Gracepoint Season Finale Review: “Episode Ten” (Season 1, Episode 10)

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Other moments that paled when compared to their depiction on the British series: Beth Solano’s meeting with Ellie after hearing the news. Here, the moment is all too brief, although Virginia Kull expresses her fatigue and frustration with scorn. (We needed more of Virginia Kull, the standout of this series, in the finale.) The custom from the memorial ceremony on the beach at the episode’s end also felt more ingrained to a European setting than an American one.

However, it’s the jumping off point from the original series that ruins the season finale even more. When Ellie tries to explain to Tom, in a motel where they are ordered to stay, that his father may have murdered Danny, she realizes that her son may have been complicit in the same crime. As a flashback indicates, Tom followed his father to the hut and tried to defend Danny from Joe. As he threatened his father with a paddle, Tom accidentally swung it and hit Danny, killing the boy on impact. This revelation is supposed to explain certain details that felt flimsy during Joe’s confession; however, ambiguity still remains.

As a result of this realization, the last scenes in Gracepoint have to do with Ellie trying to figure out what to do with learning this key shred of evidence. Should this story come out? Should she pack up Tom and the rarely seen Dylan and move elsewhere? However, since this twist comes so late in the episode, there is barely enough time for Ellie to contemplate what she will do next. That Chibnall and company end the series on Ellie still pondering next actions, atop not answering the phone from Carver – who revisits the footage from his interview with Joe and Tom and realizes Tom still has some secrets – proves to be frustrating. The ending should have brought more relief and closure; instead, we have to come up with our own eleventh hour.

On the bright side, “Episode Ten” continued the series’ terrific, top-notch cinematography. Director Euros Lyn makes a concerted effort this week to distance the characters from each other more than usual – an artistic move that makes sense given how separate Ellie is from her family and the truth. Meanwhile, as Ellie tries to put the pieces together in the motel bathroom with Tom, the scene begins with many shots where the actor is a small part of the frame. The empty spaces around the characters emphasize not just the distance but how Ellie feels small given the tidal wave of surprise that will not recede from her mind for a long time. As the conversation gets more intense and the detective becomes more suspicious, the camera moves into her and her son’s faces more closely. Even if the second surprise of the episode is not that satisfying, at least it is delivered in a creatively adept way.

Unfortunately, we leave this murder mystery with more questions and not enough closure. One of the characters says that the outcome “is going to crack open a fault line in this town,” but we do not see how many of the characters react to the news of Joe’s arrest. Gracepoint leaves us off too far from the dark, devastating heights of its British counterpart. In 10 episodes, it failed to explore the psyche of this shattered community as successfully as Broadchurch, while also failing to deviate much from its predecessor for the vast majority of its running time.