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USA (ended 2015)

Graceland S01E04: "Pizza Box"

A long time ago on this very planet, two of Charlie's ancestors got together and her great great great great great grandmother Francesca's tomato sauce became their family symbol of love and unity. For Mike, front-row tickets to ex-henchman Eddie's suicide severely altered the symbolism. Mmmmm brains. 

"Pizza Box" was a great—and timely—episode for exploring the way the inhabitants of Graceland interact with one another, and despite the trauma of the last ten minutes, it was a fairly lighthearted chapter in the stories of Charlie, D.J., Paige, and Johnny (though even then, we learned that Johnny's brother got mixed up in some serious gang trouble). Graceland is USA's foray into heavier storytelling, but even generally dark series have to maintain some sort of balance between utterly depressing stories and flashes of lightheartedness or even outright humor (just think about how funny Breaking Bad can be!). Johnny's angst-tinged glee at helping Paige and D.J. take down a pot farmer by posing as a Mexican gangster—complete with hardcore "ink" on his naughty bits—was genuinely enjoyable, and offered a fun-house mirror to Mike's own predicament. 

While Johnny struggled with taking his cover identity to hilarious—and too-far—lengths, Mike faced an inversion of the same problem. Because he was so impressed with Mike's gun-running Marine persona, Bello hired Mike to mentor his men in the art of being a lean, mean, killing machine. The FBI insisted that Mike "fake" teach his charges, because the last thing anyone needs is a small militia of FBI-trained Bello underlings running amok in Southern California armed with all manner of illegal weaponry. 

Unfortunately, fake-teaching anything is a challenge, and that goes double for killin' and triple for killin' under the observation of a mass-murdering psycho. Briggs and Mike determined that the best course of action was to teach Bello's men really, really slowly, with an emphasis on non-lethal skills like cleaning and assembling your probably stolen firearm. Mike's save when Bellow questioned his methods was decent, though I am finding it suspect that Bello's attitude is so casual toward including the newcomer—to the point that he unquestionably pinned the botched bullet deal from "Guajalajara Dog" on his righthand man, Eddie. Yeah, yeah, those two had trust issues beyond Mike and Briggs, but still

Eddie decided to take matters into his own hands, as he seemed to have an idea of who and what Mike really is. Mike, in turn, heat-ran back to Briggs, and rather than flat-out dragging Eddie in and revealing everything, they fanned the flames of Bello's mistrust by implicating him further in the "Guadalajara Dog" bust. It didn't work out well for Eddie at all. Briggs seemed rather desensitized to the trauma, but Mike's dinner was ruined. How rude.

Despite some speed bumps—like runny "tattoo ink" ending up all over the hippie chick's post-sexy-time sheets and tattling on Johnny's FBI pedigree—Johnny ignoring Paige's decision to call the game worked out much better than Mike's mini-catastrophe, so at least we have that win. Yay teamwork! Sort of! 


NOTES

– Okay, kids, let's be honest, how many of the alternate names for marijuana did you know? 

– Yeah, srsly Mikey, no one says "marijuana." 

– "We're not running from the inquisition. We are the inquisition!" Not sure that's something to be proud of, J. 

– While logistically, Mike and Briggs plan to get Eddie off their backs was smart, do you think it was too far? Is this another strike against Briggs as a "hero?"


What'd you think of "Pizza Box"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/17/2015

Season 3 : Episode 13

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Watching the episode over right now, and just noticed that Paige said "soft more" instead of "sophomore". lol, duh.
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The best thing about this ep was the Jake Bug track.
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Great tomato sauce story. Now I want the recipe.
Totally agree that this ep was paced perfectly and hit all the right moods. Funny, dark, violent and light hearted. I would call this the best ep so far.
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Love the show. Great episode. Good writing and good acting.
However so serious for a summer series.
I miss common law which kinda sucked but was funny ( goofy)
For summer series i want action and fun.
This series seems to develop good plots and good writing it would make a good arch over 23 episodes and many seasons though to make it last many seasons would have to survive the end of the spying plot on each others, and find a good story to develop. Avoid the prison break style story that got old after the first season.
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Good episode but I think the pot farm story just showed what a waste of money and manpower the war on drugs is. All to bust a hippie who, conveniently to make her a "really" bad guy, had an armed militia at her call in a pinch. (Mia Kirshner's poor character got more f'd in that episode than all season playing a whore on 'Defiance'). This was all over some kind? Its time to finally listen to the words of Peter Tosh and just Legalize It. 2 states and counting! (Tosh called it marijuana so it can't be that bad;))
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I think the girlfriend (Abbey) is a Briggs plant.
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yeah, what are the odds she's from the same place he's from.
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Was a very intense episode. I think they're on their way to finding the right balance with the funny and the dark.

It'll be interesting to see how they go about doing this season long arc.

But with saying that, I don't like the girlfriend...though that may just be because if I can't have Aaron Tveit, no one else can.
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Gosh dang it, I LOVE THIS SHOW!
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This was definitely a step in the right direction in regards to the show. I hope there are more to follow. I like it when the whole cast gets involved because I just don't think mike and Briggs would be able to pull it off all by their selves. I am still suspicious of the potential girlfriend for mike.
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If I'd have been Johnny, getting the tats would have been more fun than smudging them. At this point, I'm going to refrain from making a comment about Charlie's sauce.
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I'd like to taste her sauce.
I'd wait three days for some of her sauce.
I hope she saved some of her sauce for me, too.

You're right to skip it. It sounds like it would be a good platform, but there's really not much there.
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:( I say marijuana sometimes. What about Mary J? Ugh, I feel lame now.

Zombie, weed, stack, root, reefer, pot, kush, herb, ganj, ganja, Gandhi, dope, chillums, baby.

I know 9 of those for sure; another 2 are maybes. Never heard it referred to as baby, chillums, or stack. Stack sounds more like a band of cash. Zombie and Gandhi are maybes... I think I've heard one or two people use them, but I thought they were just trying to make up their own shit.
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It was always called hashish here, which means weed in Arabic. So that's the closest name for it, I guess.If you smoke it over the age of 21 then there is no real danger, but younger it might destroy the brain cells.That's just the way it is, so legalizing it for adults is the best solution.
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This episode was so intense I'm not sure where to even begin. Okay maybe the last ten minutes had something to do with the way I'm feeling right now. Honestly,starting from the beginning I loved the little backstory on the sauce (I hope Charlie is a good cook; kind of made me wanna try that sauce!) and the group dynamics was very well explored; it was nice to pick up the little pieces of everyone's stories and their interaction. Johnny of course was the most interesting for me this episode because since he's generally such a casual character it was nice to see how he deals with intense situations! Paige, DJ and J really do make a good trio! I didn't actually know all those names for marijuana, some are familiar; lol MIke ;)

As for the main underlying story with Bello; that was....well, something. I mean USA's attempt to try and go deeper certainly is working and I'm glad they balanced it out with something more light-hearted otherwise I'm sure this would be a very hard episode to digest. However I did like the complications implemented and how serious the episode got; it really does say a lot about what real undercover situations an agent can go into and to watch the shock that Mike saw with the suicide will probably be rewarded with a trip to the shrink's office. As for Briggs' I say he handled it the best way he could. He's experienced stuff like this before and he believes the best way to approach something like this is to let the person take it on his own. The short scene with Abby was also really good because it shows that MIke is sincere with his commitments but also acknowledges that he needs time to process the suicide.

Overall great episode, great acting, let's see where this all goes next week!
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Also what is the theme song? Seriously cannot get it out of my head...does anybody know which song it is?
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I enjoyed this episode and agree that it was good to see all the group dynamics further explored. Although it was harsh for anyone to see a suicide like that I'm afraid I don't feel any sympathy at all. Both of those other two guys wouldn't hesitate to kill Mike, so just because he and Briggs turned it around, I don't think it's bad. It is a damn shame that he missed out on some legendary pasta sauce, especially when he skipped 2 meals.....and then had to do loads of washing up!...I'd have been well pissed off!?!
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I think that things got Crazy intense this episode it was the Darkest episode yet also i'm really glad that Lauren is out because i really don't like her
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I pretty much felt the same way you did about the episode. It had a good blend of drama and humor, although the drama (especially at the end) outweighed the humor a little bit. The list of names for marijuana was fun, but seeing Eddie blow his brains out like that was good drama. The look and aftershock on Mike's face and his body expression pretty much said it all. I had no sympathy for Eddie, so I had no problem with Briggs' plan. I still consider him a "dark knight" so to say.
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Mike Love was the primary lyricist for the Beatles. The only song I know about the Beatles is Brian Wilson by Barenaked Ladies. So, now that's in my head. Thanks.
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That's the Beach Boys, silly. d I'm sure you know at least one of their songs. How about good vibrations, surfing usa, I get around?
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I meant that. I got the names of the people right. Bad old boy bands that start with B.
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Fact: In another 30 years, people will be confusing the Backstreet Boys with these two as well.
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