I didn't want to jump the gun with this one yet, but I think it's safe now to say that Graceland will fall in line with works similar to it (namely The Beast-- Patrick Swayze's last work. Or the movie Breach, which is based on actual events). Which is why the next two episodes will be critical. As of now, Paul hasn't done anything to really make me think he's a nefarious fellow, even after the actions at the end of the episode. That's not to say Daniel Sunjata isn't doing an incredible job-- I think he's perfect, and he plays the role with a necessary fluidity.
He doesn't have the teeth of a charismatic loose cannon. A lot of that has to do with USA's vibe-- and the show feels very USA with blue skies, beaches, mildly witty banter, and the prospect of a steamy romance. A lot of that comes with the mystery of what happened to Paul, and more important what the FBI knows that makes him seem dangerous (yet not dangerous enough to bring in out of the rain). So yeah, the next two episodes will be critical in setting the tone of the story-- and whether it gets a second season. The production quality is there, and Graceland has something that I don't think The Beast and Dark Blue had: a strong ensemble cast. I really am enjoying how fleshed out all the other character have become, even without giving them a long introduction. The team feels organic (although the DEA and her partner's relationship is a bit heavy handed). With the idea of comradery being the focus, it's unlikely that Paul is truly a bad guy, especially because the show won't exist without him. Mike isn't, and will never be, the main character. This was something Sleeper Cell struggled with, but ultimately figured out a way to overcome.
So yeah, the most critical thing now is will Mike come clean with Paul about his mission. My bet is no. Mike still needs to prove to the viewers that he's smart, and coming clean to Paul about it won't give us much faith. If the man crumbles just because of a gun to the head he can't be the super star agent the show wants us to believe. This would also open up a much more interesting game of cat and mouse-- a layer the show definitely needs to kick into high gear. People playing nice just isn't as exciting. Sadly because it's USA, all the aspects that showed edginess in other works of its kind: drug use, senseless violence, and to a lesser extent prostitution won't be appearing here. My bet then lies with the death of one of the characters, and if I had to guess it'll probably be Johnny. He's world savy, yet a jokster. Maybe something of a Mercutio character. And he was the first person on the team Mike met. He's endeared himself the viewer and to Mike. There's an emotional investment growing on the vine, ripe for the picking.
Still it's an enjoyable summer flick, definitely a ride I'm eager to see play out.
I sometimes get overly excited to see actor's I thought were gone have work again, so here's to you Brandon Jay McLaren, you had some bad luck on other shows; let's hope you don't get thrown to the little spider-aliens in this one.
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