Graceland "Heat Run" Review: Snitches Get Stitches

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Graceland S01E03: "Heat Run"

When last we saw Briggs and Mikey, Briggs appeared to be onto Mike's spy shenanigans and had dragged him to a nice witness-free zone to blow his face off for being a rat.

PSYCH!

Eh, okay, it wasn't really that much of a psych. One way or another, we all knew Mike was going to get out of his latest pickle and since we're only a few episodes into the Graceland's debut season, the show probably isn't about to show and tell everything just yet—if it knows what's good for it, anyway.

Last week's big Mike-in-mortal-peril cliffhanger resolved itself in the opening scenes of "Heat Run" pretty fast, with Bello showing up and pointing guns at both Mike and Briggs and accusing them of snitching on his cop-killer shipment. Briggs pulling his gun on Mike was just part of the act—the seasoned veteran accusing the new guy of screwing over his employer. They blabbed their way out of certain death with Mike's freaky intellect leading the way, and then they headed home and Mike had one of those Perks of Being a Secret Agent Wallflower moments with the cathartic screaming from a speeding car and fuzzy-wuzzy feelings for his new BFF.

Unfortunately, those fuzzy feelings got in the way of providing Juan with detailed (read: incriminating) reports about Briggs. There was also the pesky detail of sharing a house with a bunch of other undercover agents who are all probably semi-paranoid about each other on some level anyway, which made it really hard to lock himself up and tap away at his friends-only Livejournal without it looking really obvious. Juan told Mike to sack up and go to a Starbucks. Juan really wants some dirt on Briggs.

I know that this show isn't nearly as clever and sneaky as it thinks that it is, and maybe I'm also just jaded when it comes to this kind of plot, but Juan just seems really bad at not coming off as a crooked agent. For one thing, the only motivation he ever seems to throw out for why Mike should listen to his superiors and get the scoop on Briggs is that Mike wants to go back to Washington. Graceland wasn't his dream job, and since he graduated at the top of his class, Mike damn well deserves his dream job, right? Right, Mike? So if Mike can just do this one thing for the bosses at the Bureau, Mike can totally have that dream job. Mike can have any job he wants. So whaddaya say, Mike?

He made no mention of anything like Briggs being a danger to his housemates or his country. No mention of Briggs possibly betraying the ideals that the FBI theoretically upholds and that Mike himself has repeatedly admitted to believing in wholeheartedly.

Certainly, Mike getting himself sent back to D.C. is one of his top priorities and a huge motivating factor when it comes to giving the Briggs assignment his all—but Mike is also driven by a sincere belief in the law of the land, justice, doing the right thing, and all that heroic B.S., and I think it was that motivation that prompted him to finally demand some real answers from Juan concerning why Briggs is under investigation. For as much as Mike wants to get his way and head back home, I think that Graceland has successfully established that Mike is a team player who's willing to push his own wants aside in order to uphold is oath. If it were to come to his attention, without any doubt, that for some reason his superiors at the FBI have targeted an innocent Briggs for some kind of conspiracy, I don't think he'd go through with it just to get a promotion. But I get the sense from Juan that Mike blindly following orders in order to elevate his own career is exactly what the bosses are counting on.

Juan relented and gave Mike some vague rant about Briggs' lifestyle being too expensive for his paycheck to support. I guess that would raise some red flags, but I'm not personally sold. We already know that Briggs pockets money that he really has no business touching, so I'm sure he totally misappropriates resources. But then we had D.J. handing over a crate full of illegal bullets to Mike in order to get out of doing the dishes, which isn't much better. It seems like both guys are just stealing pens out of the supply closet—albeit incredibly expensive and dangerous pens, and stealing office supplies pales in comparison to what Lauren pulled, which is more akin to... I don't even know. She awful and she crazypants and I can't believe that she only got reassigned, knowing what the DEA thinks that it knows.

Briggs certainly isn't a poor innocent victim in this house—we've seen him make little slights before, and planting the GPS on Lauren's car was a dick move even if his intentions, as he explained them, seemed honorable. He was protecting everyone in the house and Lauren clearly didn't care about anything but getting back to her dopey Donnie. She acted recklessly—and selfishly—and she stooped to some pretty questionable methodology to bring down the Russians... even though getting them all arrested ultimately served a greater good.

And while Briggs forcing her out of the house was also questionable, it too was for the greater good—in this case, that of Graceland's other occupants. My biggest concern with Briggs' actions is that his attitude seemed to imply that he thinks of himself as Graceland's lone line of defense—that he's the only agent who really cares. He said he would do the same thing he did to Lauren to any of the other agents in the house if their actions ever became a threat. The danger Lauren posed to everyone else was obvious and unquestionable, but with the suggestion that Briggs sees himself as the one authority on what is and is not good for the house, you have to wonder if he was truly referring to the whole team, or if he was just talking about himself. In the future, it'll be interesting to see what and who Briggs classifies as "threats" and what his response would be if, somehow, he was deemed to be one.

The feel of this episode reminded me much more of the pilot than last week's second episode did. The tighter writing and a more obvious underlying darkness brought back the premiere's sentiment that Graceland is a USA Network show for a more serious viewer. That is not to say that you can't like White Collar and enjoy this too (I do!), but man, even Charlie's B-story about her efforts to help a drug-addicted informant seek help ended on a total downer.


ADDITIONS TO THE CHORE WHEEL

– The big question of how much actual truth is present in Graceland's "based on a true story" shtick keeps coming up, and I honestly haven't been able to find much on ye olde interwebs with the Google-fu and all that, but here's some insight that was blurb-ed on the jacket of one of the screeners I recently received: "This story was inspired by an actual beachfront property seized by the U.S. Government in 1992. The house—situated in an undisclosed location somewhere in Manhattan Beach, California—operated until 2001 as an undercover residence for Federal Agents of the DEA, FBI, and Customs."

– So I guess Mike has a ladyfriend now. *yawn*

– Have the events of "Heat Run" forced any of you to revise your conspiracy theories?

What'd you think of "Heat Run"?

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