On "Graceland," Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) has had a rough go of it. In recent episodes, fans have learned he lost his old friends/coworkers in a fire, including the love of his life, set by the Caza cartel, supposedly. A guy named Jangles also tortured him and made him addicted to heroin. But is Briggs a sympathetic character, really? After an episode like “Happy Endings,” which aired September 5, it’s hard to say.
Mike (Aaron Tveit) wants to believe and trust his “mentor” Briggs on the USA Network drama. But Briggs is doing everything possible to break that trust, including using D.J. (Brandon Jay MacLaren) to search for FBI Agent Juan Badillo’s Crown Vic so he can get rid of an incriminating recording.
Lines are being drawn in the house. Paige (Serinda Swan) is starting to see Mike’s side when they discover Briggs and D.J. at a doughnut shop, where their Crown Vic car jacking suspect named Clayton is holed up. And D.J. is taking Briggs’s side out of loyalty, even though he knows the truth of what Briggs has done.
The only thing for certain on “Graceland”? Briggs has gotten himself in way too deep. Sure he might have started in the drug business with good intentions -- in pursuit of finding Jangles and making sure the guys he arrested stayed in jail -- but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved in good intentions.
But it’s also paved with horrible, stupid decisions, like Briggs and Mike taking part in a snatch and grab with Clayton, all so they can find the Crown Vic. But who will get to the recording first?
This is where things get really interesting, although Johnny (Manny Montana) the “pancake-making pimp” was entertaining too. With Clayton, the guys are robbing a massage parlor and then dumping their car after picking up the Crown Vic. “I think someone’s trying to bury me,” Briggs says to Mike, claiming he’s trying to clear his name, “and I’m not going to hand them the shovel.”
Yet finally, for once, Mike is one step ahead of Briggs; he handcuffs Briggs to a shelf in the massage parlor during the snatch and grab. But then Mike’s plans all go to hell, too, when there’s no recording device in the car. And then Briggs disappears, because D.J. took off his handcuffs, allowing the guilty Briggs to make a run for it (but not before he grabs a hidden stash of money in his bedroom wall).
Through all this, “Graceland” fans can’t forget about Jangles, a.k.a. Federale agent Rafael Cortes (Vincent Laresca). Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) might not see how creepy he is, but thankfully Johnny has her back and follows her to a meeting. He may have just saved her life, at least as far as “Happy Endings” goes.
As the penultimate episode of the USA Network drama’s first season, “Happy Endings” was good, but was it good enough? Sympathy for a lot of the characters is waning, especially Briggs. After all, how can someone be going after him, if he’s the one who really did kill Juan? But there’s no doubt that something big is afoot, and Charlie is in more danger than ever before. The only question now is, can Briggs gain back everyone’s trust by saving his friend Charlie from Jangles?
The season finale of “Graceland” airs next Thursday at 10 p.m. EDT.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2013
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