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Moment of Goodness

Graceland Moment of Goodness: Briggs Shoulders More Guilt in “Connect” 

While I certainly feel like there were parts of this week’s episode that were rushed or not quite fully developed, there was one scene so well written, so well acted and so nuanced that I couldn’t let it fall by the wayside.

Photo Credit: James Minchin III/USA Network
Photo Credit: James Minchin III/USA Network

With only two episodes under our belt this season, it’s obvious that Charlie is having a tough time reconciling herself with what went down last season. She doubted Briggs, she befriended Jangles (unknowingly, of course) and in the end, she nearly got both herself and Briggs killed. After all this, it’s no wonder that she’s having trouble trusting herself and getting her feet back under her. Agent or not, you don’t just shake that kind of thing off. As we saw last week, she’s turned her focus to the family of Juan Badillo to remind her of all her misgivings and ultimately punish herself. (Quick recap: Juan was the FBI agent who was investigating Briggs and went undercover as Jangles to confront Briggs and try to get a confession. Drunk, Briggs accidentally killed Badillo, buried him in the forest and then pinned the murder on Jangles by placing Badillo’s key on Jangle’s keychain). During a tense welcome-home/glad-you-didn’t-get-yourself-killed rendezvous at the tattoo parlor, Charlie reveals to Briggs that she’s been keeping eyes on Juan’s widow and daughter, which for obvious reasons unnerves  Briggs. After talking to Jakes and realizing that he needs to get to the bottom of this, Briggs crashes one of Charlie’s stakeouts in the hopes of finding out what she knows, why she’s digging and whether the fact that he’s the one who buried Badillo in the desert is about to be exposed. Little does he suspect that her motives are more personal than professional.

Briggs: What are you doing, Chuckie? What’s this about? Charlie: What’s it about? What’s it about? Briggs: Yea Charlie: What’s it always about, Paul? Guilt. She’s got a kid. A daughter. Nine years old. Someone is responsible for that man’s death. For making her a widow and making that kid fatherless. Briggs: Yea. And we both know who that is, don’t we? And he killed Juan Badillo and he left those two alone without even a body to bury. Charlie: Jangles. Cortez. Whatever his name was, he didn’t kill Juan….I did. Briggs: You? Charlie: I sat next to that Federale for weeks without a god damn clue that he might’ve been something else. Because I was so caught up with making you the villain. Briggs: Chuck, please don’t do this. Charlie: There’s nothing else to do, Paul. I let a psychopath destroy that family… just, it just feels like everything I touch turns straight to shit. Briggs: That’s not true. Charlie, you’ve got to think about what we do for a living, people get hurt. They do. I mean, we do our best, but people get hurt. Charlie: People stay hurt. It doesn’t get better. She’s drinking again. Juan helped her sober up ten years ago and now she’s back at it. She’s a mess. The kids a mess. I’m a mess. I can’t pull it together. Briggs: Charlie, listen to me, okay. As your friend, you gotta let this go. It’s gonna tear you down, trust me, I know.

I absolutely loved the way this scene played out. The fact that Briggs was in a similar situation after the first Graceland fire. The irony of Charlie placing the guilt on herself when the actual killer is right next to her. And let’s not ignore that she claims to have let “a psychopath destroy that family”…sure, in her mind, she was referring to Jangles, but this statement clearly hit Briggs right in the gut. Furthermore, I thought it was phenomenal how Briggs never once actually said that Jangles did it. He kept it to “we know who did it” and “he killed Juan”…obviously pointing Charlie in the direction of Jangles, but without knowing what she really knows, also covering his tracks.

Photo Credit: James Minchin III
Photo Credit: James Minchin III/USA Network

On top of that, the layers of guilt continue to build. Obviously Briggs feels guilty for killing Badillo, Charlie feels guilty for thinking it was her fault Jangles killed Badillo and now Briggs is left to feel guilty that Charlie feels responsible. But let’s be honest, what can he really do? Should he Charlie the truth, which would alleviate her guilt but send her spiraling in another direction because it was actually Briggs? Or does he let Charlie continue to beat herself up while knowing that it wasn’t her fault? I think this question will continue to haunt him for the rest of the season, but for now, I love the path he chose to take.

Reassuring Charlie that it wasn’t her fault can only do so much, especially as she continues to watch Juan’s widow fall off the wagon. So in an effort to help Charlie, the widow and possible himself, he takes matters in to his own hands. That scene in the liquor store was another one of my favorites this episode. The way he approaches her and identifies with her is both comforting and chilling. And the way they relate and have such an easy banter in the diner with him being both honest and revealing but also completely hiding who he really is made for such a profound incongruity. But that being said, will alleviating Charlie’s guilt really help alleviate his own? Or will interacting with Juan’s widow force him to face what it did and ultimately make it worse?  I’m hoping for the former and that this can be a way for him to help repent and reconcile for the accident on the beach.

That being said, I don’t know what kind of shit will hit the fan if Charlie finds out that he’s befriended Juan’s widow…obviously that will lead to a whole slew of questions…but knowing Briggs, he will probably find a way to smooth it over. Last season Briggs was all about personal vengeance, but so far this season, he really seems to be doing everything for the good of everyone else. Meeting with the Caza leader to help protect Mike. Putting himself out there and having to face what he did to Juan in order to help Charlie. And I have a feeling he’ll be the one that Jakes leans on as his new world comes crumbling down around him. So while I’ve never seen Briggs as a “bad guy”, even in his darkest moments, I really think he’s continually trying to improve himself and I fear that again, it will be hard for people to recognize that once the truth comes out. Nevertheless, the episode carried a lot of guilt and a lot of secrecy, neither of which are foreign to these characters.  But as the truth gets buried deeper and the layers start piling higher, I can only imagine that the strain of carrying such weight will become more difficult for everyone involved. And that, my fellow Gracelanders, is what makes this show so intriguing.

Graceland airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on USA.

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