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Mike Must Decide How Far Is Too Far in Graceland “The Unlucky One” 

What determines if the ends justify the means? I found myself asking that question a lot in this episode and even now, I have no clear answer. A lot of boundaries were pushed and questionable decisions made in order to both save Paige and take down Solano but that being said, I can’t say any of them were wrong or that I wouldn’t do the same. I certainly don’t envy anyone on the team this week, especially Mike. He continually had his back against a wall and every situation he faced seemed to be lose-lose. Sure, he is stubbornly determined to take down the entire Solano cartel, but is that really a bad thing? Depends on who you ask.

Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network

As we saw, if you asked Paige, she would answer with a resounding yes. In her mind, rescuing Lena and the rest of the Ukrainian girls who are currently up for sale is her priority. To leave those girls to suffer for one more day and possibly be sold when they could’ve been rescued is unjustifiable. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand where she’s coming from. Especially being that she suffered through the circumstances herself. She wants to save the ones she can. The ones who are in the midst of it now. Before its too late. As she said to Jakes, if they can’t save innocent people, then what’s the purpose.

Jakes: Paige, I am so so sorry.

Paige: What are we doing? Jakes, if we’re not fighting for her, then who are we fighting for?

Jakes: I don’t know, love, I don’t really know.

But on the flip side, you have Mike, who is willing to leave the girls a little longer in order to take down the whole operation. Granted, these girls may be sold, but in doing so, he may be able to save the hundreds of girls who will be drug mules and sex slaves if this ring isn’t shut down. So who’s more important? The few girls now who are definitely in danger? Or the hundreds of girls in the future who could potentially be in danger? Again, there is no right answer.  Obviously saving these girls is a small win. But it is only cutting off a limb of the monster, which doesn’t put a end to it all. In order to stop the guns, the drugs and the sex trafficking, they have to cut of the head of the beast and that beast is Solano.

Mike: Paige, everything burned, literally. All the evidence burned. Carlito is gone. That place is the last link I have left to the Solano cartel and these guys that are protecting him. A cop or someone tipped off Carlito that we would be there. This thing, this thing is bigger than we ever thought. It’s bigger than those girls, it’s bigger than buses and if I shut that place down, we have nothing. Nothing! Paige, just give me a couple days, I’ve gotta figure out what’s going on here and then I’ll go back in there, I’ll pull Lena out, I’ll shut the whole place down. You’ve got my word, all right?

As I said before, I don’t envy Mike. He’s in a tough position with no right answer. If he saves the girls, Solano could get wind of it and escape, setting up his operation elsewhere. However, if he leaves the girls in an attempt to get to Solano, the girls could be abused or sold and there’s still no guarantee that they’ll get Solano.

Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network

But that wasn’t the only tough call made this episode. With Paige still in danger, Briggs and Mike were willing to do whatever they could to save her. As they were water-boarding Lawrence with vodka, it was obvious that Mike was having doubts, but a quick pep talk from Briggs reminded him that Paige’s life was at stake. So is pouring vodka down the throat of a man who is 16 years sober a worthwhile means? Again, no one can say. The Caza cartel did a similar thing to Briggs when they got him addicted to heroin and look at all the fallout from that. Nevertheless, could they have found Paige another way? Possibly. But could Paige also have died while waiting for them to figure out how to get to her? Absolutely. Like I said, lose lose. And while Paul seemed confident in his decision as it was taking place, it was obvious that it also took a toll on him.

Charlie: How’d you get the meet with the sex-traffic scumbag? Just skip all the bullshit.

Briggs: Mike picked up Lawrence to question him about our insider. He knew where Paige was but he wasn’t talking.

Charlie: So what’d you do to him? [Pause] WHAT DID YOU DO?! Stop playing with my head. Tell me.

Briggs:  We all have a breaking point, Charlie. So I broke him. I poured his demons right down his throat and now we have Paige back.

Charlie: Did you kill him?

Briggs: I hurt him.

It’s clear that in his own mind, the fact that Paige is safe and back home is the only thing justifying the fact that he just potential ruined a man’s life. And he’s not wrong. Paige is safe. But having to remind himself of that doesn’t make it any easier.

Nevertheless, in the end, Lawrence’s sobriety didn’t really matter as Mike was willing to further sacrifice Lawrence for the sake of the mission. Allowing Lawrence to go free and “suggest” that he do so quietly was essentially signing his death warrant. But in doing so, it was also giving Mike the inside connection he needed to find out who was leaking information to Solano. Granted, Lawrence wasn’t exactly on the up and up, but is a man’s life a fair cost for getting one step closer? As I said in the beginning, Mike is fully focused on the end and no on can say if that is either right or wrong. Stopping Solano would mean saving hundreds of girls, stopping the import of loads of drugs and putting an end to a clearly unhinged criminal who will only continue to grow. All good things. But how far is too far when it comes to who must suffer to reach that end?

I love this show so much. And I must give a huge shout out to Serinda Swan for an amazing performance. The scenes between her and Mike in this episode were beyond phenomenal. The look in her eyes when she realized Mike had come to rescue her. Priceless. And then on the turn of a dime, the realization that she couldn’t leave the other girls and again sacrificing her own safety and security for their well-being. I’ve always liked Paige, but this was by far one of her best episodes. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the upcoming episodes. I’d like to believe that all these sacrifices and risks aren’t for naught. But with the intensity of this show, I have a feeling that a lot more turmoil will arise before we see the epic takedown.

Be sure to watch Graceland Wednesday at 10/9c on USA.

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