'Graceland' Recap: Paige Goes Through Hell
'Graceland' Recap: Paige Goes Through Hell
M.K. Costigan
M.K. Costigan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
This week's episode of Graceland, "The Unlucky One," opens with Mike embracing the true spirit of his coworkers and breaking the law. Since he now knows that someone in law enforcement is working for the Solano cartel, he's kidnapped Lawrence,the garage manager, to keep him away from untrustworthy people (read: everyone). Lawrence gives out a little information, most of which Mike has already figured out: there are two identical 118 buses, one that carries contraband and one that's swapped in for the first one if suspicions arise. Lawrence blew up the evidence because he got a call instructing him to do so. Since he claims to know nothing else, Mike handcuffs him to a chair and leaves him locked in a motel room. He's learned so much.

I Have No Clever Subtitles for this Topic

The rest of the episode is more or less divided into two parts; what's going on with Paige and what's going on with everyone else. What's going on with Paige is complete and utter horror. Graceland gives us a very watered down version of what sex trafficking is really like, and even this is difficult to watch. Paige has arrived at the building used as a base for the human trafficking operation. She's immediately in a precarious situation with the sex traffickers because she's only smuggled nine bags of heroin to them, the other having burst and killed the girl she's impersonating. They can't really do anything about that right now, though, so the people running things get right down to degradation.

Paige is forced to strip and has her picture taken by Sulla, the man in charge. She's then put with the other girls in a room that seemingly functions as a den, but without any happiness or hope for the future. There she sees Lina, the Ukrainian girl she decided to try and track instead of rescuing on the spot. Paige immediately institutes herself as Lina's protector, probably because she feels responsible for Lina being there in the first place. 

Soon, the first potential customer arrives. He sizes the girls up, and Sulla mentions that they can accommodate pedophilia, if that's his sort of thing. Paige helps Lina avoid being purchased by having her pretend to be sick, but this only makes Sulla abuse Lina when the customer leaves unsatisfied. By this point Paige has realized that something must be wrong, because her team should have come for her by now. She decides that she and Lina must try to rescue themselves by escaping that night, but it does not go well. They're caught in the yard and Paige is beaten before being taken back inside. They have no chance of escape without help.

Paying it Forward

It takes help a while to realize that Paige is missing. Mike is preoccupied with the fact that Jess is willing to spin their complete failure at taking down the Solano cartel as a win. Johnny has returned from Carlito's van of doom unscathed, which is cause for celebration. And Briggs and Charlie are off somewhere, probably being dysfunctional and dishonest with each other. It isn't until Jakes calls from jail and explains that he was arrested in the middle of Paige's mission that they know something is wrong.

Charlie and Briggs find Jakes' van and the last transmission from Paige, explaining that Anika had overdosed and that she was taking her place. But since there was no one to follow Paige as she was taken, they have no way of knowing where she is now. Mike is consequently crankier than usual, and takes it out mostly on Jakes. In desperation, Mike admits to Briggs that he kidnapped Lawrence and has been unable to get answers about the sex trafficking ring out of him. He wants Briggs to use his less-than-orthodox (read: unethical) methods to help Lawrence get in a chatty mood. 

Thus we come to the first big moral debate of the episode: does the end of finding Paige justify the means of this interrogation? Given that Paige is someone we've grown attached to over the course of this show, the answer would usually be yes without question, but this method is a very special type of messed up. Briggs takes Lawrence, who is 16 years sober, and forces alcohol down is throat. It's more or less the same thing Jangles did to him, and we all know how well Briggs handled that. Mike is clearly uncomfortable with what they're doing, but continues for Paige's sake. Eventually Lawrence sets up a meeting with the ring for them and gives them a website on which they can see the girls. So in one sense, the torture was a success.

Tough Decisions

Mike poses as a man looking to buy one of the girls and is lead to the base just as the previous customer was. Paige can barely contain how glad she is to see him, but manages to put on a good show of resistance when Mike chooses her from the lineup. They are taken to a room where they can talk, and Paige quickly realizes that Mike is not here to shut the place down. He's only come to save her. Paige is fundamentally incapable of letting his happen, and tells him to buy Lina instead and leave her there. Mike refuses, and rescues her.

When they're free, Mike explains that he has no choice but to leave the place up and running. They lost all evidence that could connect to the Solano cartel, and Carlito is nowhere to be found. The sex trafficking outpost is the only link they have to the operation, and is thus their only chance of stopping it once and for all. Shutting down that one base would be like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole; they would save those girls, but not the unknown number of girls that would come after them.

Paige thinks all of this is crap, and you can't really blame her after what she's just been through. But Mike also has a point. Which brings us to our second moral debate of the night: is not saving those girls worth potentially saving a greater number of girls? Does this unspeakable means justify a very noble end? Is Mike's motivation for doing this just as much about his career as it is about doing the maximum amount of good?

Whatever the case, Paige is unable to cope with Mike's decision. She and Jakes try to process it when he comes to apologize for not being there when she needed him, and he gives her a ballerina music box that belonged to his mother. Briggs and Charlie are also trying to cope with Briggs' penchant for torture, though when he admits what he did to Charlie she simply says "I can't forgive you for what I don't know." Oh, the things she has yet to forgive him for. Finally, Mike tells Jess that he's not going back to D.C., though it is unclear if his stay is just until this case is wrapped up or if it's for good. Assuming the show is renewed, I think we can all guess the answer.

Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10pm on USA.

(Image courtesy of USA)