Jeff Eastin lays out the plan for the USA series in its sophomore season
“Graceland’s” story of revenge came to a bloody conclusion on Thursday’s season finale. But the USA drama’s creator Jeff Eastin left some loose threads that he plans to pull on during its recently announced second season, debuting next summer.
Note: Spoilers if you haven’t watched Thursday’s Season 1 finale, “Pawn.”
On the season finale, Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) goes AWOL in his search for Jangles (Vincent Laresca), the drug lord that got him hooked on heroin and killed the members of his first safe house, including the woman he loved. That leads him to Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) and the mysterious Mexican agent she has partnered with.
Trailing the federale back to his house, Briggs gets into a scuffle with Jangles, but they’re interrupted by Charlie, who disarms her housemate, thinking he has gone bad. In the end, both Charlie and Briggs find themselves prisoners of Jangles. Always one step behind Briggs, Mike (Aaron Tveit) finds himself at Jangles’ home and lands his first bullet in Jangles’ chest, rescuing them all.
With his mentor cleared, Mike is assigned to D.C. but gets called back to the safe house when Briggs realizes he needs some help …
TheWrap spoke with Eastin about some of the story turns this season and what he’s planning for Season 2.
Mike ultimately takes down Jangles. Will there be repercussions over the fact that Briggs wasn’t able to do it himself?
Yeah, there will be a few, obviously more psychological, but they’ll play out a little in the fact that Briggs will not feel fulfilled in his quest for revenge. Might be a little bit of that, which plays out in terms of how Briggs ends up looking at life.
The finale ended with a kid finding the recording that could prove that Briggs killed Mike’s handler. Is that the launching point for Season 2?
I’d say as far as the recording goes, as a launching-off point, you’re right and you’re wrong. You’re right in the sense that that’s what launches the season, but we the audience won’t know about it until like halfway through the season. I know I’m being a little cryptic.
Will there be a time jump when Season 2 begins?
What we really don’t say in the finale is that time lapses about a month-and-a-half from the time of the campfire to the time we find Mike out in D.C. Relatively quickly from the point after Mike gets the phone call from Briggs, he goes back.
What’s driving Briggs on Season 2?
His desire in Season 2 will really be to regain and become the agent he used to be — he was the superstar until leaving the house and the death of Lisa and becoming the guy we discovered in Season 1. He realizes that it ain’t that easy, especially when you’re Briggs and you’re useful to the people around you for the things you’re capable of.
Where do we find Mike’s head next season?
What he finds when he comes back to the house is that everything looks OK, but it’s really a house divided, and for Mike it really becomes about trying to help Briggs with this mystery that we set up with that last phone call in Season 1. But it really becomes Mike’s desire to repair the damage in the house and kind of conclude his journey to become Briggs, to be the guy that can rebuild and restore the house. That becomes Mike’s drive.
Will the drug trade again be the focus of the agents?
I think that we covered that well, and there will still be things about the drug trade because, for example, if you compare “Graceland” to “White Collar,” “White Collar” exists in its own sort of hyper-reality, while “Graceland” at least feels like it exists in reality. And the truth is drugs are a major part of that undercover world. So we do still touch on them, but we also expand it out.
One of the big things in Season 2 will be this kind of Silk Road, this new smuggling operation that moves from South America up the coast to Mexico and into the United States, and on that road you can get pretty much anything — weapons, drugs, you know, you want women, whatever, you can get on this new Silk Road. That’s sort of the big MacGuffin that our characters will tackle this year.
Are there any lessons from Season 1 that will inform your decisions next year?
The real big disappointment this year is that we were a little bit worried that Briggs’ setup would be a little confusing to the audience, and I think for the most part we were probably right about that. We’ll be mindful about things like that.
The other thing that we were very aware of going in is that in Episode 3, we really play up this idea of the roommates as roommates, and that particular episode was a sauce where you really see them interacting as friends. That’s something that we knew there would be a tradeoff in Season 2, because there’s a lot of plot, especially between Mike and Briggs, and stuff that’s happening. We couldn’t go along with the interactions between the roommates, and that’s something we’re planning for.
Season 1 is really about Briggs’ revenge, and Season 2 will be a lot more about the characters and their interactions.
Can you give us an idea of what you have planned for the other characters?
Paige and Mike, without being too spoiler-y, have things in the finale that need to be addressed in Season 2. And Mike does return to the house next year, and he’s been gone for a while, and things have changed. Paige has moved on, she’s seeing somebody, and that creates its own set of intricacies. Paige ends up having a great deal of trouble in her relationship, and Mike is the one that helps her out of it which is an interesting dynamic.
Charlie really comes back from the dark side, which is where we left her. For Charlie, that journey back becomes a big part of her story in Season 2, and Johnny realizes he needs to step up and become a man for Jakes. We go back and explore that relationship a bit between him and Briggs, and you find out what this big secret was that Jakes would be willing to bury a body for. So essentially, everybody really has their stories fuse, and we get to decide in detail for each of the characters, which is something we’re excited to do.