I love watching a show from the very beginning. I don’t know yet who my people are. Each episode I get a little more insight into which characters I like and which ones I don’t.
With Graceland, there really aren’t any of the latter. Each member of the ensemble is enjoyable to watch, and worthy of supporting. What makes the Mike/Briggs storyline so compelling is the inability to completely root against Briggs . He is complicated and there is a lot about him we don’t know, but he appears to be a good agent, with great instincts. As Mike points out, his unorthodox way of doing things could be disastrous if he were to miscalculate something or take a gamble and lose, but so far his methods seem to work out and Mike may even be impressed. What’s confusing (for both us and Mike) is that when watching Briggs through the lens of Mike’s investigation, everything seems suspicious. All of his choices seem questionable, just because the seed has been planted that he’s dirty.
Mike is a great agent. He follows procedure to the letter and wants to do everything by the book. He’s been given an assignment and his goal is to stay professional and do the best job he can, no matter the circumstances. But how easy is it to pretend to be somebody’s friend over a long period of time? Yes, his roommates are undercover pretending to be in relationships with people they are investigating, but how realistic is it for Mike to keep his distance when he and Briggs are constantly being thrown together into situations where they need each other? Plus, Mike and Briggs live together and Mike has no alias when working with Briggs, which makes him a lot more vulnerable. Each time they work through a successful mission like the one at the start of Heat Run, they bond a little more. Is it possible that Mike will be able to blow the proverbial horn on Briggs, if and when the time comes, if they have really become friends?
As far as the specifics of his mission, Mike got a little more information this episode. His control officer, Juan, suggested that Briggs’ questionable behavior was financial in nature, leading Mike to begin probing into the specifics of Briggs’ spending. Personally, I’m hoping there’s more to this. Embezzling funds from the FBI seems like a pretty boring secret, and I think Briggs’ skeletons are a lot deeper and more interesting than that.
Elsewhere in Graceland, Lauren is chomping at the bit to take down the guys who want to kill Donny. She seems to be under the impression that if she can get rid of the one guy who poses a threat, then the DEA will let Donny come back to Graceland. Why wouldn’t she just ask to be transferred to Miami with him? Wouldn’t that have been safer and made more sense from the beginning? Oh well, I suppose people who are overly emotional don’t always think so clearly and Lauren is definitely proving that point. She convinces her housemates to make a bust on a truck the Russians will be using to smuggle stolen cars. But when it becomes obvious that the truck does not in fact have the cars, Lauren insists on stopping it anyway, blowing her cover and the entire operation in the process. She insists that she can fix it, but Briggs tells her it’s over and that she needs to let it go. She ignores Briggs’ direction, then uses a series of manipulations and lies to convince him to ambush a warehouse where the Russians are housing the cars. The mission is successful, but Lauren was wrong about some of the details including how many Russians would be waiting for them. This put the team in a significant amount of danger that they were thankfully able to avoid. Briggs feels that Lauren’s recklessness is putting the team at risk, and arranges for her to be removed from the house.
When I say ‘arranges for her to be removed’ I mean he bought a GPS tracker and attached it to her car so that he could claim that her bad decisions almost blew the cover of all the agents at Graceland. Why did he have to go through all that trouble? Wasn’t the lying and disobeying instruction enough to make a case for her to be transferred elsewhere? Is it that Briggs doesn’t like to get his hands dirty? He wanted Lauren out, but he didn’t want to be the one to do it? Or, is it that Lauren is his friend and he didn’t want her to be hurt by his involvement in her expulsion from Graceland? And if Briggs will go to those lengths to protect his friendships, what does that mean for the way things are going to go with Mike?
The most difficult part of the episode for me was Charlie and her confidential informant with a weakness for meth. He called her to let her know he knew of a potential buyer and was prepared to set up the sting. Charlie let him do it, but once they were there, he started trying to negotiate to jack up the price and increase his cut. Charlie was able to make the deal anyway, but her CI ruined any chances of working with her in the future. His cut of the money was $100,000 and Charlie tried to help him get his life back on track by finding a house that would be perfect for him. I cringed as she handed over that check. People who struggle with dependency are notoriously afraid of windfalls. Even when they are firmly on the road to remission (which this guy did not seem to be), money poses a major temptation that is often too big to overcome. Seeing Charlie drive past the house at the end of the episode only to see another family moving in was predictable, but heartbreaking.
And finally, Heat Run, delved a little more into what the personal lives of the agents living at Graceland are like. Relationships are all based on lies. Each of them has an alias s/he uses when out. They pick jobs and backstories they think are safe and won’t elicit a lot of questions. It seems to me that hooking up with someone in the house would be the most appealing option. Sure, it could complicate things as far as work goes, especially if things go south, but it’s the only way to have a relationship that isn’t based on an entirely fake persona. After lying about who you are day-in and day-out, being with someone who actually knows you would be hugely comforting. To reiterate, I vote for Charlie, but Mike seemed to have a good time with the woman he met at the bar. I can’t imagine he’s going to last very long as a full-time liar/boyfriend, though.
Anyone else notice that Briggs’ credit card statement is what sent Mike to the auto parts shop, but then the cashier said he paid cash?
I would really love to see more personal development for Johnny and Jakes. I’m a big fan of both.
Those first few moments of this episode were SO tense. We have really been led to believe that Briggs is a bad apple. Think we’re going to doubt him at every turn? Or will we (and Mike) start to trust him even when things seem sinister? And thank goodness Mike didn’t say anything about who he has actually been talking to! Close one.
What are your thoughts on episode 3?