Graceland ended last season with the agents in various states of turmoil both personally and professionally, including Mike flatlining after Sid killed him. When Graceland Season 5 picks up, they will each be in even more precarious positions. From the photo, Briggs will be getting bloodied!
BuddyTV caught up with Executive Producer Jeff Eastin to find out how Paige will deal with betraying Mike, the bind Briggs finds himself in with , Charlie’s pregnancy, Johnny and Lucia’s romance and more.
Which of the Graceland housemates is going to have the toughest time in Season 3?
Eastin: Briggs definitely has the hardest time of any of the characters. It’s hard to say. Johnny is stuck in a very tight bind. Paige is beating herself up more than anyone else. It’s either Paige, Johnny or Briggs at this point that’s got the toughest row to hoe in the first few episodes.
The tape reappears this season. How are you able to keep the tape in play without Briggs being put behind bars?
The tape originally was the personification of Briggs’s sin. We carried it forward for that reason. This year what we were hoping to do was to create a storyline that would resonate with people who may not have seen the show before. We wanted something people could sort of come into and get really quickly and hopefully get caught up in.
As we came into this year, we were looking for a way to really put Briggs in a really tight moral box and the tape seemed the most obvious. We were able to put him in a spot– you can’t take your main character and put him in prison for the majority of episodes so we thought what can we do next.
The true-life Whitey Bulger story sort of offered us a really compelling out for us. In the real Whitey Bulger case, they had a real FBI agent who was right there with Whitey. He knew about the murders, he knew about all these really horrific things that Whitey had done and when they finally arrested and took down Whitey, this agent ended up in prison right along with him.
To put Briggs in the position where he realizes that’s the pinch they got him in and we always said that Briggs is the one guy you don’t do that to, you don’t try to blackmail Briggs, you don’t try to put him in a box or he’s going to react someway. That was the thinking behind the tape.
Rhys Coiro who plays Ari is amazing. The character is frightening. You are really pushing the limits, are there boundaries you won’t cross?
We got into this trying to be as edgy and provocative as we could be with the show. There wasn’t an attempt at gratitiuous violence, it really was looking at it and saying that our guys have in tough positions before. What can we do to make Ari– to set him apart.
When Briggs comes to the FBI and says, “No, this is not going to work. You are not going putting me in with this guy. He’s insane.” What does that look like on a show where we’ve already chopped a guy’s hand off and done some fairly bad things with Paige undercover with the sex traffickers.
To have Briggs come in and say, “No, this is a bridge too far.” What does that look like? We got really lucky casting Rhys because Ari could be a completely unwatchable psychopath, but I find him pretty darn interesting. We’ve been very happy with his performance and I think Ari is one of the more interesting characters we’ve done.
Even though it’s horrible what Briggs has to do with Ari, there’s a little bit of humor and disbelief in their interactions. It creates a little bit of lightness.
The counterpoint to everything Ari does that’s horrific, he’s a pretty interesting guy and it is pretty funny. It’s always interesting when I watch the scenes with Briggs and Ari because as much as I want to look away, I’m usually chuckling at the same time. It’s a fine line, but we walk it all year.
Paige has to deal with the fact that she gave up Mike. What is her struggle going to be?
Paige is really beating herself up for the decision. She spends quite a bit of this year in that self-reflection, self-flagellation space trying to come to grips with what she did. That really defines her journey. As the season progresses, you see her taking a lot more chances and going into more dangerous territory than she ever would have precisely because she blames herself.
Are you a fan of Johnny and Lucia? Is it possible for them to live happily ever after?
I would love for Johnny and Lucia to live happily ever after, but I think by the nature of the relationship and who she is and who he is, it’s impossible. I’ve always thought those were interesting character choices … taking people from completely dissimilar worlds and putting them together to see if they can make it work. It’s television, I think the more interesting drama is when it doesn’t work. As much as I’d like to see them together, I wouldn’t count on it.
How will Charlie’s pregnancy weigh on her?
Charlie is still pregnant and she ultimately needs to make a decision, does she become Charlie DeMarco, single mom, or does she want to be Charlie DeMarco, undercover agent? It’s really that decision that really defines her this season. How does she decide to make that decision and the real question is whether she includes Briggs in that decision.
The trust in Graceland has been degraded through the seasons, will the agents be able to rely on each other without that trust? Can it be rebuilt?
They’re such a broken group that a lot of this season focuses on rebuilding that trust between the roommates and trying to get back to a place where they can trust each other like they used to. As USA said, “Characters Welcome.” So we spent a lot of time with the characters in their heads and this year it’s about trying to get back to those core relationships between the people in the house and who they care about and those friendships.
How would you characterize this season?
This year is really about how far will you go? How far will you go for the cover? How far will you go for the case? We really focus heavily on Briggs. If there was on overriding idea this year, it’s that you can’t put Briggs in the corner. The FBI has decided to blackmail Briggs and put him in an untenable position where whatever he does, he’s going to go down for this.
The whole season is really Briggs playing chess and saying that’s not going to happen to me. He will essentially do what he has to do to get himself out of that position. It ends up sucking in every single person in the house and driving the roommates together and fracturing other relationships between them.
Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on USA.
(Image courtesy of USA.)