Graceland Season 3 Episode 2 Review: “Chester Cheeto”

Graceland

A new villain (who is a hoot), a comeback bad girl, baby woes, Sid’s chapter ending, Lucia at stake, Carlito taking a bath like a boss, a former golden boy turned into a pill popper, missions and unofficial operations, a betrayal that still oozes blood, lies… “Chester Cheeto” was a good reminder of the crossroads the Gracelanders are constantly facing because being agents is on their DNA. The extreme measures, the price they pay and as the tagline of Graceland states, “The lies that bind,” are showcased throughout another memorable hour of TV in this second season, and it’s only just begun.

Mike is a skilled agent; however, he cannot tie a bow tie, which he announces to Jakes, while lying on the couch. Still convalescing, Agent Blue Eyes is unable to walk up the stairs and is, therefore, trapped on the main floor, a nice metaphor since Mike is now prisoner of the acute pain he’s experiencing and cozying up to his Oxy prescription. Of course, he is not the only person in the premises who is trapped. The events that unfolded during Season 2 still hold most of the agents captive in one way or the other.

Paige is getting a medal from the Attorney General for her heroic work in the human trafficking case, and everyone but Johnny, who is MIA, is attending in support, including Mike, which, quite frankly, I don’t understand. Even if he said he had forgiven her, clapping for her takes things to another level. In my opinion, a betrayal like Paige’s, one that almost ends in death, can only achieve a certain degree of pardon, but not absolution. At least not that fast. Anyway, since that stairs are a challenge for Agent Warren, a dapper looking Briggs brings a suit for Mike to wear (no shower?) to attend to the ceremony and also provides the most obvious and useful of piece of advice: Oxy is dangerous.

Later on, while the reasons why Paige’s is deserving of a medal are being listed, Briggs is in the restroom, buying an unregistered gun. He makes it back to the ceremony just in time to hear Miss DEA’s acceptance speech, which is as cold and short as it gets. Homegirl looks stunning, yet impossibly miserable, and the sight of Mikey does not help. Moments after, Jakes, who somehow managed to figure out his bow tie situation, congratulates her, while Charlie briefly criticizes the non-speech. The most important part of the scene is perhaps what follows. Mike roaches his ex, and armed with puppy dog eyes, he asks her if they can talk (yes please!!!!), but puppy dog eyes are met with teary eyes, a slight tremble and a low-volumed, yet definitive “no.” The self-flagellation party for Agent Arkin continues.

On her way out of the building, Charlie is called by Interpol regarding the whereabouts of big bad Germaine. Subsequently, Briggs voices to her that she should offer Amber (who has been apprehended) a deal, but Chuck is resistant to the idea; she still holds a grudge towards the woman for almost causing her to lose her baby. Paul, surprisingly, believes that she should push those feelings aside and focus on getting the job done. Just like with Paige and Mike, the exchange seems odd considering who the father of Charlie’s child is. The fact that the two can “talk shop” and not delve into the parenthood aspect of it all further shows how the agents compartmentalize, which, in this show, always translates in disaster.

Once back at the house, Mike pops more pills, right in front of Briggs, while they discuss Ari, who Paul says he is going to put to sleep. Mike thinks it is a bad idea and instead decides to pay a visit to the Bureau and talk to Logan, who does not back down on the career-suicide mission he has Briggs trapped into, but also reminds Warren that he has not been a golden boy, lately. Now Mike’s ego is in pain, too.

Back in undercover mode, Briggs and Ari are on another mission. They corner a man wearing a red jogging suit, the Chester Cheeto who provides the name for the episode. “Chester” is a computer millionaire, who is reluctant to do business with the Armenian mob family; therefore, Ari hangs him upside down off a bridge and forces him to sign a document. As the Armenian lunatic retrieves the papers, Briggs tries to hold the man on his own, but he struggles in doing so and the poor millionaire falls. He survives the fall, and Ari and Paul flee the scene. Quite frankly, the scene belongs more in a comedy, but it works.  Briggs seems to have entered a circus with this mission, one day is risky acts that involve fire, the next it’s dancing bears wearing red suits.

In the meantime, Charlie meets with Amber, and they trade barbs with one another, the most memorable of them all being the blonde referring to Agent DeMarco as “Godzilla with tits.” The encounter, however, is not very fruitful, as Amber does not know where Germaine is. She does say that the is acquainted with a drug dealer who is in Florida, someone who used to have Germaine as his money launderer. The development of this arc is one I am looking forward to. I am glad Amber is back.

Since Briggs is with Ari, Jakes warns Mike about his current narcotic romance, but Mike twists his roommate’s words and at his medical check-up, decides get more Oxycodone instead of returning to the field. That Bureau doctor has to be the worst physician in the building, and it is mind-blowing that therapy has not been mandatory for Mike.

Moving on, Briggs is ready execute his plan by putting a bullet in Ari’s head at his“office,” but the pair is interrupted by Ari’s paramour, who, incidentally, is a Sarkissian, meaning that if the family finds about their relationship,  Ari would be a dead man. Briggs’s wheels start to turn at the realization, and he decides to keep the unmarked gun for future conflicts.

Back at the house, Charlie is trying to make Paige reconsider her decision to leave Graceland via food, but the family dinner doesn’t go as planned when she opens up about her mission to head to Florida with Amber. Briggs not only opposes to the idea, he becomes the most possessive and condescending baby-daddy in the state of California, delivering a speech as to why Charlie should now only be part of missions that are more “mommy-friendly.” Furthermore, he threatens to put her in maternity leave if she attempts to head to Florida. Feminists around the world are still rolling their eyes at you, Paul.

As Paige packs her belongings to leave Graceland for good (though mentally, she has been out for a while), Mike enters her room and decides that they will talk. In a soft tone and armed with puppy dog eyes yet again, he proceeds to explain how Lina ended up dead. He also confesses that the image of the girl still haunts him. His rhetoric gets to Paige, who finally is on human mode again. Miss DEA utters that he and the medal she just got are a living, physical reminders of her sins. Mike tells her to see the award as what it is intended to be: an object that represents what she did right. Then he envelops his ex in his arms as she cries. Men of the world, Mike Warren set an impossible standard for you to achieve. Again, I do like Pike; I am by no means against this ship and want both agents to be happy. Not to mention, the chemistry between Serinda Swan and Aaron Tveit jumps from the screen; however, I think they are making amends too fast.

In the meantime, Johnny and Sid, who where  lead by a priest through a secret underground passage underneath a church, which took them to Mexico, resurface in a Mexican strip club, where Johnny tries to cut a deal with the dirty cop. He wants him to help him get Lucia back in exchange for the money that Carlito owes Sid, which is supposedly about to be delivered at the joint they are at. When Sid declines the offer, Johnny singlehandedly orchestrates and completes a crazy, albeit efficient, plan. He keeps Sid contained while he takes down one of Carlito’s lackeys. He takes the briefcase full of money that was intended to be given to Sid for his services as a scumbag and gifts it to the strippers. Subsequently, he tells Sid that the man Carlito sent was there to kill him. Sid now has no option but to help Johnny, and the two break into the Solano mansion, where Carlito is taking a bath and seems unaffected by the two men threatening his life. The young Solano then takes Johnny and Sid to his vault, where he pulls a knife out of his bathrobe and attacks them. While Sid and Carlito are fighting each other, Johnny sees Lucia being taken away by Carlito’s entourage and decides to shoot Sid and free Carlito. One villain down.

Meanwhile, back in Cali, Paige drives Charlie to a women’s health clinic, and the two have a meaningful conversation about the lives they lead and the paths they have ahead. The scene was beautifully done and carried a lot of weight and emotion. Both the pregnancy arc and the spy games are being utilized to display the internal conflicts Paige and Charlie face, especially as women. However, Charlie does not go through with the procedure; she just makes Paul believe she did so he won’t be condescending towards her, and she will be free to pursue her mission to completion.

The episode closes with Paige staring at her medal and finally smiling, while Charlie drops by (plane tickets in hand) to see Amber, both partial successes. Meanwhile, Johnny punches the wall in his room, still a prisoner of Carlito’s grip, and a masked Briggs crashes his vehicle into Ari’s girl’s.

A strong follow-up episode to Graceland‘s Season 3 opener, “Chester Cheeto” was very efficient, even as more twists and turns unfolded and the constant dichotomy the agents embody was further explored, but it suffered from underusing Jakes once again. However, Gracleand is doing to the audience what Oxycodone is doing to Mike: we are all hooked and counting the days to our next fix.

[Photo via USA Network]

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