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'Graceland' recap: Cue the dramatic music, but forget the drama

Season 2 | Episode 12 | “Sonadora” | Aired Sept 3, 2014

The penultimate episode of season 2 of Graceland is an hour of conspiring and backstabbing that we could go without. Jakes is over this whole thing, and so are we. The puzzle pieces have been handed to Mike on a silver platter throughout this season, but he has yet to make any arrests. “Sonadora” sets up Graceland for a similarly unsatisfying finale, with very little being resolved and a lot of things going wrong. Mike constantly being thwarted by external circumstances is not intriguing. It’s just annoying. The speculation has been taken out of the show, because the audience and characters know exactly what is going on. The characters just can’t figure out a way to solve it.

Without the conspiracy and tension between Mike and Briggs, season 2 lacks the emotional attachment we felt in season 1. The minor characters have been equally disappointing. Lucia is nice enough, but even her fate is less engaging than the minor characters of season 1. At this point, it’s also fair to say we won’t be going to the Drop this season, and that’s the biggest shame of all.

After the tape debacle at the bank, Briggs comes home to find Charlie standing next to a translucent wall and thinking about her life. She refuses to come out, but talks to him through the wall, calling him out on the enormous amount of lying he has done. The scene takes some weird artsy angles to further accentuate Briggs’s point, but even with the clever camerawork, Charlie refuses to let Briggs in.

Graceland - Season 2

We may not get the Drop, but we do get back to the beach bonfire, finally. Briggs is out of commission, so Johnny is making the fire with far too much lighter fluid. Johnny almost blowing up Jakes when he throws the match on the log pile is definitely the most intense moment of the episode.

It’s a shame it wasn’t accompanied by the sappy drama music that is used through all of Mike’s scenes. At the fire powwow, Mike is confident that Sid is going down. Mike knows that Sid won’t just leave his money with the feds and run. Sid is the type of person to go after revenge. Mike is right, of course, but will his obsession end with Sid behind bars? It’s still too early to tell.

The plane drug transportation system is up and running, and Jakes and Johnny head to the desert to get the money. The plan is to mark the bills so that when Solano pays Sid, they can track the money and arrest Sid. Johnny and Jakes take the marked money down to Mexico to start the rigamarole.

When Carlos takes the drug money from Jakes, he offers Johnny and Jakes their cut from a briefcase on the side table. If Markham is also going to be handed a briefcase, the plan won’t work. Sure, a cop carrying around that much cash is suspicious, but without the marked bills there is no way to connect Markham to Solano.

Johnny tells Solano that he is going to feed the horse, which gives Jakes enough time to stuff some marked bills in the suitcases. He is rudely interrupted by Carlito, who is too off his rocker to realize what is going on. Carlito has become a nonentity in the whole Solano cartel, which is great if you’re thinking in the world of Graceland. He is crazy and should definitely not be in a position of power, but for the viewers, Carlito getting benched is a disappointment. Carlito is a disgusting human being, between the sex trafficking, random killings, and exploitation, but you could never call him uninteresting.

With the marked money all set, Johnny can focus on his next task: getting Lucia out. His plan for this mission is far less complicated than the blacklit money thing. Johnny tells Lucia to meet him at a motel in the morning so they can leave. His idea is that Lucia leaving will coincide with Markham and Solano’s arrest, so everyone is a winner.

Unfortunately, Lucia shows up to the motel with a surprise: Markham’s suitcase of cash. She was trying to help Johnny set up their new life, but instead may have completely ruined it. Mike is headed for a trap—again. Hopefully Johnny will be able to warn him that Sid isn’t getting the marked money.

Graceland - Season 2

Mike thinks he has Sid in the bag, but Sid Markham is not just any dirty cop. As we know from episode 11, he is the Doogie Howser of the LAPD and shouldn’t be underestimated. Mike is called into the office to discuss the bank heist and finds Markham smirking. Markham is suing Mike for unlawful seizure of his assets, which Mike is guilty of, but no one likes to get sued. Even if the money is drug money the Solanos gave to Markham, Mike still needed that search warrant.

Tensions are high when Mike and Sid leave the office, and Mike decides the most rational course of action is to beat up Markham on federal property surrounded by FBI agents. In the scuffle, Markham is able to place a tracker in Mike’s torn blazer. Markham is looking much worse than Mike after the fight, but it doesn’t matter since the tracker was Markham’s endgame.

Markham tracks Mike’s jacket back to Graceland and is baffled, as we all are, by Mike’s gorgeous digs. As undercover agents, the Gracelanders are usually super-careful with photographs. In season 1, Paige even drowned Abbie’s phone to get rid of a picture of Mike. But just like the Drop (if I mention it enough times, maybe my wish will come true and they’ll go there), the Instagram censoring is also a thing of the past.

It takes Markham three seconds to find a photo of all of the Gracelanders together, which completely blows Briggs’ cover. Markham and his team are headed down to Mexico, presumably to meet with Solano. Briggs was originally invited as a friend, but now that Markham knows Briggs’s real allegiance is to Mike Warren, the trip is going to be very different.

Charlie is still trying to find Amber to settle up that portion of the convoluted bank-heist plot. She finds a canister of CO2 in Amber’s warehouse and follows it to a dude who likes playing with action figures. Why this is an important piece of information is unclear, but it will remain here for posterity.

The figurine man has a phone number for Charlie, and after getting a quick sonogram, she is able to set up a meeting with Amber. Charlie is listening to relaxation tapes while driving to meet Amber when the unmarked van in front of her stops. Charlie does not turn around; instead, she waits for the van to continue, and when she starts to follow she is hit by another car. A group of burly men and Amber jump out and pull a bleeding Charlie into the van. So in addition to the whole Markham/Solano thing, we now have to deal with Charlie’s kidnapping and probable loss of the baby in the finale next week too.

Before Charlie goes to meet Amber, she gives Mike the Briggs tape, giving Mike the power to do what he wants with Briggs. Charlie suspects that Juan’s murder was indeed an accident, but the fact that Juan was there at all proves all of Charlie’s worst fears about Briggs. She is now convinced that Briggs is Odin, but she still can’t bring herself to hand him in. Mike is going to have to do that for her. When Mike arrests Sid and Briggs (to keep his cover intact), Mike intends to just keep Briggs in custody.

In other news, Paige is still trying to piece together Lena’s story. Paige catches a break when the airport calls, claiming to have Lena in custody. She heads to the airport to find Lena’s little sister, Irena, in custody with a forged passport. Irena received a letter from Lena saying that she was fine and in Arizona.

Paige believes her for a second, until a specific phrase jumps out at her that was in Lena’s previous letter. Paige now has the evidence she needs to prove Mike covered up Lena’s death. It’s just ridiculous that Mike didn’t tell her the truth in the first place. Lena’s death was really not his fault. Paige/Mike shippers should pretty much give up at this point. That relationship is never coming back.

Everything in “Sonadora” sets the team up for a crazy, messed-up debacle next week. With the way things are looking, questions will not be answered, arrests will not be made, and hearts will definitely be broken on next week’s season finale. After a season of evidence falling into Mike’s lap, he should be a little better at pulling it all together, but a mission like this season just feels like an epic fail.

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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