Graceland "The Head of the Pig" Review: Baby Boom

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Aug 21, 2014

Graceland S02E10: "The Head of the Pig" 

Yeah, I think we all saw Charlie's pregnancy coming. Women don't just barf on TV for the lulz of it, you know? However, once you get past the LOLWTF-ery, that scene where Briggs walked in and caught sight of Charlie's pee-stick was actually quite lovely and indicative of how un-ridiculous Graceland can be when it wants to. While I'm not sure how I feel about the baby storyline, the usual outright violent hatred isn't there, which is a good sign—and kudos to the writers for not keeping Briggs in the dark for the rest of the season.

Speaking of keeping people in the dark: Mike's decision to not tell Paige about Lena continues to drive a wedge between the once potential—and probably still eventual—lovebirds. The FBI's former golden boy is eager to get back to the top of the G-man pack, and while ambition is a good thing and difficult choices must sometimes be made, Mike's evolution from eager beaver to conniving, power-hungry douchebag has been delightfully dramatic and a little big tragic in the Shakespearean sense, given that, deep down in the subterranean cockles of his heart, Mike isn't a bad guy. In a perfect world, Mike could end the human-trafficking ring and bring down Carlito's cartel in one big swoop and everyone could live happily ever after except for Lena, but life and television and life-on-television are more complicated than that. 

It's easy to judge Mike for letting the slave den stand—I mean, I do it all the time—but it's also not entirely impossible to see things from his point of view. Mike is conflicted. He wants to bring down all the baddies. However, while most of his housemates are acting on the whims of their increasingly erratic emotions, Mike is the calm, detached, and slightly creepy center of the universe, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mike's current lack of feelings affords him a sense of objectivity that allows him to be pragmatic and strategical in his approach to ridding the world of evil dudes. It's not pretty and it's not pleasant, and it's not an approach that will yield open applause—no one wants to be the person who says, "Nah, I want those women to be enslaved for a little bit longer." But it's certainly not useless. 

If you take a look at what else is happening on Graceland, if you survey the various exploits of Mike's housemates and co-workers and consider the craptastic situations of Johnny, Briggs, Charlie, Jakes, and Paige, the answer to the question of which approach is the best isn't so clear. Johnny's undercover-lover routine just keeps getting messier and messier. Charlie, faced with an unplanned pregnancy, has apparently decided that turning to the screwed-up friends of her undercover alias in search of moral support is not a really bad idea. (Something tells me that it is.) Jakes... I mean, it's Jakes. And Briggs is finally feeling the full weight of his involvement with Badillo's death. Acting on pure emotion is what led these folks to their current destinations, and none of them are particularly happy. Charlie herself lamented the old days at Graceland, when it was essentially an undercover frat house and being one of its members was the undisputed best job in the world. You have to wonder how the crew managed to survive for so long before the series picked up with their habitual emo-kid routines—though we certainly saw flashes of that dysfunction in Season 1, especially during the pilot. 


The balance between emotional dysfunction and stoic professionalism is the foundation for Graceland's narrative tension and one of the strongest aspects of its story. After all, it's the sort of debate that can be applied to any career on any sort of level; I've spent more time crying in the bathroom at various jobs over the years than I care to admit, and even though I'm mortified by that, at the same time, I'm deeply suspicious of people who don't cry in the bathroom because I think they might be aliens or cyborgs or something. In Mike's case, professionally, he may be the most stable and outwardly professional/successful out of all of them, but even he isn't free from the strain of keeping up the facade. His relationship with Paige is badly damaged—and now, so is his partnership with Briggs. He's practically a pariah in the house, and while he's okay with that on the surface, he clearly isn't actually okay with it, and it's only a matter of time until the stress blows everything to pieces. 



NOTES

– I don't even know what to say about Johnny these days. I miss when he was the house mascot. Yay for Manny Montana getting some juicy storylines though! 

– Charlie has great taste in music, you guys. 

– Mike's hair is about as unhinged as he is these days, isn't it? 

 So I guess we're gearing up for another season of Mike vs. Briggs, assuming Graceland gets renewed for Season 3. 

 How do you think the baby plotline is going to play out? How do you want it to go? 


  • Comments (16)
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  • KateSullivan Aug 21, 2014

    I imagine we are either going to have a miscarriage story (after all it seems clear in the next three episodes, she is going to a) learn about Briggs and/or b) try and rob a bank using explosives. Neither seem likely to a healthy early term pregnancy. Or whether she wants to have this man's baby at all.

    I totally agree with you on Johnny...omigoodness. Like this is how bad I think his situation was in, I was glad he had Jakes there.

    So, I don't entirely understand the phone tree issues that led to the police raid, or more particularly the point of keeping Mike out of the loop. Like, Johnny tells Jakes about Carlos going off on Carlito for some reason. Then Paul and Jakes have a conversation about Charlie, wouldn't a hey, Jakes, I told Sid about the girls...really, okay Paul, Johnny just told me.... Then Jakes can tell Johnny and he won't call Mike (as he was supposed to given Mike is technically in charge) to verify.

  • nasedoofantar Aug 21, 2014

    Why did the LAPD's tactical vests says "Anti-Crime Unit"? Isn't every police unit, task force, squad, and department anti-crime?

    And what was Paige's plan for the FBI's tactical team when they saw LAPD going in? The cops were already in the building when the FBI was suiting up. Then she give some orders and has them stand back when the girls come out while she goes in alone. Hers and Biggs's plan was for Solano to find out what his son's been up to so he'd reconsider the planes by telling Markham, so they didn't expect Markham to take down the slave den and ensure every bad guy wound up dead? Briggs usually plays things fast & loose, but come on, they could have set up some dummy slave den with cameras to catch Markham & his men killing the bad guys unnecessarily.

  • MarkDodge0 Aug 21, 2014

    I think Mike should have made Markham say something to incriminate himself in front of Paige.

  • nanobyte55 Aug 21, 2014

    Maybe if these guys all stopped lying to each other and started playing on the same team, they would be better at getting results...

  • ZeroCals Aug 21, 2014

    This. This SO MUCH.

    It's hard to care about any of the characters, as a group of housemates, when they're constantly lying and deceiving one another. I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if the show aired an episode or two where we're shown that these people actually care for/like one another, even on the most basic of levels (as friends, co-workers, or roommates).

    Instead, we're given storylines about Briggs and Charlie hooking up, Mike and Paige hooking up, Jonny and cartel boss's daughter hooking up, and DJ and random hooker hooking up.

    That's definitely going to make me care about all the lying, betrayal, and immoral stuff going on between everyone. *massive eyeroll*

  • peterspoor33 Aug 21, 2014

    Well not completely true, I think Jakes and Briggs are completely honest with each other, Jakes is aware Briggs killed Juan which in my book is huge.

    There was also a semi-confession that Paige and Briggs colluded and blew up Mike's plan to sit on the warehouse and even a forgiveness of sorts from Paige for the death of Lena and the guilt that she suspects Mike is carrying.

    I think this show does wonderfully with characters carrying the weight and regret of shitty situations, in the first season I loved the strange duality between Charlie and her junkie C.I. who she cared about and also used. Mike deceiving Belo into killing his loyal lieutenant and then cleaning spaghetti night pots & pans or Briggs getting Charlie over junk sickness.

    Show could almost be an examination of what crossed lines some could forgive and others can't. The grey murkiness of this show hooks me week after week and season two started so optimistically, what happened to a couple of weeks of surfing after taking out the cartel assassins sent to kill Mike's cover? That would of been a short season of two episodes :-) thankfully stuff's got to get complicated.

  • nanobyte55 Aug 22, 2014

    "...even a forgiveness of sorts from Paige for the death of Lena and the guilt that she suspects Mike is carrying."

    That was not forgiveness. That was a ploy. She knew that the only reason Mike was staying in the that shit hole is because Paige was angry at him and he was trying the heal his own guilty conscience. Paige knew that too and just told him what he wanted to hear so he would leave.

  • peterspoor33 Aug 22, 2014

    Yeah I knew Paige's first priority was freeing the sex slaves but then she went in alone to get Mike, afterwards she found the cremator 3000 or whatever but I guess we got to wait till next episode to see how it's gonna play out.

  • majd333 Aug 21, 2014

    Graceland really stepped up this episode.
    it was amazing with a lot of suspense and thrill, i really hope it gets renewed for season 3 i love this show. (also really glad the reviews are back)

  • peterspoor33 Aug 21, 2014

    RIP Lena,.... may you be mule-ing cocaine to that great fiesta in the sky.

  • safibwana Aug 21, 2014

    Men do not cry in bathrooms. We play games on our phones.

  • peterspoor33 Aug 21, 2014

    or we menacingly carve up roast pigs while making vague threats .... or kneel on raw corn kernels and make vague threats

    no I don't believe they're aliens or cyborgs, just the sons of bitches who cause other people grief with their power trips and insecurities.

  • ZeroCals Aug 21, 2014

    I feel like the show is trying to portray a "do the ends justify the means?" scenario for most of the characters; however, the writers are doing a shit job, because most of the characters have, in my opinion, stepped waaaaaaaay over any and all moral/ethical lines, making it harder and harder to relate, or even like, most of them.


  • safibwana Aug 21, 2014

    Funny, I was just thinking how there is a taste of that but it would be interesting if they went full on Blake's 7.

  • ZeroCals Aug 21, 2014

    I had to look Blake's 7 up, because it's a bit before my time; however, the premise sounds interesting. I think I'll check the show out.

  • safibwana Aug 21, 2014

    Mine too, I caught it streaming a couple years ago.