You know when a movie is the middle segment of what will be a trilogy, so it doesn’t really have a wholly independent narrative arc of its own (see The Empire Strikes Back and The Matrix Reloaded)? The filmmakers get so caught up in the idea of a third and ultimate installment that they forget the second one needs a beginning, middle and end with resolution and closure (if you’re into that sort of thing).
TV series can handle this better than movies because the expectation is that the audience watches every episode. Breaking Bad immediately comes to mind in its ability to entertain without giving each episode a distinct arc because the intensity is maxed out, all day, everyday. Luck, on the other hand, is not quite as intense, and, consequently can’t manage the same story structure. But it tries nonetheless.
As you might expect, the third episode is simply a continuation of storylines established in the previous two with no real regard for whether those narratives are compelling (for the most part, they’re not). “Episode Three,” as the show is titled, begins with several of the middle-aged and older men shown from behind from the neck up, which might have been a fun little visual game to contrast their horseracing socioeconomic standing, but all I could think about is the possibility that one of them might be garroted (blame The Sopranos).
For how many individual plot points there are in this episode, almost nothing actually happens. The boys buy their horse, Escalante bristles at everything, Leon passes out in the schvitz, Ronnie falls off the horse and the wagon (ba-zing!), Walter acts like a schoolboy when trying to call Rosie and Ace and the Greek bring an actual schoolboy into the fold of their as-yet-undetermined (criminal) enterprise. Each of these threads only goes so far as to introduce the idea; none of them are advanced past their respective expositions.
On the plus side, Jerry continues to round out into a fine, likable character as he displays his general savvy regarding all things horse-related (and life-related compared to the company he keeps). Ronnie’s descent into racism and prescription-drug snorting leads Walter to retrieve Rosie from Oregon, which will surely help Luck. Rosie is one of the more likable characters, and the Walter-Rosie dynamic is the least cynical pairing of the many relationships in the show.
As alluded to, none of these plotlines bear fruit, and the episode ends as they all end, with Ace sitting in his hotel room with the Greek, asking him, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” as they drift into a senior citizen homosocial slumber.
Character Power Rankings
1. Jerry – Up 2
He’s the only character that proves himself to be useful in this episode, so he takes the top spot almost by default.
2. Walter Smith – Up 2
After sending Rosie packing, he’s going to bring her back, so he obviously has a warm place in my heart. He also gets a couple bonus points for telling Plaschke off.
3. Renzo – Up 3
In a shocking turn of events, Renzo leapfrogs several other characters by being a nice guy. His wonderment at the new horse he owns and his decision to cut in a trainer he dumped in favor of Escalante tell us he’s better than the rest.
4. Rosie – Down 3
She wasn’t in this episode at all, so she was due for a dip. Expect a jump next week upon her possible return.
5. Chester “Ace” Bernstein – Down 3
At the moment, he’s a very blah character. There’s not much else to it.
6. Gus “The Greek” Demitriou – Down 1
As goes Ace, so goes the Greek. At this point, he’s floating on Dennis Farina’s likability and little else.
7. Turo Escalanate – Up 1
The brilliant line he delivers to his wife, “Do you want to do it?” nudges him up one position.
8. Joey Rathburn – Down 1
It’s interesting that a man with such a considerable speech impediment would choose to be a sports agent, a job that requires a certain level of eloquence.
9. Lonnie – Up 1
This is a sympathy bump for Lonnie, whose skull is cracked open and is relegated to a motel bed.
10. Marcus – Down 1
All he does is bitch and moan constantly. Somebody put him out of his misery, for his sake and ours.