Thursday, 9 February 2012

Luck Episode 1.2 review

First a note about the sad lack of episode titles. This has been a downward trend for Milch shows. NYPD Blue and Brooklyn South episode titles usually involved a pun. Deadwood episode titles were descriptive and functional but not exciting. John From Cincinnati had “His Visit Day X” for each episode. Luck isn’t even trying apparently and the episodes are just named “Episode X.Y” where X is the season number and Y is the episode number. I like to think of this one as being called “Claim Costs” as it is titled in Alan Sepinwall’s review. I think it is a shame to forego titling your episodes, as an amateur recapper and reviewer episode titles help me remember which episode is which and can be very memorable e.g. Lost’s “Live Together Die Alone”, The Wire’s “Sentencing” or Boardwalk’s “The Age of Reason”.

Now on to the actual content of the episode; I enjoyed this one more instantly than the pilot and felt I had a reasonable grasp of what was going on the first time through. At the time of writing I have seen it twice. There are some questions left hanging from the pilot that get clear answers in this episode. We now know precisely why Ace went to prison and who he blames for it. I’m still not clear how his plan for revenge will take shape but I understand that it initially involves baiting Mike (his former partner) into buying the Santa Anita race course. We get more on the back story of Walter Smith and his involvement with the dear departed Delphi; he was the horse’s trainer when its owners had it killed in an insurance scam and blames himself for not stopping them. I am really enjoying Nolte in this role. His conversation with Ronnie about “Kentucky Quality” was slightly baffling but the emotion there was very clear.

I enjoyed the poker scenes – I felt slightly more on board with what was going on there as opposed to the racetrack where I have zero experience. Jerry’s gambling at the casino is obviously not very skilful but felt true to the behaviour of an addict. I worry about the sharks there seeing him flashing so much cash – Lonnie might not be the only bruised and battered member of the winner’s club for long. Lonnie’s storyline with the insurance agents was a little crazy but made me laugh so not a complete waste.

Escalante’s failed scam with running Mon Gateau in the claiming race was the murkiest part of this one for me. Some research on claiming races helped. There was a fair amount of exposition from Renzo’s perspective as a first time claimant but I didn’t grasp how common claiming races were before doing some outside reading. It was great to see W. Earl Brown as the cowboy horse owen Chris Mulligan in this storyline too.

Overall the show remains an immersive and enjoyable experience. I’m figuring things out as I go and that is immensely rewarding as a viewer. The race sequences are fantastically shot and edited and continue to be exciting. I love the band of characters the show has assembled and look forward to following them through the season.

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