“Luck”: Episode Five Review

By Jordan Magrath

I’d like to think it was my bitching and moaning from the last couple of weeks that amped up HBO’s “Luck.”  In all reality, I had nothing to do with it (in fact, I’m sure they’d already shot the episode before the “Pilot” aired).  However, that doesn’t mean the episode wasn’t the best of the season.  The show had, up to that point, continually showed us a bunch of characters without a story we necessarily cared about.  However, “Episode Five” gave us a central story that connected a bunch of characters and stories.

The story, of course, involved the race of Ace’s expensive horse.  When Escalante tried to pull a fast one by submitting Ace’s horse (Pint of Plain) into a race without his knowledge, Ace took matters into his own hands.  Escalante had some insider information that would likely pay dividends for him.  Instead of standing by, Ace decided to intervene, demanding the best jockey they could find.  Leon (Tom Payne) was slated to ride his horse effectively pulling him from the race.  This had an effect on both him and Joey (Richard Kind), his agent, giving Joey a bunch of screen time.  Subsequently, he got a lot of character development.

While the “Pick Six” pack didn’t exactly connect to the rest of the group, they did have a subsequent story that was just as fun to watch.  In particular, Jerry and Marcus’ conversation was the most emotional moment of the season.  Marcus is starting to realize how crappy his quality of life is, wondering if he can live much longer.  This wake-up call was developed pretty nicely over the last couple of weeks.  Then he realizes how much he cares for his buddies, particularly Jerry, which leads him to joke (I think) about being gay for him.  Their hotel conversation will resonate for awhile.  We want to root for these guys even though they are obviously broken.  This has been a theme in so many HBO shows, making it about time it surfaces.

Back at the race track, Ace’s horse wins the race despite acquiring a major leg gash.  After the race, Ace gets some sympathy points for staying (and nuzzling) with his prized horse.  While I haven’t seen much of a reason to give a rat’s ass about him, this episode may have changed that.

Speaking of Ace, his love life (or wish thereof) made some advances, too.  After agreeing to fund a convict horse project, he asks the woman running it to the races.  They hit it off, moderately speaking, leaving the door open for something.  I’m not sure where it’s going, but at least we’re getting some women in the show.  Other than her, the other main female character (Rosie) didn’t even getting a talking scene this week.

“Episode Five,” worked in a way none of the previous episodes worked.  It’s the first time we’ve seen any type of connection between everyone.  More than that, we started to really connect with the characters, too!  I can’t help but root for the “Pick Six” winners right now.  They seem to be the richest (not literally) characters “Luck” has to offer.  However, if we can continue to show Ace in a better light, perhaps I’ll start to enjoy him more.  The show is obviously marketed on him, so the writers need to continue developing him.

With a successful episode, I’m putting a lot of pressure on “Episode Six,” since it has the potential to propel “Luck” up the charts.  The season started slow, but they may have had the turning point to success they needed.  Here’s to hoping the next episode is just as good!

Rating: B+

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