Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Graceland - 2.02 - Connects - Review


With Mike's investigation into who kidnapped him at a standstill, Briggs reaches out to his contacts to arrange a meeting with Caza cartel leader, Alfredo Arma. (The actor played Edgar on Supernatural for those keeping score.) They have an intense but cordial discussion about the ethics of crime and agree to be unlikely allies in the hunt for the kidnappers. While Briggs is rather proud of how it turned out, Charlie is none too happy with Briggs for going into danger and not telling her. Johnny's not to happy either when he guesses that Jakes is moving out. To shush him up, Jakes shows Johnny a picture of his son, Daniel, and tells the story of why he moved to Graceland. He's gotten a new apartment and a desk job so he can be in Daniel's life. Too bad his ex-girlfriend seems less than excited about the possibility when he calls her. Speaking of girlfriends, Briggs heads to Charlie's work for a deep conversation about their careers and relationship. She calls him on being reckless in order to become the hotshot again. He calls her on her nightly escapades so she hands him the folder on Juan Badillo before walking out and sending Briggs into a panic. He tracks down Jakes, proving he's far more aware of what's happening in the house than the others. Briggs wants help about Charlie. Jakes wants Briggs to leave him out of it. It's a great scene of Jakes finally putting Briggs in his place. He tells Briggs to find out what Charlie's up to, so he joins her stakeout of the Badillo place where she admits to feeling guilty about Juan's death especially since his widow is drinking again. It's a great, intense scene. Meanwhile Mike's investigation causes problems for Paige too. She is 4 months into a sting but Mike tells her to wrap it up or hand it off immediately because he's a self-centered douche. At least he offers the FBI's vast resources, including a lip reader and sign language interpreter. Brilliant move but sadly the meet is in half an hour, so the race is on. Paige easily takes down her "partner" and convinces him to cooperate with her. She then hammers on the buyer, jumping onto his back. Mike arrests everyone and viola, the least suspenseful drug bust ever is done.

Luckily Jessica, Mike's other girlfriend, comes through with a lead from Arma so the team heads to an old envelope factory where Arma leaves a goat and a picture of one Carlos Solano of the Solano cartel, the guy behind the kidnapping. Mike puts a plan together which involves Paige contacting street dealers for the cartel, Charlie going undercover as Junior's girlfriend, and Zeke moving out. The last is negated when Johnny tells the house that Jakes moved out to Paige and Charlie's consternation. Mike doesn't care since it doesn't involve him directly so Zeke is back in. Sadly Jakes is out, out, out. Out of Graceland, out of his dream, and out of freedom. When he goes to see his son, Cassie and Derek tell him that they got a restraining order for him and the police arrest him in front of his son. Ouch! I feel so badly for him. His dream comes crashing down around him, although screaming, "I'm your father," at your son is probably not the best way to break the news. Later that night, he takes a baseball bat to the room he built for his son in the most painful moment of the night. Luckily there is a bright spot - Briggs and Juan's widow. It's the second biggest plot twist of the night for me, but he follows her to a liquor store and poses as a guy falling off the wagon too. They bond over dead love ones and she takes him to a coffeehouse where they both rededicate themselves to sobriety. While Briggs connects with the widow, Mike has Charlie connect with the mark. Shockingly she bails in the middle of the operation in a crisis of nerves, so Johnny makes contact instead. Meanwhile Mike connects with Paige on a more carnal level right after hanging up with Jessica. Also in the minor news category, the teens who have the tape Juan made before Briggs shot him play it in some guy's classic car. He takes the tape from them, thinking it's a joke. Wake me when it is actually important.

What Worked:

In a nutshell, the character development is what worked in this episode. Jakes' sad tale of trying to reconnect with his son was painful but so well acted. It's hard to see someone's dream shatter like that, especially when the character is usually reticent to share his feelings. The other angsty scene that actually worked for me was Charlie revealing the guilt she feels over not realizing that Cortes was Jangles sooner. The events of season 1 have done as big a number on her as it has on Briggs and that's saying something. I now know why we didn't get much of Charlie's reaction in the premiere. It's going to be a main event for at least a few episodes. When she walked out of the sting, I was dumbfounded. That is so unlike Charlie and clearly her confidence is shot, which should affect everyone in the operation. I really look forward to what they do with this character and I hope that when Mike inevitably tells her off that she goes right back off on him. Not only does Charlie bailing give her character an interesting arc to follow, it opens up the possibility of Johnny going undercover in a major case. While I don't want Johnny to ever lose his role as biggest supporter of Graceland, he does need a chance to shine and this gives it to him. Still his best scene of the night was when he realized that Jakes was leaving. The conversation was fabulous but the kicker was when he insisted on giving Jakes a hug and then Jakes hugs him back. For characters as opposite as Jakes and Johnny, they have great scenes together. Jakes also had a fabulous scene with Briggs albeit of an opposite nature. I always felt like Jakes should have been harder on Briggs last season and it comes out here. I like how he basically said this was Briggs' mess and that he needed to fix it because Jakes wasn't going to be the fall guy. Murder tends to strain a friendship, if that's what they even had. I'm glad Briggs got an eye opener here. Finally, Briggs had 2 more scenes that made my plus list. The intensity of the civil conversation he had with the Caza leader impressed me. The words sounded casual but my heart was racing throughout because this could have ended brutally. I like the undertone of tension both actors gave it. I also really enjoy how they have brought Juan Badilla's widow into the plot. I'm not sure how this is going to play out but I like it so far. It gives Briggs a small shot at redemption and allows us to see another side of him.

What Didn't Work:

For all that the characters worked in this episode, the plot was largely stalled and is my biggest criticism of the night. It felt like we were getting nowhere and Paige's side project didn't fill the gap. Last season there were times when the B plot was more interesting than anything Bello-related, like when they went up against the crazy pot farmer. This felt more like filler and to keep some resemblance of a police show. There was really nothing to this story at all. Paige meets with a low level crook, finds out where the meet is, she kicks some butt, and it's all over in about 3 minutes. Don't get me wrong. Paige kicking butt is awesome, but if we are not going to go anywhere in the actual serialized plot, I'd like a bit more from the B story. I also resent that they turned Paige into eye candy for a majority of the time she was on screen. She was partially nude for more time than all the other characters combined in the last 2 episodes. Then half of the conversations were about her looks instead of her job skills. She's a full member of Graceland and they need to remember that when portraying her. Then they go and have Paige and Mike hook up right after he hangs up with his girlfriend. Now they are both douches. Nice job, writers. Not that Mike wasn't still a douche before that. His leadership skills need a whole lot of work. His inability to care about anyone but himself, even more. He's the most self-centered, high handed, pompous little jerk on the show and he's supposed to be our main character. I know the anti-hero is all the rage these days, but I would prefer not wanting the main character to die every episode. Other than that and some pacing issues, the only thing that concerns me about this episode is that Jakes is now officially out of Graceland and I'm a bit unsure on how they are going to work him back in. If he just comes back and Mike kicks out Zeke, then I am going to be annoyed at both Mike and the writers. Why even bring me Zeke then? If he stays at his place but still works on the operation, we run the risk of missing out on more character interaction for Jakes. That doesn't work for me either.

What I'm Looking Forward To:

1. They have left Johnny in a great position to move forward as a character
2. The continued fallout from season 1 on Charlie and Briggs
3. What Jakes decides to do now that his plan with his son has failed
4. The entire gang working together on one project
5.  Where they take Kelly's character

Grade and Episode Awards:

Grade: B-

Best Scene - Briggs's conversation with the Caza leader / Jakes destroys the room he made for his son

Best Quote - Johnny: "You want a hug?"

Best Reason to Watch - character development

Biggest Shock - Charlie walks out on the sting

Least Shocking - Jakes arrested for violating a restraining order

Best Character Interaction - Johnny and Jakes

Biggest Douche - Mike. Still.

Most Angsty - Charlie's breakdown and subsequent inability to do her job

Biggest Risk - Briggs goes to meet with the Caza cartel leadership by himself to get answers about the hit on Mike. I know Briggs thinks he's invincible but this is not a good plan.

Best Death Stare - Charlie, who wields it liberally this episode.

Weirdest Line Possibly in the History of TV - Briggs: "Now I'm frisking goats." What?

Biggest Screw You - Jakes to Briggs

Most Disgusting - Gum sharing. Yuck!

Biggest Disappointment / Most Likely to be Labeled Eye Candy - Paige. They have her undressed several times this episode and we still get no character motivation or growth for her. Right now she's as useless as Zeke and this was her big episode.

Least Sympathetic - Charlie: "You're fine. You've been stabbed 5 times. You'll live. Sonya, give this man a tampon and uh, I don't know…hold his hand."

Worst Subplot - the freaking tape. Until it becomes an issue for Briggs, I don't care what's going on with it.

Most Surprising Subplot - Kelly, who could be great character growth for Briggs or a predictable plot device

The "Oh Poor Baby" Award - Jakes.  Man do I feel for his character.

Best New Character - Caza cartel boss

Screencaps by Razorfine, Rickey, and I Love Graceland.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Warehouse 13 "Endless Wonder", Sleepy Hollow "Headless," and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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