Though it remains to be seen whether Mike actually died in the Season 2 finale, creator Jeff Eastin is already speaking about the show in post-Mike terms.
"[Mike] will be in the premiere episode in some capacity. But in what capacity, I won't say," Eastin tells TVGuide.com. "I can say that we do deal with his death and it does have severe ramifications for the rest of the season."
The team members who are most affected, naturally, are Paige (Serinda Swan) and Briggs (Daniel Sunjata). "Paige had just come off a real high last year when she saved the girls who had been sex-trafficked. And so, taking her from that high and being able to drop her down as far as we could - which in this case was essentially Paige giving Mike up to Sid, which ultimately resulted in his death - was about as far down as we could take it," Eastin notes. "That was just very interesting to us, to create that real drama there and then to see the ramifications of that in the house. In this case, Briggs knows her secret. ... Ultimately, the secret does come out. The roommates will have various reactions depending on where they are in the season."
Also in on Paige's secret, obviously, is Sid (Carmine Giovinazzo), who becomes an even bigger threat to the house now that his life would be much easier if Paige were out of the picture - especially with an investigation into Mike's death looming. But perhaps the most drastic reaction to Paige's betrayal comes from Paige herself, who makes a shocking announcement at the end of Thursday's premiere.
Elsewhere, after the Juan Badillo audio tape incriminating Briggs falls into the hands of new FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Logan (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Logan uses the tape to coerce Briggs into going deep undercover to infiltrate the Armenian mob. But is it too deep? His entry point is new villain Ari Adamian (Entourage alum Rhys Coiro), who might be the show's most terrifying antagonist yet. "One thing that we've been able to do pretty consistently is come up with some good bad guys," Eastin says. "This year I think we may have reached our pinnacle with the character of Ari. ... I'm waiting for USA to tell me they want a spin-off." But, as wicked as Ari is, Briggs finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, as his blackmailing boss Logan proves to be nearly as ruthless as the criminals they're tracking.
On the personal front, it remains to be seen whether Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) will keep her baby. To say there's trouble in paradise between her and Briggs would be putting it mildly, but will they still be willing to raise a baby together? "Where we left Briggs and Charlie was in a fairly toxic place," Eastin concedes. "What we wanted to do this year was put them into a position where Paul can let her go and feel comfortable letting her go, but putting Charlie in a position where she's really pinched between these two worlds, between the idea of being a mom and being an undercover agent. ... What we were attempting to do was restore them to a place where they can co-exist in the house, and where they could return to the really strong friendship that they've had in the past."
Graceland returns Thursday at 10/9c on USA. Do you think Mike is really dead?