On “Graceland” “Pizza Box” – which aired June 27 on USA Network – it seemed that undercover FBI agent Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) had a gun pointed at him every time he turned around. “Should I be expected to have a gun pointed at me every time we meet?” Mike blithely asked Bello, as Mike dug himself deeper undercover.
But it’s not the guns that seemed to bother Mike this episode. Rather, it’s the sauce.
Mike and the pasta sauce
When the USA Network drama opened, Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) has taken some time off from work to make her famous ragu sauce, a recipe passed down from a relative who fell in love — over three days — with a man she saved during the Inquisition.
It’s over three days that Mike realizes the lengths Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) is willing to go to take down his man. When Bello’s right-hand man Eddie (even though Eddie is now missing an eye) suspects Mike is working with the FBI, Briggs turns the tables and makes Bello suspect it’s actually Eddie who’s the rat.
In other words, the FBI is giving Eddie a chance to walk away (if he talks about Bello), or they’re signing Eddie’s death sentence on “Graceland” “Pizza Box.” Sure enough, Bello doesn’t know who to trust, and he whispers something into Eddie’s ear. And then Eddie points a gun at Mike… and then shoots himself. Whatever it was that Bello told his once right-hand man is anyone’s guess, but the message is clear: either you’re loyal to Bello, or you die.
This clearly shakes Mike up some, but was Eddie’s gun the only thing that worried him? He missed the “sauce” dinner, and it’s his night to do the dishes. But he also missed a night out with Abbey, who he was supposed to have drinks with. He can’t tell her anything about his day, and that, in ways, rattles him even more.
Mike is living a secret life in so many ways, and Eddie’s death was just one way he had sauce – or blood – on his hands. “It’s just sauce,” Briggs tells Mike as the new undercover agent stares into the dirty pot. But to Mike it’s clearly more.
Briggs as QB
One of the most interesting parts of USA Network’s “Graceland” is the relationship developing between Briggs and Mike, even though Briggs doesn’t know – yet – that Mike is investigating him. While Briggs didn’t have much of a role to play in “Pizza Box,” he had a telling moment with Charlie in the kitchen, when she likened his struggle with Mike taking over the Bello case to “Quarterback syndrome.” Briggs doesn’t think anyone can win without him, but the question he needs to answer for himself is: is he more interested in the yards, or the ring?
A drug bust gone bad
Last but not least, Mike wasn’t the only one with a gun to his head. Paige (Serinda Swan) recruited Johnny (Manny Montana) and DJ (Brandon Jay McLaren) to help with with a major drug bust involving the Sheikh, basically a pretty woman who runs a drug farm. But Johnny gets caught up in his role so much so that he makes multiple stupid mistakes, including sleeping with the “sheikh,” so that his fake tattoo ink gets onto the bed.
Guns are drawn, bullets go flying, and it’s all thanks to a kick-butt Paige, who drives a truck through the barn, that none of the undercover agents die.
“Graceland” “Pizza Box” was both an emotional roller coaster and a dramatic story, and the series is just four episodes in. Next week promises to heat up even more, as the episode “O-Mouth,” will really show the cost of pretending to be a druggie while undercover.
What do you think of the new USA Network show so far?
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