Caution: This post contains major spoilers on the season finale of “Gracepoint.”
Danny Solano’s killer is finally revealed on the “Gracepoint” finale. It’s also Carver’s (David Tennant) last day on the case; what’s another another eight hours of daylight? Well, it’s enough for a couple of final pieces of evidence to fall into place, at a quicker pace than the rest of the investigation. While the previous episode focused a lot of attention on Vince (Stephen Louis Grush) and Susan (Jacki Weaver), there are a lot of points that foreshadow the outcome in tonight’s episode.
Carver pulls the e-mails from Tom Miller’s computer and carries out an interview with him and Joe. Joe doesn’t like the direction of the questions and stops the session. We find that like Vince, Joe wears size 10 shoes. Danny’s cell phone comes on shortly afterward and Carver follows the signal … straight to Joe Miller.
Yes, Joe Miller (Josh Hamilton) confesses that he met Danny Solano (Nicholas Filipovic) at the hut by the cliffs. That evening was probably when he might have pushed things further, had Danny not decided to run from the cabin. With the slick grass and ensuing struggle, Danny falls and hits his head. Joe takes the body down to the beach and goes home.
Ellie (Anna Gunn) is devastated and upset, lashing out at Joe, who insists that he is “a good man.” She is forced to take leave with pay and move to a hotel with her sons. Both Ellie and Joe know that their family has been “destroyed.” Putting the finishing touches on the case is not only difficult for her, but for Carver as well, who perhaps has a bit of a soft spot for Ellie after all. We saw as early as the dinner scene (if not before) that he hoped for some type of connection (as a work partner) even if he’s so rough around the edges.
The revelation is very raw for the town, embodied in Beth (Virginia Kull) and Mark’s (Michael Peña) respective reactions to Ellie and Joe. Ellie’s judging question to Susan, “How could you not know?” is tossed back to her by Beth. At the same time, now that the clouds of suspicion been allowed to clear, there’s a sense of healing for the town as they gather for Danny’s service and for a bonfire on the beach.
It’s another moment for Carver and Ellie to connect. Ellie says, “Look at us, the former detective’s club.” And Carver has a moment on the phone with his daughter, promising to be at her graduation. It was only a matter of time for his smile to go away, when Carver watched his interview with Tom (Jack Irvine) once more and noticed the glance at Joe. We already know that Joe is covering up Tom’s involvement: Tom accidentally hits Danny with an oar and kills him during the chase out of the cabin. Carver dials up Ellie, who looks a bit indecisive about whether to answer the call. However, “Gracepoint” has been cancelled with very little to show in the ratings. On this side of the pond, it looks like we won’t see what happens next in the town or whether Tom would be brought in for further questioning.
To a certain degree, it’s surprising that all 10 episodes were aired, when other low performing shows were pulled before the midway point. The momentum of the opening episodes was constantly at a snail’s pace, dragged down even more by the repeated use of slow motion sequences and often less than stellar performances by the non-leads in the cast (actors other than Tennant and Gunn). There were glimmers of excellent chemistry between Tennant and Gunn. However, a lack of new material largely until Tom’s disappearance probably contributed to a lot of the stiffness in the performances. There was so much energy and a more urgent pacing when the plot deviated into something different.
That brings me back to my question since the beginning of “Gracepoint” – why remake a series if it’s going to be a near copy of the original? Why not take a gamble and create a program that might start with the same premise in the first episode and then grow into its own from there? It’s a strategy that helped shows like “Elementary,” “Veep” and “The Office.” The situation was particularly forced upon “Elementary,” because CBS couldn’t get Steven Moffat to agree to an American adaptation of “Sherlock.” Sadly, we’ve been given a crime drama that fizzled out long before it could reach it’s real sprint toward the finish.
Anyway, if you’re like me and you have yet to see the original “Broadchurch,” it will be available on Netflix starting tomorrow. In that version of the crime drama, David Tennant (“Doctor Who”) plays the same detective, except his name is Alec Hardy. The program has been renewed for a second season or series to air on ITV in 2015. I’ll revisit the “Gracepoint” finale once I finish the first season of “Broadchurch.”