This episode felt more rushed than the previous ones. I think this must be because it is the first episode that stretches over two days. When we got to the scene between Ace and Gus at night I had to check the clock – and sure enough it had only been 30 minutes, no where near time to wrap things up. As we watched our characters wake up again, it felt like things were moving so fast. Which was probably a smart move since not that much happens plot wise, and yet it felt like an episode that really advanced our characters quite a bit.
I’ll start with Ace because I haven’t been writing that much about him. If you are going to break your one day/one episode rule, what a perfect second morning to start with watching Ace look nervous and excited when Ms. LeShay shows up and he is still in his pajamas. I loved watching him smooth his hair and press his robe lapels nervously, like a teenager in a school bathroom working up the nerve to ask a girl out. It was also nice to get some insight into what she is thinking about all of this. By not showing up on her appointed morning, it gives Ace a chance to admit how much he wants to see her again and Gus and Ace a chance to ruminate on all the reasons she might not have made it (maybe she was under dentist’s anesthesia and got a flat tire running over her cell phone, for instance). But it also let’s us see, in her sleeplessness and nervousness the next morning, that she is overwhelmed by all of this as well. She clearly knows about Ace’s shady reputation (hence the nervous laughter at the joke about money laundering) but she approaches him anyway. And now that he is actually giving her money, she is nervous because it means her plans will work out, but also because it means she is actually involved with this somewhat dangerous character. For a couple that has never been alone in a room together and barely exchanged more than a few sentences at a time, this episode let us see all the complicated ways they are attracted to each other, but scared of what that might mean.
We also got to see a whole new side of Ace when he spent the night in that barn. I have to admit – I didn’t see it coming. Ace has not seemed that much like Walter – sure he must like horses, but I always assumed it was more of a business deal, not a real love of the animal. But like Jo says, how are any of us supposed to pretend that is not his horse after he spent the night on a wooden chair outside his stall, just trying to stay close. I wondered what you thought of the final scene, with Ace and Pint O’Plain staring into each others’ eyes. There is something so strange and mysterious and beautiful about horses’ eyes that I have never noticed before, and Ace’s eye seemed almost as mysterious and beautiful too.
I also loved the exchange between Jerry and Marcus. For all its homophobic slurs, it was such a tender scene of two friends admitting how much they care for each other. Jerry’s line about how Marcus has probably never known what it feels like to have a real buddy because he’s always had to spend his life being tough and looking out for himself was so sad and so insightful. So was Jerry’s admission that even though he is a degenerate gambler (who journals!!), the one thing that can call him up short from his own destruction is his care for his friends. It was a beautiful follow up from last week where Marcus suggests that Jerry is not whole, but we start to see how none of these friends are whole except when they make a whole together (which was mirrored in the lovely visual image of them all in their brand new green stable t-shirts).
That was probably the theme of the whole episode for me – how much we want to share our good luck with others, how much we need buddies to make the luck real or to make it last. We see that with the four friends, with Ace and Gus, with Leon and Rosie last week, and even with Joey and the woman he kept calling to try and bring her some of his pay-off cash (and even though he is a schlub, I was almost in tears as he kept facing that cold, lonely answering machine beep).
I can’t wait to hear what you thought!
I agree about the episode feeling a little rushed (I also looked at the clock when the episode went to Ace and Gus talking in Ace’s bedroom). This episode was really interesting to me. While very little moved the plot forward, we got to see deeper into many of the characters lives and emotional states. I think your “buddy analysis” is right on. All of the characters want to have somebody to love with whom they can share their fortune or misfortune. And isn’t that what we all want in life? I am actually amazed at how poignant this point came across without feeling cheesy at all.
As homophobic as the scene between Marcus and Jerry was, I thought it was fantastic. It was heartbreaking that Marcus couldn’t even comprehend the idea of caring for another man like he did for Jerry without “being queer” for him. I really liked the way Jerry handled the situation. He seems to understand the benefit of the group, and especially Marcus, on his emotional life. Jerry came off as the most put together in the group in this episode, which is kind of amazing given his raging addiction. I really loved watching Lonnie listening in on Marcus and Jerry’s conversation through the door. If one was to break the group down into nuclear family dynamics, Lonnie is absolutely the older sibling to Renzo, but obviously Marcus and Jerry are the heads of the family. I watched some of National Lampoon’s Vegs Vacation this weekend, and I can’t help but imagine a “Family Vacation” starring our Pick-6 winners. I’d see that movie.
I’ll cut myself off before I try to come up with actual plot points for that hypothetical movie.
We also got to see Escalante in a different state of vulnerability. He really did not like having Ace call him on his bullshit, having Leon by the jockey to raise the potential profits of the race. Like anyone who is trying to deceive somebody, he reacts in anger when his plot is laid out in front of him. Unfortunately for Jo, he takes it out on her, by calling her Judge Judy. An insult that doesn’t quite land because he doesn’t know the difference between Judge Judy and Dr. Phil.
As for Joey, I have started to hate him more and more each week as he becomes more of a manipulator of the jockeys that manages. But this week, we see him fail at manipulation. First Ronnie calls him on his bullshit about where the money for Leon came from, and then Joey cannot buy (almost literally as we see the money that he kept for himself from Ace for having kicked Leon out of the race) a minute with his former lover. It seems that Joey is trying to manipulate and control his manager/jockey relationship with Leon because of his lack of control over his relationship with this woman.
As for the last scene, I thought it was a very significant revelation of Ace’s character. We had seen moments were he showed a level of childlike wonder around the horses, but nothing that showed this level of compassion. I was surprised like you were as well. But, it makes sense to me now. As much as Ace is in it for business/revenge, he could also be successful in another segment of business. What drew him to horse racing in particular. I think it is hard for me to understand the connection that so many of the characters feel to the actual horses because I don’t have that understanding. But it seems obvious that people do fall under some sort of spell around these giant animals. When the doctor asked Marcus if he had anyone to talk to in order to relieve his stress,, his response was “a horse.” While we know that Marcus is also learning how to speak honestly and openly to Jerry, talking to a horse is a form of psychological comfort for many of our characters.
I am starting to get to the point where the characters feel like people I know. It’s a good thing that Mad Men and Game of Thrones will both get started again when this season ends. Otherwise, I might have to find a horse to talk through my separation anxiety.
– “She might not make calls from behind the wheel.” Gus “What are you, her lawyer?”
– “If you can’t advance the conversation, you don’t have to talk.” – Gus
– The Devendra Banhart song was beautiful during the last scene.
Till next week,