February 20th, 2012
02:15 PM ET
It took four episodes, but we finally got to see Walter Smith’s (Nick Nolte) beautiful horse Gettin’ Up Morning race – and what a race it was.
And, after four episodes of hearing about Mike, we also finally got to meet the man who makes “no-sweat” Ace Bernstein perspire. We only scratched the creepy, undermining surface of Mike, but we’re guaranteed more is to come.
The episode kicked off with Jerry back in the poker rooms with his arch-nemesis Chan – and losing as usual.
It was a bad episode for our recent half-millionaire poker addict. Jerry eventually had to be rescued by the rest of the Four Stooges at a high-stakes private game in Chan’s restaurant, where he, once again, was losing bundles of cash.
The successful Cajun jockey Leon Micheaux didn't make weight, and despite his svelte figure he’s told to lose a few pounds by his agent, highlighting the tough conditions for jockeys. While his agent, played by Richard Kind, defends him to star trainer Turo Escalante, he later warns the kid about his livelihood being at stake.
And then, enter Mike. The meeting between Ace and Mike takes place on Mike’s yacht, decked out in a “Miami Vice” motif with a bevy of young ladies. Mike, played by veteran actor Michael Gambon (who may look familiar to some as Dumbledore from the "Harry Potter" franchise), oozes power and sleaze, talking down to Ace through every back-handed compliment.
Although they agreed to work together in Ace’s new venture, the final tense exchange set up for a showdown later: “How’s your grandson, Ace,” Mike asks with a smirk. “Hope he appreciates what you did for him.”
“Don’t talk about him anymore,” fires back Ace.
Meanwhile, Rosie is back at the track, and, as we see midway through the episode, is the first female jockey on the track in a long time. She’s excited, and she’s got a great horse to ride – Walter’s Gettin’ Up Morning.
During the climactic racing scene, the horse gets off to an incredibly bad start, but catches up as Smith beats his binoculars to the rhythm of the race. Going from far in the back of the pack to the win, we’re hit with creator David Milch’s violins, slow motion and close shots of the beautiful animal.
We also see Dustin Hoffman’s Ace in the rearview mirror, a tired Leon after a run and Jerry losing more money for good measure. These scenes are quintessential Milch – and what will make the episode, and series, so polarizing.
We get brief hints at three relationships as well – Dr. Jo and Escalante at home, victorious Rosie and Leon in a budding jockey romance, and Ace and Claire, played by Joan Allen.
Claire wants Ace to support a prisoner/horse racing charity, and he’s anxious to do so. She wants him to really think about it, and read a note she’s written before he decides. “Big holdback for honest people,” says Ace. “Very tough for them to take a yes.”
But by the end of the episode, we see him tell his bodyguard and companion Gus, “If I can help a woman, that’s what I’m going to do,” while unconvincingly denying any romantic interest. When it comes to Hoffman’s Ace, whether it’s dealing with Mike or Claire, it’s often what’s not said that holds the key to “Luck.”
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