Jun 25 2015

Graceland – “B Positive” Advance Review. Dead or Not Dead?


Season 3, Episode 1

Air Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015, 10/9c on USA


“Not to mention we’re supposed to be the good guys.” – Charlie

Looks like Briggs is having a bad day.

Looks like Briggs is having a bad day.

When we last saw FBI agent Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit), he was going into cardiac arrest as Sid (Carmine Giovinazzo), the corrupt head of the LAPD Gang Task Force, stood next to his hospital bed pinching his breathing tube closed. Fans were left wondering if Briggs (Daniel Sunjata), who was racing to the scene, would make it in time. Well, he…

Season three picks up a few days after the season two finale. The safe refuge the beautiful house on the beach known as Graceland once provided the agents is gone. The house and its inhabitants are in disarray as they try to process the past events in their own way.

Giovinazzo’s portrayal of Sid is disturbingly enjoyable. Sid could just as easily kill you with his smile as he could with a gun. Given his encounter with Mike, Sid has a large target on his back, which isn’t much of a shock. With each agent seeking their own style of vengeance, it will be interesting to see which of them, if anyone, will be able to take him down.

Will Charlie be able to keep it together?

Will Charlie be able to keep it together?

The fine line between being the good guys and crossing over to the other side is a common theme throughout “B Positive.” Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) seems especially concerned over the path everyone in the house is heading down. Ferlito gives a convincing performance as her mannerisms and dialogue throughout “B Positive” help convey the toll it’s taking on Charlie as she’s forced to think about the future rather than dwelling on the past.

One of the things Graceland does well is creating antagonists who aren’t formed from the same old mold. “B Positive” falls in line with the introduction of Ari Adamian (Rhys Coiro), a ruthless Armenian mobster. Even though Ari is a psychopath, Coiro injects a surprising amount of humor into the character, making it enjoyable to watch Ari’s antics. I can’t remember the last time I laughed as much as I did watching an episode of Graceland. Whoever said it’s good to be bad must have had Ari in mind; Coiro is clearly having fun with this role.

With police accountability being major headlines in the news these days, it’s hard not to think about that as Briggs, Charlie, Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren), and the others in the house seem to make up their own set of rules. Yes, they’re undercover agents but whom do they report to? We have never seen a chain of command structure outside of Graceland. That appears to be changing this season with the introduction of FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Logan (Lawrence Gilliard Jr). Looking to make his mark by taking down the Sarkissian crime family, Logan enlists a member of the Graceland task force to go undercover to infiltrate the family.

Finding the right balance to give each main character a proper story line can prove difficult when you have the diverse cast Graceland does. Unfortunately, season after season, Jakes keeps getting the short end of the stick when it comes to interesting story arcs. McLaren is a talented actor but it seems like the writers don’t know what to do with him. In the past, they have reduced his character to the guy complaining about the mess in the house, or the one who gets angry after someone drinks the last of the orange juice, instead of portraying him as a bad ass U.S Customs Agent. Why is it so difficult for the writers to build a story line about drugs coming into the country with Jakes leading the case?

Things are not looking good for Johnny

Things are not looking good for Johnny

Johnny (Manny Montana) also keeps getting lost in the shuffle. He’s still working the case from last season involving Lucia (Jamie Gray Hyder) and Carlito Solano (Erik Valdez), members of a notorious crime family. As much as I enjoy Montana’s character, Johnny’s scenes seem to be an afterthought by the writers just to give him something to do.

My biggest complaint about Graceland since the pilot is how heavily the writers rely on twists. I don’t understand why don’t they write gripping stories that entice the viewers to want to tune in week after week rather than investing in a myriad of puzzling plot points. Despite my frustration with this approach, the writers do a good job in “B Positive” as they create a series of misdirects teasing the audience about Mike’s fate.

For me, Graceland’s foundation has always been the sancity of the house, as well as the camaraderie between Briggs and Mike. With both of those things in jeopardy, “B Positive,” at times, feels like a rudderless ship going in circles. Given the lies and betrayals over the last two seasons, it will be interesting to see how the writers pull everything together with or without Mike.

Graceland returns Thursday, June 25, 2015, 10/9c only on USA Network.

For more information on Graceland, visit the official website.

Follow Graceland on Twitter.

Follow the stars of Graceland on Twitter: @DanielGRACELAND, @MannyMontana, @SwanSerinda, and @brandojay.

LIKE Graceland on Facebook.

All photos © 2015 USA Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

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