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Graceland recap: Welcome to Graceland

What do you get when you put America’s toughest and brightest agents under one roof in SoCal? A chore wheel, for starters.

USA's Graceland cast

The series premiere of Graceland started off with a bang. Literally. When one of the Graceland residents took part in a drug sale, things went awry and the agent ended up shot.

That (kind of) worked out well for Mike (Aaron Tveit, Les Mis), though. Fresh out of the FBI Academy, Mike finds himself on a plane to California instead of being relocated on the East Coast near his family. The upside of his assignment (aside from all the pretty girls) is that he’ll be living and working with one of the best agents in the business, Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata).

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There’s only one minor complication: Briggs doesn’t really care about playing mentor to a newbie and the rest of Mike’s new roomies at Graceland are all just biding their time until their buddy recovers from a gunshot. Shrugging shoulders and hostile confrontations over juice are just the beginning. But we should give you some more back story first.

Graceland: The house

After a massive drug bust on the coast of California, the U.S. government acquired one sweet a** mansion on the beach. The previous owner was an Elvis fanatic and all the paraphernalia he used to decorate with helped earn the beach house’s “Graceland” nickname. Instead of unloading the prime real estate, the government set it up as a sort of Real World: Government Agent Dorm Building. Under one roof, they paired up FBI agents with customs and DEA workers and expected the young, hot go-getters to get their s*** together and work together to help clean up California.

It takes a lot of work, a chore wheel, an incredibly organized phone room and one really good back story, but somehow they all make it work.

USA's Graceland cast

The roomies

The newbie, Mike, is as clean cut as they come. (Aaron Tveit still looks every bit his former preppy part as Trip Vanderbilt on Gossip Girl.) He’s got his notebook, his Dockers and his floppy blond hair and he’s ready to do things just like they did in the academy.

His roommates and co-workers have their own way of doing things, though. Briggs and Johnny (Manny Montana) are laid-back to a fault. When they’re not busting bad guys, they’re chasing girls or catching waves. If Mike wants to fit in, he’s going to have to learn to be more at ease with doing those things, too. He gets there, though: They even let him in on their crazy, made-up cover story for how they know each other. (We’ll get there…)

Dale Jakes (Brandon McLaren) is a bit of a control freak and is not meant for living in a house with a handful of other people. His dreads may make him look cool and laid-back, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mike and Jakes may never end up BFFs. First, Johnny cons Mike into drinking Jakes’s juice — a huge no-no — and then Mike’s flubbed case lands Jakes with a U-Haul truck full of imported knock-off jeans.

Then there are the ladies. One girl is even more hostile with Mike than Jakes. After all, that injured agent appears to be her boyfriend and she’s so not cool with Mike moving into his bedroom. The other female resident is Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito), who’s a bit of a mother hen but forms a soft spot for the newbie… even after their initial meeting led to one of them being held at gunpoint.

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The back story USA's Graceland Manny

Fresh off the plane, Mike is rolled into an ongoing investigation solely because Briggs needs an unfamiliar face to make a fake drug run. Mike needs a story for how he knows Briggs and “around” just won’t cut it. Johnny, always playing the part of a little brother, convinces Briggs to let Mike in on their “movie.”

The story is incredibly convoluted, but here goes: Briggs was working a case at the same time he earned some distinguished FBI honor and his face was plastered all over the news. When the guy he’d been working with/investigating couldn’t figure out why Briggs looked so familiar, Briggs and Johnny told him it’s because they’re both in a movie together… something about hookers and cops. When his case seemed disbelieving, Briggs even whipped out his real badge and showed it to the guy as proof that it’s a movie prop. The story even involved shooting a guy while he sat on the toilet.

The reward and the bonding moment

Letting Mike in on that story pays off when he soon finds himself mixed up with a new set of suspicious characters. They want proof that Mike’s as big of a hard-a** as he’s pretending to be and he knows just what to do: He tells them the story of the time he shot a guy on the toilet. While he’s giving the guys the low-down, Briggs and the team are listening in and they have someone at the precinct creating a fake cold-case file for just such a crime. Mike’s quick thinking and Briggs and Johnny’s ridiculous story saves one man’s family and (mostly) keeps Mike from getting busted.

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The catch

After one seriously eventful first day, the roommates hit the beach for a bonfire. Just as Mike is bonding with his new partners/friends/chore-sharers, his phone rings. Earlier, Johnny hinted to Mike that a while back, Briggs underwent something major and it completely changed his personality. Briggs wasn’t always such a laid-back dude. Whatever happened to Briggs has the FBI up-in-arms and they’ve sent Mike to the house in order to keep an eye on him.

He’s already covered for Briggs once (after Briggs saved his life), but will it continue? In a house where nothing is as it seems and everyone is inside lives with multiple covers, it’s hard to know just who exactly is too caught up in their cover and who might still be a viable friend, confidant and agent. All Mike’s new life can guarantee: He’s stumbled into one very interesting situation.

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Images courtesy of USA

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