‘Luck’ Recap: Dumbledore Has Quite a Temper

LuckS1E7: My personal enjoyment of Luck seems to be invested almost entirely in the Foray Stables group’s storylines. Usually, they deliver wholeheartedly. But it calls attention to the weakness or dullness of some of the other characters and their plots when a Foray story is weaker—the episode as a whole suffers. This week’s Foray story actually comes out of the gate with some potential, but dwindles in light of an overdose of jargon. Some of the other characters actually have interesting developments this week, but nothing that really supplies the episode with much of a life force.

“’Foray’ stands for ‘Four Amigos.’ Not ‘Four Amigos and One I’m-Entitled-to-a-Life.’” – Marcus

When the episode begins, it seems like we’ll be treated to a fissure in the Forays. We’ve seen from the beginning that Lonnie is dissatisfied with his position in the group. He’s the outsider—the one who joined up with the other three to get in on the game. Plus, Lonnie gets the most amount of antagonism from Marcus. So it’s no surprise when, this week, Lonnie vocalizes interest in branching out and buying a horse on his own. Naturally, Marcus has a lot to say about this ordeal.

Peacemaker Renzo tries to keep things civil, even offering to help Lonnie officiate his claim. Civility is eventually reached when Lonnie agrees to the possibility of bringing this new horse into the Foray organization—that is, before the horse is injured mid-race. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Marcus/Lonnie/Renzo story is filled with technical jargon and the like, not really giving much room for the “dissention in the ranks” theme. It is a real missed opportunity on behalf of the show to favor day-to-day horse track activity over character development, and it is not the first (and probably not the last) time Luck has made this mistake.

But there is a possibility that the show is pulling something particularly interesting with the whole ordeal. During this story, Jerry is preoccupied by a poker game (he’s back in that habit), which eventually leads him to the company and romantic entanglement of a young woman named Naomi. Perhaps the whole idea of the Forays breaking up is introduced simultaneously with Jerry’s new girlfriend—whom the gang meets briefly and all-too-innocuously in the last minutes of the episode—to hint at some connection of the two ideas down the line. As I have said prior, Lonnie is definitely the Ringo of the group—now it might be fair to say that Jerry is the John, and he has found his Yoko.

“I think, much more than you realize, Mr. Bernstein’s purposes coincide with yours.” – Nathan

Luck has, since the beginning, seemed to have a sort of identity crisis. The show pegs itself as a high-stakes drama, akin to its HBO brethren The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, but without one major component: the high stakes. Nothing of great import happens on this show. The crimes alluded to are never all that great. There are some drug problems and pregnancies here and there, but that’s not at all comparable to what shows that Luck seems to emulate in mood have going on. But this week, we are treated to a surprise.

Ace’s criminal rival Mike suspects that Nathan Israel’s loyalties are not to him, but to Ace (which they are). It seems like they really jumped the gun with this realization: he only hired Israel on last week’s episode, and we haven’t seen any scenes with the two since that one. Nevertheless, Mike is onto him. And when Nathan tries to pull his overeducated double-talk (that didn’t work on Ace either), Mike snaps and bludgeons him with an ashtray. We do not know if Nathan survives the attack—he’s left bleeding from the head and unconscious on Mike’s floor—but Ace’s remark at the end of the episode about Nathan “being late” is ominous.

“Any of these inmates ever try to ride off into the sunset?” – Ace

If he is in fact dead, then it means the utility of Nathan’s character has been to inform us that Ace’s troubles with Mike are just beginning. Mike is clearly unstable and criminal, meaning that Ace, a man who is softening, might be thrust back into a world of crime and danger. This does make some sense, as Ace now has a few positive influences in his life: Lachey, the reformation program, horses. This dichotomy also might account for the anger festering inside Ace. He’s becoming his own worst enemy. But this weeks’ episode, in which he spends a great amount of time with all three mentioned influences, he is as happy and calm as we’ve seen him. So, will he get pulled back into this toxic world full force?

“The horse you claimed has nothing to do with the Three Stooges in any way.” – Marcus

Turo Escalante is a sufficiently interesting character who warrants more episodes like this week’s. His overtly good-natured (and pregnant) girlfriend Jo tends a young boy with an apparently abusive uncle. Escalante has no patience for kindness. As we saw just the other week, he thought it irresponsible and silly of one of his employees to skip work to attend her son’s funeral in Mexico. Turo is a callous man, which causes a good deal of an emotional stir in Jo, who is apprehensive about raising a child with him. But the show does manage, and quite well, to inform us as to why she might have been attracted to him in the first place.

Although he is a cold and dark guy, he’s charming. And she’s got a sardonic streak—her grab at a darkness of her own, which she might want but doesn’t genuinely have as she’s more of the bleeding heart type. But with subtlety, this episode seems to also indicate why Turo is the way he is.

After Jo must tend to an injured horse, Turo agrees to take care of the young boy. When his uncle is nowhere to be found, Turo takes him in for the night, and drops him off safely at home the next day. After this display of kindness (which follows a lot of hesitation), Jo finally tells Turo that she is pregnant with his child. His response is quiet, but sweet…followed by a pensive silence when she has gone to rest. The camera redirects to a photograph of a young boy beside a horse. It stands to reason that this is Turo’s son, who likely died—which explains his reaction to his employee’s absence as well as his eventual and somewhat surprising affection for this young boy.

Although characters like Turo and Ace are interesting, the show really rests on the shoulders of the Forays. When they have compelling stories, this is no big problem. But on weeks like this, Luck really suffers from its lack of better distributed interest elsewhere.

What did you think of this week’s Luck? Is Nathan dead? Did Turo have a son? Will Jerry stray from the group? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.

Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.

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