The characters and storylines finally broke loose in Luck, and all it took was an earthquake. Most notable among these is Ace and The Greek’s mysterious scheme, which had been, well … mysterious. The show showed us the first card in its poker hand and revealed that Ace plans to use his connections to Indian casinos to put slot machines at the race track. How wildly nefarious, indeed! As Ace slowly—slow even for a 74-year-old—descends the stairway to hell, he showers his love on Pie O My Pint of Plain. Like Tony Soprano, he’s pouring affection on a beautiful racehorse. Unlike Mr. Soprano, Ace doesn’t seem to be simultaneously destroying everything around him. In fact, he’s struck up an adorable romance with Joan Allen, who is a mere 19 years his junior.
Love is not in the air for Joey Rathburn (shockingly). When he finally tracks down his way-out-of-his-league ex-wife, she scarcely gives him the time to say goodbye. In a move of desperation, he Richard Harrows himself. After narrowly surviving a renegade ricocheting bullet, he is born anew like a still-pretty-lame phoenix. He drops his stutter and later struts into the racetrack bar like a peacock and announces his recovery to the disinterested masses.
Back on the track, though, both Leon and Rosie win their races on Cool-Guy Jerry et al’s and Walter’s horses, respectively. In the sixth episode of a nine-episode season, the horses belonging to the main characters and the main (likable) jockeys have won all but one race. This might change later in the season, but at the moment it presents a stark improbability in a world otherwise crafted to seem hyper-realistic.
This episode presented another potential lapse in realism, as Rosie sets a track record at Santa Anita Park, which is older than Dustin Hoffman, on Walter’s horse. To do so, however, she unnecessarily whips the horse and does the impossible: She invokes Walter’s ire against her. Walter, like Ace (and quite possibly everyone in the show, for that matter), loves horses more than people. But he also loves Rosie, and ultimately won’t let her beat herself up over her shortsightedness.
Beyond the divide between Walter and Rosie, Turo’s wife finally calls him out on his tremendous bullshit, and Ace is hostile toward Gus at the end of the episode. All of the relationships are beginning to fray with the exception of Jerry, Marcus, Renzo and Lonnie. In the end, this burst in tension, albeit small, is more satisfying than any of the previous episodes had been, but it was not the total catharsis that the show will need to make up for the preceding hours of lackluster entertainment.
Character Power Rankings
1. Jerry – No Change
The quartet does very little to change our perception in a week during which almost everyone else’s stock drops. Jerry holds down the top spot with his astute observation of Leon’s potential race penalty.
2. Marcus – Up 1
This is more by default than by his doing anything that warrants a jump in rankings.
3. Rosie – Down 1
She whips Walter’s prize horse even though she had a sufficient lead to win the race, however, she is appropriately apologetic afterward when she realizes her error.
4. Renzo – No Change
Renzo’s development has all but completely stalled out, but he remains one of the most purely likable characters.
5. Walter Smith – No Change
His darkly obsessive side peeks through in this episode when he gives Rosie the stink-eye, but he consoles her when she explains that she feels like dying. Over a horse.
6. Chester “Ace” Bernstein – Up 1
Ace’s low ranking was a byproduct of how opaque his machinations have been to this point. Now that he’s begun to show the audience what he’s up to, he’ll slowly climb the rankings.
7. Joey Rathburn
His failed suicide attempt and subsequent recovery from self-pity is a surprising character arc that could prove very interesting in the final third of the season.
8. Leon – No Change
He wins his race, but he nearly causes a disqualification with his poor jockeying, so he will remain in the cellar.
9. Lonnie – Down 3
Call it a personal bias, but I just don’t like Lonnie. He’s so incredibly dumb. And that’s hard to watch.
10. Jo (Jill Hennessy) – No Rank
She’s the first person to stand up to Turo directly, and that counts for something even if she eventually caved and apologized.
Dropped from the rankings: Gus “The Greek” Demitriou