'Graceland' Recap: Six Agents, Zero Good Choices
'Graceland' Recap: Six Agents, Zero Good Choices
M.K. Costigan
M.K. Costigan
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
I've learned a lot over the past season and a half of Graceland. For example, the budget for this house is probably responsible for the national debt. Criminals in southern California have no observational skills. Mostly, though, I've learned that the best way to be a successful government agent is to have massive emotional baggage and to deal with it in the least healthy way possible. Let's break down this week's episode, "Magic Number", bad decision by bad decision.


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Decision #1: Drinking Solves Everything

Since his ex served him with a legally questionable restraining order, Jakes has been having a hard time. He's contacted a bunch of lawyers, but none of them seem capable of finding the loopholes in this storyline that I found via five minutes of Googling. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though, because Jakes is acting pretty parentally unfit. Like everyone else in Graceland, he turns to alcohol at the slightest provocation, and gets spectacularly drunk. This would be pretty par for the course in the house, except for the fact that Jakes is supposed to go undercover as a mechanic the next day. Oops.

Mike is understandably upset about Jakes jeopardizing his entire operation, and Briggs once again gets annoyed at Mike for having some degree of professionalism. Granted, Mike does tend to express himself in the most sanctimonious ways possible, but he's generally in the right while doing so. His fears are confirmed when Jakes goes in for his interview and the recovering alcoholic boss immediately recognizes Jakes as a fellow addict and turns him away. Mike is frustrated (again, completely valid), and Briggs chastises him for his lack of loyalty. I would make a drinking game about how many times people get annoyed with Mike for being totally reasonable, but that would leave me in worse condition than Jakes.

Briggs does end up saving the mission, though, by giving Jakes a chip marking six months of sobriety and having him go back in as an admittedly struggling alcoholic. The boss decides to give Jakes a chance, since he sees that he's trying rather than denying his problems. Having secured the job, Jakes reminds us that he is actually competent, since he has real mechanical skills and manages to pinpoint the bus being used by the smugglers, number 118. He also manages to copy his boss' keycard while talking about his actual issues, thus giving Mike and his people a way to search the bus and find the evidence they need.


Decision #2: Hookers and Law Enforcement? What Could Go Wrong!

And they really, really need evidence. The higher-ups in D.C. are suddenly concerned about budget and want to pull Mike's operation, since he hasn't yielded anything concrete yet. Jessica, who clearly has feelings for Mike and is still unaware that he's been having an affair with Paige, decides to put her own career on the line to buy Mike more time. Everyone is feeling the pressure, but they're confident that they will find the drugs that must be hidden on bus 118. 

When the team starts tearing into 118, though, they don't find anything. The bus arrived way too recently for anything to have been moved off, but there's nothing. Mike is upset to the point of destruction of property, and Jakes joins in because he's pretty much always at that level. They leave with nothing to show for their work and the entire operation in danger of being shut down at any minute.

On the bright side, Mike has Paige to go back to. Jakes, on the other hand, has no one. Going back to Graceland means having to watch everyone around him paired up and finding himself alone. He tries to hang out with Johnny, since neither of them is currently dating someone else in the house, but Johnny is still sore on Jakes because of Jakes being a terrible friend. He's also in a bad mood because of his own terrible decision making, but we'll get to that later. Since nobody wants to hang out with him, and Zelanski inexplicably had to leave the house, Jakes takes off on his own with the one friend who will never let him down: beer. He drives around with a six pack, seemingly at the apex of pathetic, until everything gets so much worse. A prostitute approaches him, and instead of flashing his badge or telling her to leave, he decides to take her up on her offer. You, Dale Jakes, are nasty.

Perhaps energized by the STD he's just caught, Jakes goes back to work the next day chipper as can be. He's asked to move a bunch of waste barrels, and realizes that they could be the means of smuggling the contraband. Or maybe his brain has already been addled by syphilis. We'll have to wait and see.

Decision #3: Defrauding the FBI is a Great Cure for Pathological Guilt

Briggs and Charlie are still dealing with the guilt over their involvement in Juan Badillo's death and the effect it's had on his wife. Briggs is becoming closer friends with her and learns that the FBI won't pay out Juan's $230K life insurance policy because the body was never found. Charlie is devastated when she hears this, and continues to make everything bad that happens all about her. She has a good heart, but damn girl, you're not the center of the universe.

Luckily, Charlie finds a way to get herself out from the weight of her God complex. While undercover at the tattoo parlor she meets a man looking to sell $2.3 million worth of heroin. Conveniently, this is the exact amount needed to give an informant a $230K payoff if the heroin is seized. Charlie wants to list Kelly as her informant, make the bust, and get her the money rightfully owed to her by the FBI. It's a terrible plan, Stevie Wonder could see that it's a terrible plan, but Charlie cannot be dissuaded. And since telling the truth is out of the question, Briggs decided to help her.

Briggs poses as a dealer looking to buy. When they get to the house, though, they find that he has a lot more heroin with him, and that if the FBI seize it all Kelly's payout will be too high. So Briggs puts his much-practiced drug-hiding skills to work and starts getting rid of the heroin before the FBI arrive. They can't get rid of all the extra, because the seller's girlfriend comes at them with a gun, but they make a dent in it.

Briggs goes to visit Kelly and sneaks a letter saying she's been given Juan's life insurance money in with her other mail. She's getting $30K more than she should, but the money is finally hers. The only problem is that they payout confirms to her that her husband is really dead, and she breaks down in hysterical tears. Briggs tells Charlie that Kelly was euphorically happy, though, and her guilt seems temporarily eased. That will probably last about ten minutes into next week's episode.

Decision #4: Using Victims of Sex Trafficking to Trace Bus Routes Will Definitely Go Well

Last week, Paige sent a terrified Ukrainian girl on a bus to parts unknown so that she could track the presumed smuggling route. Shockingly, the girl has not been seen since. Paige is dealing with her guilt over this, and realizing that the girl's fate is probably worse than she originally thought. She and the other Tinkerbells seen on the security footage were all pretty, which means that they were probably victims of human trafficking as well as drug mules.

Since the human trafficking is probably in league with his drug smuggling, Mike lets Paige take a team and work that angle. She and Johnny bust a brothel, and then use possibly racist Homeland Security loopholes to question the Madame without the benefit of a lawyer. She confirms that the girls are coming from Eastern Europe and are being sold at auctions, but she doesn't know anything else. That's all there is for this storyline until next week. We may all need that long to fully process how deeply and truly awful the situation is.

Decision #5: Giving Ladies Drugs So They'll Want to Have Sex with Someone? Sounds Legit!

Even with all of this emotional messiness, we can't forget that Johnny was nearly killed in a living room duel only one episode ago. His ability to stop neck wounds from bleeding has tickled Carlito's fancy, and he invites Johnny for a night out on the town with his crew. Carlito is essentially the male, more sociopathic Regina George from Mean Girls. He degrades others to show interest in them, won't let his friends sit with him unless they do cool kid things like pop pills, and generally has a look in his eyes similar to a lion gazing upon a wounded wildebeest.

Long story short, Johnny has to be Carlito's wingman, which means giving out drugs to women who had already rebuffed his advances. In fairness, Johnny only offered them the pills and did not drug them without their consent, so it can hardly be considered drugging them in the date rape sense of the word. But he's clearly not comfortably with the fact that he's facilitated Carlito's sexual encounter with two women who wouldn't give them the time of day when sober. To make matters worse, Carlito takes both women for himself and makes Johnny watch as he starts getting freaky with them. The government is paying him for this!

What do you think? Is Charlie's irrational guilt finally assuaged? How deeply is Jakes going to disappoint his kindly boss? Is Carlito actually just hitting on Johnny in the most roundabout way possible? Share your thoughts!

Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10pm on USA.

(Image courtesy of USA)


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