Graceland, Season 1, Episode 3: “Heat Run”
Written by Stephen Godchaux
Directed by Renny Harlin
Airs Thursdays at 10 pm (ET) on USA
On this week’s Graceland, Mike’s reluctant to spy on training officer Briggs, and several undercover agents find themselves in hot water after getting emotionally involved in their respective cases.
While Graceland’s heading in the right direction character-wise, several members of the undercover team are still receiving the shaft when it comes to receiving quality storylines. Arguably one of the weakest characters thus far–Lauren–finally gets a shot in the spotlight; unfortunately, her moment of glory arrives just in time for her to be booted from the house. Luckily, her exit means there’s an open space for a new character who will hopefully be a better fit. Next in line are Jakes, Paige, and Johnny (who’s still being used solely for comedic relief). Relatively little time has been spent on those characters. Granted, Graceland‘s only three episodes in, and this is a big cast; the writers still have plenty of time to develop the sadly-neglected trio.
After picking up where last week’s episode left off, “Heat Run” immediately reveals that Briggs hasn’t actually caught on to Mike’s ratting ways–he’s simply playing a part after realizing Bello’s crew suspects one of the undercover duo of selling them out. Despite feeling thoroughly rattled, Mike thinks quick on his feet and adapts to Briggs’s ploy, and the pair successfully escape a tense confrontation by placing the blame on Bello’s man Eddie. Meanwhile, Charlie finds herself growing attached to a former meth head who she’s turned into a worker, even going so far as to find the man a house. And Lauren, still behaving erratically over Donnie’s absence, plays to Briggs’s sympathies, which nearly gets a few of her fellow agents killed and reveals the limits Briggs’s will reach for to save Graceland from being compromised.
Though “Heat Run” was a good episode overall, it wasn’t particularly memorable. The show seems afraid of going too dark or raising any real stakes–for example, we see Bello preparing a gruesome punishment for the falsely-accused Eddie, but there’s no followthrough–and it’s hard to fear for the lives or safety of the undercover agents when, a few cuts and bruises aside, they still seem fairly untouchable. Also, the shows two leading men, Mike and Briggs, are still thoroughly good guys; turns out, Mike’s investigating Briggs for skimming drug money before turning it into the feds, and Mike remains reluctant to give his control officer any real dirt on Briggs’s actions. Honestly, the pair really need a larger dose of moral ambiguity and/or conflict to be truly compelling characters.
Reviews for the pilot and second episode “Guadalajara Dog” can be found here and here, respectively.