Graceland: Magic Number (Bus 118)

Your wait was not in vain, my friends. Graceland is back, and with it comes more of the frustrating dialogue and sometimes-interesting plot it is known for.

I have a difficult time parsing this show. While a lot of the larger plot arcs are very interesting, as is the character development, the smaller episodic points are often lazy, chosen straight out of the Bad Writing for Dummies book I picked up at Barnes & Noble the other day.

The dialogue can be fantastic and sound really natural one second, and the next you're groaning into your fist at how contrived something sounds.

The only one who consistently delivers on his or her lines is Jakes, although Chuck and Not As Hot As Brandon Bollig certainly have their moments.

Speaking of, I do want to bid a fond farewell to Brandon Bollig himself, late of the Blackhawks and now of the Calgary Flames.

We'll miss you Brandon Bollig, but maybe you'll be able to catch yourself a hot, hockey-playing lady on the Calgary Inferno. If that's your jam, best of luck, buddy.

Back to the show.

Jakes' theory that the Tinkerbells from the previous episode were more than just drug mules is looking to be correct.

Paige is pretty sure they're being sold as prostitutes as well, and once again that lazy writing pops up. Any time you want to get someone engaged in a tv show, traffic some white girls in the sex trade.

Briggs (Not As Hot As Brandon Bollig, for all you following along) discovers that Badillo's widow is unable to get her husband's death benefits because his body has not been recovered. In a very creepy dream sequence, Briggs digs up Badillo's body only to discover that he is the one buried beneath the sand.

Chuck and Briggs want to help the widow, played by former General Hospital nurse Brianna Brown, but have no idea how.

They can't even help Jakes, who can't stop drinking himself into oblivion and then puke it up the next day.

He's the linchpin in the whole Operation: Bus thing Mike has going on since he'll be the one undercover at the bus depot. Jakes' drinking might have cut this route out for the team before it begins, however, as the manager has noticed that he came in for his interview smelling of scotch. Mike is unimpressed, and Briggs lends him his six-month chip.

Jakes appeals to the manager's love of structure and it all pays off: Jakes is in and Mike is done whining. For now.

Emily Rose is back for a brief moment. Apparently the higher-ups have an issue with Mike's lack of production and want to shut him down. Emily Rose tells the agent to move the case under her.

Now we have some really interesting power structures going on: Mike is bossing his former team around, which includes his ex-girlfriend, and his current girlfriend who he is cheating on with his ex is now his boss.

Whoo, baby. Can't wait to see how this goes down.

Paige and Johnny raid a "tea house" looking for the Tinkerbell girls but instead get a pissy Asian madam who won't cooperate. Score one for the Feds.
Side note: those glasses look fantastic on Johnny.

Paige gets the madam to talk to her once in holding, and while she has heard of the girls, and knows they're being sold, she doesn't know enough to be really useful.

Charlie might have just run into the guy who "inherited a stable of horses." She wants to fake a tip from Badillo's widow so she'll get the cash reward, but Paul wants her to wait on submitting it.

You know, because it's a felony.

After sleeping on it, Briggs and Charlie are moving forward on this together. They've set up a sting on Tattooed Horse Guy while pretending the tip came in from lady Badillo.

It's hysterical, but this house looks just like the last drug dealer's house one of the team visited. Funny, that. Guess they don't have too much money to put into sets.

Chuck notices that Tattooed Horse Guy was holding back a lot of heroin and she and Paul knock him out and flush the extra heroine down the washroom sink.

Apparently if the dealer keeps any it will make Badillo look bad.

They take the check she's sent and glue it to a letter claiming it is her husband's death benefits. For now, their guilty consciences are soothed.

Briggs is there for Kelly Badillo getting the "official" death benefits check from the FBI, only to discover that she is absolutely destroyed by the confirmation that her husband really is dead.

I guess the show is going full-throttle on the irony, having Briggs be her rock when he's the one who caused her pain.

Johnny's making his move on Carlito Solano, a petty little bully with far too much power. He really enjoys pushing people around, and shooting people in the neck, if you remember the last episode. He charges Johnny with getting some girls he pissed off interested in him, and Johnny gives them the pills he pretended to take earlier.

Back at the house, Carlito pulls out a bag of either coke or heroine and smears it on himself so the girls will snort it off him, showing Johnny where he keeps his stash while, of course, he makes Johnny watch him get a blowjob.

So many ews. So many.

Afterwards, we don't see much of Johnny, but what we see suggests he doesn't love his undercover work. I wouldn't either, if I had to pretend to play lackey to a murdering creep.

Jakes, on the other hand, is making moves on the manager of the bus depot. Bus 118 is the one the girls come in on and Jakes is saying all the right things to get his manager to give his trust.

Mike wants Jakes to get his guys in so they can take a look at the bus by tomorrow. "Don't worry your pretty little blond head," Jakes says to Mike.

He clones the manager's card key while swapping AA motivation stories and it looks like Mike might be set.

The one thing I really have to say for this show is the reality of the clothes on the extras. They're often ugly, at times ill-fitting, and generally look like real people, as opposed to models who happened to be professionally dressed before selling some drugs or running a bus station.

The bus station manager is a perfect example of this; his pants are too tight, his shirt is truly unattractive, and I've seen a million managers pulling off this exact ensemble of black pants and embroidered polo.

Graceland might not have a lot of money, but it has a fabulous costume designer.

He and Mike make sure the manager is held up by immigration agents while their team takes a look at the bus. Mike is stressed because the incomparable Emily Rose has told him that his case could be finished if he can't show her something today, and when they find nothing, he freaks out, hitting the bus with a tire iron.

Jakes follows suit.

Back at the ranch, Jakes realizes he and Johnny are the only ones not getting any and goes out and picks up a prostitute. Always a good choice when you're having a rough couple of weeks.

Once he returns to work, however, he's given some overtime work.

As he does so, he notices that bus 118 is not the same bus 118 he and Mike beat with a tire iron, and that the cans of waste he's loading into the back of the truck likely contain the remains of Tinkerbell girls.

Creepy, huh?