By Edward Copeland
When you recap a television show the way that I do, you see an episode more times than the average viewer (or critic, in many cases) and it allows you to see how individual episodes hold up in relation to others. Having seen all nine episodes of Luck already, I can say truthfully that it gets better as it goes along. It follows the path that many series do in that it takes until about the fourth episode for everything to really jell. Mistakenly, coming off the high of a season that was great overall, I felt that the show just kept rising — each episode improving on the one before until it found its groove. Now that I've delved into the first two with my recap microscope, I can say that while most of the characters improved in the second episode, the second installment itself pales when compared to the pilot. For one thing, it has too many of those microscenes that drive me up the wall but even worse, these short scenes make it seem as if the show was edited out of order. Ace comes out of his meeting with his parole officer to the news that he has a lunch invitation. At the track, the morning workouts are going on. Then Ace has lunch but Marcus and the gang appear to be having breakfast where Renzo meets Goose and they decide to go to the track. We get a couple track scenes after the morning workout, then a quick insert of Renzo getting his photo taken for his owner's license. Then, his partners are back at the motel and Renzo appears, bearing coffee. Next scene, Marcus and Jerry arrive at the track by themselves. Then Renzo shows up, though he had been with them at the motel. The order of the day and scenes just seem out of whack. By the way, if you started here by mistake and didn't read the first half of the recap covering those events, click here.
Escalante prepares Mon Gateau, complete with his red bandages on his front legs, while Goose walks Renzo through the process of filling out a claim. "Whatever you do, don't spell nothin' wrong or the claim will be null and void," Goose tells him. "On owner, I put my name until my friends get licensed and for trainer, I put you," Renzo says out loud, to make sure he's doing it right. Goose notices the bandages on the horse for the first time. "I can't see his front legs," he comments. "What would that be a sign of?" Renzo asks. "He didn't wear them in his last race so either he has a problem or Escalante's pretending he has a problem so nobody will claim him," Goose speculates. "Why is he pretending if he doesn't want him claimed?" Renzo inquires. "So he looks broken down so the odds go up but he keeps the horse," Goose replies.
The horses entered in that day's claiming race are led up through the tunnel from the saddling stable to the paddock. Renzo has never seen Escalante before but figures that it's him leading Mon Gateau out. "He puts his pants on one leg at a time, believe me," Goose says. Turo marches straight ahead to greet his VIP visitors standing before Santa Anita Park's statue of Seabiscuit. "Gentlemen, happy afternoon," Turo addresses Gus and Ace. "Turo Escalante, Chester Bernstein," Gus makes the introductions. "Good to know you, Mr. Bernstein. Mucho gusto, we say in my country," Escalante says, putting on his humble servant show again. "Don't interrupt yourself — stick to your routine," Ace tells him. "I know he bring you to show you his champion in my barn. First, I have to run this eight thousand dollar bum," Escalante apologizes. Goose and Renzo continue to watch from the fence around the paddock as Mon Gateau walks by. "He looks like new money, Renz, and I wouldn't say that just to get you to claim him," Goose comments. Turo points out to Gus and Ace that the jockey who is going to ride the "bum" approaches. "We call him a bug cause he's just starting out, you know," Escalante informs them as Leon walks up. "Tell him your name," Turo orders. "Leon Micheaux. How you gentlemen today?" he asks as he shakes hands with Gus. "Yeah. Good. You?" Gus replies. "Nice to meet you," Bug Boy answers. Ace wishes him good luck and a safe trip. Gus quietly inquires of Ace exactly what a claiming race is and Bernstein explains. "And after the race you can pull your claim?" Gus asks. Ace grins. "No. He's yours no matter what — unless there's more than one claim. But you knew that."
As Turo and Leon head to the horse, the Bug asks, "Should I warm him up real good, Mr. Escalante?" A displeased Turo, arms crossed, turns to face the young jockey. "Why do you ask a question like that?" Escalante wants to know. "No reason," Leon says. (We get a nice, subtle shot here — something that's been in short supply this week with all the hit-and-run scenes and compared with Mann's work on the premiere. After Leon responds to Turo, he steps out of the frame to the right revealing Joey leaning over the paddock fence trying to listen in.) "You should be as sound as this fucking horse," Turo tells Leon as he boosts him into his mount. "Riders up!" the starter calls out and the horses start their march toward the gate. Escalante returns to Gus and Ace. "Seems like a nice kid," Gus comments. "No brain, but he can ride. If you wanted to make a bet, I wouldn't tell you don't go ahead," Turo quietly confides. "OK. So you're pretty confidant with his chances here," Gus says. "If the Bug don't fall off, they win farther than you can throw a rock. ¿Comprende? Understand?" Escalante tells them. "Sí. Yes," Ace replies. "Gentlemen," Escalante says as he leads the men away from the paddock area.
Goose licks the seal on the envelope marked CLAIM and hand it to Renzo. "Stamp it," he tells him. Renzo slips the envelope into a machine resembling a time clock and hears the snap of the stamp. He then inserts into a green box where all the claims go and shares a high-five with Goose. Marcus motors to behind the last row of a section minus any of his partners. A woman in a wheelchair also sits in that area. "Hello," the woman (Dina Belle Garcia), who appears to have cerebral palsy, says to him, "Yeah. Back at ya," he turns and offers in stunned response, not used to social niceties. "Who do you want?" she asks, referring to the horses about to race. "The four, yeah," he replies. Renzo and Goose hurry to the rail to watch Mon Gateau race. Marcus spies through his binoculars and sees who Renzo has with him. "Jesus Christ — that low-ball numbnut you're gonna use to train," he comments to himself.
While Marcus by necessity sits in his own chair at the back of the grandstand and Renzo and Goose stand at the edge of the outer rail, Ace and Gus get shown to box seats by an usher (Aaron Perilo). "Right this way, gentlemen," the usher, Caleb, says as he allows Demitriou and Bernstein to enter the box section. "You take care," Ace whispers as he gives Caleb a tip. "OK. Thanks," the young man responds. "There isn't three hundred people here today," Ace notes. The Greek waves his betting slip. "Ace, this is the biggest bet I ever made by a hundred and ninety-five dollars. Do you believe it?" Gus smiles, amazed at himself. Leon and Mon Gateau behave well as they're loaded into the gate, but some of the other horses up for claim act somewhat rambunctiously. "You ready, kid?" an assistant starter (Kevin Steed) asks Leon. "Yeah, yeah," the Bug replies with a hesitancy in his voice as he pulls his goggles down. With all the horses loaded, Leon stares ahead at the long expanse of the dirt track that awaits. On the spectators' side, Renzo and Goose stand in anticipation, Ace and Gus sit, with The Greek slightly more interested than Bernstein and Marcus gets out his binoculars again, focusing them on the gate until the starting bell rings. The chime tolls and the thoroughbreds for sale begin their run, all tightly bunched at the start. In his box, Escalante stands as well. Mon Gateau has hung back toward the rear while two of the other horses put a squeeze on him, making it look as if they're creating a Bug Boy sandwich. Renzo grimaces at the sight. "That's our horse, right Goose?" he asks. Goose just nods. Marcus lowers his binoculars for a moment, looking concerned, then raises them again. "What the fuck? He should be pissing on these cucarachas, this pinhead…," Turo proclaims from his box, picking up his field glasses as well. (Unfortunately, try as hard as I could, I wasn't able to make out the rest of Turo's dialogue and with Luck, I haven't been as fortunate to have helpers with access to scripts who could or would clarify lines for me.) Leon starts pulling back on Mon Gateau, taking the horse further behind but at least escaping the vise. He then steers the horse wide and outside, passing the troublemakers with ease and moving up in the standings quite quickly. "Come on now, you conyo," Escalante says. Everyone in the stands appear to be on the same wavelength as Renzo, Gus and Marcus, though seated separately, nearly simultaneously root variations of, "Come on, horse." From the back of the pack, Leon has moved Mon Gateau into a sizable lead. Renzo, Goose and Marcus have played the game too long to let their excitement blow yet, but Gus' enthusiasm bubbles over. "Ace, look, that horse is going to win," The Greek glows while Ace smiles for his friend. Leon and Mon Gateau cross the finish line impressively. Gus is giddy. "Ha ha ha. Ace, I had two hundred dollars on this race. Don't ever knock this fuckin' country to me," Gus proclaims. Renzo, Goose and Marcus cut loose with their exuberance once the race officially finished. As Escalante climbs the stairs to leave the grandstand, one of the patrons (Paul Perri) makes a comment referring to the price he was asking compared to how Mon Gateau just performed. "He run good, yeah," Turo replies and keeps moving. "Hey, you won," the woman sitting near Marcus says to him, giving him a "way to go" gesture with her arm. Marcus halfway grins until he spots Goose and Renzo's celebration. (Like it was in last week's premiere, the race scene proves to be the highlight. Mann might not be directing, but it's been widely reported that he left detailed instructions for directors of subsequent episodes to follow, telling them what angles they are allowed to use, what type of lighting has been approved, etc.)
Goose and Renzo come down to the Winner's Circle to see Turo, Leon and Mon Gateau have their photo taken. While Escalante prepares to smile for the camera as always, he's pissed off to see a red CLAIMED tag has been attached to the horse. Renzo asks Goose if they shouldn't be in photo as well. "First let's see if there's a shake," Goose tells him. Walking past the two of them is the man in the cowboy duds who expressed unhappiness with the way Ronnie worked out his horse earlier that morning. "What's a shake?" Renzo inquires. (Scroll to the bottom of that page for shake definition.) "Just come out with me," Goose whispers. Leon dismounts Mon Gateau and expresses astonishment when he sees the tag. "Ah jeez…he got claimed?" Leon says. "You better hope I don't find out you ran your mouth," Turo growls at Bug before marching off in a huff. "I didn't say nothin' to no one," Leon swears. "You know, for a guy who just won, he don't look none too happy," Gus observes from the box while Ace smiles in stillness as if he were a statue of Buddha. "There's another claim in for him," Goose informs Renzo. Apparently belonging to that horse owner who argued with Ronnie since he's standing with Renzo and Goose awaiting the shake. "Oh no. Oh my gosh," Renzo starts getting jittery. While they wait, the steward's assistant (Amanda MacLachlan), who will conduct the shake, has to weigh-out Leon first. "It's us and Mulligan. We've got a fifty-fifty chance of getting him," Goose reassures him. (Hey — W. Earl Brown's character has a last name: Mulligan.) "Ahh — my stomach's all butterflies," Renzo says. The steward's assistant is ready for the shake now. "Number one is Goose Kellogg," she snnounces. (I hope she said Kellogg. I feel like singing about New York right now, but I'm not going to say why.) The woman reads the other claim card. "Two is Chris Mulligan." (He's got a first name as well. Maybe he's a trainer, not an owner, or perhaps a hybrid like Walter Smith.) She literally shakes a brown bottle containing two numbered items in it. She removes it and proclaims, "Two. Mulligan." Renzo doesn't get Mon Gateau. "You got outshook Renz," Goose says, shaking his head. "Mulligan gets him, not us," Renzo sighs.
Escalante storms up the steps of the box seats to resume his meeting with Gus and Ace, but he can't put on his polite Peruvian charade while he's this red hot angry, so he rambles about losing his horse to "some fuckin' cowboy with three different size haircuts." Gus tries to get Turo see the bright side that he at least won the race, but Escalante's rage won't be quelled that easily. "Don't worry. When I found out who has spilled out their beans — I make the fucker a little sorry," Turo pledges. "Yeah. Good," says Ace, always one to appreciate a little payback — as long as it's not taking up his time. Escalante sees he needs to get back on track and apologizes for wasting their time with his own problem. "When can he see his horse?" Bernstein asks. "Right away, señor. I'll take you both right now," Turo tells them.
Joey tries to boost Ronnie's spirits ahead of his meeting with Walter. (Again, this timing seems all off. Smith told him to drop earlier that morning and hours have elapsed since then. Joey even mentioned to Leon that he thought that Ronnie and "The Old Man" had a good talk when Leon craved a bear claw well after Ace had his lunch meeting.) "The beaks are a hundred percent if I find a case to tell him," Joey says to which Ronnie concurs. (A reference to a spill Ronnie took that broke his collarbone that was mentioned fleetingly last week, but you understandably might have missed since the focus was on his drinking and drug problems.) "I'm refreshed and I'm enthusiastic," Joey declares, punching the air with his fist. "Jesus Christ Joey, you act like you're walkin' me to school," Ronnie lets him know. That brings on Joey's stammering until all he can get out is, "You go on ahead alone." Joey begins to walk away but he can't resist tossing out one more caution. "We'll have no problem making that weight." Under his breath, Ronnie mutters, "Shut the fuck up."
Goose accompanies Renzo as he watches with sadness as Billy Mulligan walks into the receiving barn to take ownership of Mon Gateau. "I was gonna give him to my friends. I don't know what's gonna happen now," Renzo tells Goose. "I know a guy who's got a two-year-old for sale. Says he can really run," Goose says.
Ronnie comes upon Walter's stables just as the Old Man is taking Gettn'up Morning around the yard for a trot. "Pretty good lookin', ain't he?" Ronnie comments. "Of course, it ain't a beauty contest," Smith says. "Lucky for the two of us. He's just about the picture of his daddy," Ronnie declares, stroking the Big Horse behind his ear. While Ronnie and Walter shoot the breeze about "Kentucky quality," Rosie eavesdrops from another building on the grounds. "Kentucky quality killed his daddy. When the colonel died, they took over the farm and they spent all the money. There was nothing left. They took out an insurance policy on Delphi — thirty million. They killed him," Walter tells him, a sniffle sneaking out. "They broke his leg," his voice definitely is beginning to crack now. "They said it was his fault. You know what breakin' legs sounds like — branches snapping. I always wondered if maybe I could have done somethin', heard somethin'," the Old Man regrets. "Well, you've got a chance with Delphi's son now, sir," Ronnie tells him, his voice breaking up as well. "If I had all the time," Walter mumbles, almost absent-mindedly. "What'd you say?" he asks Ronnie, as if he just woke up from a nap. "You've got a chance with this one, sir," Jenkins says forcefully. "Yeah, you're right. You're right. I'll take it," Smith agrees as he leads Gettn'up Morning off and thanks Ronnie for coming. (Not only do we get the basics behind the two central mysteries in this episode, they come in the form of monologues for the series' biggest names, though Nick Nolte's scene comes off much better than Dustin Hoffman's did, not because of any fault on the actor's but because Hoffman's scene was handled so ineptly whereas Nolte's built to an emotional finish instead of functioning merely as exposition. Though nothing like this happens this season, the way both Ace and Walter get portrayed at times, I can't help but suspect that there are future plans for one of these characters to develop Alzheimer's. Call it a hunch.)
Jerry has returned to The Hustler Casino and one of its high-stakes poker tables. Shifts have changed and a new dealer (Erika Lenhart) has placed the 10 of hearts, the king of spades, the queen of clubs, the 9 of clubs and the 4 of spades as community cards. Lester Chan sits at Jerry's table once again as Jerry mulls his move. Jerry checks his hole cards again and sees that they remain a queen and 8 of hearts, giving him a pair of queens with a king kicker. "I call," Jerry says, pushing all of his chips to the middle. "Straight up and gamble, not to draw," Lester comments. Jerry tosses his pair of queens on the table. Lester shows his pocket pair of 10s, giving him a set. Jerry grits his teeth at losing to Lester again. The dealer button moves to Jerry though he lacks chips, but he tells the dealer to deal anyway. He stands up and pulls a stacks of bills from his pocket and tosses it in front of the dealer, "Jerry got money to win back. Taking him forever," Lester says as the dealer counts out Jerry's cash. Marcus seems to possess Jerry again. "Keep it up, bug ear and I'll slap the slant off your fuckin' face," he warns Jerry. The dealer isn't amused and calls for the floor man.
Lonnie, still decked out in his snazzy new suit, has met those infamous lady insurance agents at a bar where he's trying to break the news to them that playtime — and scamtime — has now come to an end. "I only wish I could give specifics on how my circumstances seem to have improved," Lonnie tells them, without giving anything away about the Pick Six Jackpot as Marcus feared he would. "Well, obviously your situation has changed," Lynette (Mary-Margaret Humes) observers. "And you don't need our help any longer in what we were trying to arrange," Adelle (Patti Tippo) adds. Lonnie tells the women that he regrets that the new circumstances have interfered with their plans for an insurance scam. "What I hope we can agree on is, we'll be eligible, every so often, to occasionally, still have a few laughs," Lonnie suggests, thinking of the effect this could have on the Emperor. "Sure. Why not?" Lynette agrees, taking a drink. "That makes me happy. Believe me," Lonnie declares. Adelle gets rights into Lonnie's face and breathily asks, "What about now?" Lonnie seeks clarification. "For a few laughs," Adelle giggles. "He's letting us down easy. He's never gonna see us again," Lynette asserts. "That happens to be bullshit and does not represent my feelings," Lonnie insists. Adelle dissolves into little laughs while Lonnie again apologizes for all the paperwork the women went through setting up the con they never executed. "And I thought you liked your cock between our titties," Lynette says as she places her hand down Lonnie's pants. "Well hello to the Emperor," she announces while Adelle slips something into Lonnie's drink. "Are you trying to wake up the sleeping giant?" Lonnie asks. Adelle wants to know why Lynette is trying to embarrass herself in front of Lonnie. "What's that? I hear a voice from inside my pants. 'What about me?' the Emperor is asking. 'I'm white and 21. When did I lose my right to vote?'" Lonnie speaks for his penis before taking a drink of the spiked liquor.
Outside the casino, Jerry pilfers through a bag in his trunk and grabs more cash to take back inside. (Again, another one of these tiny scenes that drive me up the wall, especially since we had no resolution to that large amount of cash the dealer was counting out in the last casino scene nor her call for the floor man when he lashed out at Lester with the racist remark. Jerry's time in the parking lot lasted 24 seconds.)
Pint of Plain finishes a carrot from Turo's hand as Ace meets him for the first time. "I gotta say, he looks a lot better than he did from last week," Gus says. "Well, you know a lot of time people feel something they don't know about without actually knowing but they still go ahead and run their fuckin' mouth anyway," Turo bitches. "Hey!" Gus exclaims. "Jesus Christ! Keeping a civil tongue too tough?" Ace asks him. "…That's what you expect me to do," Escalante responds. (Another example where it would be helpful if I had support I felt I could ask to consult the script to decipher the first half of Turo's line.) "His cold, it got better and now his feet got better. We giving him better shoes," Escalante reports. "He's got a helluva stride on him when he runs. He showed me some of the tapes of the races," Ace says, realizing he almost slipped in the illusion that it's not really his horse. "Very smooth action. He move very good on the track. Two years ago I got to stop paying all his bills myself," Turo comments. "Bill was scheduled," Ace replies. "The horse's both front legs were bad, broke.…How they were broke — there's no conceivable way. To nothing, to someone you don't like," Turo informs Ace. "You lost him. Looks like you took a beat on a game you ran on him," Bernstein theorizes. "Ace, there's that goat. You know, the one with nuts the size of pumpkins," Gus points out excitedly as his boss stares down Escalante. "Good," Ace responds, never removing his gaze from Turo. "This horse likes him. Always pushing him around with his nose," Turo tells him. A young worker speaks to Escalante in Spanish. "He say when this horse go to the track, the goat comes to the stall and waits for the horse to come back," Turo translates. Bernstein asks Escalante what they charge for the bags of carrots, emphasizing now, not when he started 30 years ago. Turo has to ask the young worker. "Maybe fifteen dollars. What do you care how much my carrots cost?" he inquires. "You know I was in prison," Bernstein says. "That's what people say," Escalante responds. "Maybe what else they're gonna say is this is some kind of mobbed-up project," Ace adds. "What do I know? I'm from Peru," Turo replies. Ace seeks permission to pet Pint of Plain. Turo lets him and Ace gently strokes the white patch on his head. "He's got a very plain head on him," Escalante says. (Now, that's a scene with meat on it. Why did we need 24 seconds of a trunk in a parking lot between the bar scene and this one? I felt bad, in a way, for Farina who basically stood on the sidelines as Hoffman, the well-known powerhouse, went toe-to-toe with John Ortiz, the up-and-coming powerhouse who stood his ground and didn't give him an inch — because Escalante wouldn't unless it worked to his advantage.)
Whatever Adelle slipped in Lonnie's drink isn't helping the Emperor, so she urges Lynette to try to give him a hand. An embarrassed and drugged Lonnie wants to give up and let the Emperor abdicate his throne for the evening. Before he can pull his pants back on, the women encourage him to keep trying, so he does just as Lynette removes a blackjack from the bedside table drawer and whacks him across the back of the head with it. "What'd you fuckin' hit me for?" Lonnie asks as he falls backward on the bed. Since he didn't lose consciousness, Adelle tries to draw him back into sex games while Lynette tells him the truth as she takes another swing. "What we insured you moron is your life," she growls. Lynette keeps swinging away but Lonnie proves surprisingly resilient. (I wonder if Marcus is laughing somewhere for being right.) "Fuck man. Are you trying to kill me?" he yells as he fends off her attacks. Adelle grabs the weapon and starts doing the swinging. "You think you can just doublecross people, breaking promises," she screams. With Lynette hanging off him as he tries to flee Adelle's attacks, the three end up crashing through the motel's sliding glass window. Lonnie spots a landscaper (Jose Reyes) loading his truck and asks him for help. "What's up, bro?" the man asks. "They're fuckin' crazy. I got money. Do you know where the Oasis Motel is?" Lonnie asks him?" The landscaper helps Lonnie into his truck. (I tried to locate an Oasis Motel in Arcadia near Santa Anita and Rod's Grill, but none seemed to be in the area. I did find a chain motel whose exteriors slightly resembled the exteriors of the scenes of their motel, but then I couldn't find the link to those photos again.)
They count out Jerry's cash at the casino again. "Twenty-five thousand," the dealer says. "Twenty-five thousand," this shift's floor man (Christopher DerGregorian) repeats. "The sail's up and ship's leaving," Jerry says. Lester looks amused. "This is a house ruling for this hand only," the floor man announces. "Do not try this at home," Jerry talks over him as he pushes his chips in. Only the flop has been dealt, showing an ace of clubs, 8 of diamonds and queen of diamonds. "By agreement of both players, cash not on the table at the beginning of the hand has now been put into action," the floor man concludes. "Alright guys, turn 'em over," the dealer tells them. Lester flips an ace and queen of hearts, giving him two pair, Jerry shows a king of clubs and a king of diamonds for a pair of kings. The dealer deals a 2 of clubs for the turn (or fourth street), which doesn't help Jerry. The river, however, certainly does as she turns over the king of hearts, giving Jerry trips and winning him the hand. Lester's face sinks. "Give him his chipa," the floor man says, adding. "One-time ruling. Normal house rules resume." Jerry, smiles and stacks his chips. "Floor, cash me out," he requests. "Yes sir, Mr. B.," the floor man replies. "Make it back, Mr. B. Come back tomorrow — I'll wipe the white off your face," Lester tells Jerry. Jerry tips the dealer and applauds for himself.
Outside The Long Shot bar, Rosie's having a smoke when Walter rolls up in his pickup. "Hey boss. Out among 'em," she says as if she's been caught. She asks if the horse ate. "Oh yeah. Didn't leave an oat," Smith tells her. "Listen. I'm red in the face, puttin' you on the spot about ridin'," Rosie admits. "Now Rosie, that was my fault. I just left you out there by not speakin' up. I wasn't sure," Walter takes the blame. "There's my answer," Rosie responds. "There's your answer. You've done a lovely job to get him here. I don't think anybody else could have done it any better and I'm gonna be surprised if you don't turn out to be one race-ridin' son of a gun when you're working…(Something else it would have been nice to have support from someone with a script to decipher)," The Old Man predicts. "At Portland Meadows, it looks like," she says. Walter tells her that Portland probably will be a better place for her to get her start. "Spot you three in Nine Ball," she suggests. "A while back, that'd be an offer you regret," he declares as he goes into the bar and Rosie asks him to have one for her.
Inside The Long Shot, Joey happens to be lurking and makes sure to start a talk with Walter. Before any other subject comes up, Smith asks him if he knows any jockey agents in Portland and tells him about Rosie. Joey says he does and gives Walter his card and tells him to have her call him. Walter asks Joey if Ronnie would be ready to ride the mount on Gettn'up Morning for a six-furlong race a week from Saturday. Rathburn assures him that Jenkins would be.
Renzo tries to talk to Marcus but gets interrupted when the beat-up Ronnie is dumped outside their rooms. Jerry arrives about the same time.
You know the episode has reached its finish when we've returned to the Beverly Hilton suite for bedtime and Ace and Gus have one of their bull sessions about the day's events. "I drive around to the track's back entrances for a chance to wind him up to knock a nickel off the price of his bag of carrots. He'd scream bloody murder, Escalante," Ace tells Gus. "That is a picture — Escalante behind a pushcart full of fruits and vegetables. Him, wanting to be on the inside training horses," Gus says. "All I think he knew was that he was in a strange fucking country and he hated selling vegetables," Ace states. "And he don't know to this day that it was you that got him through that gate," Gus marvels. "It's him that took the bit between his teeth. He's made himself into somethin'. All I did was tell some trainer whose bets I took, 'Hey, there's this guy outside. You should hire him, bring him in here to the stable, to shovel horseshit. Give him a start,'" Ace elaborates. Gus chuckles. "That's how I know what's waitin' for Mike. You don't leave no open contracts," Gus proclaims. "We need a go-between, Ace decides. "Between DiRossi, Cohen, Mike and us?" Gus asks. "Yeah," Ace confirms. "What about me?" Gus suggests. "You get hot under the collar," Ace raises as a reason for Gus not to be it. "Well, yeah, granted, but…" Bernstein interrupts Gus (unfortunately with yet another line I can't decipher leading me closer that without supportive reps, if not at HBO as all my previous great helpers have been then connected with the show itself, it's going to be pointless to continue this endeavor.) "Someone we trust or someone we don't?" Gus asks. (More unintelligible) not make a difference," Ace replies. "All that trouble, getting them to fix that slot so they think I owe them," Gus proposes. "Set a meeting tomorrow with my investment company. I'll pick a go-between so we can do what we need to do to get these guys," Bernstein orders. "Please tell me I didn't let you down," Gus says. Ace shakes his head no (and says something else I can't make out). "Then let's go get these cocksuckers," Gus suggests. (MORE BALLOONS AND STREAMERS FALL FROM THE CEILING) (By about the fourth episode, Luck will really hit its stride, though it's such a short season, it will seem as if it's just getting started by the time it's over. Unless a miracle occurs in the next couple of days, I'm leaning toward abandoning the recap of this show, which I hate to do. It's a very good show and, more importantly, it's complicated and often subtle and I like to serve my readers by helping to explain parts they aren't getting, but if I'm not going to receive the help I need to accomplish this end, I shouldn't try. It will just be too frustrating for me.)