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Two Takes: Graceland “Master of Weak Ties” 

Two Takes: Graceland “Master of Weak Ties”
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Photo Credit: Jeff Daly/USA Network

Graceland‘s Paul Briggs has another addiction. It’s to lying and scheming and playing the ultimate puppet master. Our heads are spinning. His roommates’ heads are spinning. Right now no one knows which way is up. What’s Briggs’ endgame here? Is it simply getting Martun? How does he keep all his plans and manipulations straight? How long before his House of Cards collapses into one big heaping pile of you know what? On today’s Two Takes, our main focus is going to be the man who always has a plan, Paul Briggs.

Tina: Cortney, all season long, I’ve either been giving Paul the benefit of the doubt or I have skimmed over his portion of the story because I have no idea what he’s up to. After this episode, that can’t happen anymore. I have to meet this head on.

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

For me, Johnny summed it up best in that quiet, intimate conversation he shared with Paige in the laundry room. I loved their exchange — it was one of my favorite moments in “Master of Weak Ties.”

Paige: I mean…I know that Briggs would move mountains to get Martun but I just — I don’t understand why he would lie to us.

Johnny: And the s–t Briggs does, half the time, I don’t even know what he’s talking about.

I just don’t know what to think about Briggs anymore. Words come out of his mouth and I get so confused. I don’t know what he’s saying. Help a girl out, please!

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

Cortney: Honestly, I don’t know what to say! Like you, I’ve been #TeamBriggs from the beginning, but now, s–t is starting to get weird. Even my head was spinning….but in the best possible way! That being said, I think Briggs knows he’s in too deep, as he told Charlie (in his one and I’m guessing only moment of honesty) that he was “barely keeping his head above water.” And I think he sees moving forward as his only way out. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT him to tell the roommates, but that scares me too since I have no clue what is going on. Could they really handle it?

But on the flip-side, we also can’t ignore the negative side effects his one-man chess game is having on everyone. Let’s start with Johnny. Briggs was obviously lying to Johnny throughout the episode and giving him stuff to do to placate him and make it seem like he was letting him in. I could see this so it kind of killed me that Johnny wants to trust Briggs so badly that he couldn’t. Of course, things ended oh-so-painfully with Johnny on the floor of a locker room. To be honest, I thought the boxing scene was kind of brutal, but the one in the locker room was 100 times worse. I honestly had to look away and I’m pretty sure I texted you an “OMG” as it was happening. I am not ready to see what kind of shape Johnny is in when we return next week.

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

Tina: We did start our Graceland conversation last night via text didn’t we? You were watching the episode and I hadn’t started yet. And everything you were texting me scared me. Once I watched I remained scared. Because Briggs is so far down the rabbit hole of lies, schemes and manipulations. Does he know the truth at this point? Like I asked earlier, how does he keep it all straight? And is he going to be affected by what happens to Johnny? Because right now, I’m seeing a disconnect of emotions from Briggs. It’s like he’s not feeling much. Maybe it’s a singular focus on bringing down the Sarkissian regime. Or…I don’t know what else. Because sending Johnny undercover with the Sotos St. Vatos was a non-mission. It didn’t need to happen. But the damage is done. Johnny now knows better than anyone.

Cortney: Right?! I mean, why start the war between the Sotos St. Vatos and the Sarkissians?! And did he really have to do it by…well…”moving in” on his lady? I want to believe there is a reason for all of that, I just can’t begin to fathom what it is besides that it secures Briggs place in the Sarkissian clan…I mean, Ari did say he’d kill for him…so is that a win?

Tina: First, can I make a non-Briggs-related argument here? I don’t care how inappropriate and un-PC Ari Adamian gets, I love to love and love to hate this character. He makes me laugh so hard with the things he says. Okay, back to Briggs. Can we talk about the “favor” he asked of Jakes? Jakes perfectly captured my thoughts during this scene:

Jakes: You boggle my mind. You boggle my mind, Briggs!

What’s this runaway money business even mean? Is this even for real? Don’t get me wrong. I know I sound hella frustrated. And maybe I am. But it’s not in a bad way. The show keeps me guessing on Briggs’ motivations and actions and I always look for a show to surprise me. Graceland is doing that.

Cortney: I hear you! I mean, you and I watch a LOT of TV so we’re usually pretty good at seeing the master plan or major plotlines before they happen so when something stumps us, that definitely deserves a round of applause. As far as Jakes, I don’t even know what to think. Besides the fact that we know that his storyline really takes off and carries this next part of the season, which worries me since I have no doubt Briggs’ “favor” is going to rock his already precarious standing with Germaine. I mean, is the $$ really for Op-Take-Down-Martun? Or is it just his insurance plan so he doesn’t end up six feet under if things go south? Or behind bars, if they don’t.

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

I do love that everyone is catching on and calling out Briggs in this episode though. And I appreciate that they’re doing it in a rational and relatively thoughtful manner, which is more than can be said for Mike. He’s been a little hot-headed with this whole Briggs situation from the get go and I was actually really grateful that Paige totally called him out on not being there for her and blaming him, NOT BRIGGS, for her Toros situation. Which brings me back to Briggs, that whole Toros thing couldn’t have been part of his plan, right? Was that just a convenient accident that happened to secure his position in Ari’s posse?

Tina: I want to say it was a convenient accident but, man, I don’t know. This show has me afraid to make any guesses because I clearly have no clue. All I know is it happened and it worked out great for Ari. It resulted in a very spiritual annointment or promotion or whatever you want to call what went on in the church at the beginning of the episode. Ari’s big time in the Sarkissian organization. And Briggs is his bud. His right hand man. Ari didn’t even get mad when he found out Briggs was with the head Vatos’ woman. That’s how tight they are.

With Mike, I feel his pain way more at this point because I do think he has every right to doubt Briggs’ every action. I guess I don’t dig the way he goes about dealing with it because, to me, he’s no longer the perfect Dogooder. He’s done s–t. Maybe not on the level of Briggs, but he’s done some shady stuff. And Briggs reminded him of that. Now explain to me something else that went on between Mike and Briggs — Briggs used the images from Mike’s dying dream to get him to kick his oxy habit? Is that what happened?

Cortney: Yes! I am so glad you brought this up! Because call me crazy, but I don’t see what was so bad about it…or at least I didn’t before I knew Briggs was in cahoots with Vin. I mean, Mike needed a sign to get his s–t together and Briggs gave him that sign. He got him to kick his habit and clean himself up and I’d say that’s a good thing. Mike should be grateful. Yes, it was a little sneaky and shady, but when you’re dealing with a drug addict, you kind of need to be sneaky. Straight up saying “go to rehab” doesn’t work, as we witnessed with the intervention, and there are a lot worse things (including outing Mike to the Bureau and risking his career or physically forcing him to detox unwillingly) Briggs could’ve done to force Mike to get clean. I didn’t think throwing a few flyers with red birds on them in a hallway was that bad. Did you? I want to believe Briggs did that because he wanted to help Mike get clean…granted, now that I know that he’s playing “puppet master” with Vin, I should have my doubts, but I know he ultimately cares about Mike so I’m going to stick with him being a Dogooder for once.

Tina: Mike just forced Madison to wake up and smell the addiction. I guess it’s better because he was more open about it? He pretty much gave her no choice. And enlisted Charlie’s help in the process. However, Briggs needs to practice being transparent more often. Because with all these secrets and lies…when he really needs his roommates? I mean really need them? They might not be around to support him. And you know what? I wouldn’t blame them. When Vin opened the door and we didn’t see the person he was talking to right away, I just knew it was Briggs. My head hurts over everything this man is juggling. It was an exhausting twist in the story. I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

Cortney: Speaking of Madison, you know I’ve always questioned Mike’s odd connection to her. As agents, they deal with drug addicts all the time, what about her made him care so much and want to help her? Is it because they did drugs together and he in someway feels like they bonded amidst their highs? Or does he feel guilty for helping to feed her addiction? I still can’t put my finger on it. That being said, I still felt like something was shady about her. I get wanting to be independent and do it on her own, but they harped on it so much and about in wanting to go with her but her wanting to take a cab that I really questioned if she was going where she said she was going. Couldn’t she just have hopped a cab and run away? No one would know the difference. I hope that’s not the case, but with this show, you learn to question everything. That being said, I do like that Mike turned to Charlie for help, which brings us back around to the Charlie scene that we mentioned earlier.

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

Tina: Before I bring things back to Briggs and Charlie, let me say I thought Lucy Liu did a great job directing “Master of Weak Lies.” She had a diverse episode to deal with — there were so many things going on and she executed all of it well. She didn’t deviate from anything we’ve seen on this show before so there were no weird shots or choppy transitions. Everything was smooth as silk.

Okay, back to Charlie. Jakes tells her she needs to come clean with Briggs. And she did. What did you think about this scene? I guess I thought there’d be more of a reaction out of Paul. But maybe he felt he had no right. I loved how he told her he should have been there for her. But I was looking at his face and he wasn’t giving much in the way of emotion or expression. Thoughts?

Cortney: Oh geez, so many thoughts. First off, I LOVE that she came home fully determined and just busted into Paul’s room with no hesitation. (Note: She calls him Paul so for this paragraph, I feel like I need to too). And while at first I was uncertain about it, I really like that they didn’t show her actually TELLING him, but instead cut in right after she told him. It was a private moment between the two of them and I kind of like that they kept it that way. Kudos to both the writers and Liu for making that feel so appropriate for the scene. I do see what you’re saying as far as the lack of reaction, but I think that was just shock more than anything. We rarely, if ever, see Briggs in shock. He handles every hurdle as if it’s anticipated so I think throwing this unique and unexpected response in there almost gave it more power. Something actually has the ability to shock him! To me, that was huge. And I do love that he said he should’ve been there for her but I also love that she wasn’t mad that he wasn’t. Since it was a lack of understanding between these two that got them here in the first place, I loved the supportive understanding between them in this scene. It felt very full circle.

Briggs: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I should’ve been there for you. I didn’t know.

Charlie: I didn’t come in here to hurt you. I came in because you’re my best friend and I’m tired of lying. So tired.

Also, very apropos that she brought up lying, no? I want to believe this will make him think about his own secrets and lying, but I’m not sure we’ll be that quite that lucky. That being said, it’s only a matter of time before it has to come to the surface. He’s broken so many members of the team while trying to pull of this scheme, I don’t know how much longer he can go on without breaking himself.

Graceland airs Thursdays at 10/9c on USA Network.

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1 Comment

  1. darci

    I’ve really liked Germaine this season – his character and his storyline are both really compelling to me, and I like how it’s all affecting everyone else. I’ve loved seeing more of the bad Paul and also how all the other characters are starting to truly see the level of his shadiness. All in all, it’s really contributed to making this the best season yet.

    Another thing that I’ve loved about this season is the music, too they’ve really upped their game. Loved how this episode started with such an awesome rendition of “Requiem in D Minor” what a classic and then also I loved that they used “3 Feet From Gold” by MAWR during the scene when Paul was on the stakeout taking photos of Eva.

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