Graceland had a lot of ground to cover in its first few episodes: establishing this utterly unique world, introducing -- and fully realizing -- six series regulars, creating compelling cases of the week while building a larger overall mythology and slowly altering the expectations of USA's loyal viewers.
But once the groundwork was laid, creator Jeff Eastin and his incredible cast were able to take viewers on one of the year's most unpredictable adventures. And according to star Serinda Swan, the surprises will keep coming in the show's final two episodes as loyalties are tested, true motives are revealed and fans will be left with a cliffhanger (or seven) of epic proportions!
ETonline: I remember when I visited set before the first episode aired and the whole cast kept saying, "This show gets so good after episode 5." Well, you guys were seriously not kidding!
Serinda Swan: I know! It was like, "Just hang in there people!" It's not that the first episodes were bad, but they were more like training wheels for the normal USA viewer who liked sunnier skies. We had to get them into the flow of things before we started shocking them with cutting off arms and overdosing on heroin [laughs]. Plus, you have to get to know the characters before we can mess them up.
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ETonline: Right, you have to care about the characters before you can care about what happens to them. And, I'll tell you, the look on your face when Mike told Paige his secret basically broke my heart.
Swan: I remember shooting that scene and not having a huge reaction was so key for me. When someone gets punched in the gut like that, I think it's so much more interesting to see the deflation. You know she's upset, you don't have to see her yelling to know that. Especially since you can tell Paige has underlying feelings for Mike; she loves him as a member of the team, and this family, but there are also some other things going on. That made the moment so much more heartbreaking because it shattered all her beliefs in this person she thought she really knew.
ETonline: I thought the show did a great job of making it clear that while Paige has feelings for Mike, her relationship advice wasn't coming from a selfish place. As an actor, how important was that distinction for you?
Swan: That was, honestly, the biggest thing for me. It was so important we find that middle ground because I could not have the audience think Paige was telling Mike he couldn't be with Abby because she wanted to be with him. That turns Paige into this kind of terrible girl and that's the furthest thing from who she is. I really worked on making it clear that she is super professional and only saying this because of their jobs. So whenever Paige was saying, "You can't date Abby," I just made sure I wasn't giving him googly-eyes or looking at Abby in a mean way [laughs]. Hopefully you can tell that she's got a lot of sympathy of what Mike's going through.
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ETonline: Now that Mike told Briggs he was an FBI mole inside Graceland, what does that mean for Paige?
Swan: It's funny because you usually see heightened tension in those situations because of that betrayal. But Mike actually starts to really open up to Paige about Briggs, whom he still doesn't completely trust, and kind of turns Paige on Briggs a bit! She starts to really question why the FBI would investigate him. I see Paige as a very centered person, and her center starts to shift a little bit as a result of this. She's questioning Briggs, she's questioning everything in the house and the last few episodes reveal whether or not Paige totally sides with Mike.
ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see in these last two episodes?
Swan: There's blood, there's shootings, there's double crosses and alliances you never thought would be made! They're just phenomenal. The finale is not one of those finales where everything is wrapped up in a nice, neat bow. There are definitely some scraggly ends that you'll be dying to see addressed in season two! It's so high-impact, it's super high-drama, there are moments when I was reading the script where I was flipping out! The writers find a way to pull the whole season together in a way that brings all the characters to a head; it's a great finale and amazing to see how they'd really expertly plotted the trajectory of the show.
Graceland airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA.