Graceland, Season 1, Episode 12: “Pawn”
Written by: Jeff Eastin
Directed by: Russell Lee Fine
Airs Thursdays at 10 pm (ET) on USA
On this week’s Graceland finale, Briggs continues acting shady, Johnny has his feelings hurt, Jakes chooses a side, Paige encourages Mike’s hunt for Briggs, and Jangles finally reveals himself and attacks.
Graceland‘s at its best when everyone in the house is working together against a common enemy; so, while it was entertaining watching the house nearly implode as dissension separated the team, getting not one but two scenes with the whole house (sans Briggs, at first) gathered is still a nice treat, as well as a return to the happy days at season’s beginning. With any ensemble cast, it’s difficult for shows to find a group of people that not only work well together, but also have excellent chemistry on screen. When one cast member can be paired story-wise with any other member and have it consistently work well, then you know you’re watching a truly incredible cast of actors.
Unfortunately, Head of Household Briggs still feels like a weak link in the bunch–not at all because of Daniel Sunjata’s acting, which is excellent–because he’s such a terrible leader and unpredictable hero, if he can even be called such. Despite some episode-ending confessionals, Briggs still feels like the enigma he was in the pilot. And, if anything, his confessions did little to return him to his idolized hero status within the house; after all, he still did terrible things in the name of “justice” that felt a lot more like “vengeance.” At least he’s given the chance for a redemption story next season; when done right, those can be pretty fantastic.
Though the episode is pretty solid for a finale, quite a few terrible moments throughout weakened “Pawn.” Dreaded villain Jangles goes from threatening to cartoon-y in the span of a single scene–dancing around a room while jangling a set of keys is hardly terrifying (though he slightly redeems himself when he holds a knife to Charlie’s throat; that scene is genuinely tense and chilling). During Mike’s thinking process as he searches out Briggs, a series of voiceovers and flashbacks pepper the scene, but simply do not work. Instead, they merely feel forced and awkward. Lastly, a slow motion, western-style standoff on stairs is a terrible way for a gritty show like Graceland to hit its climax.
“Pawn” ends on a happy note, but leaves a few dangling cliffhangers to keep the audience impatiently waiting till next summer. And, as far as first seasons go, Graceland had a pretty impressive run.
Last week’s review can be found here.