The killer is revealed at last. Was it a shock to you? Now, GRACEPOINT can come to its pre-determined 10-episode end and Fox can stop worrying about its disastrous ratings.
Overall, I thought that the season did a good job of luring me in and making me want to watch the next week to find out more about the story. Though it was far from perfect, toward the end of the 10-part event, I felt invested in the characters and wanted to know who killed Danny just as much as Carver and Miller did!
For purposes of full disclosure: I watched episodes 9 and 10 together, so if I get something wrong or switch something around in the episode order, please forgive me.
The main suspects that Carver and Miller deal with during these episodes are Susan Wright and Vince Novik, a pair that we have seen sneaking around and being generally suspect before. Susan has a wide-eyed, vacant look about her, and Vince has that woodshop in his garage and the blood stains in his company van. It’s hard to deny that perhaps these two could have colluded to hurt Danny Solano, though there’s no evidence or motive to back that up.
In the first twist of the story, we find out that Susan is actually Vince’s mother. She was forced to give him up to the state when her husband was found guilty of murder and rape, claiming she was an accomplice. Susan states she never knew anything about her husband having sex with her daughters in their own house. I would say the most important thing that Ellie asks is, “How could you not know?”
In her desperation, Susan claims she saw Vince bring Danny’s body to the beach the night he died, and is determined that it was Vince and no one else. However, when Vince is asked what he was doing that night, he claims he went hunting. A witness (Ellie’s sister) puts his plumbing van far from the cabin that night, carrying a large object wrapped in cloth. Susan (and Ellie, for that matter) is so sure he was carrying Danny’s body that the investigation into other suspects halts to look into this.
It’s right about this time that Danny’s smartphone, the one that’s been missing since the beginning of the season, is turned on. Carver tracks it and finds that someone has been keeping it from the police: Joe Miller, Detective Miller’s husband.
We discover that Joe Miller killed Danny Solano. They had been meeting secretly during soccer practice to talk and hang out for the last few months. The night of Danny’s death, they had agreed to meet up at the cabin by the cliffs to talk. The Millers had just returned from their trip from Mexico, and after helping Ellie get the boys in bed, Joe waited for Ellie’s sleeping pills to take effect before slipping out to meet with Danny. It was platonic and innocent until Joe touches Danny’s face.
Danny gets the fight-or-flight instinct as the audience yearns for him to leave, to run away, to go home. He tells Joe that he’s leaving, that he can’t do this, and of course Joe is upset. He tries to stop Danny from leaving, but Danny pushes past him outside the cabin, and runs to the edge of the cliff. As Danny runs away, Joe grabs for him and the boy slips and hits his head, hard, on a rock. That’s how he died. Struggling to run away, trying to go home. It wasn’t murder. It was an accident. The circumstances are still dire, however, for Joe Miller.
Carver tells Ellie Miller about her husband’s confession after releasing Vince from custody. The scene is one of the most tender ones I have seen in the show, and I’m glad that they were able to give Tennant an opportunity to showcase his skill. Of course Ellie doesn’t believe him at first, accusing him of making fun of her, of making things up just to get a rise out of her. But then she realizes that he has no reason to lie and it hits her. Her husband is a murderer.
The rest of the episode revolves around Ellie’s life as it falls apart. First, she’s forced out of her home and into a hotel with her children. Then she isn’t allowed to attend Danny’s funeral because of the newly discovered connection between her husband and his death. It breaks her heart that her husband, the father of her children, could have been not only capable of murder, but also a pedophile.
Remember the line, “How could you not know?” It returns to sting Ellie when she goes to Beth’s house after finding out Joe killed Danny. She never says this, but I’m assuming she wanted to apologize, to commiserate with her friend, but when Beth simply repeats those words in her face and turns back to her house, I can just feel Ellie’s heart breaking through the screen.
When she returns to the hotel, there is another twist in the story. Ellie is trying to talk to Tom, to understand what he’s going through, to tell him that it’s not his fault if his father ever touched him inappropriately. Tom says he never did, then starts crying. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The truth is finally revealed.
Joe was not the only person involved in Danny’s death.
Tom followed his father that night and witnessed the entire thing. Just as Danny was running away from Joe and the clifftops at the cabin, Tom comes out swinging an oar at his father, telling him to stay away from his friend, away from Danny. Danny turns, trying to get Tom away, and the oar swings back to hit him in the head. That’s what killed him. Again, it was entirely an accident. And this entire season could have been ended with a quick confession. But I understand that Joe didn’t want to hurt his wife, didn’t want to hurt his family by confessing that not only did he kill an innocent boy, he might have also been harboring sexual feelings for him.
GRACEPOINT was decent. I didn’t watch Broadchurch before Gracepoint so I have nothing to compare it to personally, but from what I understand, the endings are different. The killer and motives are different. There were moments of genuine tenderness in this season, and moments of sheer exhaustion as well. I was kept guessing at the killer. I had no idea that it would end up being an accident, instead of the malicious murder the detectives had been setting up all along.
The mixture of actors was refreshing; seasoned, well-known actors mixed with fresh faces made for an interesting dynamic. David Tennant settled into his American accent about halfway through and Anna Gunn took up the detective mantle quite well. If you enjoy cop detectives, take a look. Even though I told you “who dun it” there is still plenty to discover yourself. Plus, there are whales. Who doesn’t love whales?
If you’re interested in watching this, then go ahead and do so. But my guess is you’d probably like Broadchurch more, especially if you like British TV.