Category Archives: Gracepoint

‘Gracepoint’ Finale or Deus ex machina or A Pretty Red Bow Can’t Hide the Crappy Giftwrap

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Last nights episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter D. D stands for Deus Ex Machina. For those of you familiar with the literary term, you’ll recognize this plot device as it was used in exemplary form on Thursday night’s finale. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, deus es machina is an ancient Greek phrase translating to “God as the machine” and was used during early Renaissance theater criticism as reference to the ropes and cranes used to lower angels and Gods down on to the stage and resolve the conflict, quite literally “out of thin air”.

But enough with the metaphors. In fact, what happened last night on Gracepoint could have used some metamorphosis — unfortunately it was too wrapped up in misdirecting viewership and (just one more metaphor here) dropping it’s fallen angel, Joe Miller, on our proverbial heads. What. A. Crock.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.09 or Cameo by Max Headroom or ‘What Do You Even Do All Day?’

Gracepoint Headroom

Last night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by letter H. H stands for Headroom. Excessive headroom. I thought I would point this out in defense of Gracepoint, since one of my on-going pet peeves with this murder-mystery has been it’s sunny aesthetic disposition, and not in an non-ironic way.  I had previously mentioned lighting and set design as culprits, but never framing because it was pretty standard — all by-the-book mediums and wides. In last night’s Gracepoint, however, the amount of headroom (the space between the top of someone’s head and the top frame of he screen) was out of control, making the characters look and feel small, almost pushed down by the weight of their environment. The episode was darker as well, both in tone and lighting. So, props?

Meh. Too little too late, if you ask me. It’s too bad that we didn’t feel that anxiety or fear or weight sooner but, c’est la vie. All we can hope for now is that this all comes to a fantastic and very well thought out conclusion. My expectations are low but my fingers are crossed. This week was another decent episode of a decent show. It’s not easy to make a decent show so I definitely will look forward to next week’s finale, although I’ll be glad it’s all come to an end.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.08 or Carvering Out A Killer or Quality over Quantity

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Last night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter Q. Q stands for Quality and Quanity. Because the former is always more important than the latter, and Carver has wagged his finger into a mass of suspects for long enough.

It’s been good fun, Gracepoint, but I’m about ready for this all to be over. Last week I was glad to see my issues with the chipper atmosphere of the series take a turn for the more appropriately dark, following the recent suicide of Jack Reinhold, the unexpected disappearance of Tom Miller, and the introduction of a twisted young PTSD veteran, the backpacker, Lars Pierson. Still, as the series comes to an end, I find that there have been several missed opportunities where it has opted for confusing the audience by throwing in more red herrings (i.e. characters, clues) over fleshing out and developing the darker inner conflicts between characters or within them.

For example: Who cares if Paul has a crush on Beth Solano and Mark knows it? Oh so Paul’s motive for killing Danny was that Beth would turn to him in her time of need? That would not be shocking, it would just be really shitty of him. If Paul had truly done it (or if the series wants us to believe that it could be him) making him Mark’s best friend would have been a far more interesting route to take. If Paul does turn out to be the killer, then I hope that he’s also having a secret love affair with Vince and Danny found out… or something. (That might be pretty good, actually. It would also explain why Trailer Park Susan told Vince “you weren’t thinking straight“.) My point is that whatever the answer turns out to be, I fear that not knowing or trusting the killer to begin with will cause the revelation to fall flat. Since the series has not delved into the lives of 85% the characters all that deeply, I’m just hoping the killer is someone whose revelation would destroy the 15% of characters we’ve actually gotten to know.  If it does, great, but even then I wish the series had less characters that I knew more about, rather than more characters that I knew less about. Quality over quanity.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.07 or Post Traumatic Stake Disorder or Boiling Points

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Last night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Stakes. And not the kind you eat. (Although there was a hamburger.)

Finally, I feel concern! And why am I concerned? Because there is something (or someone) important at stake. It took a whole seven episodes to make it happen, but that means Gracepoint gets The Serial Box Seven-Episode Survival Badge! Congrats.

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s lay it all out. This drama has had a lot of plot, a lot of characters, a lot of talk, a lot of people with feelings, but all in all very little to make us cringe or fear or gasp. Passively, we’ve wondered, we’ve suspected, we’ve felt for some of the most affected characters, but was anyone really worried? Shocked? I’ve had to shrug a lot of things off out of necessity. When there are THIS many suspects and red herrings you don’t worry too much about one, lest you miss out on another. Was I really wondering “OMG, what happens now?!?” or at the very least finger snapping an “Oh no he didn’t!“? No, I wasn’t. I repeat, so what if they never found the killer? Danny is dead and there was no real threat that there was a serial killer on the loose. (Until now.) Lastly, you know how I feel about the incongruent set design, lighting, and direction.

At times Gracepoint has felt like a stew on low heat with the cook gently throwing in every vegetable in the garden. Will this damn thing ever boil? And what’s it going to taste like?

Of course, I’ve enjoyed it as well. I’ve been milling the endless array of facts around in my head, trying to piece it together like most of us have, which is always fun. I also have enjoyed the performances, particularly from Anna Gunn (Ellie), Nick Nolte (Jack, RIP) and Virginia Kull (Beth). The dialogue is pretty good, believable. The chemistry between Carver and Ellie has also been improving. But last night’s episode was exceptionally well done on all these counts and improved upon in nearly every way. Characters moved around, changed their ways, and we the audience felt threatened, scared and confused: Where is Tom? Is he alive? And is this related to Danny? Yes! Gracepoint has reached its boiling point.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.06 or Forecast Says A Slight Chance of Rain or The Pedophile Card

gracepoint107Thursday night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter R. R stands for the Rain.

After last week’s review of a very mediocre episode (and series), I was left hoping that this week would bring something big and bad that would shake the town up and cover it in the grey muck it so needed. In that review I spoke of how incongruently sunny the lighting and set design (i.e. tone) was, and so the metaphoric equivalent of an answer would have been a nasty storm.  What we got this week was an overcast day with some showers; and that rainstorm of anger and fear was carried over by a big grey cloud called the media.

Throughout the weeks we’ve seen young journalists, Renee and Owen, attempting to chip away at the case of Danny Solano. At Renee’s behest, the two have been working to break the big story inside the bigger story, or be the first to reveal some great secret or cover up for their own glory. Renee seemed to have bitten off a small piece with first person interviews from the Solanos, but the real story, of course, had to be imminent. It had to be juicy. It had to be shocking. And like lightning, it was: striking down Jack Reinhold, and killing him in the process.

With only four episodes left, this week I’ll catalog where we are with each character to see if we can catch where they may all finally collide.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.05 or Too Sunny To Be Scary

gracepoint 105Thursday night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for sunshine. (Read on.)

This week I’d like to deviate from the usual recap and analysis. Instead I want to discuss my “feelings” towards Gracepoint as a series up until now. Particularly, in regards to some of its misgivings.

THE RANT

Gracepoint is good — but why isn’t it great?  I’ve been thinking long and hard about this because I enjoy the show, it’s just that something feels off about it. Not a creepy “off”, quite the opposite in fact, it’s just off. The episodes seem to be moving faster. The investigations aren’t dragging on forever. The actors are doing a fine job. The writing isn’t at all bad (although, there’s not enough at stake if we never find out who killed Danny but that’s for another day). But… I rarely feel emotionally connected to the world they are in.  So whats up?

Here’s what I’ve come up with: it’s all to bright and sunny.  Literally. Like, they need to tone down the sunshine.  I keep going back to the first season of The Killing and why that was such a better show right off the bat. The most significant reason I can come up with is tone. There are so many factors which can contribute to the tone of a show. Certainly writing is huge, but when the themes are murder and a grieving family, it is crucial that the setting match that sentiment.  Gloomy, dark, wet Seattle, its warehouse lofts and buildings certainly did the trick on The Killing. But what about sunny Gracepoint? It’s a somewhat different show, of course,  about an idyllic town turned upside down by a gruesome event, and the darker side of its inhabitants coming to the surface. And yet the town remains just as idyllic in tone.  The homes, the shops, the streets, the church, are warm and inviting. Well-lit even in the darkest of times. The shots are wide, often outdoors, it’s almost comforting, and I think it’s a mistake.   If Gracepoint was going for irony, the show missed the mark.

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