If you’re not yet sold on USA’s Graceland, this week’s “Pizza Box” may do the trick. There’s suspense, airbrushed tattoos, and a hint of rather deviant romance. We get a better grasp on some of the supporting characters, including Paige, who totally saves the day for two of the guys.
Though it was Briggs who tailed the Nigerian drug lord for three months, Mike ends up taking the lead on the Bello case. After witnessing Mike’s superior shooting skills, Bello wants Mike to teach his own men how to shoot. During their conversation, Mike slips up by asking cluelessly about a basic Marines term. This nearly ends badly, but as usual Mike is quick enough on his feet to slide out of the situation. Of course, he’s not thrilled that he now has to pretend to teach a bunch of criminals how to shoot more accurately.
Bello’s second hand, Eddie, is the only one not buying what Mike’s selling. Worried about that threat, Briggs and Charlie come up with a plan to frame Eddie. Mike is not terribly keen on this. He feels bad about essentially signing Eddie’s death warrant. This leads to a very intense scene with Mike, Eddie, and Bello. It is arguably the best scene of the series, and reveals major potential.
After a traumatic event like that, you’d think Mike would cancel his date. Instead, he arrives to meet Abby, who seems nice. At least, Mike seems to think so when he smiles like a schoolgirl at her texts. I was glad to hear her call out Mike on his truly terrible nickname suggestions – they might be his only flaw? A sympathetic Abby notices Mike’s dazed state and sends him home, where he has a pile of dishes to clean. The guy can’t catch a break, but at least Briggs is around to offer a supportive hand.
The dishes are there because Charlie makes her famous sauce – which takes three days to prepare – for the house. Though she is not a woman you would want to cross, she appears to be stepping into something of a motherly role for the group as a whole. She even makes sure a plate of leftovers is kept safe for Mike, despite early insistence that anyone who was late wouldn’t get a taste.
Paige recruits Jakes and Johnny to assist her undercover, giving Johnny a chance to show off his acting abilities. He also has Charlie cover him everywhere – including below the belt – in airbrushed tattoos. Was that for character credibility, or perhaps a little something to do with the gorgeous girl playing tattoo artist? The former, we’re sure.
However, Johnny’s amorous nature does get everyone in trouble when he sleeps with the target pot grower Ashika, played memorably well by Mia Kirshner (“The L Word”, “Defiance”). Their tawdry flirtation includes him hinting that she can see all of his tattoos if she gives him some honey for his tea. Jakes tries to discourage Johnny, uncomfortable with those lines as well as the thought of eating textured vegetable protein. (For the record, TVP is actually pretty good. No, really.)
Johnny ignores Jakes, choosing instead to spend the night. Unfortunately, his creative tattoos end up rubbing off on the woman’s sheets, blowing his cover. Ashika has a gun pointed at both Jakes and Johnny when Paige literally drives through the barn to rescue them. Way to go, Paige.
It can be difficult to balance genuine humour in a show of a serious nature without it sounding corny or forced. Graceland is doing a great job of it. They offer quite a few laughs without trivializing the dire situations. It is probably realistic that people doing that sort of harrowing work would need some comic relief from time to time. The funniest line of the episode is likely Mike’s innocent, “Did you really spend the night with that marijuana farmer?”
Catch Graceland’s next episode “O-Mouth” Thursday July 11 on USA.