Luck: Episode 7

I begin this review with a considerable bit of bad news:

With the death of another horse (bringing the total to three) during the filming of  the second season, HBO and everyone else involved in Luck have decided to cancel the show to prevent any more deaths from occuring.

It’s an understandable thing to do, although I’m sure I’m echoing everyone else on the internet (or at least everyone who watched the show) in saying that Luck will be sorely missed. At least it can live on in the great pantheon of one-and-done shows like Terriers and Freaks and Geeks.

So with this sudden turn of events, we’ve only got two episodes left before Luck disappears completely into the void of cancellation. Let’s enjoy it while we can.

Luck isn’t really a show that thrives on gut-wrenching suspense or any kind of life-or-death struggle, but I think it’s safe to assume that we all expected Ace’s revenge plot to turn violent at some point.

And, lo and behold, it has. Nathan was never my favorite character (by any stretch of the imagination), but in these past few episodes Ace and Gus seem to have grown fond of the man, and it’s a shame to see him dispatched in such a brutal fashion. Granted, he should have been smart enough to keep from smugly quoting Ace Bernstein in a conversation with one of Berstein’s oldest and most dangerous enemies, but even then there was the tiniest bit of sweetness in how Nathan tried to copy Ace’s particular brand of bravado.

Too bad it ended with him taking an ashtray to the head.

But the drama seems to be ratcheting up a few levels almost everywhere- not just in the Dustin Hoffman-centric portions of the show. Escalante gets a crash course in fatherhood when he’s forced to watch over a young boy who’s left at the track, all culminating in a surprisingly tender moment between Escalante and Jo where she finally tells him she’s pregnant, and he reacts (for once) in a way that’s not totally asshole-ish. Escalante’s not exactly jumping with joy at this announcement, but for a character this gruff, a few kind words are the best anyone can really expect. One can surmise that the mysterious photo of a young Escalante has something to do with his overbearing surliness, but I wonder if we’ll ever get to go that deep into his backstory. There are only two episodes left, you know.

Walter and Rosie’s situations, meanwhile, have become a complete mess. I will say that I’m not quite following why Walter would ditch Rosie in favor of the hated-by-all Ronnie. Yes, Rosie went overboard with the whip last week, and Walter will always be shaken up about the way he lost his previous horse, Delphi. Yes, Ronnie may seem like a more dependable pick from a previous-experience standpoint. And yes, Walter is already under plenty of stress with this whole bequeathment lawsuit thing. But I assumed that Ronnie’s repeated fallings off of the wagon and his horrible snide demeanor were enough to drive away anyone with a lick of sense.

It seems I’m wrong. And I worry that a drug-addled Ronnie may be far more dangerous to Gettin’ Up Morning than Rosie could ever be.

And what of Joey? I’m still not sure where he stands after last week’s Tommy Bahama miracle. His stutter’s back, but he’s got the gumption to make himself Rosie’s new agent, even if that’s not necessarily what she wants right then. His stutter also seems to be less severe, but I’m not really sure if that’s intentional or if I’m just reading into things that aren’t actually there.

“Episode 7” also has a handful of positive moments- Jerry wins himself a poker tournament, Lonnie buys himself a horse, and Ace and Claire grow closer and closer.

First, the poker tournament. While I wish we could have seen a little more Leo Chan (the man I love to hate), giving Jerry a win just seems necessary at this point. He’s such a likable guy, and he’s waded through so much garbage. It feels right to see him come out on top for once.

Second, Lonnie’s claim on the horse. While Lonnie suffers a fair amount of setbacks, he still finishes out the episode with a horse he can sell to be a brood mare, and Lonnie did make good on his attempt to navigate the gambling world without the other three A’s. Plus, he also won a little bit of respect from Marcus. Like Jerry, simply seeing him get a win was rewarding enough.

And finally, we come to Ace and Claire. Honestly, this is probably the weakest part of the episode for me. Hoffman and Joan Allen have some great chemistry, and Hoffman’s interactions with the horses are always worth a smile and a chuckle, but this doesn’t really feel like it’s going anywhere. I guess you need this stuff to humanize Ace so that he’s still sympathetic while ruthlessly playing his games with Mike and the rest, but still- I’m not totally satisfied.

So what did you Luck fans think of the third-to-last episode ever to air? Do you agree with the cancellation?

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18 responses to “Luck: Episode 7

  1. I don’t blame HBO, I do realize they had a lot of pressure from PETA. But I wish they let Luck stay on air (maybe they could make the horses in CGI. I don’t know). But whatever the case, Luck is a great show and will go down with Freaks and Geeks as one of the best shows that lasted one season.

    • Yeah, the problem is that there’s just no way to keep the show on the air without real horses. I mean, there isn’t any real danger in stationary shots or moments where the horses don’t do much, but I just can’t see any way to do the horse racing scenes without horses.

  2. It’s really too bad the show is being cancelled. Three deaths does make for bad publicity, though, especially as it’s not clear how that compares to the number of accidents that might be expected for horses involved in racing or stunts.

    • I wonder how the conditions for filming the racing scenes compare to the conditions of an actual horse race…

      Maybe it has something to do with the repeated takes and camera setups. It may just be that making the horses run like that for the length of time necessary to get all the required shots is just too much for the animals to take.

  3. Oh. boy! Such an extraordinary team go to waste… Did I understood well? they cancelled the Second season which they were filming? Maybe Mann & Milch will make a regular movie from the material? I don’t quite get it how 3 horses died? (No conspiracy theory around?) It will make me cancel my HBO!

    • Yeah, the cancellation happened during the filming of season two. Two horses died during the first season (I’m not sure what the circumstances were), but this most recent death was because the horse fell over and hit its head and had to be put down. I guess the rigors of filming so many horse racing scenes just became too much for the animals. I’m sorry to see the show go.

  4. I don’t see why the dont just film real horse races with permission of the track and owners and use that as the horse racing clips. The drama surrounding the track was getting good enough to diminish 5 minute racing scenes slowed down. I’m so very sad.

    • Yeah, but you need certain horses to win/lose for the advancement of the plot, and certain jockeys would need to be riding certain horses, none of which is possible if you’re just using whatever horse footage you can scrape together.

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