Category Archives: Graceland

Graceland: The End Of Mike Warren?

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The USA Network has yet to decide if they will bring back their Original Series “Graceland,” for a third season, but if they do the dynamic of the house and the show would be dramatically different, due to the fact that one of the two lead characters seemingly died in the finale of the second season. Former FBI “Golden Boy” Mike Warren, (Aaron Tveit) whose reputation tarnished throughout the second season, had flat-lined  in his hospital bed after corrupt LAPD Detective Sid Markham cut off his oxygen tube long enough to suffocate the agent who had tried to take him down all season. Although Warren could be revived conceivably in the first episode of season three, Series Creator and Executive Producer Jeff Eastin, told “TV Guide,” “Let’s put it this way: He looks pretty dead to me. I’m not supposed to say officially yes or no, but I’ll just say he looks pretty dead to me.”

The move would be far from unprecedented in TV series, as Sean Bean, now stars on “Legends” on TNT, due to his character’s death in the first season of HBO series “Game Of Thrones.” However, it took a character that embodied the “All-American Boy,” in the show’s first season, to a man that got so driven to get a conviction, his former girlfriend and housemate Paige Arkin gave the agent up to Markham. The move however was not unexpected given the chain of events throughout the season and in the final episode.

We knew the housemates would be facing trouble in this episode due the ending of the previous installment. Charlie got kidnapped by Amber and some of her henchmen, Markham found out that the officer in his charge named Paul West, was actually working undercover trying to arrest the detective. Johnny met by Lucia at the motel they arranged to rendezvous at, but she stole a briefcase filled with marked bills meant for Markham. The money marked so that the FBI could prove he got the cash from Carlos Solano.

Lucia realizes by Johnny’s reaction that he’s with some branch of law enforcement and he tells her he’s with the FBI and is about to arrest her brother and her father, but he needs to get the money back to the Solanos. Lucia tells him he can’t enter her house with a briefcase of money, but she can so Johnny reluctantly takes her back to her father’s house.

Lucia goes inside the house and seconds later Carlito comes out to Johnny’s car and asks if he can get a lift into town. After refusing at first, Johnny agrees and the two head off to the nearby town. Carlito makes small talk, but ends it abruptly when he informs the driver he knows he’s an FBI Agent. Johnny swerves the car to the side of the road and attempts to grab his pistol out of his console, but Carlito’s packing and draws first. He tells Johnny he figured it out the previous night when he saw Jakes change the money from the briefcase to the marked bills.

Shortly, another car pulls up this one containing two of Carlito’s hoods and Lucia, after making them perform like puppets for him on their knees, he tells the agent that he realizes the FBI is orchestrating the drops of his family’s contraband across the border to the United States. He tells Johnny to tell his superiors that the operation has to continue to get enough evidence on the Solanos. He then says that if the shipments stop, so will Lucia’s life.

We see a beaten and bloodied Charlie being confronted by Amber and her British money-launderer, who believes that Charlie’s a cop. Charlie begs Amber to let her go, that she knows she’s not a police officer, but the stick-up artist walks away. Charlie screams out she’s pregnant and Amber tells the Brit, not to hit her in the stomach.

Briggs gets in the car with Markham and his crew to Mexico, unaware that Markham realizes he’s undercover. The conversation seems mundane on the surface, but realizing what Sid knows, it’s far more probing than Briggs realizes. They are 12-miles from the Mexican border and Warren sees them pass from where he and the crew of FBI Agents use as their look-out.

When the car pulls up to the Solanos, Briggs asks Sid if he can make one quick call about his baby on the way before joining Markham and the others inside and Sid tells him that’s fine. He actually calls Mike to check in and while the two are speaking, Warren asks Briggs if he’d heard from Charlie as she never met the backup team she was to engage with the previous evening. Briggs assumes that Charlie’s in imminent danger and he tells Warren he’s driving the vehicle the cops drove down in back to Los Angeles to find her, then hangs up the phone.

The FBI mission’s disbanded as the Bureau Chief got word that a package possibly containing a bomb arrived at their building and they’ve all been called back to Los Angeles. Warren tells his supervisor that Briggs just left the Solanos and he’s heading there to catch Markham, the superior tries to talk him out of it but to no avail.

Mike drives to the Solanos, but he realizes something’s wrong from the moment he arrives, as he enters the house he sees bloodied corpses strewn throughout the house including Carlos Solano. Some of Markham’s crew are dead, but there are still four gunmen patrolling the house. Warren takes out all four, but gets shot in the lung in his last encounter. He finds Markham on the ground, bloody but conscious, we never find out how he ended up in that position. Warren pulls out his pistol and aims the weapon at Markham, as he’s going to take advantage of the situation and kill him. However, police sirens start approaching and Warren takes off before the police arrive.

Briggs finds the warehouse where Charlie’s held captive and proceeds to take out all three gunmen up front, he calls for Charlie and she responds, but Amber knocks her out with the butt end of her pistol. She then fires twice at Briggs and misses, but Briggs hits her, she falls to the ground and he saves Charlie. After a trip to the hospital where she’s given some major pain medication, Paul brings her home and tucks her into bed.

Seconds later his cellphone rings and Mike’s on the other end. Briggs tells Warren that Markham blamed Mike for all the killings at the Solanos and the authorities are looking for him. Warren tells Paul, he’s been shot but if he checks into a hospital under his name he’ll be immediately arrested. Briggs tells him he’ll be over in the morning with a fake identity.

Mike’s woken the next morning by Paige, who’s arrived in lieu of Briggs with his new identity Mike Richards. She then apologizes to Mike for thinking that he had disposed of Lena’s body, as she knows Lena’s alive and somewhere in Arizona, as she wrote to her sister in the Ukraine and the postmark was from Scottsdale, Arizona. Warren’s delirious at this point and says to Paige that he’s glad that Lena’s family believes she’s alive, Arkin immediately realizes that Mike did incinerate Lena’s body.

Paige heads down to Markham’s station and tells the detective where to find Warren and gives the officer the name he’s checked in under. Paige heads back to the house and admits to Briggs that she gave Warren up to Markham. Briggs drives to the hospital as fast as he can.

Markham finds Warren and notices the agent’s suffering from lead poisoning and a collapsed lung. He then takes the heart monitor off Mike’s finger and puts it on his own, then bunches up the cord supplying Warren oxygen, cutting off his supply and suffocating him. He tells Warren during his final seconds that he knows all his roommates and will kill each one of them, so they’ll all reunite at the pearly gates. Warren’s eyes glaze over and Markham puts the heart monitor back on Mike’s finger and he’s flat-lined and the machine calls out code blue. Briggs heads into the room to see Mike lying there lifeless, Markham had already left. Medical personnel tell Paul he needs to leave the room and tears pour down Briggs face.

Graceland: Cliff Hanger Central

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

With one episode remaining in the second season of the USA Network Original Series “Graceland,” the rope that FBI Agent Mike Warren, wanted to wrap-up the Solano Cartel and corrupt LAPD Detective Sid Markham with, started to fray, with each strand in danger the damage done to its, to hard to overcome. By the end of the penultimate episode, four of the six housemates were in danger of blowing their cover’s and risking their lives. What appeared as wrapping up loose ends at the beginning of the hour, turned into the least of the team’s worries by the end of the show.

We see Paul Briggs walking through the house in the first scene, likely after he finished walking home when Charlie left him in the middle of nowhere, during the previous episode. Charlie had possession of the audio-tape of the accidental shooting of FBI Agent Juan Badillo, by Briggs last season, as Badillo masqueraded as Mexican bandit Jangles, hoping that Briggs would incriminate himself. Badillo pulled his gun, they struggled over it and Badillo accidentally got shot and killed.

Paul knocked on Charlie’s bedroom door, but she refused to open it, choosing to talk through it instead. Briggs asked her after hearing the tape, didn’t she realize the shooting was accidental? She tells the father of the baby she’s carrying, that what bothers her is that he never confided in her over the past year and asks if he was keeping the information to keep her from being hurt and Briggs responds it was to protect himself, ending the conversation.

We move to the beach and we join Warren, Johnny and Jakes sitting in front of a bonfire. Warren starts counting his chickens before they hatch, as he brags that from tracking bus-lines, he’s about to take down the Solano Cartel and Markham. Dale responds that’s their job, but Johnny catches on realizing that Warren wants compliments from his housemates.

Johnny and Dale are marking money with dots to track it when Carlos Solano and Markham have the bills in their hands, when Paige walks into the house. Johnny asks if she’ll help mark the bills, but instead tells her two housemates, she believes Warren covered up the death of the Ukrainian woman Lena by Sulla and had burnt her body to get rid of the evidence, which is exactly what happened. Johnny doesn’t believe Arkin, but Jakes says it’s hard to predict how a person would react in a situation.

Warren and Charlie lead a tactical-team to Amber’s hideout, but they find she’s abandoned it and she ended up pulling the bullet out of her back that Briggs shot her with during the bank-robbery in the previous episode. After the rest of the team leaves, Charlie looks at an empty tank of CO2 Argon and decides to get it filled where Amber bought it, in hopes of tracking her down. She gets to the shop and the owner Duke, says he doesn’t remember selling the tank to her and she tells him she worked with Amber. She asks if Duke has any contact info on her and he says he doesn’t, but Charlie pulls out a pistol and threatens to shoot the chemical tanks blowing his shop up. Duke suddenly remembers he’s got an emergency contact number for Amber.

Briggs in his cover of LAPD officer Paul West, part of Markham’s task-force enters the detective’s office, as Sid had requested to speak privately with him. He tells Paul that he’s signing a new contract with the Solano Cartel and asks if the officer wants in, Briggs responds that he’s got a baby on the way, so he’s got to think about his financial future and accepts the offer. Markham tells him they leave first thing the next morning.

Dale and Johnny are in the Mojave Desert waiting for the Solano shipment to land on the American side of the border. The pallet drops perfectly and a crew starts to unload the contraband. Johnny and Dale ride with the crew to the drop-off spot and are given cash to present Carlos Solano in his house in Mexico. They arrive there to find Solano arguing with his daughter and Johnny’s girlfriend Lucia over money. He welcomes the pair as Lucia walks away and Solano produces the briefcase full of cash he’ll give to Markham, however it’s not the marked money they just brought with them. Johnny makes an excuse for him and Solano to see the horses out back, giving Dale a chance to switch the money.

Paige gets a phone call from immigration services, saying they have Lena in custody at LAX. Totally shocked she tells the official she’ll head over to the airport. However, it’s not Lena, but her younger sister Irena who came to the States to try to find her sister. She has a letter from Lena, but it’s postmark states it got mailed from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mike’s summoned to the Los Angeles Bureau Office as Markham, has filed a complaint against Warren. Mike lies through his teeth when asked if the operation was to target Markham and instead tells his supervisor that the plant got created to trap Amber. Sid starts threatening Warren and the supervisor throws him out of the office, but as soon as the cop’s left the supervisor tells Warren he’s treading dangerous territory. Warren leaves the office and finds Sid waiting for him in the parking lot.

Markham’s good and goads the FBI agent enough that Warren attacks him, socking him in the gut then slashing the officer’s face. Markham head-butts Mike, but Warren gives better than he gets, standing up victoriously, until he realizes that the supervisor has witnessed the entire brawl.

Johnny meets with Lucia, tells her the motel he’s staying at and for her to meet him there the next morning and they’ll leave her family behind. She tells Johnny, she’s always fantasized about living in some distant land and that’s where they’ll head to.

Charlie hears from Amber, who tells Charlie that she wants to meet her downtown to give her half of the money from the robbery and she tells Warren. She’s not sure if Amber’s sincere, but tells Warren shell bust the bank robber either way. Mike’s heading to Mexico, so he can’t help but he tells her he’ll have backup arranged for her at the meeting spot. Charlie then gives Mike the audio-tape of Badillo and Briggs.

They sit down and listen to it and Warren says that it sounded like an accidental death and Badillo put himself in a dangerous situation. Charlie agrees that Badillo was foolish at best, but he wouldn’t have stalked Briggs if he hadn’t been skimming drugs and operating as Odin, a fact that she denied every time it got presented to her previously. She tells Mike she’s carrying Paul’s baby and she loves him so she can’t turn him in, so Warren has to. He tells her he has to arrest him as part of Markham’s crew and he’ll just hold onto him.

In the remaining moments of the episode everything unraveled. Somehow, Markham got finds Graceland, realizing that Warren lived there, however he didn’t realize his officer “Paul West” was a member of the house, he finds documentation that Warren has on him and grabs a pistol from a drawer.

There’s a knock on Johnny’s motel room door and he opens to see a smiling Lucia on the other side, after exchanging a kiss, she tells him they won’t have money concerns and produces the briefcase meant for Markham. Johnny’s beside himself, realizing one part of the plan’s now messed up.

Charlie’s the next to fall into trouble, as Amber set her up, ramming Charlie’s car with a pickup truck and then two men and Amber carrying an automatic weapon, pull the agent out of her car and into their silver SUV.

The episode ends with Briggs and the rest of Sid’s crew waiting for Markham to arrive. The detective makes a wise-crack to Briggs and as he’s about to enter his vehicle, he’s wearing an ear-to-ear grin.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: Six Federal Agents Walk Into A Bank…

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The tension among the housemates on the USA Network Original Series “Graceland,” over the last few episodes has been as thick as pea-soup, as all the agents’ had secrets and personal agendas that they hid from each other. This episode saw many of those secrets exposed and possibly irrevocably damaged one special relationship. However there was positive news in the episode as well, concerning the Solano Cartel’s mole in the Los Angeles Police Department, as Lieutenant Sid Markham, opened up to undercover agent Paul Briggs and the money from his safety deposit boxes is currently unavailable for him. That development could cause the detective to get involved in the Solano’s new smuggling operation and give agent Mike Warren a chance to catch him with his hands dirty.

The episode opens on the same scene that closed the previous episode, with Briggs listening on his cellphone to the tape that FBI agent Juan Badillo recorded the night he was accidentally shot in a scuffle with Briggs. As the tape ends and the caller hangs up, Charlie walks back into the kitchen and Paul fakes finishing up a conversation. He’s visibly shaken and Charlie asks him what’s wrong, but he plays it off and tells her it was Markham saying they’d talk in the morning.

Mike sees Paige tinkering with the ballerina music-box he gave her earlier in the season and asks what she’s doing. Paige replies that she got the ballerina to spin around once more, but realized she preferred it when it didn’t spin. Warren tries to spin the last few weeks positively, talking about getting the foreign young women out of Sulla’s sex-trafficking operation, Briggs getting tighter with Markham and Solano choosing Johnny and Jakes to “smuggle” his guns and drugs over the border to the USA. Arkin, brings up Lena, the young woman who Sulla murdered and Mike burned her remains in a blast furnace to cover it up. He tells Paige that they’ll find her and Arkin tells him that she’s writing a letter to her parents and asked if he’d like to help. Mike readily agrees and they say they’ll talk about it that evening.

Briggs meets with Jakes on the beach and tells him about the tape, he believes that Markham was the caller as the call came on the phone he uses in his cover of LAPD detective Paul West. He anticipates having to take the cop down to protect himself from blackmail and gives Dale a credit card and tells him to use it to buy two breakfasts at a local diner for an alibi.

Paul drives over to Markham’s home and waits for his wife and son to leave, before he rings the doorbell. Markham answers the door all smiles and glad to see him, then invites him to the backyard so they can talk. Briggs quickly figures out that Markham had no knowledge about the tape, he wanted to bring Paul into the know about his relationship with Carlos Solano. He tells Briggs, that he first encountered Solano right after he made detective, 20-years earlier, when he busted him on a narcotics charge and the Cartel boss served a ten-year sentence. However, he had a rapport with the criminal and Solano started giving him information on rival gangs. This served a two-fold purpose, getting Markham on the map with a string of huge busts, while eliminating Solano’s competition in the bargain.

After Solano got released, the relationship continued, but Markham told Briggs that every once in a while Solano gets too greedy and needs to get slapped down, hence the reason his squad shot all the employees of the sex-trafficking operation in the previous episode. He told Paul he couldn’t turn a blind-eye to the operation and his squad killing all the employees sent Solano a message.

Paul meets back up with Dale and tells him that Markham’s not the guy with the tape and now he’s sure Warren’s got possession of it. Jakes replies that if Mike had the tape, Briggs would already have handcuffs on, but Paul responds that Warren still needs him to take out Markham and he set him up to kill the detective, then pin two murders on him. Dale realizes that Briggs wants to gun down Warren and tells his housemate he’s on his own. As Jakes leaves he sees a bunch of posted signs announcing they’ll be filming in the area he’s in for the next few nights. One conversation with the location director later, he’s got the shoot moved to right in front of the bank Charlie and Amber plan to rob.

The serving of Charlie’s grandmother’s marinara sauce usually is a time of celebration and connecting for the housemates; this time however it served as an appetizer to a screaming match, as Briggs and Charlie, Mike and Paige and Jakes and Johnny unloaded on each other with both barrels. Perhaps the only reason punches weren’t thrown was a call from Amber to Charlie, telling her about the movie shoot in front of the bank, shutting down their robbery attempt.

The crisis causes the team to work together to come up with an alternative to giving up robbing Markham’s safety-deposit boxes. Briggs suggests that they do it during the day and Charlie responds they’d need a crew to pull that off. Warren says they can be the crew and the lot of them drive over to Amber’s so she can meet them. After they are all introduced the bank robber says that they’ll be called animals from then on and produces a bunch of animal Halloween masks.

There’s some bickering between Mike and Paul over who’ll bring the money to the van, when Amber says that Paige will carry the cash. She then points a gun at Briggs and Johnny and Paige immediately draw weapons and point them at her. The bank-robber tells the agents she’s impressed with their reflexes and tells them to go home and learn the layout of the bank backwards and forwards.

Mike and Charlie didn’t want Briggs involved in the robbery, but Amber insisted that there’d be four people to cover the hostages. Briggs standing on the landing above them hears their conversation but disappears by the time they look up. Paul goes into bed alone and tries to sleep but he hears the tape being played elsewhere in the house, he gets out of bed and walks to Warren’s room, where the noise emanates from. He forces open the door and Mike closes his laptop, that had played the recording. Briggs asks Mike if he’s doing this just for fun or for a purpose and Warren responds both, he wants Markham dead. Paul tells him that he’s not a killer, but Warren responds that Briggs is. Paul then tells Mike he knows he hasn’t shared the tape with headquarters, because Warren needs him.

The two then go at it like Ali and Frazier, trading blows and kicks, with each combatant gaining then losing the advantage. They tumble over the railing to the wood floor down below, then Briggs drowns Warren in the house’s indoor pond. We start to realize it’s a dream sequence as Briggs digs a grave in the living room floor with a pick-axe and drops Warren’s limp body inside it. We get confirmation that it’s indeed a dream when Charlie appears in the room in a long black negligée carrying their baby, who was just conceived six weeks earlier. Paul wakes up in the living room with Charlie wearing the same negligée, he apparently had gone sleep-walking and Charlie takes him back upstairs.

The following morning Briggs shows up early for the heist, which unnerves Amber, but he tells her he came early to share some info. He then says that the Rabbit (Mike) has a bad reputation, his buddy pulled a job with him and the Rabbit split with the cash. Amber tells Paul that Charlie hired him and she trusts Charlie and Briggs responds that he was also hired by Charlie.

The seven pull up in a truck each wearing masks and carrying automatic weapons. They quickly subdue the bank’s security officers and bring all the hostages into a room. Johnny then takes off his mask and flashes his FBI credentials, he tells the hostages to stay quiet and calm and they’d be alright. Charlie and Amber blow the safety-deposit boxes and gather the money and Paige starts to leave the room to transport the cash, but Briggs stops her telling her to keep an eye on the bank’s security guard.

He steps out of the room and tells Warren the hostage situation’s tight and Paige can’t leave, so either Briggs or Mike needs to grab the money. Warren says he’ll get it, walks into the vault and grabs the money saying he’s taking it to the van. Amber believes Mike’s about to take off with the money and goes after him, but locks Charlie in the vault. Amber’s about to shoot Warren in the back when his phone rings and it’s the tape, causing Briggs to realize Mike doesn’t have the recording and shoots towards Amber to stop her from killing Warren and she runs out of the bank.

Out in the bank parking lot, all of Markham’s cash sits banded on tables, Briggs sees Markham arriving and tells Charlie they have to leave. Warren’s being dressed down by an FBI superior, because he never got clearance from the bureau for his escapades. Just then Mike sees Markham approaching the table his money’s on and Warren leaves the superior telling him he just needs to trust him. Mike tries to get the detective’s goat by chiding him for putting the safety-deposit boxes under his own name, while Sid counters that he’s still not wearing handcuffs.

It’s later that evening and Briggs and Charlie are in the Jeep, when she notices Paul missed their turn. Briggs informs her he’s taking her to the desert to show her the truth, when he accidentally hits a deer. He jumps out of the Jeep and sees the animal’s still alive and tells Charlie to call animal control, but Charlie tells him to drive her home. Paul says the animal can be saved, but Charlie pulls out her pistol and shoots the deer in the head killing it instantly. She then screams to Briggs that he lit the match, causing him to realize that Charlie has the recording.

She asks why he couldn’t be honest with her and she tells him she realizes he was trying to get Warren killed by Amber. She makes it clear their relationship had ended and when Paul asks her what she’ll tell their child one day about its father, she spits out the words he’s a coward and drives away in the Jeep, leaving Briggs stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: The Head Of The Pig

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

FBI Agent Mike Warren lost a battle, however he gained a better chance to win the war in the tenth episode of the USA Network Original Series “Graceland,” however he couldn’t overcome the loss to fully appreciate the position his team getting far better odds of shutting down the Solano Cartel and enough evidence on corrupt cop Sid Markham, to put him in the gray-bar hotel for an extended stay. In order to strengthen their odds in shutting down the Solanos and Markham, Paige Arkin and Paul Briggs conspired behind Warren’s back, which resulted in shutting down the Solano’s sex-trafficking operation and the death by Markham’s squad of all the operation’s employees, so they couldn’t testify against Carlos Solano, or his son Carlito.

The episode opens two weeks after the previous episode and Paige confides in Briggs that she thinks that Warren’s lying about the young Ukrainian woman Lena escaping from the compound, as all her leads have come up cold. Paul tells the DEA Agent that Warren didn’t kill Lena, however Arkin guesses the truth, that Mike’s covered up the death to keep the case open. She asks Briggs if he can help her and he replies that he can’t but his undercover persona Detective Paul West of the LAPD, might be able to aid her.

Johnny and Jakes meet with Carlos and Carlito Solano in the Mexican desert, to watch Jakes display his idea to smuggle heroin and weapons across the border to the United States, by dropping a palette out a plane and ideally floating safely to the ground via the attached parachute. The test, however falls far short of ideal, as the palette crashes to the ground and the contents get strewn across the desert. Solano, tells Johnny he’s wasted his time and he’s decided to go with Carlito’s suggestion of smuggling the contraband via cruise ships.

Briggs has tried his best to win Markham’s confidence to become involved with the Detective’s dealings with the Solano Cartel, but he’s still kept outside as Markham asks for some privacy to talk with his second in command about the Solanos’ cruise-ship smuggling plan. However, Briggs believes busting the sex-trafficking operation by stealing the case from the Feds should earn Markham’s interest and trust, so he arranges for Paige to pose as a FBI Agent the next day at the precinct.

Back at the Solano compound, Johnny tries to apologize to the elder Solano, but to no avail as he refuses to give he and Jakes a second chance. He tells the undercover agent, that Carlito’s in California, finalizing arrangements on the cruise ships. When he returns, Carlito will host a dinner for Johnny to bury the hatchet, then Solano tells him he will go home.

Markham’s second in command sees Briggs talking with Paige in the station and asks Markham who she is and the Detective replies she looks like a Fed and goes to check things out. Paul’s holding a box of walkie-talkies and Sid busts his back jokingly asking who gave him authorization to give away department equipment. Briggs starts to say he had just told the lady he was going to ask Markham for permission and Paige introduces herself with a fake name and says she’s a FBI Agent and hoped to borrow the equipment. The Detective gladly grants her permission and Paige says good-bye and leaves.

Markham asks if Paul knows what she’s working on and he tells the Lieutenant, that he overheard her mention a sex-trafficking operation run by the Solanos. Markham, pulls Paul into an office and tells him that the Feds have their own agenda and his department already has lots of evidence against the cartel and doesn’t want the Federal Agents to mess things up, so he asks Briggs to try to pump Paige for information and Paul tells him he will gladly.

Down in Mexico, Carlito’s back and the family’s having a going away dinner for Johnny. The main course arrives, a whole pig broiled on a spit, just as Carlos’ phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call. Markham’s on the other end telling the crime boss that Carlito’s running a sex-trafficking ring and now he’s got to clean up the mess. After not believing Markham at first, the elder Solano finishes the call and returns to the table, as Carlito’s carving the pig. He tells his son to put down the knife, then proceeds to beat him bloody, telling him he’s disgraced the family. He then tells Johnny that he has another chance as Solano won’t work with his son again.

Briggs and Arkin want to get Mike out of the compound before Markham’s crew raids the place, so Paige talks Warren into heading back to Graceland for the night to get a decent night’s sleep. She also tells him that she forgives him for not closing down the operation when she requested. His guilt lessened, he takes his former girlfriend’s advice and heads back to their house.

Paul calls Johnny down in Mexico and the undercover agent freaks out, fearing the Solanos will know. Briggs just wants to find out if Solano gave Johnny and Dale another opportunity, since he found out the sex-trafficking compound was getting raided. It finally made sense to Johnny, why Solano had pummeled his son and gave him another chance. As soon as he hangs up from Briggs he calls Mike to share the news and this time Warren freaks out when he hears about the impending bust.

Warren gets in his car and drives as quickly as he can to the compound, Paige sees him and flags him down and he tells her he has to save Sulla or he has no case against the Solanos. He arrives perhaps two minutes before Markham’s unit does and runs through the building searching for Sulla. Meanwhile Markham’s crew’s on a seek and destroy mission, shooting every employee they come across, whether armed or not. Mike finds Sulla and the two try to escape, but Markham finds them and shoots Sulla dead. He has his weapon aimed at Warren, seconds away from pulling the trigger when Paige walks in, saving Warren’s life.

We then witness Markham, Briggs in his guise as West and Warren give statements. While Markham and Briggs tell the man taking their statements that they did what they had to do to save the young women and themselves, while Warren tells the truth, trying to implicate Sid but gets nowhere with the man, who clearly thinks he’s delusional or lying.

Back at the house, Mike tells Paige and Paul they screwed him, but Briggs says they’re in better shape than they were 12-hours earlier, as he’s about to crack Markham’s inner circle and Johnny and Dale impressed Solano by adding a rubber life raft to the bottom of the palette to soften the impact.

Later that evening as Paul starts slicing peppers for Charlie, his cellphone rings and it comes up as “Unknown.” When he says hello, he hears the tape that Juan Badillo recorded the night Briggs accidentally, killed him as they struggled over a gun.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: Jumps The Shark

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network
Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The term “Jumps The Shark,” became part of the television lexicon back in the seventies, as the ABC hit comedy series “Happy Days,” hit the downward slope in quality and ratings, after an episode of the series took place in Hawaii, that had Fonzie waterski up a ramp and over a man-eating shark. The term became a buzzword over the years, when a series pulls a stunt that seems so contrary to the story they’ve presented, that the show never recovers. The USA Network Original Series “Graceland,” may have reached its “Jumps The Shark,” moment in episode nine of the second year of the series, by allowing it’s alleged “good guy,” to commit an inexcusable and unpardonable act.

The premise of “Graceland,” has always played around with shades of gray, allowing FBI Agent Paul Briggs to remain unpunished for dirty-deeds he committed in the first season, including dealing heroin and accidentally killing another agent in a scuffle over a gun. Only one other character, Dale Jakes’ knows about the shooting, while all remain in the dark about him formerly moonlighting as a Drug Kingpin. Briggs may soon be implicated in the death of the agent Juan Badillo, as a Los Angeles Detective possesses a cassette tape of the conversation between the two agents, as well as the sound of the gun being fired.

However, this episode also showed the former “Boy-Scout” FBI Agent Mike Warren, watch a woman he was trying to protect get murdered and rather than blow his cover and risk not capturing cartel boss Carlos Solano, he’s covered up the death and incinerated the young woman’s body. The situation’s a plot device to signify how a law-enforcement official could get so obsessed over taking down a criminal, that he’s allowed the case to go against his morals and principles. Unfortunately, it came off in the eyes of this viewer, as totally unrealistic given what we know about Warren.

Sophomore slumps unfortunately are far too common on the small screen, as series that come out of the gates with all cylinders firing, seem to lose their direction after completing their first season. Unfortunately, that’s due to not thinking about the ramifications of events that have occurred and then getting stuck in a corner when the previous story-arc comes back to bite them in the butt.

The housemates throughout the second season are on a mission to close down the Solano Cartel, a major provider of heroin and weapons from Mexico to the USA. They were able to shut down his drug trafficking operation as he was using a bus line he owned to bring in the heroin, but the cartel got word of the bust and destroyed all the evidence as the task-force closed in.

DEA Agent Paige Arkin proved that the cartel was also involved in human trafficking, as they are running a sex-slave operation, promising foreign young woman that they’ll become American citizens, before selling them off to become prostitutes. Paige took the place of a young woman who died of a drug overdose and imprisoned in the facility along with a young Ukrainian woman named Lena she had tried to track earlier. Warren was able to rescue Paige by posing as a buyer and paying the facility’s operator Sulla $250 thousand for her. However, he told Paige he wanted to keep the facility operating until he could connect the Solano Cartel to it. Paige vehemently disagreed with the decision fearing for all the young women still imprisoned.

Warren tried to keep the operation going but rescue all the young women, by offering Sulla $1.5 million for them in the previous episode. Sulla told Warren that his boss wouldn’t make the sale now, as the FBI were monitoring his operations. The agent then offered Sulla to hold another $250 thousand as a deposit on the young women, on the condition he stay at the facility to protect his employer’s assets and Sulla agreed to the proposition.

Sulla wouldn’t leave Lena alone, beating her and then trying to force her to perform oral sex on him, Warren burst in the room stopping the operator but getting a black-eye in the bargain. He told Warren that the facility was his and he called the shots, but the agent tried to call his bluff. He told Sulla he was taking Lena to his employers and paid no attention to the threats the operator made. Sulla ran after the pair with knife, slicing Warren’s hand, then repeatedly stabbed Lena in the abdomen and she died seconds later. He told one of his henchmen to shoot the agent, but Warren promised him a million dollars and to make sure nobody would find out about the young women’s death.

He then got into his car and called Paige who was standing nearby with a SWAT team and told her he had Lena with him, but she struggled thinking he was taking her for nefarious reasons and she was in his trunk. He then drove past the SWAT team and told Paige to meet him in a parking lot a few miles away. He then parked his car, opened the trunk, pulled out a tire iron and whacked himself in the head with it Paige arrived soon after finding Mike on the ground bleeding from his head and told her that the young woman had run away and knocked him out with the tire iron. As she called the officers to start a search, Warren told her he had to go back to the facility to protect the rest of the young women.

Warren then took Lena’s body wrapped it in a sheet and incinerated her in a blast furnace in the facility. If he told Sulla that he would take care of things, just  to save his life, he could have returned with the SWAT team and arrested him for murder and along with his associates for human-trafficking. Instead, to keep the operation going to catch the Solanos, Warren covered up a murder and disposed of the body.

Warren graduated at the top of his class at the Academy and got sent to Graceland last season to determine if Briggs was dirty; how could ambition, obsession or both change a man so radically? And if the law enforcement officers stoop to the level that Warren did in this episode, are they any better than the criminals they capture?

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: The Ends

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Many years ago I worked for an older man originally from Germany, who used an interesting analogy in discussing management skills: When there’s hay in the barn, it’s easy to keep the horses happy, but what do you do when the hay runs out? Due to a lack of people skills and an obsessive desire to emerge as the Golden Boy from all the smoke and rubble, FBI agent Mike Warren finds himself dealing with a group of out of sorts steeds, in the eighth episode of the USA Network Original Series “Graceland.” The housemates battling on three different fronts, against the bad guys, themselves and with their inner demons.

The Solano Cartel’s sitting tight on all its operations due to the increased surveillance of the FBI, after the Bureau discovered them smuggling heroin over the border with Mexico, which makes it that much tougher for Warren and the rest of his housemates to bust the family and the variety of illegal businesses under their umbrella. However the FBI agent and his team, hope to put the family and their associates into positions, requiring the self-imposed moratorium to end sooner than planned.

Johnny’s allowed his emotions to overcome his judgment as he’s romantically involved with Lucia Solano, who he has hidden in his mother’s house, while her father and brother Carlito are in Mexico. She’s emphatically against turning to her family, telling the undercover agent that she hates their criminal activities and can’t turn a blind-eye to that any longer. However Warren wants the couple to head to Mexico and Johnny to meet with the father to offer alternative ways for the cartel to ship heroin across the border now that the Bureau have closed down Cal-Coast Bus Lines. When Johnny refuses to pressure into heading to her family, Warren makes Lucia a material witness in the triple-homicide in last week’s episode, forcing them to flee.

Briggs is working undercover for the LAPD Gang Task-Force, as the crew try finding proof that its chief Lieutenant Sid Markham’s been the inside source for Solano. Briggs, under the alias of Paul West has begun bonding with Markham and tells Warren that the detective does everything on the job by the book and quite effectively. Markham and his second in command have decided to cut ties with the cartel and walk away with their winnings.

Paul arouses suspicion however as he walks out of a strategic meeting of the task-force, to answer a cell phone call from a familiar voice. Kelly Badillo, widow of slain FBI Agent Juan Badillo’s attempting suicide and is at the gravesite she has for the agent’s missing body. Briggs jumps into his car attempting to stop her and Markham sends his second in command to follow him. Paul finds Kelly nearly comatose on the gravesite’s grass, with a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of prescription pills. He gets her to stand up, then helps her to the car and drives to the apartment he used last season to use as Odin.

Briggs gets the widow to ingest something to make her vomit up everything. She’s afraid to go to a hospital, as she could lose custody of her daughter as a result of the suicide attempt. As she gets sick in the toilet, there’s a knock on the door, it’s Markham telling him to open the door. Before he does, he coaches Kelly to tell Markham, that he’s a cop from El Paso, named Paul West. The detective comes in and after ascertaining the situation he makes a call and leaves the apartment. Shortly after he leaves, there’s another knock on the door and a doctor introduces himself to Paul as a friend of Markham’s and he’s arrived to care for Kelly.

Charlie’s in charge of separating Markham from his nest egg, as the team’s decided to rob the bank where the detectives safety-deposit boxes holding the cash are held, then arrest the crooks and the money tied up as evidence and unavailable to Markham. She meets with a guy that she and Briggs know from the past named Billy at a bar, so he can introduce her to whom she thinks is a logistics guy. She soon meets a hurricane disguised as a young attractive woman name Amber, who proceeds to rip apart the criminal team Billy’s set-up and then blow Charlie away with her plan to rob the bank.

The safety-deposit boxes are right above ancient sewer tunnels and Amber tells her they can easily dig down to the tunnel from an area nearby, then access the tunnel and follow it to the vault, then break in from underneath. She gives Charlie a package of schematics and diagrams with her number on the back and leaves as quickly as she arrived. A while later Charlie knocks on Amber’s door and suggests that they head up a crew to rob the bank, with each of them receiving 40% and the two others getting just ten percent apiece. Amber tells her she’ll meet her at a bar at 6:00pm with her decision and for Charlie to take a cab.

Paige’s minimal patience with Warren’s decision to keep open the sex-slave operation until they can connect it to the Solano family, has long since evaporated. She however gives Mike an alternative, keep the operation open but have the Bureau requisition $1.5 million to buy all the girls from the operator Sulla.

Warren sets up a meet with him, but Sulla tells him his employers fear of the FBI, prevents him from selling the young women. He then pulls back a hospital curtain and reveals a comatose man lying in a hospital bed, he’s Sulla’s younger brother, now lying in a vegetative state as a result of Sulla upsetting his employer. The brother got beaten with a rifle-butt handle expertly, keeping him alive but brain-dead and he infers that if Warren refuses to back off he could suffer the same fate. Paige’s not satisfied with the explanation when Warren returns to the house, so he reconnects with Sulla and offers to allow him to hold a briefcase with $250 thousand and Mike stays in the facility to protect his clients property.

Charlie meets Amber at the bar and tells her that she’s in on the robbery, but only if it’s just the two of them and a driver for the getaway car. She then tells Charlie that the reason she chose to meet there, was the place had surveillance cameras all around, but none of them are operating. She then gives Charlie a sawed-off shotgun and tells he to go into the bar and bring back the contents of the register and a cheeseburger. The agent walks in the bar like the Terminator, with a bandanna around her face and tells the bartender to open the register with one hand. The customers are a bunch of old bikers and when one attempts to move toward Charlie, she tells him his next step will be her last and then tells the bartender she wants a cheeseburger.

Amber’s waiting with a motorcycle and the two drive off into the night with Amber whooping from joy and excitement. She’s still in that good a mood when she heads into her bedroom, that she shares with Billy, as the two have sex. Charlie now has her partner to rob the bank, another piece of the trap to ensnare the Solanos in place.

Briggs heads back to the precinct to talk with Markham and he assures him that nothing like this will occur in the future. The detective tells him that everyone deserves one mistake, he was given a second chance and made the most of the opportunity. He then tells Paul, that all’s good between them and to head back and check on Kelly.

Badillo’s awake when Paul gets back to the apartment and she tells him that she spoke with her mother and her daughter will stay with her for the rest of the week. She then asks Briggs, what the coaching was about and who Paul really is. She tells him that she knows he at least met her husband and asks if Juan’s truly dead and Briggs responds he is. She asks how he died and Briggs’ stammers and stutters and Kelly socks him in the mouth, telling him to leave and never contact her again. Paul of course feels terrible as Badillo died as a result of a struggle over a gun, when Badillo masqueraded as Jangles in trying to ensnare Briggs last season.

Paul heads back to the house and Charlie asks him how he got the busted lip and he blames it on an incident on his assignment. He then tells her he’s going to shower and asks her to join him in bed when he gets out. As they make love, his mind wanders and suddenly sees Kelly’s face instead of Charlie’s and he gets startled. She asks him if everything’s alright and he lies to her telling her all’s fine.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: Los Malos

Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
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.

Graceland: The Unlucky One

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network
Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

It’s the morning after the night that everything burned to the ground in FBI agent Mike Warren’s task-force’s case against the Solano family, in the sixth episode of the USA Original Series “Graceland.” All the members of the house are having bad mornings, but for Paige Arkin, the situation’s dire, as she goes undercover to infiltrate a sex-trafficking operation also controlled by the Solanos without any backup due to a snafu that Jakes found himself in. Just as Paige called an audible changing the game plan, Dale’s pulled out of his truck by two policemen, as he had violated the restraining order when his son Daniel visited him in the previous episode.

Paige gets taken to the facility where the operation’s hiding a group of young foreign women, who are being held to sell to buyers to use as prostitutes. She’s taken the place of the original drug mule transported by Cal-Coast Bus Lines from Mexico, after swallowing ten balloons filled with heroin. The young woman vomited up nine of the balloons but the tenth burst inside her and she died from an overdose, Paige then swallowed the remaining nine and took her place. The man in charge at the facility asks her where the last balloon is and Paige tells him that’s all she swallowed. He then brings her into a room and demands she undresses then takes her picture to post on their website. She’s then brought in to where the rest of the young women imprisoned, including the young Ukrainian woman she had tried to help weeks before. Arkin believes that agents will rescue them shortly, unaware that Jakes ended up in a jail cell.

Warren’s disgusted that an inside source tipped off the Solano family and destroyed all the evidence and warned Carlito Solano to steer away from the pick up he was driving to. However his superior from the Bureau’s headquarters Jess, walks into the house referring to Mike as the conquering hero. The agent looks at his friend with benefits, as though she lost her mind, but she spins it as a great victory for the FBI and will win them great favor with Bureau Director. Warren refuses to perceive the situation in that manner, saying that any evidence that could have locked up the Solano family no longer exists. Jess leaves but first asks Mike to come back with her to his position at Bureau Headquarters with her, he tells her he’ll think it over.

Mike still has one card to play, as he is holding Lawrence the Cal-Coast supervisor involved in the smuggling operation that kept a steady flow of heroin coming over the border from Mexico and Warren believes that Lawrence knows far more than he’s admitted. The supervisor does concede that the Solano family control a member of law enforcement that informed them the bust would go down, allowing them to destroy all the contraband. The agent also inquires about the sex-trafficking operation, but Lawrence denies knowledge, so Mike leaves the prisoner handcuffed to a chair in the safe house.

The phone rings at the house and Briggs answers to find Dale on the other end, explaining he’s in jail and asked if anyone had heard from Paige. When the response is no, he tells Paul that he believes Arkin’s in danger as he believes she may have gone undercover to try to bust the operation. Mike immediately freaks out but Briggs takes control, saying he and Charlie will find the recorder in Dale’s truck with Paige’s messages and Johnny goes to bail out Jakes with Mike insisting on going with him.

The tape’s found letting the team know that she took the young women’s place and Johnny and Warren greet Dale when released. Warren decides that Jakes doesn’t feel sufficiently guilty, so he tells the DEA agent that if Paige’s harmed it’s on him. We have seen evidence throughout the season that Mike’s severely lacking in management and people skills and once again handles the situation in the worst possible way.

When they get back home, Mike seeks out Paul finding him on the beach. He tells Briggs he’s holding Lawrence prisoner and he’s sure the supervisor has information on the sex-trafficking operation, but he won’t confess anything to Warren and asks Briggs for help in the situation. The two arrive where Lawrence’s held and he asks Paul who he is and the agent responds that he’s the man going to set him free and the supervisor gets excited. However, Briggs tells him before he can unlock the handcuffs, Lawrence must provide some info on the operation and once again the supervisor denies knowledge. Paul tells him he’s got one more chance to answer and Lawrence repeats his statement.

Briggs then grabs the gym-bag he brought with him and tells the prisoner he brought his old mistress for him and pulls out a large bottle of liquor and Lawrence begs for mercy as he’s a recovering alcoholic, sober for the last 16-years. Paul laughs derisively, then hands Warren a towel and tells him to put it over Lawrence’s face and hold back his head, then starts pouring the alcohol into the prisoner’s mouth through the towel. They remove the towel as the supervisor spits out the liquor and gasps for air and Paul questions him again and without an admission tells Mike to put the towel back on the prisoner’s face, but the other agent questions Briggs if they should proceed further. The look in Briggs’ eyes tell Warren that’s not an option and they torture Lawrence again.

Paul’s methods pay off as Lawrence agrees to cooperate and tells the pair he has to set up a meet in order for them to gain access to the operation. He contacts the people in charge and sets up a meet with them for the next morning at a local hotel and then they will transport him to the facility. The agents fear releasing Lawrence until they get Paige, so they leave him at the safe house. Briggs and Warren head back to Graceland to plan out the rescue with their housemates. Before they get into the car, Mike says he didn’t realize how brutal Paul would get and Briggs calls him out asking what did he expect when he asked for his help?

Arkin realizing that no help’s coming any time soon tries to escape with the Ukrainian girl, but the attempt fails as they run out to the yard of the facility and Paige tries to scale a chain link fence. As she climbs the boss comes out and whacks her in the thigh with a baseball bat and she falls to the ground with a badly bruised thigh.

Back at the house the five sit down to strategize, but nerves shot and tempers short. They finally agree to have Mike go undercover as the buyer and Jakes will follow the car that transports him to the facility. The next morning Mike’s met by the boss and a guy wearing a cowboy hat, searched and then they put a hood over his head and he gets into the car. Shortly after they pull out, Jakes starts his truck and trails the trio.

The young women get lined up and each given a placard with a number on it, Warren’s brought into the room and the hood’s removed and we see Paige smile with relief. Looks like things are going to wrap up nice and tidy, but there’s still 20-minutes of airtime left, so we realize things won’t run all that smoothly. Mike tells the boss that he wants to purchase Paige but she plays like she’s afraid to go with him. The boss starts to get ready to pummel her, but Warren tells him she’s scared and he wants some time alone with her, they head into a room that the boss monitors them on a security camera.

Mike informs Arkin that all the evidence against the Solano family no longer exists and tells her he wants to keep the operation running a while longer so he can pin the sex-trafficking on the family. Paige vehemently disagrees and says that he should take the Ukrainian woman in her place, but his emotions won’t allow him to agree and she slaps the agent across the face. At that point Warren exits the room and says he’s going to buy her but she’s uncontrollable, to which the boss responds by punching Paige in the face.

The two get driven back to the hotel each wearing hoods and then the men drive off. Mike and Paige enter the vehicle he’s driving and he apologizes for not following her wishes but gives her his word that they’ll shut down the operation and rescue the young woman she’s concerned about. Paige tells Warren exactly how much she values his word in unflattering terms.

They arrive at the house and all the housemates embrace her, as Mike feeling unwanted heads to his room. When she settles into her room, Jakes comes in and tells her he can’t express how terribly he feels and gives her a music box that belonged to his mother. The box has a ballerina on it and Dale tells Paige that he thought she’d like it as the Ukrainian girl’s a dancer. She breaks down crying and asks her friend that if they can’t save this young woman, than what are they accomplishing, Jakes holds her and tells her he lacks the answer.

Mike arrives where he’s holding Lawrence, removes the handcuffs and hands him an envelope with a forged passport and traveling money. He tells the supervisor to leave and to stay out of contact with his associates. Lawrence leaves cursing Warren out as he does.

Jess arrives and tells Mike she’s returning to Washington and asks if he’s joining her, when he admits what we’ve known all along, that he’ll remain at Graceland. She says that she truly thought his goal was to become Bureau Director and he replies that he thought that as well. Jess tells him that if he doesn’t return with her, their benefits end and Mike acknowledges he’s aware of that. She then wishes him good luck addressing him as Agent Warren and leaves.

Mike’s with Paul when his phone rings and he tells the person on the other end that the news he’s getting is terrible. He gets off the phone and tells Briggs that Lawrence was found dead at his home and he gets in his car and drives to the crime scene. When he arrives a detective gives him a hard time until Warren identifies himself, the cop feeling foolish introduces himself as the head of the LAPD Gang Task-Force and says that Lawrence’s murder was the work of a cartel. Mike asks him if he has any idea who set up the hit and the detective names the Solano family. He then gives Warren his business card including cell number and tells him to call him anytime.

The final scene’s a conversation between Briggs and Warren and Mike says he found the Solano’s inside informant, the detective he had just talked to. He tells Paul that the cop’s second in command was at the bust, in fact he was standing right next to him. Briggs replies that Mike’s taking on a huge fish and Warren responds they’re going to reel him in shortly.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: H-A-Double-P-Y

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network
Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Hey-Diddle-Diddle And Mike’s In The Middle, along with other serious and possibly deadly situations to the members of the house dominated the fifth episode of USA Network Original Series “Graceland,” as the task-force to take down Cal-Coast Bus Lines will end prematurely via orders from FBI Headquarters. Task-Force leader Mike Warren gets the news directly as his boss and friend-with-benefits Jess arrives at the house to deliver the news in person. Warren and his team learn that they have one shot at wrapping things up and collecting as much evidence as possible against Cal-Coast and the company’s owners the Solano family.

We open the episode joining Johnny as he is outside of the home of Carlito and Lucia Solano, brother and sister, as well as children Carlos Solano a prominent drug-cartel leader and the owner of the bus line that’s been smuggling heroin out of Mexico and across the border. They are also involved in sex-trafficking as they’ve used a series of foreign young women as drug mules and then sell the women as sex-slaves.

Johnny has become an intimate of Carlito’s as his undercover assignment and arrives for a visit when he hears sounds of glass breaking and a man and woman arguing emanating from the house. The agent pulls out his pistol and sneaks inside, but puts the gun away when he sees the siblings are having a spat, as Lucia is throwing china at her brother while he bats them away with a metal trophy. Lucia tells Johnny that they are arguing over her new boyfriend whom she said her brother is jealous of while Carlito infers that her guy’s less than manly and she throws a glass that hits him on the side of his head drawing blood.

Solano tackles his sister and pins her to the ground with his hands gripping her throat telling her to apologize which she defiantly refuses to do. Johnny gets concerned, tells Carlito to stop and when he doesn’t punches him in the face, knocking Solano to the ground and off Lucia. The sister tells Johnny he shouldn’t have punched her brother and Carlito screams just one word; leave and the agent vacates the house unsure if he blew his cover.

Paige and Warren are in her room as he’s on his laptop corresponding with headquarters about the heroin found in drums of industrial waste by Jenks in bay five of Cal-Coast in the previous episode. Paige’s happy for Mike’s success but she’s mainly concerned with her assignment finding the facility where the kidnapped foreign young women are held. Warren however seems less than satisfied with the pace of their results and Paige tries cheering him up with an old Shirley Temple song; “You’ve Got To S-M-I-L-E To Be H-A-Double-P-Y.” It’s pretty much the last light moment of the night.

As Mike goes downstairs, he’s greeted by an unexpected visitor in Jess and immediately feels awkward as the two women he’s sleeping with are now shaking hands. After Jess meets the rest of the housemates, she tells Warren that they’re pulling the plug on his task-force, she will lead the final operation, completed by Friday. As she and Warren talk alone, he’s told that Paige’s operation’s shut down immediately as they will need all their forces concentrated on the drug bust.

Jakes, already out on the road in his truck, sees a hooker he had an encounter with in the previous episode passed out on a picnic table outside a restaurant covering her face to block out light. Dale’s concerned she’s alright and wakes her and offers to get her breakfast and she asks whether he has a place she can clean up at. He takes her to the apartment he rented when he thought he would be granted visitation rights to see his son Daniel and as she enters she sees the results of Jakes’ drunken rampage when denied those privileges. The two start kissing when his phone rings and an angry Warren’s on the other end asking why he’s not at Cal-Coast. He tells Mike he’s heading there and realizes the woman is in his shower, so he shouts his goodbye.

Jakes meets Warren and Briggs in the Cal-Coast parking lot and Mike informs him that the operation’s shut down and he needs to know the schedule of pick-up right then. Dale tells him to give him twenty bucks if he wants the schedule then the agent heads to  a liquor store and buys a bottle. He enters the  Cal-Coast warehouse and goes to his locker where he takes a slug from the bottle, then pretends he’s blasted in front of his recovering alcoholic supervisor. The supervisor’s livid and pulls Dale into his office where he tells Jakes he’s fired and Dale replies by vomiting on his shirt. He storms from the office to clean himself and Jakes uses the opportunity to find out the pick-up happens in two-days.

Mike heads back to the house to tell Paige her operations been cancelled and she surprises him by asking how long he’s slept with Jess, which he explains as an office fling, while he has deeper feelings for her. She tells him to “persuade” Jess, stating that the welfare of the women means enough to her to encourage him to have relations with his boss.

Dale heads back to his apartment and finds a child’s bicycle outside the door, he walks inside to find the woman playing with Daniel. He asks his son how he found him and the boy responds that Jenks’ address’ written on the restraining order. Dale starts to explain to Daniel that the order’s meant to keep them apart, when the woman asks to talk in private with Jenks then proceeds to scream at the agent that he’s blowing things. She tells him to spend time with the boy before bringing him home, then asks her to join him saying he’ll pay her for her time.

Johnny risks the danger to go back over to Carlito’s that evening while Briggs’ observes him through binoculars. Carlito’s wasted and Johnny calls for him as he enters the house. He expresses apologies and Salana asks him if he enjoyed hitting him, after hesitating Johnny replies that part of him did and Carlito praises his honesty. He babbles on how his father and family have no trust in him and how much he resents them for it. He asks the agent if he believes in him and Johnny responds he does and Carlito presses his forward to the agent’s and replies he knows Johnny does and then says he’s going to sleep.

When Briggs and Johnny arrive back at the house Briggs says Solano may have “feelings” for their boy and Warren asks the agent if he’d consider “persuading” Carlito and we see the revulsion on Johnny’s face at the suggestion. But after he thinks he agrees to do what ever it takes to bust Solano.

Jakes, Daniel and the woman are at a fair and the two guys are eating cotton candy when the boy sees the bumper cars and Jakes nods in acknowledgement that they can ride them. After a day of bonding Dale drops his son at his mother’s and the two embrace, as the woman breaks into tears sitting in the truck. As the boy goes inside she wipes away her tears and tells Jenks her fee for the day is two hundred bucks, which takes him by surprise as he thought they had bonded. He tells her he only has eighty dollars but he’ll drive to an ATM to get the balance when she accepts the money, leaves truck and tells the agent he’ll be fine.

Mike arrives at Jess’ hotel room and tells her he understands why the task-force’s been halted and she tells Mike that he did a great job and he’ll get all the credit. They kiss, undress and head to the bed but he brings up Paige’s operation and she tells him she’ll get clearance in the morning. Mike starts fondling her but then sighs from frustration and Jess realizes he’s got deep feelings for Paige.

The agent heads home and tells Paige that he didn’t come through, but omits telling her that Jess realized the truth about them. Upset, she heads to Dale’s room and asks for him to back her up as she tries to find the women’s location and in turn tick Warren off. Hearing the last part Jakes’ gets anxious to get going,

Johnny shows up at the club and tells Carlito that he want’s in on the heist he’s pulling, but Salana laughs him off. The agent asks him if he doesn’t believe in him and Solano displays his anger and takes Johnny to a back room where he tells the agent he’s going to mess up his face when Johnny kisses him on the mouth. Solano swears at him in Spanish, but Johnny tells him that he knows Carlito’s attracted to him and Salana kisses him. He then tells the criminal that he wants the two of them to do the pick-up and Carlito agrees. Briggs and Charlie follow the pair in another vehicle.

We join Paige on the bus as she has located the latest “Tinkerbell,” identifies herself as a federal agent and tells the woman she wants to help her. Although nervous and uncooperative initially, she consents to work with Paige and wear a wire. They pull up to the bus station and get off the vehicle, Jakes behind them in his truck and the woman looking ill. The two enter the lady’s room and the woman starts vomiting up the balloons filled with heroin. She regurgitates nine, but had swallowed ten and she coughs up an empty balloon, goes into a seizure and dies while Paige is trying to contact Jenks via the wire. However Dale’s preoccupied as he’s handcuffed and arrested for breaking the restraining order. Paige unaware that Jakes isn’t listening says that she’s going to masquerade as the woman, swallows the balloons and straps on the backpack, then gets escorted into a van by a man wearing a cowboy hat.

Carlito and Johnny are driving to Cal-Coast when Solano gets a call that the pick-up’s cancelled and makes a U-turn not paying any attention to traffic conditions. Paul radios Mike that the pair are turning around and right then all the drums go up in flames and explode, destroying the evidence. Warren tells Jess that some member of the operation relayed the info on their raid to the Solano’s and is eyeing every one on the scene warily as the screen goes black.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.

Graceland: Magic Number

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network
Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

After a one-week hiatus, USA Network summertime hit “Graceland,” returned to the airwaves Wednesday night, with each member of the house involved in individual projects, most relating to trying to take down Cal-Coast Bus-Lines and it’s operators the Solano family, by FBI Agent Mike Warren and his task-force. The agent believes that the family is smuggling heroin from Mexico via the buses and has convinced Bureau Headquarters to assign his housemates as the task-force that will prove his theory correct.

The dynamic in the house has changed dramatically in the second season, as Warren has evolved from an agent sent to California, fresh out of the academy. Last season he was the Eagle Scout younger brother of the group, watching out for his team and empathetic to each member of the house’s problems. However the rookie achieved rock-star-status with Bureau Headquarters for his part in killing serial-killer/Mexican Federale Jangles and got his ticket punched to head to his dream assignment, working in the upper-echelon of Headquarters.

Although we saw signs throughout the first three episodes of the current season, any thoughts that Warren’s still everyone’s pal “Mikey,” vanished in this installment, as he is through with diplomacy and will be as blunt as he has to, no matter who’s offended. We have witnessed him treating Johnny callously at times and this time Jakes would feel the lion’s share of his dissatisfaction. Dale’s dealing badly with the no-contact order imposed on him by his son’s mother and once gain fed his demons with vast quantities of alcohol. The problem however, was Jakes scheduled interview the following morning with Cal-Coast for a mechanic position to get an agent inside the company.

Warren blew up at his housemate when he saw his condition and told Briggs to get him in the shower to sober him up. Paul also suggested that he travel with the pair to Cal-Coast and play the buffer. Warren’s worst fears appear to becoming reality as the supervisor, a recovering alcoholic picks up immediately that Dale’s coming off a bender.

He sends him away due to lack of reliability and it looks like the plan failed. However when Jakes gets to the parking lot, Briggs hands him a six-month sobriety pin from Alcoholics Anonymous. Dale walks back in, shows the man the pin and told him he’s getting his act together, but needs structure in his life. After telling the supervisor he had one bad night, the man decides to bring him on board.

The reason Paul had that sobriety pin was from going to meetings with Kelly Badillo, widow of slain FBI agent Juan Badillo, whom Briggs accidentally killed in a scuffle as Badillo was pretending he was Jangles to try to prove that Briggs and the Federale were allies and pulled a gun and in the ensuing struggle went off killing the agent. Although the Bureau cleared Briggs of any wrongdoing as they believed Jangles killed Badillo, he’s struggling with the guilt as is Charlie, who had worked with Jangles as a Federale and blames herself for Badillo’s death.

Kelly tells Paul after the meeting that she’s financially struggling due to the Bureau refusing to pay off Juan’s death benefits as his body’s still missing. The pair exchange their disdain  of the situation, but Kelly realizes she has no recourse. When Biggs gets back to the house he shares the news with Charlie who’s now more distraught than ever.

Paige has convinced Warren that the Ukrainian girl, used as a drug-mule to smuggle drugs over the border was kidnapped by the ones who arranged her passage into America to sell into prostitution. Mike asks her if she believes the Solano family is behind the operation and she responds that she does. He assigns her a SWAT team and Johnny to head to the town where the girl disappeared. Johnny goes into an “Asian Massage Parlor,” and after arranging a deal, the place’s busted by the SWAT team. Paige talks to the madam of the parlor and explains she’s not interested in her operation but instead about any knowledge of the “Tinkerbell Girls.” The madam responds she wants to “lawyer up,” and brought to the local police station.

When they arrive, Paige questions the woman again and tells her because of her frequent contact with mainland China, Homeland Security will not allow her a lawyer as she’s a possible terrorist threat. The woman’s explanation that the calls were to the nurse taking care of her elderly parents, receives no sympathy from Paige, pressing for details about the girls. After being assured of anonymity, she talks about a girl who came to her parlor about a year before, who said she escaped sexual slavery. The girl’s face was severely scarred on one side, so the woman told her she couldn’t use her, but that’s all she knows.

Jakes and the supervisor at Cal-Coast start building a bond between them and Dale volunteers for any overtime that comes around. The supervisor tells him he will put him on the list and walks towards one of the bus bays. It’s the only bay that’s door’s shut and the man opens it with a magnetic swipe-card and out rolls bus number 118, the vehicle the task-force thinks is smuggling heroin from Mexico. Dale lets Mike know the info and Warren asks him to get close enough to the supervisor to copy his swipe-card and he will set up a team to disassemble the vehicle in 20-minutes.

Charlie tells Briggs she knows how to get the Bureau to pay Kelly the money she’s owed at her cover at the tattoo parlor. A guy she inked up that afternoon told her that he was sitting on $2.3 million in heroin and looking for a buyer. If they bust the guy and give Kelly credit as the informant, she’ll receive a ten percent reward, exactly the amount she’s due on her husband’s death benefits. Paul tells Charlie it’s far too dangerous, but she replies he’s not involved. He responds that he won’t allow her to go it alone and they should sleep on it.

Johnny’s out with new friend Carlito Solano at a club that he has a private booth at, Solano walks through like royalty even causing a girl to spill a drink on herself, because he can. When they reach the booth, Solano tells the employees to take good care of Johnny and then puts two tabs of ecstasy in the agent’s hand. Johnny faked swallowed while stashing the pills in his pocket. Later when Johnny uses the facilities and heads back to the booth Solano won’t let him back until he’s earned the privilege. He then tells the agent to bring the girl who spilled her drink, back to the booth. Johnny chats up the pair but they refuse until he gives them each one hit of the ecstasy.

Jakes walks into the supervisor’s office and asks about how important goals are to maintaining sobriety and the man attempts to get Jakes to open up to him. Dale tells him that his goal’s reuniting with his son and the supervisor says that will help him achieve long-term sobriety, then pulls out his wallet, hands it to Jakes showing him the picture of a girl. She was his niece, killed in a drunken crash he caused on St. Patrick’s Day, he went to prison and cleaned up his life for the last 16-years. While Dale holds the wallet he copies the card that opens the bus bay door.

Briggs agrees to help Charlie with the bust and they head to the source’s girlfriend’s house with a SWAT Team at the ready. Paul and the guy are cool with each other and get down to business. Paul’s ready to make the deal sending the team into the house when Charlie asks to talk to him; she notices a lot more bricks of heroin and if the team comes in then, Kelly will get far more money than the policy is for.

Briggs tells the guy he needs to take a taste before he buys and Charlie and the guy go to another room to count the money. Paul starts slicing the bricks and flushes them down the sink, but it’s too slow so he chooses the washing machine instead. When he turns it on the source gets suspicious and gets up to investigate and Charlie knocks him cold smashing a bottle over his head. The girlfriend sunbathing in the front yard comes in gripping a pistol and demanding an explanation. The SWAT Team enter at that moment, eliminating the need for the explanation.

Carlito, Johnny and the two girls are back at Carlito’s place each making out with one of the women. Solano pulls out some cocaine and pours it on his chest, telling the other girl to come to him. As the girls start to snort it off his chest he insists they kiss each other first, which they do and then start fondling Solano. Johnny starts to get up from his chair but Carlito orders him to stay seated and watch.

Immigration and Custom agents head to Cal-Coast the next morning demanding that nobody moves until they see proof of identity from all employees. It’s in fact a diversion for Mike, Jakes and the team to tear apart the bus, all the agents are wearing coveralls including Warren who’s just supervising. They come up empty-handed and Warren snaps, whacking the bus with a tire iron, as the crew reassembles the bus.

Briggs drops by Kelly’s to see how she’s doing and while they talk she shuffles through the mail and then suddenly stops looking shocked. Paul asks what’s wrong and she tells him one of the letters is from the Bureau and she’s afraid to open it, but Briggs convinces her to. She sees the check along with the letter Charlie forged stating that this closes the case. Kelly then breaks into tears when she realizes this confirms her husband died, she’s inconsolable and weeps into Briggs chest while he hugs her. When he gets back to the house, he fibs to Charlie saying that Kelly’s overjoyed and Charlie fixed everything.

Jakes request for overtime payoff as his supervisor substitutes him for an employee that’s out sick. He brings him over to the closed bay, swipes the card and opens the door and bus number 118 drives out of the bay and onto the road. He then tells Dale that his job is to put barrels of waste on a rig in the bay. When the supervisor leaves Jakes pulls off the lid and along with the waste he sees multiple bags of heroin, he’s found the stash.

Graceland can be seen Wednesday nights on the USA Network.