Gracepoint: Who Killed Danny Solano?

Photo Courtesy Of Fox
Photo Courtesy Of Fox

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The Fox Network introduced their new Limited-Run Series “Gracepoint,” with a rather foreboding image, a young dark-haired boy stands on a cliff high above the water at night with tears streaming down his face. Then the camera goes black.

Gracepoint, California’s a lovely seaside village, located halfway between San Francisco and the Oregon border, a town that attracts tourists, but the regulars are a small tight-knit community, who’ve known each other all their lives. Well aside from the new Gracepoint Police Department Lead Detective Emmett Carver, (David Tennant) who just joined the force the previous week, with a long resume and lots of experience. Carver expected quiet times in his new post, but funny how life works out sometimes.

Carver got the position promised to longtime Gracepoint Detective Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn) before going on vacation by the department’s Chief Morgan, (Tom Butler) but gets called into his office and told the disappointing news as she enters the station. Morgan, said the situation changed while she was away and Carver’s very experienced. Miller reminds the Chief, of their conversation in which he told her the department was looking to promote women.

We leave the station and enter the home of one of the village’s family’s, plumber Mark Solano, (Michael Pena) his wife Beth (Victoria Kull) and their daughter Chloe (Madalyn Horcher) are eating blueberry pancakes made by Beth’s mother, who came over from her home nearby to cook breakfast. Beth asks if anyone’s seen their son Danny (Nikolas Filipovic) because he forgot his lunch, but Mark says he’s probably on his regular morning nature watch, then kisses his wife and leaves for work.

The next scene illustrates just how small and close a community Gracepoint is, as we watch Solano walk through the village interacting with everyone in his path, a routine he’s clearly used to. He stops by the town’s newspaper and pays the editor Kathy Eaton (Alisen Down)  for the ad he runs in it for his company, then haves a brief conversation with the paper’s reporter Owen Burke (Kevin Zegers) whose heading to cover the local track meet at the village’s school. He asks Gemma Fisher (Sarah-Jane Potts) who runs the local inn and restaurant when he’s getting his free meal for fixing her boiler, then finally meets his assistant Vince Novik (Stephen Louis Grush) driving Mark’s van and showing up late for work.

Beth meanwhile heads to her son’s school and finds out he didn’t join the nature group and has yet to show up at school. She starts to panic, finds Danny’s best friend and Ellie Miller’s son Tom, (Jack Irvine) who tells her he hadn’t seen or heard from her son all day. She thanks the boy and asks him if he sees him to call her. She then calls her son’s and husband’s phones reaching voice mail on both.

Miller’s really steamed at getting passed over for the promotion, so she heads into the rest-room locks the door and presumably calls her husband Joe, (Josh Hamilton) to vent. In the midst of her conversation there’s pounding on the door and another female officer informs Ellie that a case just came in and she needs to head to the beach.

Carver’s just arriving at the beach when we join him and when he sees the body’s a young boy’s, he whispers please not again.  A uniformed officer’s already on the scene and then Miller pulls up in her car. She realizes the body’s Danny’s and starts screaming and running toward the corpse. Carver attempts to restrain her and she tells him that he’s got her job and she’s Detective Ellie Miller. He asks her if she knows the boy and tells him he’s her son’s best friend.

Beth’s driving around town trying to find her son when she runs into a traffic jam, an unusual occurrence in their town. The line of cars stretch near a quarter-mile and she gets out of her car and starts walking forward. A couple of minutes into her journey, she asks a woman in a car if she has any idea what’s going on and the woman replies, the police shut down the beach after finding a body. Beth’s positive the body’s Danny’s and starts running as fast as she can towards the beach. She gets to the area cordoned off by Police Tape, lifts it up, walks past an officer talking to someone else and heads to the crime scene. Another officer tries to stop her, but she gets close enough to recognize her son’s sneakers and breaks down, trying to reach her son while several officers restrain her.

Shortly later a forensics expert shows up and says Danny did not fall, jump or get pushed off the cliff, who ever murdered the boy planted the rocks to make it appear that was the cause of death. He believes the killer transported Danny to the beach and dumped his already dead body. They meet with the town’s medical examiner and he’s positive it’s a homicide caused by blunt trauma to the front of the boy’s head. When asked if he was the victim of a sexual assault, the medical examiner responds, no thank heavens. He then tells Carver that though the detective’s a veteran of these investigations, this doesn’t happen in Gracepoint and tells Carver to catch the killer and put him a way for a long time.

Carver and Miller head to the Solanos and Miller tells the other detective she wants to break the news to the family. He says no immediately, she replies that he doesn’t know them and he asks her how many murder investigations she’s worked. When she admits this is her first he tells her she can’t help them or make things any better.

They enter the home, and everyone sits down. Carver says they found a body on the beach and believe it’s their son’s, Beth asks Ellie if it’s Danny and she nods her head as Chloe and Beth dissolve into tears. Carver tries dispassionately asking questions and Mark finally says he wants to see the body, they might be mistaken.

Miller takes him to the morgue and now Mark dissolves into tears, he asks Ellie if he can touch  him and the detective says no. He apologizes to Danny for not being there to protect him and says he’ll blame himself for the rest of his life. Then he tells his son that he’ll find whose ever responsible and they’ll get punished.

When Mark and Ellie return from the morgue, Carver promises the family that he’ll find the killer. Right after he says that Chloe grabs her coat and handbag and leaves the house. A short while later she and her boyfriend arrive at the beach and put down one of Danny’s toys, a stuffed monkey on the beach, then falls into her boyfriend’s arms and starts to weep. They fail to notice reporter Owen Burke sitting nearby, there to investigate the case for his paper. He calls Miller and asks if it’s Danny Solano and she freezes up and gets tongue-tied, telling him his call’s inappropriate and she won’t confirm anything. He realizes that she did confirm by not denying it and hangs up, she calls him right back but gets his voice mail. He sends out a press release from his cell-phone, starting a huge storm in the village.

Carver and the rest of the department are unaware that Burke filed the story and tells all the officers, that until he gives the official press conference later that afternoon, they’re not to discuss the case with anybody. Chief Morgan nods to Carver to take a walk with him outside, then suggests he hand the case over to Ellie because of what happened in Rosemont. Carver gets agitated, says he got completely exonerated and because of Rosemont, he’s the perfect man to lead the investigation. Morgan says that Carver came to Gracepoint to “lay low,” but Carver counters that he came to do a job.

Chloe finds out first getting an alert on her cellphone and the Solanos go ballistic screaming at the forensics expert whose now at their home. He’s truly clueless about the leak and suggests they contact Carver or Miller, but Beth says that they’d rather speak to him. She then berates him and asks what gives the department the right to release her son’s name without informing them first.

Renee Clemons, (Jessica Lucas) a reporter for the San Francisco Globe, watches Carver’s press conference from Gracepoint announcing the slaying of Danny Solano. She knows Carver, she tells a colleague from her days working in Rosemont and says she’s surprised he got hired by another department. She pitches the story to her editor, but he declines her request, however she defies him and travels up the coast on her own.

Nearly forty-years-ago, one of the first Mini-Series to capture the public’s attention and become a hit, was “Rich Man, Poor Man” and one of the stars, Nick Nolte’s career got launched by his performance. I’m happy to announce that Nolte’s a character in Gracepoint, but he’s far from the handsome leading man of his salad days. Nolte plays Jack Reinhold, an old codger who resembles a cross between a mean Santa Claus and a sailor. He rents kayaks and canoes to tourists but his main passion’s keeping track of the local sea life which he reports to the observatory down the coast.

For years he’s taken local children out with him in the early mornings to help him record dolphin and whale sightings. Danny was there every morning the week he got killed except for the morning he died. Carver asked if Reinhold had called Danny’s house when he didn’t show up and Jack looked at the detective as if he were insane, asking if he thought Danny was the first kid not to show for a morning session?

Beth and Mark start talking and she asks why he didn’t check on Danny when he got home from a plumbing emergency at 3:00am and he asked her why didn’t she check on him after she saw him at 9:00pm? She asks her husband where he was and he says I told you I was working.

Ellie still has yet to let her son know that his best friend got killed the night before, so she stops home to tell him in person. Tom seems oddly calm about the information, asking very few questions other than if his parents knew and his mom tells him they do. She then tells her son that losing one’s best friend in such an awful way can make people react differently. He may get very sad, or angry or just want to cry, but what ever way he reacts is fine.  He then asks his mother if he could have some time alone and she says sure, gives him a kiss and leaves the room. Tom grabs his cellphone and deletes all the messages on it from Danny. He then goes to his laptop and erases the hard drive.

That night at the station, Miller calls Carver into her office to show him her latest find, surveillance footage from the village square from the night before and lo and behold Danny Solano’s riding his skate board down the white line in the middle of the street at midnight. That proves he wasn’t abducted from his home, but now gives them two more questions, where’s his skateboard as well as his cellphone, which he never left his house without?

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00pm on Fox.

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