For fans of HBO's sterling horse racing drama, Luck, the urgency intensified this week, and sadly, it's not only because Nathan Israel is sleeping with the fishes. As you no doubt already know, HBO stopped production of the show's second season on Wednesday after a third horse had to be euthanized. Though it appeared to be a freak accident -- reportedly the horse was simply being led back to its barn when it reared, fell, and injured its head -- the incident invited a fresh wave of criticism from animal rights activists and persuaded HBO to pull the plug on the underperforming series. As a result, next Sunday's season 1 finale is likely a series finale. (The first episode of season 2 was filmed, but it's unclear if that will ever be made available -- either on TV or the season 1 DVD.)
So fans find themselves suddenly saying an early goodbye to a collection of colorful track misfits who slowly squirmed into viewers' hearts. Luck proudly took its own sweet time to get started, as if the first season was to be 22 episodes long instead of just the mere nine that now feel like a six-furlong sprint. But that was also part of its charm, and the patient viewer was rewarded with a deeper understanding of the track culture that sustained folks like degenerate gamblers Marcus and Jerry, backside vips Turo and Jo, and complicated jocks Ronnie and Leon. Last week, the show began its final kick for the finish, with the despicable Mike Smythe leaving Nathan in a pool of blood. With only one more episode to go, fans will have to come to grips that they've just encountered a heck of a colt who's being sent out to pasture before his time.
An agitated Ace woke up the day after Nathan's suspicious disappearance with one thing on his mind. "Did we hear from the kid yet?" he asked Gus, who wasn't yet around. Cut to early riser Smythe, who's watching a fishing boat head out of the harbor. His partners in crime are already on the move: Cohen is off to the Indian Gaming Commission to elbow in on Ace's deal and DeRossi is on his way to play dumb with Ace and Gus about the missing kid. Out at sea, the fisherman decided to chop up whatever's in the bag and send it to the bottom with some heavy weights. They spared us the grisly dismemberment, but the bloody deck certainly confirmed our suspicions that it was a body, most likely Nathan's. (I felt horrible for thinking this, but a part of me thought for a second it could be Claire...)
Not long after, Gus received an email purportedly from the kid, explaining that he wanted out of the deal and that he didn't want to have anything further to do with Ace or his associates. "They killed him, Gus," Ace concluded. "They f---in' killed him." To his credit, Ace later shouldered some of the blame, because there had been plenty of build-up that indicated that Ace recognized this was a possibility. In fact, his rational response to the murder reinforced my suspicion that this was all part of Ace's plan. When DeRossi showed up, though, Ace didn't hesitate to express his skepticism by inviting DeRossi to accompany them to the track and cryptically promising that "Gus will find everything out." At the track, Gus literally pulled Escalante aside and asked if he had a place where he might be able to have some privacy for a meeting with Mr. Bernstein's friend. The millionaire chauffeur manhandled the trainer, with a firm grip on the neck. It was a request he couldn't refuse. So Gus and DeRossi ended up in a dark abandoned horse stall (shredded with bullet holes?). How exactly would Gus find everything out?
NEXT: Gettin' Up Morning to duel with Pint of Plain