(Warning: this article contains spoilers about Season One of ABC’s Alaska Daily)
The show opens with Eileen in a work mandated therapy session. The mental health professional asks her what she’s been doing since “the event.” Eileen says she’s been spending a lot of time at the Captain Cook gym. Good sauna. No mention of her joy ride with Pilot Poet. She’s been having trouble sleeping and focusing, but is ready to get back to work.
The Alaska Daily newsroom is getting security cameras installed. Yuna’s gaze lingers on the blood-stained floor that is missing three carpet squares. The installer drops his hammer with a clang. Everyone jumps. Eileen makes her triumphant return. The news team seems genuinely glad to see her. Stanley has concerns but agrees to let Eileen stay on the job as long as she keeps seeing her new counselor and “takes it easy.” Roz fills Eileen in on the new pieces of information coming together in the Gloria Nanmac investigation. Reed Gallahorn is their newest lead, a pastor at a church in Meade. He has an assault charge from six years ago. Charges were dropped, so he was never swabbed for DNA. Most interestingly, a dead teenager named Randy was found behind Gallahorn’s previous church in Nebraska. His death was ruled accidental, but a local reporter always suspected Gallahorn killed the boy to silence him.
Eileen and Roz decide it’s time for one of them to go back to Meade. They want to question Gallahorn and try to track down another lead, Gloria’s friend Alice. Roz eagerly volunteers. She’s been in touch with her half-brother and they’ve been building a relationship. Eileen will stay in Anchorage and report on the state’s broken DNA testing system. The plan is to publish together and put pressure on the state to test both Gallahorn and Gloria’s DNA. It’s winter in Meade and things look different from the last time Roz visited. While most of the show is shot in Canada, all the snow makes it easier to pretend it’s actually rural Alaska. Roz makes a visit to New Zion Church. Gallahorn admits he spoke to Gloria the night she disappeared. Gloria had a fight with her mother and was planning on running away from home. Gallahorn says he tried to help her spiritually, but he “couldn’t escape the darkness.” When Roz presses him on the death of the boy in Nebraska, Gallahorn asks her to leave.
Eileen catches up with Public Safety Commissioner Haynes and asks for her help. The state only tests DNA when a death is ruled a possible homicide. If the cause is undetermined the state won’t test. “It’s too expensive” Commissioner Haynes stresses. Then she drops a bomb: she heard Conrad Pritchard is selling The Daily Alaskan.
Cut to Stanley and Aaron Pritchard, Conrad’s son, having an intense budget meeting. Aaron is demanding cuts. Eileen frantically calls Stanley to inform him of the sale, but he rebuffs her call. She immediately calls Aaron. He’s shocked. At first, he refuses to believe his dad would do this without consulting him. Stanley reminds him cutting the budget improves the bottom line and makes the paper more attractive to a buyer. Aaron and Stanley process. Conrad has been angry since Austin’s story tanked Conrad’s favored candidate’s campaign and Eileen embarrassed him at the Arts Gala. Stanley recruits Claire to ask Brenda in accounting if Conrad has requested the paper’s financials recently.
There is someone still missing in the newsroom. Newly minted reporter Gabriel hasn’t returned to work since “the event.” He’s been texting with some of the reporters but has told everyone he needs space. Everyone is worried. Austin checks in on Gabriel again, and Gabriel makes the mistake of sending five thumbs up emojis. No one that’s actually doing okay would send five thumbs up emojis. Austin and Yuma make a plan to go see him.
Back in Meade, Alice is sitting on Sylvie’s steps waiting for Roz. She wants to know if the story about the dead boy in Nebraska is true. Alice claims she doesn’t know how her friend died but confirms Gloria was attending New Zion Church and Pastor Gallahorn made her stand in the snow as punishment for disobeying him. That’s how she got frostbite. Gloria said she was going to expose Gallahorn on Facebook, and messaged Alice about it. Sylvia rushes to confront Gallahorn at his church. He denies killing her daughter, Gloria, and says he’ll submit to a DNA test. Roz collects Alice’s DMs as evidence.
Eileen asks Roz for help to pressure Commissioner Haynes to test the DNA. Roz mentions JCAN, Justice Council for Alaska Natives, a non-profit that helps Alaska Natives navigate the criminal justice system. Ding ding! JCAN received a $2 million grant so the state could run DNA tests on suspects and victims. That never happened and the state is stalling on releasing the budget documents which would show the corruption. Austin can get a copy of anything, and he thinks some staffers or lobbyists with sway can help. Oh boy, if only Alaska Daily would have a lobbyist character based on some local legends. A girl can hope. Eileen gets a copy of the draft budget and has her friendly Tolstoy’s Beard bartender/former accountant take a looksie. The state appears to have taken the grant money and done zero DNA testing with it. “These books are cooked!” the bartending accountant proclaims. This is all the ammunition Eileen needs to storm into Commissioner Haynes’ office without an appointment. When Eileen grills her about the two million earmarked for DNA testing Haynes has no comment and tells her to get out of her office. Commissioner Haynes quickly decides to have the DNA tested. Plot twist: the DNA doesn’t belong to Gallahorn. It belongs to Toby Crenshaw. Toby is the crabber Eileen and Roz tracked down in Kodiak back in episode two. He admitted to fighting with Gloria in Meade the night she died, but claimed he didn’t kill her. Toby mentioned he was worried “they” would find out he was talking to reporters. Two episodes left to find Gloria’s killer…
Knock, knock. Gabriel opens a door to a cheerful Claire with an arm full of groceries. She bustles in and begins unpacking. Another knock. It’s Bob with the ingredients for his famous marinara. The door sounds again. This time it’s Austin and Yuna. They come with wine and a movie. And finally, the encore: Stanley appears at Gabriel’s door. A grateful Gabriel thanks everyone for coming. As the group settles down to watch the movie, Gabriel announces that he’s not coming back to the paper.
Claire confirms that Conrad sent the paper’s financials to a buyer in New York. Stanley calls Aaron to advise him if he decides to question his father about the sale, he may want to know about Conrad’s shady land deals. Aaron is all ears. Armed with this new information, Aaron Pritchard barges into Conrad’s mansion confronting him about selling the paper. Conrad admits it but says it’s just business. When Aaron pushes back about Conrad’s dust up with Eileen at the Arts Gala, Conrad replies, “Rude that one. Attractive but rude.” Like father like son… Conrad continues, “The Daily Alaska has become a bur under my saddle with no upside.” The fire rages alongside a backdrop of leather, mahogany, and wood paneling. If I didn’t know any better I’d say I was watching Yellowstone. Aaron pleads with his father, “You do this and you go down as the guy who killed the biggest paper in the state.” Then Aaron drops the secret shady land deals bomb and mentions if environmental groups caught wind of his secret road it would be very bad for business. Conrad’s reaction is visceral. How would they find out? “They might read about it,” Aaron replies smugly. Aaron asks his dad to sell him the paper. Conrad angrily agrees, but at the same prices as the New York buyers and Aaron is OUT of the family business effective immediately. Let’s hope this isn’t a case of art imitating life. Just in case, can someone check on John and Ryan Binkley ASAP? Is their relationship intact or is Ryan out of the family business just like Aaron Pritchard?!
There’s not much time left for the show to wrap up loose ends. Who killed Gloria Nanmac? 99% of the time with network TV it’s a character shown or mentioned in the first or second episode. Could the killer be Toby? No way. There is a clear pattern of villains in this show and Toby does not fit the profile. What about Skeeter? I’m still not discounting the evil white Christian pastor. He checks all the boxes for a villain these days. Gloria was found without her crutches – will we ever discover what happened to them? Who are the “they” Toby was fearful of? Will he confess to a crime? Is Pastor Gallagher’s son Chris, whose sub plot I cut out of this review for length, involved? (I hope not!) Ezra Fisher was already dismissed as a suspect. I’m not quite sure how everything ties together, but I am fairly confident that Pilot Poet isn’t involved. He was my first suspect! The penultimate episode airs tonight on ABC and streams tomorrow on Hulu. Stay tuned.
Allison Hovanec was born and raised in Alaska. She and her husband are raising three young children in South Anchorage. She is a co-owner of the Alaska Landmine, writer for the Alaska Political Report and generally competent.
Come on people, let’s talk about the real problems with today’s world.
I just read that water heaters are causing many to die early. This fentanyl problem is just a ruze.