Just as there’s always that one episode in the season you can’t like no matter how hard you try, there’s always that one episode that leaves you emotionally conflicted and torn between everything that’s occurred.
Episode Summary: Paige attempts to escape the place where they’re holding the girls hostage with Lina. Mike and Briggs torture Lawrence for information on Paige’s whereabouts. After she’s rescued, Mike learns that a member of the Gang Task Force may be the rat working alongside the Solano cartel.
Review | Analysis: My favorite part of this week’s episode apart from the heartwarming conversation with Jakes and Paige, was that for the first time since the second season aired, despite being at each other’s throats the house came to do something they care about together.
Let’s start with Mike and Briggs torturing Lawrence – I didn’t agree with it, don’t condone it, but I most certainly understand where the men were coming from. What’s surprising however is that Lawrence didn’t cave the moment he saw the alcohol in Briggs’ hand. And while that torture scene was awful to watch, at least it led the team to Paige. Skipping to the end before we get to more important storylines, after Mike lets Lawrence go, he’s murdered in his house and the team learns that someone from the Gang Task Force may be the rat. I’m not going to lie, I’d be a little disappointed if this were actually true because what ticked me off most when watching this week’s episode is that no one pointed fingers at Jess. And I don’t mean for being the rat but Paige’s situation. While it was Paige and Jakes’ decision to go on the stakeout themselves, Jess’ decision to cut the case because of Mike’s feelings is still entirely screwed up. It’s not something I can look passed in terms of respecting her character because as I said last week, she didn’t even try and this was always bigger than a romance. Also, though I don’t expect anyone to suspect her anytime, I’m still hoping she’s somehow involved because the dots connect.
I am however incredibly proud of Mike for deciding to stay because even though he could get away with this being a victory for them, he’s choosing to stay behind to truly put an end to something terrible. It’s no longer about Mike wanting to feel like a rockstar again.
And now the core of this week’s episode – I’ve stalled writing about it as much as I possibly could due to literal break downs because human trafficking isn’t just a plot we’re witnessing on screen. Upon arriving at the base where the girls are being held captive, those in charge are aware of the fact that one of the balloons may have popped/or something else since Paige hasn’t given them up. After she’s unresponsive to them and Carlito who’s inevitably in charge of the operation isn’t picking up their phone calls, they take her into a room, force her to get undressed, and take photographs of her. She’s later taken to a room where all the girls are held and is reunited with Lina (Marina Shtelen). With the realization that something’s probably gone wrong since the team isn’t coming, she attempts to escape with her but is caught and beaten by head of the operation, Sulla. Mike poses as a buyer the next day and Paige is understandably livid because there’s no team and he refuses to buy Lina instead of her.
When it comes to scenarios like this, one of the worst things I assume a viewer could feel is the state of confusion that comes from understanding both ends of the spectrum. It’s not always black and white and it’s most definitely never simple. Hence, when it comes to Mike and Paige this week, there’s way more that meets the eye – and neither character is able to fully understand the other.
More than anything my heart broke for the girls and though Graceland’s portrayal was presumably an authentic form of representation, it doesn’t come close to the horrors of what I imagine it’s like behind closed doors. Each of the females in there, whether of age or not, are sold for 20k as though they aren’t living breathing human beings. The amount of things they’re forced into, ways they’re beaten and tortured is unimaginable – to say such acts are cruel doesn’t do the terrors justice. Paige’s character has quickly become exceedingly admirable for her strength and most importantly her heart. I feel as though while it’s essentially impossible to understand just what Paige was feeling at that moment, it’s safe to assume that guilt sits like a ton of bricks on her shoulder. As a DEA agent who hasn’t worked such a monstrous case before, there’s not a whole lot she could’ve done on her own prior to taking Anika’s place. Also, as someone whose heart evidently governs her actions, she wants to save each and every one of them, thus the earnest attachment and general need to do good I feel slightly clouds her judgment. When it comes to cases such as human trafficking and there are groups of innocent victims involved, I feel as though any human being with a heart will have their rational judgment clouded. Do you wait it out and do further research in someway or go to such extremes as an escape attempt? As a writer, I’ve never thrown my opinions out like this before but I feel it’s necessary at the moment: seeing as how I spent hours researching on actual cases instead of writing this sooner says a lot about what the situation does to a person. And at the moment, I can’t actually do anything that’ll help, but ultimately I’ve cried about ten times in the past 3 hours because of the things I’ve been reading. And trying to put myself in Paige’s shoes, experiencing it first hand and not being able to save them when she’s given the means is probably one of the worst forms of guilt and torture one can feel. It’s understandably something that’ll scar and alter a person’s life in more ways than not. Paige is a hero – and even though at the moment, she couldn’t save Lina or the others, she still posed as someone else and took the case upon herself. That’s an act of heroism that cannot be ignored. Her distinguishable courage speaks volumes on behalf of who she is as a person and an agent; therefore, if there’s anything we as the audience can be certain of is that she’ll stop at nothing to fulfill her promise. Moreover, perhaps this time to mend and let her emotions out, will allow her to find and the rest of the time to find safer ways of going about the operation in order to save all the girls.
At the moment and undoubtedly until the ends of time, if Team Paige was something that existed, I’d be apart of it. However, the only thing I’d want to see from upcoming episodes is the understanding of why Mike did what he did. As I’ve said before, this season I go from wanting to pat him on the back to sending him to the corner in order for him to think about his actions. In this episode especially, there were times where I both couldn’t stand him and felt deeply for him. Tveit’s performance when Mike sees the photographs on the website is what sold the scene. You could see the broken spirit of a man who knows a woman he sincerely cares for is in a petrifying situation where her physical and emotional health along with her safety are on the line. In that instant, Paige’s well being is undoubtedly the sole thing on his mind. Thus, the need to rescue her despite her refusal is entirely understandable. And while she’s someone who can without a doubt take care of herself in there, there’s the slight possibility that if he had bought –disgusted to even use such a word in regards to a person–Lina instead, because Paige tried to escape with her earlier, those in charge may have put two and two together and realized that something’s off. Both their covers could have been blown and their lives could’ve been in serious danger. Furthermore, because viewers have seen how ruthless Carlito is, there’s a presumption that his father, Solano Sr. is far worse and if that’s the case, then perhaps Mike’s plan will work for the better in the long run. The girls are under the command of the Solano cartel, if they’re exposed for good, then there’s the possibility that more than one girl can be rescued and one branch of human traffickers can be permanently shut down since they’re unfortunately not the only ones who partake in such vicious acts of cruelty. Despite the fact that Mike’s changed drastically since he first landed the job in Graceland, at the end of the day, his heart is still there and I feel as though despite being clouded by the obsession that’s formed to take down the Solano cartel, his heart would never turn its back on such a situation. Although time means stalling, I still believe he’ll keep the promise he’s made to Paige and not just for her, but for the sake of humanity because that’s who he is deep within.
Serinda Swan is the star of this week’s episode. I’m completely astound by her performances this season and she broke me not only throughout the entire episode, but towards the end with Jakes, speechlessness was all that remained. Stay tuned for weekly reviews coming soon as Swan gets the crown for our “Most Noteworthy Performance”. And for this week’s “Most Exquisite Scene” I’ll be talking about Paige and Jakes’ heartbreaking breakdown at the end of the episode.
At this point, I’d like to take a moment to address sex trafficking outside of the show. As you all hopefully know by now, over millions of children and women are sold yearly worldwide. What we’ve seen on Graceland this week, possibly next week, and glimpses in the past, don’t come close to the reality of it all. As stated numerous times above, it’s truly unimaginable and heartbreaking beyond words. It’s not a topic that should ever be taken lightly and there are ways in which you could get involved – spreading awareness is getting involved, partaking in activities meant to spread awareness is getting involved as well. I’d advice that if you’re someone who’s interested in helping out, do your research thoroughly on organizations. These are a few of the websites available where you could educate yourself further on the topic. Additionally, as a trigger warning, most of these stories aren’t for the faint hearted and it’s alright if that’s how you are – getting involved can be as simple as signing certain petitions and letting others know you’re against it. The effort is enough. However, if you’re interested in enlightening yourself further, merely be advised that it isn’t a light topic.
Note: the second and third are ones Serinda Swan herself is involved in.
What’d you all think of this week’s episode? Is there anything you’d like us to discuss further?
Special thank you to Caitlin T. |x| for the sites and her assistance with the review.