In a slow, prodding episode that featured two horse races but little else, Ace Bernstein and Gus Demitriou (played by Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Farina) provided the spark that drives "Luck" on Sunday, even as they drifted in and out of dreaming.
Jockey agent Joey Rathburn was in a bad place, considering suicide after a call to his ex-wife. “Give my best to the kid,” he tells her, stammering while she blows him off for what seems like the umpteenth time. “Tell him to clean up his act.”
As he puts the gun to his head, a sudden earthquake causes him to stop – but not before the bullet fires at the floor, ricochets off a pipe and grazes his cheek. Somehow his stutter is gone after a trip to the doctor, as he proudly proclaims, stutter-free, “My name is Joey Rathburn!”
While Nick Nolte was attending the Oscars last night, in which he was nominated for best supporting actor, his character on the fifth episode of HBO’s “Luck” was noticeably absent.
Walter Smith and his successful horse Gettin’ Up Morning had the episode off, which left the spotlight for Dustin Hoffman’s Ace Bernstein – as well as a meatier role to his companion/bodyguard, Gus Demitriou (played by Dennis Farina).
Gus and Ace head down to the track to visit with the trainer, Turo Escalante, of Gus's horse.
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.
The third episode of HBO’s "Luck" shows us various characters reverting to addictions and bad habits of the past, wincing slightly while they return to their previous ways.
For aging jockey Ronnie Jenkins, it’s drugs and alcohol (after he breaks his collarbone again in a racing accident). For Jerry, it’s the poker table (and continuing to burn through his share of the big episode one winning). For Dr. Jo and Turo Escalante, it’s, strangely, each other.
But more on that later. The episode opens with a near-collision on the track, echoing the plotlines of many of the characters in the show.
The best HBO dramas are never solely about the settings they bring to life.
For example, “The Sopranos” was set in the world of the mob, but was mainly about family. “Six Feet Under” had a funeral home as the backdrop, but was really about relationships.
But with “Luck,” the new HBO drama which premiered Sunday night to much critical acclaim, the formula changes. “Luck” is about horse racing, and if the first episode is any indication, horse racing will be the primary plotline, and not just the underlying setting.
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 7,778 other followers