Graceland 2×05 ‘H-A-Double-P-Y’: The fate of their love

Graceland 2x05 Cover

Graceland operated fantastically last week, with every character’s story working in concurrence to show how they try so intently to deal with the problems in their life, only to still feel the weight at the end of the day.  “H-A-Double-P-Y” doesn’t quite work on that level, as some of the stories aren’t compelling enough to land like they should, but it’s still a decent enough entry in a season that’s turning out to be way better than the first.

Graceland 2x05-2

Source: USA

The reason that some of the stories this time around don’t quite land is because they center around relationships that aren’t entirely buyable.  Mike and his romantic exploits don’t have the best track record (his relationship in Season 1 was one of the season’s worst facets), and this season is no exception.  His romance with Paige doesn’t seem to operate beyond a “they want to be together” depth, as they never delve into why they’re together with any real complexity, and the same goes for his romance with Jess.  That, in itself, makes the crux of this episode void of the tension it needs to be interesting.  It’s difficult to care about any of Mike’s storyline because his relationships don’t seem built on anything.

Graceland - Season 2

Source: USA

On the other hand, Johnny and Carlito’s story continues to get more interesting.  Johnny busts into Carlito’s house to see him fighting with his sister, and, after the situation escalates, has to punch him to get him to stop strangling his own sister.  But, instead of his cover being blown, Carlito instead recalls the dismal story of his childhood and reveals his attraction to Johnny.  Where I was initially frustrated that Carlito was a one-dimensional caricature, subsequent episode have really done a great job diving into who this guy is and how his own story parallels Johnny’s.  Carlito is a man who is searching for relevance, and Johnny sees that in himself, as he is trying to prove that he is worth something to his own team.  But, of course, Johnny’s quest for relevancy on his own team is undercut by Carlito getting a mysterious phone call on the way to the bust, after which he turns around and has the drugs blown up.  Johnny was an immensely underused character in Season 1, so to see this kind of story in Season 2 is absolutely fantastic.

Graceland 2x05-3

Source: USA

Jakes’ storyline isn’t quite as interesting as it was in the previous episode, simply because his attachment to this prostitute doesn’t transcend his own desire for connection.  Sure, it makes sense why he would connect himself with her, but it’s not entirely clear why she’s attracted to him.  The conflict between Jakes and her and his son is nice and interesting enough, but it doesn’t reach the complexity of last episode, where he’s left isolated from the rest of the world.  Charlie and Briggs only get a single scene together, but it’s still a nice and neat one, reminding us that their connection is built upon lie after lie, secrets making it difficult for them to really connect.  It neatly ties into the episode’s central thematic concept, where the love at Graceland simply isn’t meant to last.  Briggs knows that whatever Charlie feels for him is going to be crushed as soon as she finds out about him, and no matter how much he wants to truly feel his love for her, he knows that he needs to protect himself for the inevitable.

Overall, the idea behind this episode is that relationships at Graceland aren’t meant to be.  The way that secrets convolute all within Graceland makes it so that these people aren’t going to live happily ever after.  The entire notion of the title “H-A-Double-P-Y” derives from the idea that relationships are going to save these people, but they’re not.  They might feel good at the moment, but eventually, the love that these people are experiencing is going to be cut down, whether it be quietly painful (Mike and Paige) or an explosive conflict (Charlie and Briggs).  In Graceland, the real tragedy is that nothing is meant to last.

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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