Graceland: Los Malos

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Episode recaps

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

 Warning: Spoiler Alert

FBI Agent Mike Warren, refers to himself as the “Patron Saint Of Lost Causes,” as he attempts to put together enough evidence from the rubble of the task-force he headed, to put an end to the Solano Cartel and put the bad guys away for life in the seventh episode of the USA Network Original Series “Graceland.” The agent had everything lined up to show that Cal-Coast Bus-Lines was smuggling vast quantities of heroin over the Mexican border into the USA and had the syndicate’s leader’s son Carlito heading to implicate himself as well, before a call from a member of the task-force, warned off Solano and blew-up the evidence at Cal-Coast.

In the previous episode Warren had identified the Solano Cartel mole in the ranks of law-enforcement as LAPD Lieutenant Sid Markham, the head of department’s Gang Task-Force and this week, we find out that Warren’s suspicions were spot-on, as we relive the events of the previous 72-hours through his perspective. We see Markham’s second in command at the scene of the attempted bust of Cal-Coast, call his boss to alert him that Carlito needs warning, he’s being set-up and the Lieutenant tells his man that he’ll inform Solano and to make sure the other officer gets Cal-Coast supervisor Lawrence into custody, before anyone else grabs him. Although Lawrence was in the squad car, Warren took him to a safe-house during the turmoil of the explosion’s aftermath.

We then see Lawrence head to his house to grab cash stored there, before he hightails it out of the country, but Markham and his fellow officer surprise him inside. The supervisor tells the cops he gave up no information implicating them and Markham then shot him at point-blank range in the heart, instantly killing him. The second in command pulls out a chain saw to decapitate the corpse and make it appear as a gangland slaying.

Warren had two options at his disposal; one would be remaining silent and hoping Markham developed a false sense of security and the FBI could catch him in an illegal act. Instead, he went with the alternative, tracking the officer down to a diner where he’s eating breakfast. Mike tells the cop, that he’s making a courtesy call and for the Lieutenant to get his affairs in order as the agent’s aware he’s Solano’s mole. After playing innocent at first, Markham tells him that no kid from Washington will tell him how to do his job, Warren repeats his statement and leaves the diner.

All the members of the house have involvement in different aspects of the case, Paul Briggs is going undercover as a policemen on Markham’s team. The Bureau set up his cover as a cop transferring from the Texas border and a previous stint in Chicago, so his credentials are solid and beyond reproach. He will try to ingratiate himself with the Lieutenant and attempt to get involved with any business for Solano.

A quick aside on the dynamic of the house this season compared to the first year the network broadcast Graceland; Warren was a rookie fresh out of the Academy, whose assignment was to find out if Briggs was dirty. All the members of the house loved him except for Paul, involved in a hornet’s nest of illegal activities, culminating in the accidental shooting of Warren’s supervisor FBI Agent Juan Badillo. Briggs was able to pin Badillo’s murder on Cartel hit-man Jangles and though his conscience bothered him he got off scot-free. Once he and Charlie were able to get his widow Kelly Badillo her compensation from the Bureau, the storyline has gone unmentioned.

As pointed out on these pages previously, Mike’s lack of management and people skills, have him on the bad side of most of the house, however Briggs relationship with Warren’s vastly improved since Mike’s return. Whether he’s always there for Warren this season’s a charade on Paul’s part, or he’s actually gained affection and respect for his fellow agent’s unknown. Also what the show-runners have decided to do about Briggs past transgressions remains a mystery.

With Carlito gone without a trace, Johnny Tuturro’s assigned to investigate whether Lucia Solano’s involved with any of the criminal activities run by her family. Johnny goes to the house and gets greeted by a stranger who tells the agent to leave when he asks to see her and gets the door slammed in his face. He knocks again and he tells the guy he’s friends with Carlito and the stranger grabs him roughly and drags him inside. The guy and his partner have arrived to take possession of a military grade weapons shipment that Carlito had promised them and Lucia, told the duo, that a friend of her brother’s was on his way with the guns.

The pair beat the stuffing out of the agent and then one holds a pistol to his forehead, while telling his partner to fetch the girl. Lucia tells them that Johnny’s not the friend with the weapons and the guy with the pistol replies that Johnny’s unnecessary and threatens to pull the trigger. Tuturro tells Lucia to open the safe and offers the pair the brick of cocaine inside in exchange for their lives. But the one with the pistol tells them that the drugs are their price for waiting for the weapons and they still hold Johnny and Lucia prisoner.

Mike takes Dale to where Paige’s staking out the facility, where the sex-trafficking operation’s holding the group of foreign young women to sell into prostitution. Mike tells Paige that they need to keep the operation intact until they can prove the Solano’s involvement. Paige talks about what the girls are going through while being imprisoned and when the conversation hits an impasse Warren leaves.

Seconds later Jakes and Arkin recognize the red car that pulls into the building’s parking lot’s the one the operators use to bring prospective buyers to the facility.  A few minutes pass and the buyer and one of the young women wearing hoods get into the car to drive them back to the hotel where the meet’s arranged. After the operator leaves, Paige and Dale stop the man and the young woman for questioning and the buyer pretends the girl’s his daughter, but the young woman denies it. Dale takes away the young woman, while Arkin handcuffs the man, a large guy in his sixties wearing a suit sans tie. The man tells Paige the girl wanted a life with him and the agent punches him repeatedly in the face, until Jakes pulls her off.

Briggs gets introduced to Markham and his team by the precinct captain as Detective Paul West, and the agent sounds convincing talking with the officers. The second in command calls the contact number for West’s former department and Jakes puts on a Texas accent and praises the phony cop to the heavens. With everything checking out, Markham and company welcome their new colleague.

Simon, the man that Lucia’s father sent over to handle the gunmen finally arrives and the duo are coked out of their heads. He demands that the pair untie Lucia and Johnny, then takes them over to a suitcase filled with semi-automatic weapons and one pistol.  Simon pulls the pistol killing one of the pair then trading shots with his partner leaving all three men dead. Johnny tells Lucia that he’ll take her to a hotel, but she responds that the pairs associates will easily find them. He then tells her he has a place to hide her and they leave the house.

Briggs watches as Markham negotiates a deal with a low-level dealer named Randy, telling him that he’ll drop all charges if Randy sets up a buy with another cartel, the Santana family. He secures the dealer’s cooperation by talking about all the bad things that could happen to Randy’s young teenage brother, if the dealer’s in prison. In a follow-up meeting with his team, Markham asks for volunteers for the mission and Briggs eagerly raises his hand.

Johnny takes Lucia to his mother’s house, after being out of touch for three months and it turns out that Tuturro’s mom’s unaware that her son’s a FBI Agent. He asks if Lucia can stay at her house overnight and she reluctantly agrees. The three bond over dinner as the mother tells stories about goofy things Johnny did as a kid.

Warren’s trying to incriminate Markham by finding about money he’s salted away at banks and Charlie has narrowed his accounts to two banks in Los Angeles. One bank’s where the department direct deposits the officer’s checks and Warren believes the other bank’s where the Lieutenant has the money from Solano deposited. To gain access to the bank records, he passes a counterfeit hundred-dollar bill to a pizza shop that’s a customer of the bank, knowing that the Secret Service are investigating a rash of counterfeit bills in the area.

Markham’s ready to send Randy to make the buy from the Santanas, when he tells the dealer he needs to wear a wire and Randy refuses when he sees the listening device is a large old-school device. While they argue, Briggs volunteers to wear the wire and take Randy’s place, he tells Markham that he’s dealt with the Santanas in Texas and can pull it off, even showing the Lieutenant he can speak in the Spanish dialect that’s used where the family emanates from. Markham goes along with the plan and Paul takes off to try to make the buy.

When he gets to the store that’s a front for the drug business, he gives the man the password, but the guy refuses to talk with anybody but Randy and tells his bouncer to escort Paul from the store. The second man lifts up Briggs’ shirt and they see the wire and when he’s asked if he’s wearing a wire admits it and tries to arrest the pair. He gets into a hairy brawl with the first man, but overcomes him and cuffs the assailant. Markham later congratulates his new officer for handling the situation so well and tells Paul he wants him on his team.

The Secret Service contact Warren and he and Charlie go to the bank to allegedly investigate the counterfeit bill, but in reality want to access the bank’s records of Markham’s accounts. As Charlie asks their guide to have a look at the counterfeit bill, Warren accesses Markham’s information and prints it out. It turns out he owns a bunch of safety deposit vaults, most likely filled with cash. Charlie says that Markham’s probably cut off contact with Solano with such a large nest egg and Warren’s warning and Mike suggests that they set up a bank robbery by real criminals, apprehend them and make the contents evidence and unavailable to the Lieutenant, which could prompt him to team back up with Solano.

Jakes drives to Tuturro’s mother’s house to give Johnny something and he realizes that the agent’s hiding Lucia at the house. Dale tells Johnny he’s nuts and could be putting his mom in grave danger and to get her out of the house immediately Johnny, reluctantly agrees and Jakes drives away as the agent heads into the house. He sees Lucia sleeping on his childhood bed and touches her, startling her and waking her. The two then kiss as the episode concludes.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

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