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'Graceland' recap: Goat meat, anyone?

Season 2 | Episode 2 | “Connects” | Aired June 18, 2014

With the season premiere behind us, Graceland season 2 is quickly becoming an emotional, plot-heavy bonanza. “Connects” jumps right past the pleasant surf-establishing episodes we had in the beginning of season 1, and gets straight to the incredibly confusing task of taking down huge drug organizations. When, oh when, do we get to go for margaritas at The Drop?

After years of chasing Caza to no avail, the bus bust boys give Briggs an opportunity to make contact with Caza. It would benefit Caza for the FBI to take down the bus boys since they are in direct competition. Besides, no self-respecting drug cartel would allow people to impersonate their assassins. With a deal in mind, Briggs hightails it to Mexico to meet with the people who locked him up, forced him to shoot heroine, and burned all of his friends up in a house fire.

Naturally, Briggs is happy-go-lucky about the situation — anything for the job — but asks Mike not to tell Charlie. Why should you tell the girl you’re sleeping with that you’re about to hand yourself over to sociopathic drug lords? It’s pretty hard to conceal someone’s disappearance to Mexico, and Charlie easily figures it out and flips out at Mike. It is ridiculous that Mike let Briggs go to Mexico, but Charlie is delusional if she thinks he went down there just to help Mike. The lure of finally getting face time with Caza is what drew Briggs to Mexico.

Down in the Mexican dessert, Briggs is passed off from one car without air-conditioning to another, working up a nice sweat on his way to meet Caza. Alone in the heat, he finds a house being guarded by an unassuming goat wearing a cowbell. As Briggs contemplates whether the goat is hiding any sensitive information, a car (this one with air-conditioning) pulls up, and Alfredo Armas (Benito Martinez) the head of the Caza cartel, steps out. After sacrificing the goat, Armas and Briggs sit down with a cigar and some roasted goat to discuss business. Armas is willing to help Briggs find the bus boys, and wants the FBI to continue to investigate Caza to keep from alerting the bus boys that the Feds are on to them. Easy. Too easy? Something else is definitely up here. Briggs heads back to California unscathed by Caza, to await Armas’ envelope with the bus info.

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Back at Graceland, Johnny figures out that Jakes is moving out, and Jakes finally comes clean to Johnny about his son. Remember when Paige said there are no secrets in Graceland? Yeah, that’s not even a little bit true. Jakes moves into his new apartment and decks out what he hopes will be his son Daniel’s room in classic little-boy décor. He heads over to his baby mama Cassandra’s (Ciera Payton) place, hoping to work out visitation rights, but is met with a nasty surprise: Cassandra’s boyfriend Derek (Raheem Babalola) and a restraining order. Jakes is unceremoniously thrown down, handcuffed and dragged away from Cassandra and Daniel. He left his undercover assignment for a desk job, left his friends and PUT ON A SUIT, but still Cassandra wants nothing to do with him.

Rounding out the house drama is Paige, who will not give up her current DEA mission to help Mike with the buses. After a few batted eyelashes, Mike caves and agrees to help Paige finish up her assignment. The result: Paige wearing scandalously sexy “undercover” outfits and catching the eyes of not only the guys she is trying to lock up, but Mike and Zelanski. She is trying to bust some guys for sale of illegal chemicals or something. Whatever — the point is, she looks hot doing it. Paige easily take down the bad guys, and as Mike is cuffing her, he gets a call from Jess back in D.C. Jess has news of an envelope from Caza, and they now have a location for the bus boys.

Graceland - Season 2

Briggs’ and Charlie’s post-Mexico reunion is not a towel-dropping affair. Instead, Charlie reveals to Briggs why she’s been so uptight and going out at night: She’s going to stalk the Badillos. The only person who knows Briggs killed Juan is Jakes, but when Briggs turns to Jakes for advice, Jakes throws him out. In an effort to find out how much Charlie knows, Briggs follows her to the Badillos’ house. Sitting next to the man who actually killed Juan, Charlie feels guilty because she didn’t realize her Federale friend (who didn’t kill Juan) was Jangles sooner. Here’s where Briggs could come clean to Charlie and actually have an honest relationship with her, but this is Paul Briggs we’re talking about.

Instead of honesty, Briggs opts for subterfuge, and takes on the stalking mission himself. Nothing good can come of Charlie or Briggs following the Badillos. Briggs has messed up their lives enough. It would be much better for all concerned if he just left Mrs. Badillo and her daughter alone. Since Graceland is a television program, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so Briggs follows recently off-the-wagon Mrs. Badillo (Brianna Brown) into a liquor store, where she is contemplating a purchase.

Using complex AA tactics, Briggs convinces Mrs. Badillo that he’s seen her at meetings and is also recently off the wagon. The encounter prompts Mrs. Badillo to put down the liquor and take Briggs out for coffee instead. Putting Mrs. Badillo on the right path alleviates way more of Briggs’ guilt for killing her husband than it should. Also, that cassette tape with Briggs and Badillo from the murder night is still out there. Those kids from the pawn shop haven’t turned it into the police, but eventually it will find its target.

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Mike’s bus bust team heads over to the address Caza provided to find another goat and a picture of Carlos Solano, Sr. — the alleged man behind whatever is going on with those buses. We still have no idea what the buses are carrying, but that seems to be of less importance than infiltrating Solano’s regime and inherently trusting that Caza is providing correct information. Solano, Sr. is going to be hard to get to, but his son Carlos Solano, Jr. (aka Carlito) is easily swayed by a pretty face — and no one’s face beats Charlie’s.

Johnny and Charlie head to a club where Carlito hangs out, ready to send Charlie under to become Carlito’s new girlfriend. But all the Badillo and Jangles stuff has really screwed with Charlie’s head. She is not ready to go headfirst into the fire, and backs out of the meet with Carlito, leaving Mike without a solid connection to the Solanos and Johnny wondering what’s up with Chuck.

With everyone home from a hard day’s work, Jess calls with an update on the Caza situation and some heavy phone flirting with Mike. While Jessica (the person Mike is currently sleeping with) is telling Mike that he has two weeks before the FBI pulls back on the Caza investigation, Paige saunters by in a towel, which she drops on the floor, blatantly inviting Mike to come and get it. Mike goes to get it right after hanging up with Jess. Jess did make it clear that she and Mike were “just having fun,” but still, it’s a bit too creepy for comfort.

The team is putting a lot of trust in Caza’s intel. It is quite possible that Armas is using the bus boys impersonating Caza as an excuse to send the FBI to fight the Solanos and take down Caza’s competition. The buses could have nothing to do with the Solanos at all. It is just too easy for Briggs to waltz into Mexico and come out with the name of Mike’s would-be killers. If anyone should know this, it’s the Gracelanders: Never trust a drug lord.

Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10/9 C on USA.


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