Seven episodes into Gracepoint, series creator Chris Chibnall has started the show’s detour from its British precursor, Broadchurch. This hour marked a major test for the show. Usually, any time an adaptation veers away from its source material, there is a backlash among the purists. So, this episode does not just have to build on the tension and character development of the previous installments, but has to stand on its own as it leaves the restraints of the original creation.
The good news is that “Episode Seven” succeeded, continuing on many of the slow burn elements of the series while also embarking on a few startling story developments. Ellie and Carver had been a quiet storm for the last couple of weeks, avoiding a lot of screen time so that Gracepoint could get through the gripping drama with Jack Reinhold. However, both have to deal with surprises sprung upon them by their children. Tom goes missing during a bike ride to school, which sends Ellie into a space of firm command and little calm, while Julianne (Chloe Babcock), Carver’s daughter, shows up at the police station.
Of course, with Carver trying to rescue his reputation after a newspaper dubs him “the worst cop in California,” he abandons Julianne at the station to accompany Ellie on her journey through town. He then has to investigate Lars (Brendan Fletcher), the creepy hiker whose phone number was found in Danny’s jacket pocket. Although this subplot with Carver’s daughter was dealt with predictably – of course she would show up on the day where she was least wanted and she reacts bitterly – it added some extra pity for the detective. (Perhaps he needs a hug from Gemma.)
With only three episodes to go in this miniseries, Gracepoint is having fun rounding up the usual suspects. It was Susan Wright who told Tom that he could always come around and visit her, and while Vince threatens her this week, we never see the inside of her trailer home. It is Vince, meanwhile, who carries around a knife in his car and is spotted locking up his warehouse with spots of blood on his face. Perhaps it is the strange medium, Raymond, who keeps arriving at opportune times to speak with Beth about what dead (or missing, presumed dead) children are thinking. (Given how he seems to lurk in the background most episodes only to pop back in during big turns in the investigation, Raymond seems like the dark horse pick.)
Also, one doubts that Paul Coates had anything to do with Danny’s death; however, over the past several weeks, chilly music overscores every moment he is in. Either this is clumsy foreshadowing or clever misdirection. However, considering how bold his lectures are and how easily he decides to rustle up the conversation and speak to the media, it doesn’t seem likely that he is pointing his speeches at himself. Kevin Rankin’s turn has been a welcome change from his searing villainous turn on Breaking Bad, and that intruding score undermines what has been a deeply poignant portrayal so far.