Graceland 2.03 Review: Things Get Personalby Shelli / June 26, 2014
There’s something distinct about this season of Graceland as opposed to the first – and not in a bad way. It’s clear that the show is trying to take the more dramatic angle, with less comic relief and more of a focus on the show’s ensemble, rather than making Mike and Briggs the focal point.
This week’s episode was evidence to that, as we saw the fallout of Jakes being denied visitation with his son, Paige and Johnny taking a more significant chunk out of the case, and yet again, a hint on Charlie’s lingering guilt after the events of last season.
But what does this mean for the big picture?
“Tinker Bell” did a great job of proving that it’s possible for a show to truly be an ensemble effort. Not only did the episode put Jakes, Paige, Johnny, and Charlie into the action of the case, but it actually worked to further their characters well.
Whereas last season saw very little of Jakes, this episode implied why that might be – Paige says he’s just there for the room and board – and saw Jakes realizing that for himself. Sure, he worked with Mike and Paige to find the busses being used for trafficking, successfully finding the pink backpacks that signify Solano’s drug mules, but he was drunk nearly the entire time, and was brutally honest in expressing how much he didn’t truly want to be there.
Paige took a knife for her commitment to the case – not to mention her new physical relationship with Mike. Undercover with Briggs, she attempted to set up a drug deal to lure out the cartel. Despite the bloody side-ffect, the deal is set, allowing her to continue the bus hunt. She hops partners to work with Jakes and finds the right bus, finds a Ukranian girl forced into moving drugs for the cartel. The most sympathetic one in the house, Paige works to both find the bus, and later try to find the girl as she promised, only to come up empty on the latter front. The backpack, in which Paige had stashed a cell phone, had been dumped in a trash can.
Perhaps the most intriguing character in-development (let’s call it that), is Johnny. Ever since the show’s premiere Johnny has been the comedy relief, the big kid in the house trying to cope with the darkness. “Tinker Bell” finally put Johnny in a position of life-or-death, as he acquired antique Mexican, nee, French pistols to get close to Carlito Solano, son of the drug lord Mike is hunting. He inadvertently ends up in a game of Russian Roulette that gets broken up, and tries to save the life of a bodyguard shot by Carlito. The fact that this episode set up Johnny to be taken more seriously while also keeping his softer side – he called the hospital to check on the bodyguard, and was upset over Zelanski’s leaving – was a great way to compare the different styles of work being done in Graceland.
And of course, this episode further pushed Charlie’s guilt. Her confession about her confidence to Briggs was well-timed in relation to the case and Briggs’ part in it. For some reason, these two seem to fit as a couple and bring out openness in one another that no one else in the house gets to see. How their mutual grief over Juan’s death will move story in the future is unclear, though in contrast to the action taking place with the A, drug cartel storyline, it’s sure to be interesting.
In just three episodes Graceland has significanly set season 2 Mike apart from season 1 Mike, as I mentioned with the premiere, Mike is no longer a rookie, and now, he’s not just seeking power, he’s doing all he can to assert himself (even using words like “recalcitrant”). As we saw last night, he’s becoming more and more protective of the case, and more and more critical of his housemates’ work. As the team gets closer and closer to busting the Solano cartel, tension between Mike and his team is sure to heighten.
Where the show excels is this area of character development in conjunction to casework, and since this season’s premiere it has been doing better in heightening the stakes of the case. I am anticipating a snowball effect by the end of the season, where both the personal storylines and the case crash together, especially considering Mike’s still-in-DC girlfriend, which is the only element that seems out-of-place. Though with his new relationship with Paige, this romantic drama is sure to somehow become a factor in Mike’s success or failure with his new mission.
What did you think of “Tinker Bell”? What would you like to see in the rest of the season?