The thing I love about “Graceland” is that it melds really well the fun, quirky personalities of the six agents living together in sunny California alongside the grittier realities of their jobs. Last week’s episode, “Pizza Box” was phenomenal, and if this week’s offering wasn’t quite as extraordinary, it was still pretty darn good.
This week’s theme was about the agent’s getting in too deep — a theme that’s been running through the show since the get-go, but for the first time we see our core group really blurring the lines between their personal lives and the lives that they only pretend to lead. Mike even got to have TWO plots dealing with him getting in too deep.
The first big plotline revolves around Mike and his further attempts to ingratiate himself with Bello. He’s found out a little more about the FBI’s interest in Briggs: the leader of their ragtag group of misfits is suspected of siphoning off heroin from his busts — still seems a little shady to me, but we’ll see. Bello, unsurprisingly, does a lot of business in heroin. Mike still hasn’t been able to move past the role of training soldiers, until he hits upon a plan of becoming Bello’s bodyguard — and in the course of the episode he goes from bottom of the totem pole, to committing assault and battery in an electronics store, to being taken on as Bello’s bodyguard. Meanwhile, he’s finally gotten a second date with Abby, the Georgetown law student who is “taking time off before taking the bar.” (Maybe it’s just my current, sleep-deprived bar-mania, but I smell something fishy right there — what kind of a person goes to Georgetown and doesn’t immediately take the bar? Doesn’t she have a job lined up? Doesn’t she know that the February sitting is notoriously more difficult than July? I digress). Abby finds the dog that Mike met on the beach a few weeks ago, and takes him to the vet. Paige and Johnny tease Mike about how Abby wants to “adopt him” and how he can’t let it get that far. Har har har.
Sideswipe to plots B and C. Charlie and Briggs are trying to take down a paranoid drug dealer, who has been associated with them in past, undercover incarnations. Turns out, they had a little fling way back when. (Plot C is all about Johnny and Paige betting on whether they’ll hook up again, now that they’re back in those personae — cute and funny, but largely irrelevant). Because the drug dealer is so paranoid, however, he runs away every time the agents try to set him up — which means that Charlie has to go back and beg Whistler for help.
Here’s the getting in too deep again. Number one, Charlie knows that Whistler is unstable — he can’t get clean, he’s in too deep himself to be a dependable CI (confidential informant), and he might just blow their cover. Whistler gets them in with a meeting with the big drug dealer kingpin. . .before promptly overdosing and dying in the bathroom.
There’s a nice scene on it’s own — it’s not overblown, or dramatic — it’s just another drug addict, dead in a bathroom, surrounded by people none of whom know or care. Except Charlie, of course, who discovers his body and promptly has to play cool — sliding back undercover.
But Whistler, even while getting them the meet, was too eager, too involved — and the liason is paranoid again, demanding that Briggs and Charlie shoot up with his own drugs. Briggs is ready to call the whole thing off. Charlie however, tells everyone to stop being sissies. She reaches out, grabs the needle, and injects herself.
Say it ain’t so, Charlie.
The cliffhanger ending is, of course, whether Charlie really took the drugs, or whether she somehow managed to stealthily hide them. Personally, I find it a little hard to believe that she took them — this is a pretty hardcore woman, and while Whistler dying clearly hit close to home, it wasn’t, strictly speaking, their target’s fault. It’s not exactly a revenge move, it’s not as though this is a target that Charlie has been chasing down for months — it doesn’t quite fit. And, admittedly, I really, really don’t want to lose her on the show: that would be two characters down, both female, in less than five episodes.
So yes — “O Mouth” doesn’t have quite the cohesiveness of “Pizza Box” but it still remains true to the heart of the show — these six characters (though poor Jakes was oddly absent all episode). The show isn’t so much about the busts or the procedural element — it’s about how these characters grope with being “good guys” who live in a very, very bad world. Plus, all of the pieces are being set up for a really spectacular season finale.