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Two Takes: Graceland “Aha” 

Two Takes: Graceland “Aha”
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network

The Carlito storyline goes away for an episode in order to focus on one thing: bringing down that dirtbag Ari Adamian. What ensues turns out to be a group project — everybody in the Graceland house is in on this. But can Team Briggs get the job done? And who’s going to be the collateral damage? Because you know there will be blood…and a death or two.

Johnny: It sure will be nice to feel like one of the good guys again.

Jakes: This might not be the best way to get justice but these are the cards we’ve been dealt, man. I think we can all agree. Ari Adamian…has got to go.

Tina: Ari Adamian does have to go. But the guy has some serious luck on his side because he’s a tough one to get rid of. Cortney, I know this whole elaborate ruse meets a dramatic version of The Hangover is a bit twisted but it was so much fun to watch play out.

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

Cortney: You took the words right out of my mouth. I wrote the same quote down when I was watching and starred it as a “must discuss with Tina” moment. I totally get where Johnny is coming from, this is some seriously shady and intricate plotting going on here. However, I think that if they succeed, the end definitely justifies the means. This guy is a top-notch scumbag and their world would be better with him behind bars…or six feet under ground. He’s ruthless, unpredictable and despite his appearance, surprisingly smart…or lucky, I still haven’t decided which. That being said, I also find him wildly entertaining. The way he calls Paul “guy” makes me laugh every time.

Tina: Thank you. The whole time I’m watching “Aha” I kept thinking how great this actor (Rhys Coiro) is. He embodies this role. I hate Ari but it’s in a love to hate him kind of way because Coiro’s so good. He delivers the lines — most of them utterly raunchy — so well. He commands attention. One second Ari’s sarcastic and X-rated; the next he’s deadly. He’s this ticking time bomb that will explode at the most inopportune of times. Coiro’s ability to find the comedy in this dramatic world his character’s in is wonderful. One of my favorite lines that doesn’t seem like much but is made awesome by the actor:

Ari: She’s gonna be snuggled up watching The Bachelorette or some s–t.

However, I also have to shell out kudos to the writer of this episode, Jason Ganzel. He crafted a fun, hilarious, scary, twisted non-linear episode. Just when you think Briggs has it all covered, things change. And boy do they change.

Cortney: Yes! Exactly! It’s a terrifying episode, but also an incredibly amusing, entertaining and visually stunning episode. One of my favorite “funny” moments was Johnny dragging Baby Chocolate Jesus Jakes across the dirt in a sheet. Cracked. Me. Up. All of their scenes together felt like gold again this week. And I’m totally on Johnny’s side on this one. Who calls Rock Paper Scissor, RPS?!

And I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I have to give the creative team a shout out because the visual style of this episode was AMAZING. I loved how all the flashbacks were in black and white with the brief flashes of red thanks to the dress, the car, the lipstick and the gas cans…it was a little like watching a Tarantino film and definitely added an interesting spin on the usually vibrant color palate of the show. Also, I can’t go any further without pointing out that this is the first time we’ve seen the whole team work together in a LONG while and I absolutely LOVED it. However, I have to ask, why the finger burning?! Was that part of the plan or was that Paige just throwing in a final bit of flare? Either way, it backfired royally and seriously screwed them over.

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

Tina: Yeah, I’m not sure about the match burning either. Was that just to throw him off? Someone’s going to have to explain that to me. And you mentioned the Baby Jesus Jakes scene — that was one of my Moments of Goodness. The other had to be the Charlie/Mike hotel set-up let’s talk about my dream quest scene. I also loved Johnny and Jakes in the van trying to lure Martun Sarkissian (played by Prison Break and Blacklist actor, Peter Stormare) to the gas station.

There was a ton of irreverent humor in this hour of television and I loved every bit of it. I also felt like the team was a team for the first time since…forever. This show needed an episode like this. I’m enjoying the roommate interactions more this season than last season. And Paige pretending to be Layla — I love how Serinda Swan can manage to look all gorgeous and glamorous in the red dress one second and then transition into badass DEA Agent in the same red dress.

I can keep going but I’ll let you continue from here. Oh wait. There’s one person we haven’t talked a lot about — actually make that two. Poor Colby the Red Shirt. He’s the collateral damage of the episode. And Briggs the puppet master — it’s great how the whole house showed up for him. But he had a lot to do and not much could go wrong. We all know what happened there. Okay now you can continue…

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

Cortney: Not much could go wrong?! Haha! That’s the understatement of the season. Let’s start with Briggs. How he manages to get himself in to all these situations continually boggles my mind. I mean, granted, this time he kind of set it up, but there is only so much you can anticipate. And yet, when s–t hits the fan, he manages to stay calm as a cucumber. For the most part. Like when Martun turned on him and had him on the ground with a gun to his head, he seemed like it was all a part of the plan. Yes, I know that he’s a trained agent, but still, that has to get your heartbeat up a little, right?! And even when Ari turned on him, totally chill, like he knew it’d all work out. Until he saw Colby. Poor poor Colby.

But real quick, before we get to Colby, I have to call out Charlie for something. You know I am a big Charlie fan, but when she suddenly went all panicky and started chasing Paul’s car across the parking lot in her maid’s uniform while waving a gun, I was literally yelling at my TV. WHY?! I get it, she’s a protective mama bear and that’s her baby daddy, but still, she’s usually calm and collected and trusts in the op. She had to know that running across the parking lot with a gun wasn’t going to achieve anything besides potentially outing Briggs even more and confirming Ari’s suspicions. I was actually mad at her for this. It was just so un-Chuck. Tina, did this ruffle your feathers at all or was it just me?

Tina: I’m going to give Charlie a pass on this one. She envisioned everything going wrong. Ari taking Briggs away wasn’t part of the plan. I’m not going to lie, I flinched when she ran after the car because it could have ruined everything (not that it wasn’t already ruined). But it still did my heart good to see how much she cared about Paul that she was willing to run after him like that.

I have one other question: Are Mike’s pill-popping days really over? I feel like I heard that but I don’t know if I believe that. I don’t know. It was another Mike/Charlie conversation in one of the flashback scenes — when she was bruising up his pretty face. I might have to go back and rewatch that scene. And when did he decide to quit? And if he did, then awesome. But it’s still odd the way we found out.

Cortney: Hmm, I’m not so sure that I believed him when he said he was done with that, it felt too quick. Don’t get me wrong, I hope he is, but you’re right, after all the build up and angst he faced the past few weeks, I feel like there has to be more to it. Maybe, like they did with Carlito, they put that on hold for the week and we’ll get back to it next week.

That being said, I have to wrap up with Colby. He was perfectly happy and safe living in his remote trailer park and then Paul Briggs knocks on his door and a day later, he’s laying bloody, tortured and (I’m assuming) dead in a motel bathtub. Part of me feels that for someone who knows what these people are capable of, he was a little too nonchalant and confident in the plan. And, ultimately, it was his knowledge of Ari (and an ill-timed visit to the vending machine) that got him caught. However, I did enjoy seeing his interaction with Layla and liked having him as part of the team, even if it was short-lived. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead next week since Paul appears to be S-O-L, but like Colby said, I certainly hope Ari gets what he deserves.

Graceland airs Thursday nights at 10/9c on USA Network.

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