Graceland 2×13 ‘Faith 7’: A failed experiment

Graceland - Season 2

In the end, it was all kind of a mess.  Graceland really emphasized a plot-heavy structure for its second season, and while that resulted in some fun episodes like “The Head of the Pig”, for the most part, it was apparent that the finale was going to be a convoluted mess.  Graceland has never been able to keep all of its ideas in the air at one time, something that has been noticeable ever since Jakes took front and center for the first five episodes, only to be pushed aside entirely to make way for the massive waves of plot.  And, sure, “Faith 7” has some surprises, but those surprises aren’t in any way interesting or exciting.

Graceland 2x13-2

Source: USA

Let’s start with the biggest development of the episode: Mike’s death.  This is something that came completely out of nowhere, and while Jeff Eastin mentioned that it’s something he’s thought of for a while, there’s nothing in the show to really validate that.  Before this episode, we didn’t really know that Mike was in much danger, even if there was this rivalry brewing between him and Markham.  But Markham was so hell bent on killing Mike that it seemed unreasonable, like something done to raise the stakes without really putting in the work to create them in the first place.  And since Markham still isn’t an interesting character, killing Mike off places him in the spotlight if Graceland were to be renewed for a third season.  Graceland is simply placing itself in a corner by creating all of these plot details and refusing to develop the characters underneath, as well as refusing to tie them together in a way that transitions nicely to the next season.

Graceland - Season 2

Source: USA

Not to mention that Paige gave up Mike to Markham after realizing that Mike had something to do with Lina’s death.  It was such an extreme decision to make so quickly that it feels almost completely out of character for her.  It makes sense that she would react so strongly because she was so attached to the Tinker Bell operation, but getting so furious that she would get Mike killed is something else.  Going into this episode, I had assumed that Briggs would be the one to lose his life, as there was adequate buildup throughout the entire series, but Paige has never had much of a personality, nor has she had any buildup to this insane decision.  As for the rest of the team, not much happened to speak of.  Carlito found out that Johnny was an FBI agent and threatened to kill Lucia if he didn’t keep the airlines open.  Briggs saves Charlie’s life from her kidnappers.  Jakes didn’t really do much of anything.  The issue with all of this is that the plot is moving in a seemingly random direction, with only a couple threads holding it all together so it doesn’t completely fall apart.

Ultimately, Graceland’s experiment with a highly structured and multilayered plot just didn’t really work.  The season was loaded with plot that never amounted to much, character motivations that are either convoluted or come out of nowhere, and antagonists that are more cookie-cutter than anything else.  The show had a chance to do something great with this second season, but ultimately tried to do too much and ended up dropping most of the plates it held in the air.  Maybe, if Graceland comes back with a third season, a different approach will be taken, but as of right now, this one was definitely not the right approach for the show.

I know I wasn’t a fan of the season, but what did you think?  Were you happy with the way the season panned out?  Let me know in the comments!

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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  • Allison Poole

    I hate saying this, but I was so disappointed in this season as a whole. I liked the Solano story line because I think the actors did a great job, but overall it seemed like what we got in any given episode was the result of throwing darts at a wall covered in random plot points on 3×5 cards. It never came together for me.

    I loved season one so I could spend an hour drawing invidious comparisons between it and S2, but one thing I missed this year was the way we used to see more of the connection that they had to their respective federal agencies. Someone should have been around to make at least a flimsy excuse for why Jakes’ arrest had no consequences (before they dropped that plot entirely,) and someone should have noticed that Paige had become entirely too personally involved in her case. If they’re going to say that the show is based on real events, then they have to use a modicum of real-life detail. I think you can do that and still make a good show, possibly even one that holds together better.

    • Michael St. Charles

      I know! I tried to stay positive about the season, but as it failed to come together for the final act, it was tough not to get more and more frustrated with it all. I think the most annoying thing here is how there were these great ideas for ways to deepen character, but there was no real way to do that development and keep the plot as dense as it was, at least not without a better writing staff. By the end, this season just didn’t have any real emotional resonance.