It’s a little embarrassing for me to admit at this point, but I still have just a wee bit of trouble understanding all of the goings-on that are… well, going on in Luck.
It’s not really a huge deal. Every once in a while, a scene or a conversation will throw me just a little, just because there’s still a decent amount of jargon being tossed around and because a lot of these characters’ true motivations are hidden way under the surface of what they actually say or do.
And yet I still love the show. I’d say that’s a pretty clear indicator of Luck’s greatness- wouldn’t you?
So, like I mentioned last week (more like two weeks ago- hooray for the busy schedule of a college student), this particular episode of Luck is the one where the proverbial horse excrement hits the proverbial fan. And no, there weren’t any gigantic, game-changing moments in this particular hour of television, but some significant stuff does occur.
First and foremost, the whole Walte/Rosie story finally comes to a head when Rosie and Gettin’ Up Morning end their first race together in an unbelievable victory.
It’s scenes like this that demonstrate Luck’s true colors. Rosie’s come-from-behind win could have just as easily been shot in an easy, predictable way- you use a lot of handheld camera for shaky closeups on Rosie’s face, Gettin’ Up Morning’s hooves, etc., and intercut that with a few wide shots of the horses flying down the track. You shoot it like that, and the scene elicits exactly one response:
“Holy cow, that horse is fast.”
And that’s it. But the way we see Rosie’s victory (with some serious slow-motion, stirring orchestral music and reaction shots of nearly every cast member) evokes an entirely different response.
Seeing everyone stop and stare at Rosie’s win connects nearly every aspect of Luck together and gives the whole show a wonderful sense of unity. The characters are all involved in their various addictions and misfortunes and gambles, but ultimately this is a show about horse racing and it’s the horse racing that ties everyone together. A scene like this makes it perfectly clear why every single character does what he/she does- it’s out of a genuine love for the sport.
Plus, it’s a gorgeous piece of filmmaking, and that doesn’t hurt in the slightest.
But there are other big elements in play in Episode 4, like the reveal of Mike, the shadowy figure Ace and Gus have been trying to court. Michael Gambon does a terrific job of keeping Dustin Hoffman’s Ace on his toes, but this scene in particular was something that threw me, as it’s still a little hard (for me, anyway) to understand the finer points of Ace and Mike’s conversation. I get the general gist of things (Ace wants to buy the racetrack and needs Mike for part of his plan), but the gritty details of what they actually say to one another tend to shoot over my head just a little.
But that could just be me. Who knows.
As far as the rest of the episode goes, Joey Rathburn seems to be seriously losing the only two jockeys he’s managing, as Ronnie’s a drugged-up mess and Leon’s gaining a little too much poundage. Also- surprise! Leon and Rosie are an item. I definitely didn’t see that one coming, but it feels natural and I’m glad to see Leon has at least one positive aspect to his life right now.
Jerry also spirals further and further into compulsive gambling land with the help of Leo Chan. Originally, I just saw Leo as an obnoxious little foil for Jerry, but that’s clearly not the case- a glimpse inside the back room poker game at his restaurant paints Leo as much more dangerous (and powerful) than he originally seemed. This particular plot line is going somewhere terrible. I can just feel it.
And that should just about do it for this jaunt into the world of professional horse racing.
What did you all think?