Emmett Carver is a pretty lousy detective. (Don’t just call him Emmett. It’s inappropriate.) He is not just cold, but on a cold streak. He is not savvy with the people he interviews and he lets his suspicions cloud logic and proof. He continues to put his focus on Paul, using some key info from Mark that the town’s priest goes to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting outside of Gracepoint to refuel the detective’s uncertainty about the man’s innocent, wholesome front. Ye of little faith, Det. Carver.
After the surprising but satisfying detour that Gracepoint took last week, we are still adhering closely to some of the major plot points from its British precursor, Broadchurch. Since the American iteration runs an extra two episodes, perhaps the surprising and disorienting seventh episode was just a way to expand the story rather than reframe what had been, to that point, a near-mirror image of Broadchurch.
Much of the territory in “Episode Eight” harkens back to the excellent mini-series, but the reason why the hour falters most is due to how padded it feels. After the thrilling preceding hour, slowing down as we approach Gracepoint’s climactic finish is not a good move for the series. The inertia from this hour comes, again, from the inaction of Ellie and Carver’s investigation. So far, this case has come up nearly empty. Lars turns out to be a big red herring, and so he is let free, much to the detectives’ chagrins. They interview Paul once again, now with the knowledge of a drug-fueled past, yet that plot element feels overly tired by this point.
Just when Gracepoint really needs to throttle forward, it scales back to pad the runtime. Did we really need the scenes when Renee tries to find a place to stay? They could have been deleted and replaced with a couple lines of dialogue when Beth finds the journalist sleeping in her car. Also, did we really need Beth and Mark to follow Chloe all the way to Curtis’ home, too? The last two episodes have seen such momentum that slowing down the pace is unsatisfying.
Even as the momentum lags, Gracepoint still remains visually striking and atmospheric, albeit to an extent. The opening search through the woods is tense and haunting, and the camera lingers on Paul without showing us the shadow he is staring at in the darkness for enough time that it becomes uncomfortable. The ending scene, another chase in the woods, feels rushed and choppily edited, though – especially around the time a certain hooded character fires a gun – and made the episode’s dramatic climax feel confusing instead of exciting.