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Graceland – 1.02 ‘Guadalajara Dog’ – Recap & Review

‘Killing Three Birds with One Stone'

Today we’re going to talk about Graceland episode 1x02: Guadalajara Dog. It was written by Jeff Eastin and directed by Russell Lee Fine, just last week’s installment. While I’m not in love just yet, I might be in lust because my girl crush Serinda Swan made her first appearance in this episode as Paige Arkin.

We open a little over two weeks later after the events of the pilot with Briggs and Mike talking about how to craft a cover. Briggs essentially tells Mike that less is more and vague is good. They happen to bump into Johnny who is of course flirting with pretty girls (I have a feeling that’s going to be his thing). Briggs is up for Hector’s. Mike doesn’t know what Hector’s is but he’s about to find out.

So just what is Hector’s? Hector’s is apparently a food truck that specializes in tacos. While the three fellas are ordering their tacos a teenage boy steals some chips. The owner confronts the boy but gets met with a punch to the face for his efforts and Mikes takes off running after the chips thief. Briggs sends Johnny after Mike. Johnny stops Mike from chasing the guy and Briggs catches up to the two of them a scolding ensues. Mike thinks he’s in the right because he was just following the FBI field manual. But that manual is not for deep cover agents. We get another your 'cover is all you have don’t burn it' speech and Briggs adds especially not near Graceland and definitely don’t ever burn Hector’s.

After that we are granted access into the daily grind of Mike’s life so far. He wakes up at 6 am on the dot. He doesn’t even hit the snooze button or anything. He makes his bed, works on his grip, practices his Spanish and goes for a run. On this particular run he sees the dog that ate his flip flops in the pilot (BTW, where is that dang dog’s owner?) and Charlie seemingly doing a walk of shame.

Mike returns home from his run only to be met by a ribbing from Jakes about nearly burning Hector’s. Briggs is being all Papa Bear and making pancakes for his cubs. Briggs jokes about Charlie’s frequent walks of shame and Charlie makes it clear that it just her paying the price of cultivating a new CI. Johnny busts in with some fresh produce which happens to be durian fruit and cuts himself off a piece. Charlie muses about the smell which she doesn’t appreciate.

During mail call we learn that Briggs and Mike have to do psychological evaluations because of the Russian shootings. Briggs blows it off but tells Mike to go but only after Charlie makes a big deal stink about it. Also, the top brass want Mike in on one of Briggs’s cases. That does not please Briggs AT ALL and prompts him to haul Mike off for a private little chat. Mike knows all of Briggs cases and gets shut down on all fronts due to his greenness.
We get to spend a little with Jakes and I mean a little. His bird bust is literally just that. Or so it seems. There aren’t a hundred birds and there only like two of golden-shouldered parrots which definitely was not the amount that he asked for. But there is a strange crate. The guys who are selling the birds to him get spooked and lock him into the van. Jakes calls in back up to get him out of the locked van. They open the crate and discover a case of ‘cop killer bullets’. Hey, at least something panned out for Jakes.

Next we catch a glimpse of Lauren who is reluctantly pulling out of her Russian cover. Briggs tells her that it’s official Danny is not coming back and she needs to let him go. She asks Briggs if he would let it go and he says of course not but don’t follow his lead because he’s a cautionary tale. You know Lauren is not going to really let this go but they had to make sure we knew this by having her put Danny’s picture back up after Briggs took it off her case board.

This is followed by Mike going in for psychological evaluation. He wanders into the building and sees the office atmosphere and it seems as though he is pining for this type of work environment instead of deep cover. He is greeted by his shrink’s secretary and makes note of the name on the door. He greets his shrink and notices a book about the history of the FBI and its directors. The shrinks knows it what Mike aspires to be and wants to know why. He gives a sticky sweet answer and some background information about Mike is revealed. The shrink starts to ask questions about Briggs and the shooting and then Mike connects the dots. This guy isn’t a shrink at. This Juan Badillo is actually the Control Officer for the investigation into Briggs. He wants Mike to get close to Briggs. Mikes knows it won’t be easy.

Mike decides to ask Charlie for some advice. Charlie tells him that Briggs likes self-starters and to take some imitative. But that advice did not come free. She wrangles Mike into helping her make a drop to Paige. This leads us to an introduction the undercover closet. Jakes come into the undercover closet and laments about his day. The bullets catch Mike’s eye and you can see the wheels turning.

Charlie looks really hot in a red dress when they arrive at the karaoke bar and I can see why she wanted some back up indeed. She makes Mike mark his territory by grabbing her butt. We spot the elusive Paige finally and she is singing ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ by Little Richard as Charlie give Mike the scoop about Paige’s case. She is under cover as a girlfriend to this Asian gangster named Bobby and Bobby has his hands in a lot of things. Mike is obviously smitten with Paige (me too buddy, me too). Paige spots Charlie and the three of them go off to the bathroom. They discuss the complexity of being a female agent on a deep cover assignment and Mike ponders out loud if Paige’s agency expects her to sleep with the guy. Charlie crushes up a birth control pill and explains that this will make sure Bobby doesn’t get it up. Mike is left bewildered and alone in the women’s bathroom.

Meanwhile, back at Graceland Briggs and Johnny are discussing the Bello case and right on cue Mike comes barging in to pitch his idea. Briggs declines the offer at first but then tells Mike he’ll think about it. Briggs heads downstairs and finds Paige is home and they discuss her case and how bad she wants Bobby to go down. Briggs offers his help and then tells Mike that he’ll take him on his offer but makes him ask Jakes for the bullets. An eager Mike bounces into Jakes’ room. He gets shoot down the first time but manages to barter with Jakes for two turns on the wheel chore for the bullets.

The sting comes to fruition quickly and we see Johnny taking point on running the operation. Mike looks perfect for the part of the young marine and Briggs agrees with me. He also agrees with me on the point that Mike should never do accents again, EVER (yes, your first name is Michael but your last name is not Westin). Mike wonders what the signal should be and Johnny gives them one that is not very professional at all. They sting once again has only audio and no sight lines. Briggs and Mike meet up with Eddie to try out the merchandise. Eddie calls for the bears and I get a Game of Thrones flashback. But no worries, they’re Teddy Bears with Kevlar vests on. In the process of trying out the merchandise not one of the bad guys can hit their target. This does not please Eddie. Briggs tells them that they have to get use to the recoil. Mike basically tells them that just plain suck at marksmanship with the new ammo and decides to show them how it’s done. He misses the first time but that was the only time he missed. He impresses everyone with his marksmanship, even Briggs and the deal is sealed.

Later that night the gang gathers round they ye old campfire to listen to Johnny retell the tale of Merciless Mike. Just when everything was going well, Briggs asks Mike about his psychological evaluation. Charlie comes to his defense but Mike brushes it off and tries to spin a tale of his own. But he is a terrible liar (he does the classic look up and to the left tell). Briggs sees the lie and Charlie is side eying both of them. Briggs offers to get everyone another round but Mike declines because they’ve got a big day tomorrow.

The bug day arrives and the exchange between Briggs and Eddie goes smoothly. Mike asks Briggs about the tracker and Briggs replies there is no tracker. Mike is confused. This was not his design, err… I mean plan. Briggs tells him they’re using HIS plan and to relax. But you just know uptight Mike will not relax. They get in his Bronco and drive to get a hot dog. On that we learn that in all of Guadalajara there is no sour cream to be found and it perplexes him that his favorite hot dog that consists of tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and sour cream are called Guadalajara dogs. This does not amuse Mike. It downright irritates him when Briggs sends him to fetch said hot dog. He sulks away and makes a phone call to Juan Badillo to drop a dime. Badillo is not in. Mike cuts in line and grabs the hot dogs. He is still on edge and Briggs asks him if knows what a heat run is. Of course, Mike knows what a heat run is. Briggs was one step ahead of Eddie because Eddie uses the exact same heat run every time. He even has it down to the second of when Eddie should be crossing their exact path. Eddie is late which makes Briggs a little nervous but then Eddie shows up and promptly gets robbed by Bobby’s crew. Mike wants to arrest Bobby’s crew at least and Briggs says no, they’re going to buy the bullets back.

Briggs and Mike head over to Bobby’s place of business to buy back the bullets. They make a little small talk and then it is right down to business. After the money is exchanged a FBI tactical team busts in and arrests everyone. After they are released from their ‘arrest’ Briggs confronts Mike about the phone call he made at the hot dog stand and his suspicions about Mike not trusting him. Then he explains that with his plan he killed three birds with one stone:
1. Jakes didn’t lose his bullets and Mike has to do his rounds on the chore wheel for two weeks
2. Paige got to close her case on Bobby
3. Briggs gets to get in deeper with Bello (it’s not his fault Eddie got robbed)

Bonus Points: Briggs got to show the top brass he was willing to read Mike in on a case as well as school Mike on he works and to trust his judgment and plans and to top all of that of they brought the FBI half a million dollars to add to the pot.

He tells Mike that’s a good day and to revel in it because not all days will be good days. He even swipes a few bucks from the bust and takes the tactical team out for drinks.

Mike and Badillo catch up and Mike tells him about what almost went wrong with the bust. He laments that Briggs is three steps ahead of everyone. Badillo assures Mike that he can beat Briggs at his own game, just as Badillo says that Mike gets a text from Briggs that he wants to meet in an hour.

Cut to Briggs and Mike meeting Bello in a creep warehouse late at night and suddenly we hear that familiar cocking of a gun. Briggs demands to know who Mike has been talking to. Fade to black.

That’s where the story ends in this week's installment. Up next 1x03: Heat Run. Hey, didn't we just learned what that was in this episode?

Favorite moment of the episode: The look on Briggs’ face when Eddie doesn’t show up right on time.
Favorite line of the episode: Charlie, ‘It’s not a walk of shame. This pathetic thing you see before you is the price of cultivating a CI who likes jager and dub step.’
Favorite Scene of the episode: Paige singing ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ by Little Richard at the karaoke bar.
Favorite agent thus far: Charlie
Favorite reference: Donnie Brasco. Read the book, loved the movie and wished the TV show hadn't come out at the same time as the Sopranos and wasn't on CBS.

Grade: I’ll give this episode a solid B+. While the dialog is a little stiff, the pacing, scoring and cinematography make up for it in my opinion, it definitely has the quintessential feel of a USA show that I’ve come to know and love. We got a little personal background information on Mike. Briggs comes across as a smart and formidable opponent. And of course my sweet Serinda Swan aka Paige Arkin showed up.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my recap. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

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