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'Graceland' recap: What are we fighting for?

Season 2 | Episode 6 | “The Unlucky One” | Aired July 23, 2014

The drugs are burned, there’s still no direct evidence against Carlito, and Paige has become one of the Tinker Bells. Mike Warren is having a seriously bad day in episode 6 of Graceland, which is saying a lot since he gets shot at on a daily basis.

The bus bust failed miserably, but Mike finds a sliver of hope in the bus boss man. Instead of handing bus boss man over to the cops, Mike brings him to another fancy criminal’s house (although much less fancy than Graceland) that has been seized by the government, and cuffs him to a chair. Apparently California is just full of empty houses that are commandeered by the government. Mike hopes the bus boss man will help him find the inside leak in the myriad of law enforcement agencies, as well as lead him to the Tinker Bell girls.

Despite the epic fail of the mission, Jess is convinced that she and Mike will be headed back to D.C. as heroes. They stopped the bus lines, but as Mike aptly points out, since they made no arrests, the bad guys are just going to find another way to get the contraband across the border. Jess is nothing but smiles, and invites Mike back to D.C. with her. At this point, Mike still has no idea that Paige is missing. He says he’ll think about Jess’s offer, but it’s pretty obvious his place is in Graceland.

No one seems particularly concerned that neither Jakes nor Paige came home last night, so Mike and Briggs decide to go on a morning surf. A solid half a day after Paige goes missing, Jakes calls from jail to tell the house the story. He got arrested for violating his restraining order and now has no idea where Paige is. Luckily the wire Paige was wearing recorded her last words to Jakes. Briggs and Charlie find Jakes’ car at the bus depot along with a crime scene, due to the real Anika being dead in a toilet. The recording confirms that Paige went undercover in place of Anika, but doesn’t elaborate on where she went.

Graceland - Season 2

Mike asks Briggs to come with him to visit bus boss man, because he is desperate to find where Paige and the girls are and he’s out of other options. Briggs easily accepts the challenge and proceeds to torture boss bus man by holding a towel over his face and pouring vodka on him. Since the bus boss man is an alcoholic, this is pretty much the most gruesome way Briggs could get the information he needs.

Although Mike doesn’t seem to be enjoying the spectacle, he lends a helping hand. One bottle of vodka later, bus boss man gives them a link to the girls. The bus boss man calls up the Tinker Bell house and easily sets up a meet for Mike to pose as a buyer. These human trafficking guys must be pretty trusting to take bus boss man’s recommendation of a buyer—but whatever, if it means getting Paige back, we’ll roll with it.

Paige enters Tinker Bell land to a couple of surprises: Her friend Lena is still there, and the place is not run by psychotic Solano relatives, but by a middle-aged white couple who look like they could as easily be running Congress as a human trafficking ring. There is something very, very wrong with this couple, and their outward appearance of calm and nonchalance makes them even more creepy.

When she first arrives, Paige is asked to take off her clothes for a photo for the girl catalog. Then she is sent to the living room, which is filled with tall, malnourished European girls who seem to have lost any fight that was once in them. Upon seeing Paige, Lena gets excited, hoping that Paige has come to save her. Paige still thinks this is a possibility, as she believes Jakes followed her to the house, but after a few hours in squalor she realizes no one is coming.

A potential buyer is brought in and the girls line up to be considered. To stop the buyer from having interest in Lena, Paige tells Lena to bite the inside of her cheek and then cough blood, which cleverly makes her look sick. The trick scares off the buyer and lands Lena a punishment from the old white dude, who seems to be called Sulla.

The night before Mike is set to go in as the fake buyer, no one in the house can sleep. Jakes stares at a bottle of booze, Mike smashes computers and everyone is on edge. They are not only trying to get Paige back, but also hoping to continue the Solano investigation. It’s a lot of pressure. While Graceland restlessly awaits the morning, Paige and Lena attempt their escape. They make it all the way to the fence before Sulla beats down Paige with a baseball bat.

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Mike slips into the role of a man who would buy a woman for $20,000 a little too easily, and waltzes up to Sulla’s car to be blindfolded and taken to the Tinker Bells. When he sees Paige, she thinks there’s a take-down team ready to shut the place down, but Mike has other ideas. Mike tells Sulla he wants Paige, then takes her into another room for a chat. Since the cameras are on, Paige and Mike do the dance of a girl being sold to a man as they chat.

Paige wants Mike to leave her and take out Lena instead, but he isn’t having that. She wants him to shut down the whole place, but he’s not doing that either. This gets him a slap in the face, which amuses Sulla. Mike takes Paige back to the truck and explains that he has to keep the place running to get to Solano. The look on Paige’s face when she realizes that Mike has no intention of getting Lena out for the time being completely negates any look of love or longing that she has ever given him.

Paige is distraught not just from her brief time in the sex trade, but because she has lost sight of what these agencies are really doing for people. In a moment of emotional vulnerability that we don’t usually catch from Jakes, he brings Paige a broken wind-up ballerina to remind her of Lena.

Breaking down and letting go of her rage, Paige finally raises the question that has been coursing through Graceland from the beginning: “If we’re not fighting for Lena, then who are we fighting for?” Is leaving those girls to potentially be sold off really in the interest of the greater good? It’s true that the girls are Mike’s last remaining link to the whole Solano conspiracy, but what gives him the right to condemn these girls in hope of a bigger gain in the end? Everyone’s intentions are changing, and while Mike may have left D.C., he still has the D.C. mentality of going for the big guns.

Graceland - Season 2

Just a few hours after Mike releases the bus boss man from his custody, Mike gets the call that bus boss man is dead. He was decapitated in his living room, which is definitely something Carlito Solano would find amusing. On the crime scene, Mike runs into a shady guy from the LAPD gang task force. The LAPD man is in a gray suit with a disheveled shirt and equally disheveled hair.

Mike’s perfectly toned bod and angelic hair is obviously taken aback by this man; he immediately assumes that the LAPD guy is the leak. It would make logistical, if not moral, sense, for the gang unit to be the one that is corrupt. But could it really be that easy for Mike to find the mole? We need more evidence than an unpressed suit to be convinced that this guy is evil. With Jess on her way back to D.C. and Paige basically not speaking to him, Mike is running low on blond distractions and will hopefully get to the bottom of this Solano thing fast.

Graceland is usually wrought with emotion, but the panic over Paige’s disappearance lacked urgency. Yes, there was laptop smashing and yelling, but the emotion never left the screen. Contrastingly, Serinda Swan’s performance in this episode was flawless. The pain on her face when she saw those girls made the entire episode worthwhile. This is a completely different side of Paige than we’ve seen in the past, and it was great to see Serinda be given more range.

In season 1, we were constantly on the edge of our seats, thinking that at any moment someone we love could die. That was what made Graceland so enthralling. Without any internal conflict in the house or big curveballs in the cases, Graceland is morphing into purely a cop drama. “The Unlucky One,” while a decent episode plot-wise, left us wanting a cool drink at the Drop and some Charlie one-liners. This year, with all of the house members on the “good side,” the cliffhangers have been uninspired. We’re halfway through the season now, which is when Odin popped up last season, so hopefully there’s a big twist coming our way.

Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10/9C on USA.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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