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USA (ended 2015)

Graceland S01E08: "Bag Man"


Maybe it's the random break Graceland took last week, but did anyone else think that the massive shift in our tale of espionage and surfing seemed kind of... sudden? We puttered along for seven episodes with Briggs' good guy/bad guy status being all ambiguous and fun and BOOM. NO HE'S TOTES A DRUG DEALER OR SOMETHING AND HE EVEN KNOCKED OUT MIKE-THE-BOY-SCOUT TO KEEP HIS SECRET. 

Honestly, right up until the sleeper hold—and beyond—Briggs was being pretty ridiculously shady and obvious this week. Charlie is super suspicious.  DJ is probably suspicious of everybody on principle. Johnny would probably be more suspicious if he wasn't drinking the "family" Kool-Aid, and maybe Paige would be too if she was ever around anymore. But Mike was so oblivious it hurt a little bit.


There was some good in "Bag Man," though, and that smooth switch-a-roo scene with Mike and the bag and the locker was actually kind of great in how it was shot and made everyone look like total badasses—including and especially Mike (for once). Also, while I'm a little bit whiplashed from the haste with which Graceland cranked it up to 11 this week, at least we're moving things along? The show can only get so much mileage out of Ambiguous Briggs, and if we really want to make the argument that he's still more gray than black, I think there's a mound of evidence we can point to (albeit a steadily eroding one). We still don't know what his motives are, whether it's to straight-up make a buck or something weirdly altruistic, like, idk, selling heroin to pay for a comatose mom's hospital bills? And a super-dooper-off-the-books deep cover isn't off the table yet, either. 


One thing is clear, though: The fractures in Graceland's foundation that have been growing all season long are starting to threaten the stability of the house. Mike may've been a dum-dum this week, but Charlie, without a hint of the dreaded "drug problem" story—okay, maybe a hint, seeing as her suspicion is entirely based on what she experienced while getting clean—is on to Briggs, and one conveniently clean closet paired with Johnny's hero worship aren't about to deter her. 

Elsewhere, Mike's closeness to Bello is starting to become more of a hindrance to Briggs' dealings as Odin. Briggs' usual caretaker-of-all role was noticeably reduced this week, as he seemed more interested in being the "bad guy." In the past, his reluctance to blur those lines between his real life, his Graceland life, and his Odin life almost seemed to stem from a desire to protect his housemates, which contributed to that delightful gray area he was so comfy hanging out in for the longest time. But in "Bag Man" he showed an almost frantic drive to unload his stash at any cost. That moment where he appeared to be prepping to shoot up also didn't do much to strengthen his claims of not having a problem anymore—though to be fair, he did admit to slipping up from time to time. 


"Bag Man" also contrasted the lives—both secret and not-so-secret—of Mike and Briggs rather nicely, even though the less we see of Abby, the happier a viewer I am. Both men are stuck balancing these existences built upon lie after lie after lie and for whatever reason, they seem to struggle far more than any of their roommates do. Perhaps their stakes are higher or their lies just got too big too fast or, if we consider the fate of Awful Lauren in the pilot, maybe Mike and Briggs are just a part of that special class of agent who is incapable of successfully separating the cover from reality. Just two weeks ago, DJ encouraged Mike to defy Paige and the others and keep dating Abby for as long as he wanted because it's important to have a real life outside of the game. To be fair to Mike, Abby's insistence that she see his house was starting to become a relationship deal-breaker, and it thrust him into absolute damned-if-he-did, damned-if-he-didn't territory. He probably would have gotten dumped if he didn't bring her home. Now he'll probably get dumped because Abby realizes he lives with a bunch of sketchy gun nuts. It happens.


So, Graceland returned after WTF Hiatus to continue its dark-and-dreary game of cat and mouse with Mike and Briggs. DJ was grumpy, as DJ is. Charlie was smarter than everyone else. Paige was just kind of there. And Johnny got his hopes and dreams crushed for like the third episode in a row. Welcome back!



NOTES

– BUT WHY DID THE UNDERWEAR LADIES HAVE TO DIE?

– "When's the last time a CI told you to watch his stash?" Charlie has a point, Johnny-boo.

– LOL abandoned bank, what? Yeah, those big, uncovered windows are totally not a security concern, B. It was a random location, sure, but a nice change from all the dank warehouses regardless. 

– Did "Bag Man" force you to revise any of your theories?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/17/2015

Season 3 : Episode 13

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To quote from my comment on the previous episodes review, "Sounds to me like somebody's got a Crush on Briggs and can't imagine him actually being the villain on the story...even though, with each passing episode, it's becoming clearer that he is."

Having pulled the is he/isn't he bait and switch a couple of times already, since coming clean after getting busted at the N.A. meeting, the signs that Briggs is indeed the villain the FBI thought he was are impossible to ignore...unless of course one is in love with Daniel Sunjata ;)
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Being an underwear lady in a stash house / stash bank is a risky profession, can't have the lady making hot eyes at "bad" Mike going on a date with him after Abbey gets too possessive or breaks up. That would be the kind of grey area only Briggs could pull off. She had to die to avoid that moral conundrum. :-)

Last time a CI told you to watch their stash? Sloppy Briggs, should of said they'd OD'd on holidays.

Also glad the stash house wasn't a warehouse... on the docks.

Briggs is obviously on his own revenge mission against Jangles and/or the cartel. At anytime he could just give up Mike or the surveillance team to Bello and then just come in after the bloodbath and arrest Bello and be the hero with all the money and drugs to keep. The fact that he sweating so hard to get Mike to save the Casa cartel henchman and keep the operation going shows he's invested in getting to Jangles, as with the money in the locker he can never get to shows that it's personal. As someone below said, end of season is gonna be Jangles snatching Abby and a finally clued in Mike working with reluctantly with Briggs to get her back (ala Keanu forced to rob the bank with Swayze to save Lori theme).
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"Paige was just kind of there."

I disagree. She had the important task of showing Mike what´s what. And telling him about the getting-laid parade.
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Briggs is looking dirtier than a stable full of horse manure but I'm still holding out hopes that he's deep (so deep we can't even see it) undercover.
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Ok in the Orange is the New Black episode that dealt with drug dealing (i'm trying not to spoil) there were also ladies measuring drugs in their undies. Does anyone know why this is done?!
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So that they don't steal any of the drugs while packaging them. Can't say for real life, but other movies have them doing it naked to further avoid this issue.
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Weird. I don't think any of those girls would be dumb enough to try and steal from Bello!
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Being constantly around large amounts of coke or H makes you really really dumb.
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I wonder how you get the job of "underwear drug girl"!
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Very good episode. Briggs handled himself well against Mike, but ended up with two badly broken ribs. Ouch!!! I think Mike made a good point about Jangles though. If Briggs thought that this Odin persona had the slightest chance of getting him Jangles, then he sure as hell would do this without anyone's approval. While I still think Briggs is being Odin because he's still addicted to heroin and looking to cash in more, the Jangles connection does sound like the more plausible alternative. Now whether it's for the FBI or for himself, I have no idea. But it should make for an interesting arc, especially now that Charlie is hot on his trail.

Mike's move with Abby was foolish, but I understand where he's coming from, so I can't fault him much.
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So Briggs being Odin is all so that Briggs can take down the Kaza cartel and get revenge on Jangles.
I'm thinking Abby will be taken by Jangles in an attempt to get to Mike and consequently Bello. She'll either die or suffer horribly at the hands of Jangles. Mike in attempting to avenge her, will cross a lot of lines eventually teaming up with Briggs in his vendetta.
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I didn't get why Mike was so concerned about that dude getting tortured... I mean, consider the dudes line of work... shit happens. If he was so worried about it, he could've just shot the guy when he spit on Bello and put him out of his misery, one less bad guy.

Abby is hot, but pretty pointless. Also, it's not that weird for people to own guns, especially friends who like to go shooting together.

Overall, really enjoying the show, can't wait for next weeks.
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It's weird to have handguns lying all over the place like remote controls.
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This episode actually redeemed Mike for me as a character. I found him really annoying, like really. But seeing him struggle in this episode was good, realistic, he seems to be fitting into this job as the 'super-duper-top-of-the-class-agent' they've been telling us he is. I mean he's doing all the things the others in the house have to do per usual PLUS he super secret undercover job in the house.

Which brings me to my next point, with all the shows blathering about the house being a family (which, I do love, Johnny and Charlie are my favs) and Mike being all 'yeah! Love you guys!' I kind of forgot that this entire time Mike can't see it that way because he wasn't just here to do the same job, he was put in that house to investigate that house. I swear he was about to spill the beans to Paige this episode.
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Also I am 100% positive Abby is part of some organized crime family, sent to get close to and blow all the covers of everyone living at the house. I am full expecting to see an episode in the near future involving Abby holding and shooting a gun like a pro, possibly even at Mike.

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oh how i wish they made abby that exciting. I truly did want to see her be more than what she ended up being.
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Abby is the real Odin
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How do you figure?
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I have watched a lot of TV in my time. Its pretty easy to figure out. She was way to freaked out about the guns. To many questions and wanting to go to the house. Not much history presented to Mike. Many other things about her dont make sense UNLESS she is Odin OR working for him/her
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But Why would Briggs claim to be Odin?
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Also, Briggs' story is a red herring. Actually its the rarest of herrings, the fabled Albino Red Herring
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My theories are revised slightly. I am still convinced Briggs is "good." I think he became Odin to try to get close to the "real" drug dealers (such as the ones Belo was dealing with before Odin). I think it is an over cover mission jut like all the rest albite one that is unapproved. Although I am a little confused why he would risk his "cover" at this point with the house. He has to know they will figure it out at some point.
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I actually like Abby, but that opinion is influenced by her looks more than anything else...
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Oh Johnny, why you so adorable!

From the last ep my theory was that Briggs was doing all this to destroy the cartel because of a woman and this episode did seem to support that theory.

I really hope Juan is not a cartel plant somehow, but I do hope Abby is a plant for someone. Not because it would make sense, but because it would be funny if Abby was like some hardcore deep cover agent to check up on Graceland and she was playing them all all along.

Overall, Graceland is still by far my favorite new show. There is just something about it that works.
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Abby is the real Odin
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This was the best episode to date! (but i revise that every week because it's been getting better and better with each episode). It really was exciting to watch and I can't wait for next week! I feel that this won't be the last time we see Abby (rolls eyes) It didn't look like a goodbye forever kiss that she gave Mike so we'll see her again...maybe end of the season or season 2 (crossing my finger they greenlight a season 2) I really loved everything about the episode and you could really see how much everything that's been going on was getting to Mike even up to when he decided to break the one rule, ONE RULE of the house: no civilians upstairs (idiot). As the show has progressed i've actually liked seeing Mike's changing between his black and white, right and wrong ideals. He's seeing that there is a hell of a lot of gray area when working undercover and I think it's safe to say that he is not the bright-eyed, bushy tailed FBI agent that we saw in the pilot, which I love. Does he still make stupid rookie mistakes? yes, but its all the about the learning process.

I actually wanna see the continuation of Mike being torn down. I think by tearing him down, the writers will be able to build that character back up, stronger, a little more, hard, a little more aware of things, understands the blurred lines that he'll face. We all know that if there is to be a season 2, Mike can't go back east so my question is how much is the season finale going to show us? I know they have to keep us hanging, but they do have to tie up some loose ends in order to satisfy viewers. I would personally like to find out who the hell Jangles really is (i really think its Juan) and i want Briggs and Mike to find out so that Mike can tell Briggs the truth and Briggs will finally get his revenge (i still think Briggs is just really deep undercover trying to get to jangles) and tell the truth as well. With that said, i saw some comments on other posts about the fate of the show.

I too am a little concerned because the show is basically pulling out everything to make this season great, but where do you go from here as a writing staff? What could a season 2 even look like after this crazy ass season 1? I've read someone's post that asked "are they writing themselves into a corner? how long will they let some of these plots drag on?" I don't know I guess we just have to keep watching to find out.
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For me, they're going to have to redeem Briggs to at least some degree if they want to keep the series going. I can't keep watching season after season of him doing such bad things, even if they're in furtherance of a "noble" goal such as getting to Jangles.

I can understand a single-minded fixation on getting to him but it's almost ridiculous how much harm Briggs is doing towards that end. Physically beating his friend and fellow agent is nothing compared to the fact that he's directly put hundreds of kilograms of a highly addictive, life-destroying narcotic on the streets, which would in turn spawn hundreds or even thousands of smaller crimes as those addicts seek funding to continue feeding their habits. If that's not a Pyrrhic victory, I don't know what is.

Hiding those cracked or broken ribs is going to be nearly impossible. Rib injuries can be quite debilitating and they take a very long time to heal. Been there, done that. The other members of the house should be able to spot that within a day or two (but I bet they won't).

Worst part of the episode for me was the probable and of Abby's arc. Sure, you knew she wouldn't last but that doesn't mean I won't miss seeing Jenn Proske's amazing beauty on a semi-regular basis. Wow.

Larger problems aside, this was the series' strongest episode to date. I'm just wondering how or even if they'll ever be able to pull out of this continually darkening downward spiral. Where we are now seemed to arise way too quickly. This is where the show should have been after two or three seasons of much slower reveals, not halfway through its first.

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Wrong show for you then. Someone, probably mostly Briggs will always be doing or enabling bad things in order to achieve good ends. That's the job and the premise of the show. I mean, watch to the season finale so you can see the good that comes from all the bad that happened this season, but then you should probably bail on the series if that sort of thing bugs you.
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But the "good" that arises from whatever Briggs is ultimately trying to accomplish seems unlikely to be better than the massive amount of harm caused by letting all that heroin loose on the streets.

I really don't dislike the show. Maybe part of my problem is that I somehow feel like I've seen all this before, although I can't recall offhand exactly when or where. I also admit to not being a huge fan of Daniel Sunjata for reasons I can't really put into his words. He was my least favorite part of Rescue Me and it seems to have carried over into Graceland as well.

I do think I would be enjoying this more if they had 1) peeled the layers of this onion more slowly and/or 2) designed the show to be a limited-run series with a definite end in mind.
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Hmm, the blank lines between my paragraphs got eaten by the system. The ever-changing ways this site processes text are really something to behold. And the PM facilities are even worse. It mangles text worse than anything else I've ever seen anywhere.
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I still think Abby is Odin
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I think Briggs is working off-the-books undercover to nail the cartel. Which is fine. And I like how every episode gives us another glimpse at Briggs and makes us question what we know. To be honest none of us yet know whether he's a good guy or a bad guy, and that's a difficult balance to keep for a television show. I think this show is about as good as USA produces, and is on par with the best seasons of shows like White Collar or Burn Notice in their prime.
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Wow i'm glad this show is not missing a single step
it just goes from good to great each episode
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I'm actually quite fond of Abby, and I'd say her relationship with Mike is one of the most refreshing "protagonist romances" currently on television. As Paige so frankly reinforced to Mike (and as the writers apparently enjoy reminding we, the viewers), Graceland is an intricate house of lies which generates false identities; however, Mike still felt the need to accentuate that even when coming to grips with the profundity of how Graceland operates, falsehoods run rampant among the residents, themselves. We've already been made privy to that "system," witnessed with Lauren's subplot in the first few episodes, and continuously as of late with Briggs' alter-ego of Odin.

In my view, Mike shines the most on his own as a character when he's with Abby: he's overshadowed by Briggs in terms of talent and strategic thinking, nor does he possess the same commanding presence that Briggs does; Mike doesn't have Charlie or Johnny's "electric" personalities/immeasurable chemistry with the rest of the cast, so the writers can't simply thrust him into any random scene; furthermore, his appearances are nowhere near as seldom as DJ and Paige's are, so the degree of expectations for Mike to gratify the viewers will surely remain more prevalent.

I think the main foible with regard to Mike is that he's practically not "allowed" to succeed, at least not this early into the season (heck, I don't believe Mike will truly have a self-satisfying "win" under his belt until the season finale). In other words, Mike will repeatedly and unknowingly find himself out-maneuvered by Briggs, but because he lacks the same history with Briggs/charisma that characters such as Charlie and Johnny have, he'll probably be stuck in the same position until something gives way.

Charlie continues to dazzle this viewer, as she brilliantly exemplifies the compassionate and attentive, yet tough, "big sis" archetype who also gets along well with everyone without missing a beat. I especially enjoy and appreciate how Vanessa Ferlito can switch Charlie's demeanor from solicitous, to peeved, to jovial, and back whenever it best accommodates the situation. It's a bit arduous to describe (without coming across as a fanatical fanboy), but in almost every scene, Charlie projects this aura of dominance, and I love her for it (she's also ridiculously attractive, which is an added bonus). <3

...

Anyway.

...

Right, so... back the plot... I can't even begin to pinpoint Briggs' end-goal and/or rationale for stealthily peddling drugs, enabling a mobster/drug dealer, obstructing a federal investigation, and generally being a douche by aiding the villains/hindering the good-guys, but I'm guessing there's a lot more underneath the surface. That brief conversation where he asked Mike if he spilled "the secret" was a bit telling. Briggs stated that he had some of his "friends" poke around, but learned that his name hadn't come-up in regard to any inquiries involving his drug addiction.

Does that mean Juan decided to keep the revelation of Briggs' drugs-use hidden? Does it prove Juan really does have an ulterior motive appertaining to Briggs? Was Briggs even telling the truth to Mike when he claimed to sniff around for chatter at the FBI about his personal problem? Is the actual answer a combination of the aforementioned factors? Or, is there some deep, high-level chess game in the works between Briggs and Juan?

Questions, questions everywhere...
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Since Briggs confessed his drug problem to Mike, and told him the story behind it (the Caza Cartel, namely Jangles, turning him into an addict to ruin his career and send a message to the FBI), I've just figured he became Odin to carry out some kind of twisted, personal, revenge plot against Caza/Jangles (getting Bello to switch to him as a supplier has garnered the wrath of Caza, as mentioned during the "interrogation" of that shooter, and it looks like Jangles is going to make an appearance soon... so maybe everything is going according to Brigg's plan, for now).

However, what would be interesting is: Briggs told Mike, during his drug-problem confession, he knew another agent that was deep-undercover with Caza. That got me thinking that maybe THAT agent went rogue, possibly becoming Jangles, and Briggs is on a SUPER deep-cover assignment to get the traitor. I mean, it would explain the lack of action on Mike's handler's part. Plus, after seeing Briggs choke Mike out to maintain his cover as Odin, it would be one of the few ways I could see the writers bringing his character back to the side of the "good guys" (since his supply did kill Charlie's CI and all... not to mention the hostilities he riled up between Bello and Caza ended up getting a bunch of hot, half-naked women killed).
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Another solid episode.
At the moment I'm thinking that the whole Odin thing was invented by Briggs to get revenge on Jangles (assuming the story he told was true) and that's why the money is irrelevant to him. All he cares about is luring him to the US. Does that make him 'dirty'? Not sure.

Surely all Mike had to say to his house-mates was "I'm bringing back Abby tonight, so please be out for 20 minutes." Paige might bitch about it, but she hasn't really got any say over who he's seeing and she's in a completely different agency. I'm sure Briggs has other things to worry about...
I do wonder why they bothered with the characters of DJ and Paige though. I like them both, but they just seem to be glorified extras, DJ didn't even appear for 2 whole episodes! Maybe they'll have an important part to play as things escalate against Briggs?
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Well, and I should preface, I like Mike a lot better than you do, but I do believe Mike sussed out Brigg's true motivation in this whole thing...to find Jangles. Whether it is a sanctioned mission or not is the real question. I still don't know what to make of Juan (I weirdly think he might be Jangles) but I feel like he too is using Mike. While Paige is not there a lot, she is like a useful sister to Mike and I enjoy that we have really fully established a sibling like relationship between him and the ladies of the house, just different. Charlie is clearly almost ready to mother him. But, yeah, poor Johnny, at least Jakes is straight with him. And soon he will likely have Mike as he will be the only person Mike can fully trust.
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I actually liked this episode. I think it was my favorite of the series thus far.

Yes they amped up the show. But I think they did so naturally. The cartel is now involved, and with that comes a new level of violence. And violence from characters like Bello, because you can't show weakness to people like that or they will pounce. But this all came about because of what they have been doing. Especially with Briggs being Odin, he is now the supplier of Bello and that pisses off the cartel. So the violence, though compared to what we have been dealing with was a bit jarring but it seemed like a natural progression.

Now Briggs is Odin, but why? Mike, despite his naiveté, I think nailed it. Briggs is on his own in an undercover op. He became Odin for one single solitary reason, and that reason is to catch Jangles. I think the only way to draw Jangles out was to give the Cartel someone to compete against enough so that they would send someone like Jangles after Odin, and those that buy from Odin. It is all very precarious, because if he is found out, Mike will tell Juan/maybe Jangles and despite it being a good idea it would be killed by the FBI or for real by Jangles and Briggs would be in jail because he did turn into a drug dealer or dead. I think that is the way the writers can make Briggs Odin without making him the bad guy.

Now Mike and Abby, I still think that Abby is a plant. If not then she really was a waste of a character. However did Paige reveal that she kind of has a crush on Mike?

Charlie is right to suspect, she should know more though she is the second most experienced person in there after Briggs. The only problem with all of this is with so many people getting close to the truth. Likely one of them is going to die.

However, that entirely depends on how long they are willing to leave Briggs' intentions ambiguous. If it wraps up at the end of the season, then what? Did they write themselves into a corner? If they don't wrap it up by the end of the season, are they just prolonging a dead story because they have nothing else? I am not sure how they are going to go about it. The only way out I think would be that Juan is Jangles, Mike and Briggs figure it out but have no proof and they team up and plot various ways to out him while continuing the serialized version of the show.

Hopefully it isn't Johnny that dies. How funny was he on the elliptical machine?

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Mike is the one who is supposed to be investigaing Briggs but its Charlie who is actually suspicious of him. If I was Mike I would be going over what happened in that warehouse when they were looking for Odin, Brigggs had disappeared and then he suddenly reappears just as Odin gets away.

I think the biggest question is when and why did Briggs become Odin? Was he motivated by money, looking for a way to find Jangles or is it a really deep cover?
Why have the FBI done nothing about what Mike told them about Briggs drug problem,are they waiting for something bigger or maybeBriggs really is deep undercover and his handler/boss/whoever made it disappear. I still don't trust that agent Mike reports to, is he dirty, does he have a personal grudge against Briggs, is he Jangles?
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