to pass up the chance to hug Beth easily, after all. Her visit is spotted by Mark, who confronts her with typical aggression. But Beth professes her love for him and her belief in the family and both agree that one trip to the bowling alley won’t fix everything. At the moment they seem more on the track to recovery than ever and hopefully next week’s revelations won’t derail that, especially as Ellie’s sister Sara (Janet Kidder) now claims to have seen a hatted man carrying a large wrapped object around the side of the Solano Plumbing van on the night of the murder. Only two people drive that van, and it is typically parked up at Vince’s.
While Ellie is professing disbelief that Susan didn’t know what was going on within her own family, she herself seems to have missed the transformation of her own boy Tom from quiet unassuming pre-teen to blackmailing devil child right under her nose. Paul has Tom’s smashed computer and refuses to return it. In return Tom gives him an ultimatum – he will reveal that Paul hit Danny on their camping trip – and Danny did return with a swollen face, as Mark previously revealed. Paul ignores the consequences and passes the laptop to Carver, who for the moment seems to have knocked Paul off his own suspects list. Still, Paul is careful to make sure that Carver knows he didn’t hit Danny. Just in case.
Whatever Carver does with his new evidence, he needs to make it fast as his last day on the case is running out, and to make matters worse the press have got wind of his health issues, thanks to (who else?) Renée Clemons (Jessica Lucas). With a warning from Owen Burke (Kevin Zegers) that he will go public with the story, Carver is forced to give him and his editor Kathy Eaton (Alisen Down) an exclusive on what really happened in Rosemont, and we learn that he is far from the distant uncaring father he appeared when Julianne showed up, but he has put her own needs above his own health and professional reputation.
“I’m done,” states Carver, leaving the Journal offices, and as the day draws to a close with the killer still unidentified, it appears that he may well be.
Watch the thrilling final episode of Gracepoint on ITV Encore on Wednesday 3rd June at 10pm BST.