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Monday, March 5, 2012

"Luck" recap: Shake it, don't break it

Kerry Condon as Rosie on HBO's "Luck"





Spoilers for this week's episode of "Luck" below.  Don't click through if you don't want to know.

This week on "Luck," an earthquake hits Santa Anita and, though it causes no harm to any of the horse, it serves as a sign that things are about to radically change for many of our characters.
Chief among these is Ace, who, after weeks of grooming Israel to be his go-between/spy in his dealings with Mike, finally lets the kid loose. Israel meets with Mike and plants the seed about Ace being in bed with the Indian Gaming League. Mike takes the bait, enlisting Israel as a double agent and plotting to get the gaming league on his side instead. But how successful is this ploy, really? The thing that repeatedly strikes me about Ace's plot to buy the race track is that EVERYONE seems to know it's a revenge plot. Not only did Mike smell something fishy when the two men met a few episodes back, but this week, both Ace's parole officer and the track owner sense this is a revenge plot. Sooo ... how successful can Ace's plan be, when everyone seems to know he has something up his sleeve? I must admit, this is the one plot point I am repeatedly befuddled by. Still, the Israel piece of his scheme seems to be moving forward as planned. So that's good. I think.
As for our favorite marble-mouthed trainer/owner, Walter Smith, he's having some major problems this week. First, the son-in-law of the Colonel -- who owned Gettin' Up Morning's father, Delphi -- has sent him a letter saying he owes $145,000  in stud fees and room and board. Apparently, the Colonel's gift of Gettin' Up Morning is in question, as is the Colonel's competency. This makes Walter growl in disapproval. And if that weren't enough, his jockey, Rosie, foils his plan to slowly unleash Gettin' Up Morning on the world one race at a time. Despite Walter's wishes, Rosie whips her horse during her race, spurring the animal to a six-length victory. It breaks a track record and any hopes Walter had of keeping his horse's specialness a secret are dashed. Rosie realizes her mistake as soon as she sees Walter's grizzled puss. And, just like that, the rising jockey's future is in question, just as she seemed to be rising to prominence.
Of course, it's possible that no character this week is as troubled as Joey who, after getting one last hateful glare from Leon, decides it's time to end it all. He gives his ex-wife/baby mama/whoever she is a heart-breaking good-bye call -- which she is to preoccupied and angry to recognize as a good-bye call. This makes me wonder if whatever relationship they had was short-lived, as any woman with even a little care and concern for her ex (particularly one she had a child with) could recognize that call for what it was. However, Lynn just seems pissed that Joey's calling her. Poor, poor, sad Joey Rathburn. He can't catch a break, can he?
He re-considers attempting suicide when the earthquake hits, but the quake causes the gun to go off accidentally, and the ricocheting bullet grazes his face, making for an awkward trip to the ER. But Joey has a brief moment of victory when it appears the injury has cured his stammer (makes me think "The King's Speech" could have been a lot shorter if Lionel Logue had just shot King George in the face instead of bothering with all those silly elocution lessons).
Of course, even that's short-lived. After being menaced by the hateful, angry Ronnie, Joey's stammer returns. Guess he'll never get to eat that pack of pickled peppers after all.
Just about the only people things are going well for this week are the Foray Stables gang and Leon the jockey. Though Renzo wants to scratch Mon Gateau after the quake, the rest of the guys convince him it's nonsense. The horse races and wins, but there's a moment of blind panic when Leon, their rider, bumps another horse and sparks an inquiry. The victory ultimately stands and, despite a confrontation with the other jock in the locker room, Leon generally has a good week. He not only scores the victory, but gets a little extra cash from the Foray guys -- who are very pleased with the victory (even Marcus).
Here are some more thoughts on this week's episode of "Luck":

  • Also having trouble this week is Dr. Jo, who gets in yet another fight with Escalante -- just before finding out that she's pregnant. The constant tension between this two has yet to go in an interesting direction. Partly, that's because Jo is written fairly two-dimensionally. Still, I can't help but wonder if this character and the relationship wouldn't have a little more spark if Jo were played by someone more charismatic than Jill Hennessy (Diane Farr, maybe? Elizabeth Mitchell, maybe?).
  •  Love the early scene where Ace, Gus and Israel stand contemplating the cake that's been sent by Mike and his gang. It reads "Wait to Go, Greek." Of course, Gus receives a text that there was an "icing error," and that it should, as Israel suggests, read "Way to Go, Greek." Still, he and Ace are sure it's an intentional slight by their nemeses and strike Israel down when he fails to realize the gravity of the moment. It's a funny moment, and shows that Ace and Gus live in a world where all actions are important, even a so-called "icing error."
  • Though Lonnie is maybe the least fully-realized of the Foray boys, he has a few good moments this week -- not the least of which is him standing on the banquette bellowing "Earthquake!" as if no one else is aware of what's happening. Which, of course, is exactly how a guy like this would respond.
  • Richard Kind is, as always, excellent in the Joey story. But I'm starting to wonder if Gary Stevens was a good choice for Ronnie. Stevens has a nice presence and, as a retired jockey, he's pretty convincing in any scene where he's riding a horse. But he doesn't really have the skills to make Ronnie as complicated as he needs to be. This is a man who is bitter, hateful, yet desperate enough for redemption to make him sympathetic. That's not really coming across in the performance and it's starting to be a problem.
  • Gus and Ace pillow talk of the week:This week, Gus and Ace's episode capper is preceded -- and inspired -- by a scene in which Ace has dinner with his new lady friend Claire, who suggests that Ace's interactions with Pint of Plain are changing him. She suggests that he think about "what could be." He takes that message so to heart, he can't sleep, and bends the ear of his exhausted driver. The moment where Ace cusses Gus out for falling asleep as he's speaking is funny and goes to the incredibly close, almost marital, relationship between the two guys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your recaps of 'Luck'. Thanks so much for taking the time!


-Matt