Graceland runs a con on the Armenian mob.

By J. Harvey
July 17, 2015 at 04:02 AM EDT
Jeff Daly/USA Network
S3 E4
  • TV Show

Tonight’s Graceland was an interesting diversion, dropping all of the ongoing subplots to concentrate on one: the gang conning murderous crazy Ari Adamian (Rhys Coiro). Let’s take it con by con, shall we?

Apparently crazy isn’t necessarily synonymous with skipping the gym. Briggs arrives at the office to find a panicked Ari in naught but some red square-cuts and assorted tattoos. Okay, we’re starting to see what Layla sees. Adamian wants to know why his index finger and thumb are burnt, why he’s covered in someone else’s blood, who the hell gave him the wrong cigs, and why his car has a giant rebar through the windshield. He just knows there’s something in the trunk, and figures it’s the owner of the blood he was spattered in. There’s no body to be found, but there are a couple of gas cans and a receipt from a convenience store in Sun Valley. Get the pipe out of the windshield, Briggs. We’re going for Slim Jims and information.

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. They are immediately shot at by the cashier. In between firing on them, the clerk reminds Ari that he told him he’d kill him if he ever came back. Wait, that voice is familiar. And so are those floppy bangs! Mikey’s been moonlighting as a convenience store clerk? Ari and Briggs quickly disarm him, and Mikey plays his role as clueless gas wrangler to a T. We get a flashback of Charlie painting a fake black eye on Mikey’s mug. We also get a flashback of Jakes and Manny letting Layla’s dad know where her credit card was last used. Guess where? The clerk insists that Ari beat him up for not having his correct cigarettes, threatened to “cut off his balls,” and he used a woman’s credit card to purchase gas cans.

Having fallen for Jakes posing as Capital One or what have you, Layla’s dad Martun Sarkissian (played by veteran baddie actor Peter Stormare) shows up. He’d like to know who used his little girl’s credit card. Ari and Briggs cover for the time being, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Ari might have done something bad with Martun’s daughter. Martun mentions that he’s got a cabin nearby where he and Layla loved to fish for trout together. This would be heartwarming if they weren’t a bloodthirsty mob family.

On the ride over to the cabin, Ari remembers that he did meet up with Layla at the bar the previous evening. She mentioned something about wanting him to do her “in the desert.” Ari expects that Layla will be alive and well at the cabin. Footprints are discovered in front of the cabin, as are drag marks. We flashback to Manny dragging Jakes wrapped in a canvas to simulate a body being dragged. They add some monkey bones to a stack of tires. Gasoline is sprayed, and Layla’s ring and a motel room key are thrown into the mix. These Graceland people are shifty! They even place one of the menthol cigarettes and a spent match to indicate that imaginary Ari hesitated in burning imaginary Layla’s imaginary corpse. Jakes and Manny discuss the ethics of getting Ari’s people to kill him but hey, at least they aren’t pulling the trigger themselves. They’re merely supplying “the bullets,” as Jakes says.

NEXT: Peter Stormare is grief-stricken and murderous.

In the present, Briggs and the Armenians discover the burn site. Martun freaks out when he finds the ring and assumes his daughter has been killed. Briggs starts playing CSI and his mouth gets on Martun’s nerves. He clubs Briggs with a log, and goes to blow his head off. Grief is not Briggs’ friend in this scenario. He manages to talk his way out of eating a bullet, and the motel room key is discovered. Martun is determined to teach his daughter’s “murderer” a new kind of killing as revenge. He’s got slicked-back hair and a Satan goatee, so he probably knows a bunch of ways.

We then flashback to Mikey and Charlie at the motel room, as they created a crime scene doused in pig’s blood. They actually used a pig’s head that Charlie shot several times. Working for the Bureau puts you in some interesting situations. Charlie used her lipstick on a few spent cigarettes as they discussed Mikey’s deal with the metaphysical chickens. As they tidied themselves up, Charlie asked for Mikey’s help in dealing with the Miami pill popper gang.

Briggs and Ari arrive at the motel and survey the bloody damage. Carrie was covered in less pig’s blood at the prom. We get one of those sped-up montages of room cleaning. I always feel bad for the actors in these cases because it looks like they actually had to do some cleaning. They finish up but when they lift the mattress, they realize the blood has soaked through. Ari, being the impatient sort of psychotic, goes and grabs the remaining gas from the car and soaks the room. He lights a match and prepares to ignite the joint but suddenly freezes. Oh oh.

Oh, what a night. We get the big ole’ flashback that explains the rest of the caper. It wasn’t Layla who showed up to ask Ari to do her in the desert. Jakes, posing as the barkeep, doused Ari’s last drink with GHB. This made him perceive a bewigged Paige as Layla. She got Ari out of the bar and he passed out in the parking lot. Jakes and Paige get his crazy ass into his car, and they drive him to the office. The entire gang works to bloody him up, transfer the gas cans into the car, and slam a pipe through his windshield. They’re really efficient. Imagine if they did weddings or painted houses. Paige delivers the finishing touch by burning Ari’s finger and thumb with a match.

In the present, Ari’s readying to burn down the motel has triggered an epiphany. He calls Martun, speaking Armenian, but we catch “Colby” and “Layla” in his convo. Ari drags Briggs to another motel. He explains that he uses his left hand to light cigarettes. His right thumb and finger are the burned ones. He also realizes there’s only one man who would know this, and all the rest of the info to set him up. The mob has traced this person’s car to another motel.

One final flashback. Our new friend Colby lured Layla to this motel. He lied to her that Ari wanted to elope and planned on meeting her there. As she bathes, Colby provides her with a drugged drink (they had a lot of GHB lying around) and lets Paige in. Paige makes off with Layla’s dress. The next morning, Colby handcuffs a still unconscious Layla to the bed and goes to recon and grab a pop. When he returned, Martun emerged from behind the door. Poor Colby. He was kind of cute with his shaved head and earnest manner.

In the present-day, Briggs and Ari enter yet another motel room. Ari wants Briggs to look in the bathroom. A horribly tortured and very dead Colby lies in the bathtub. He looks almost skinned. Briggs, devastated that he got yet another agent killed, slides down the door to the floor. Martun wasn’t kidding about teaching someone all those new ways to die. “Guy, we gotta have a little talk,” Ari says. I’m guessing by “talk” he means “murder the mess out of you.” Poor Briggs.

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