02/13/2012 11:17AM

Luck Episode 3 recap: Ace Bernstein takes the reins


Depending on who you asked, Luck may have stumbled out of the gate in its pilot episode thanks to hazy plot lines and inscrutable dialogue. But the show worked its way back into the race in the second episode, clarifying key plot points such as Ace Bernstein's need for revenge, trainer Walter Smith's quest for redemption and the four musketeers' new ambition.

Sunday's third episode has Luck riding hard out of the first turn and into the backstretch. It begins with Ace Bernstein walking slowly on a treadmill, a workout that gets interrupted by a surprise visit from his parole officer. Ace may be a big-time mobster working on his next score, but right now it's time to pee in a cup for the man. This is the second straight week that we've had to see Ace going through this particular bit of humiliation, perhaps emphasizing the privations he's willing to endure silently on his way to his ultimate prize -- payback.

Ace then attends a board meeting at his own company where he's upstaged by a young derivatives trader named "Nathan Israel." Ace quickly identifies Israel as a man who can be the lynchpin to his plot to take down his nemesis.

Back at the racetrack, their Irish shipper Pint of Plain is getting breezed by Lizzy (Chantal Sutherland) when a loose horse nearly derails the whole enterprise -- and no doubt sends a shudder through Sutherland's many adoring fans. The Four Amigos succeed at buying the claimer horse Mon Gateau from the trainer Cowboy Mulligan and bring him back to Escalante's barn. Mon Gateau is injured, however, and will have to be brought along by Escalante, who will probably wait for the steam from his last two victories to dissipate so he can win another big bet on him. Ronnie Jenkins falls off his mount and breaks his collarbone again -- "I break this collarbone more than I get laid," he quips -- prompting Smith to regret his decision to send exercise rider Rosie off to Portland Meadows with Gettin' Up Morning's debut days away.

The brutal life of the jockey gets spotlight treatment as bug boy Leon Micheaux passes out in the sauna and Jenkins goes on a bender after his fall.

But the show is not really about the jockeys or the trainers or the horseplayers. It's about Ace Bernstein's every step on his slow walk to revenge. It's also about the majesty of the sport of kings and thieves. Once again we are brought back to the hotel room with Ace and Gus for the final scene, where Gus recalls the image of Pint of Plain's workout and mutters, "That's some beautiful [expletive] horse." Must have been for him not to even notice the jockey.

-- Jacob Luft

More coverage:
Decoding 'Luck': Anorexic jockeys, Nick Nolte's feelings
'Luck' recap: The Four Amigos Pony Up
WSJ: ‘Luck,’ Season 1, Episode 3, TV Recap
The Oregonian: 'Luck' recap: Portland Meadows is mentioned, if you can hear it

walesfoodmusic More than 1 year ago
lets hope Vanessa G and Robin continue their conversation as this series continues
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Vanessa...I am indeed chastened. Thank you for drawing my attention to so many things. First..I'm not a fan of House, but do admire Hugh Laurie from his Blackadder days and there's never been a better Bertie Wooster. As for LUCK..maybe I have been a bit churlish, but neither Dustin Hoffman nor Nick Nolte have been able to breath life into this series, yet. My derision, in this case, is really about the straw that finally broke the camel's back. I was hoping for so much and then...what a disappointment. This series could and should have been so much better. But then all of horse racing, over the past 30 years, could have and should have been better. I have forgotten how many leters that I've written to the DRF and meetings I've had with the various organizations that purport to run our sport. Just two months ago, I wasted a day flying to New York to meet with the Jockey Club, re a proposal that I know would generate new fans and increase handle, without the support of slot machines. But 2 minutes into the meeting I knew that once again the messenger (me) was being shot and the message not listened to. And the sad fact is that we are beholden to people who in any other business would have been discredited and fired a long time ago. Quite simply, my message is that the problem is not the sport of horse racing..its the people running it. And, in case you think I'm just an angry critic, I have solutions and do know how to fix this. Its just a question of finding someone who'll give me a chance. In the meantime, I've sent David Milch a script for LUCK, that modifies many things, introduces interesting new characters and, most important, uses real races with customized commentaries.. So let's see what happens. There...I've got that off my chest. Thanks. Now I'll push the off button.
drenard More than 1 year ago
I do wonder how much non-racing people can understand this show. Aside from the jargon involved, so many of the characters are intentionally hard to understand. Escalante's accent, Nick Nolte's mumbling, the jockey agent's stuttering ...
VanessaG More than 1 year ago
Robin- First, let me reassure you that I have no association with any part of the production of Luck. I just find your reaction to this show puzzling for a number of reasons. First of all I'd like to begin by telling you that I am in the medical profession and that I hate the series House!!! Despise it as much as you do Luck!! However, no one is sitting in my living room with a gun to my head making me watch the show. And, I don't watch it!! I don't browse the House website and I don't care what people are saying pro or con about it. I have no desire to villify the show by posting on the blogs for the show. I have no desire to point out in a blog the ridiculousness of the show nor do I care to vent about how the character of House is such an insult to the medical field. I have no desire to point out how the show twists what is noble and right in all human nature by glorifying a rude, bad tempered, mean-spirited, selfish and self-centered, but brillant physician. Unfortunately, I have watched the show at times over the years with various friends because these friends of mine enjoy the series so much and what is a person to do in these cases but suck it up and keep it zipped. In defense of House, however, I have to say that I have noticed that over the seasons, the writers of the show have sought to write scripts where House ultimately has to bear the consequences of his poor social skills and flagrant meanness. So I have some measure of peace knowing that even someone as crass as House's character has to bear the consequences of his actions, eventhough I don't care to know about it on a weekly basis!! Second, let me say how intriguing it is to hear about your connections to racing and winning an Eclipse award!! How exciting that must have been! On top of all of those accomplishments, to have Jay Hovdey compliment you in such a way for your insights must have been a wonderful moment for you!! Plus, you express yourself so well in your comments and obviously, you have an eye for detail because your writing is literate and not filled with typos. But what I want to ask you is this, why do you waste your gifts trashing a TV series? Our sport is in trouble. We need new fans to our game that want to bet their money. Casino revenue is not really the answer to racing's troubles. Casino revenue is like a person who needs a ventilator. It's a good temporary measure to use when a person's respiratory system can't support their life, but not an optimal long term solution. Racing needs wagering dollars to support the purse structure. Racing now has serious competition for the gaming and recreation dollar and it must undergo some kind of evoltuionary change to keep it viable. Why aren't you using your talents for this type of endeavor, trying to save our sport rather than using them to trash some TV series that will be forgotten in a few years? Let me close by telling you a little about the negative and poisonous nature of your posts and most of the other posts I've seen on racing websites. I'm not only talking about the series Luck, I'm talking about tone of racing blogs in general. If I were a new fan, attracted by Luck to explore horse racing at the most logical site, DRF, and was curious about the Luck blog, I would be appalled and completely turned off by the visciousness of the participants of this blog. Not by what was being said about the show, but by all the negativity and venom that is spewed out in nearly each and every post. I can tell you that I would NOT want to be a part of such a community if I were a new fan!! Not only that, I can say that I don't want to be a part of such a community that is why I hardly ever read blogs anymore. They seem to me to be like House, celebrating the mean-spirited, viscious aspects of our nature. These types of posts turn most people off. Do we really want to turn new fans off? Or do we want to intrigue them? Is trashing Luck how you have chosen to use your gifts, or will you forgive its faults and aspire to be an inspiration for the new fans that do not find the show so offensive?
hal lenox More than 1 year ago
Give it time Its a winner.... A closer not a sprinter. Class writing, production, acting , and Chantal can't be all bad....
Erik More than 1 year ago
The series is boringgg! Even though I'm a horse racing fan, I find the show very ho hum. My girlfriend who watched the first two episodes says it stinks and won't waste her time any more. I kind of agree with her.
Robin More than 1 year ago
Vanna....you obviously represent HBO or David Milch. Notwithstanding everything you say, LUCK is complete garbage. Bad writing, bad acting, bad filming, bad sound and naiive direction. I happen to be a racetrack degenerate who, over the years, has owned and trained horses and also won an Eclipse Award along the way...so maybe I'm one of your cynics. But I also know many friends who have no interest or understanding of horse racing who have told me that they have been thoroughly repulsed by LUCK. It is a truly disgustingly bad show...horses that look like ponies, drugged on their way to the killers..people who can't ride and a whole host of disfunctional fools who make a mockery out of what should and could be a great series. BTW..Jay Hovdey once told me that he wished he'd had my insight of what goes on behind the scenes..for what thats worth.
richard barton More than 1 year ago
Have most of you fellow posters even been to a racetrack? Or are you simulcast facilitators that out of touch? Phone bettors are you? Santa Anita is a glorious place. The racetrack scenes are incredible. The characters parameters are only slightly exaggerated. The 'essence' of the 'gambler' has been captured. I loved the four individually distinct reactions, to a life changing score, moments after the race. Subtle, Brilliance. And beside the horses, Dustin Hoffman is easy to watch. One last thing, after reading most of the other posts.... Whoever said horseracing fans were cynical? LoL
Marc More than 1 year ago
Dear blackseabass. I felt some of your take on the series had merit.. until i read your comments on Milch's other stuff like Deadwood and NYPD Blue.. both of which captured some of the most amazing episodes in tv history. If the language offends you.. and considering your comment about how the realism of the backstretch was sort of a positive, then that leaves me with the conclusion that you are either an idiot, which i don't think, or simply some sort of right wing fanatic who can't appreciate good drama if it includes the realism of bad language , which IS real life outside your mind.
Virgil Martinez More than 1 year ago
Give me real-life guys like Richie Sklar, Jimmy the Hat, Paul Zubernick, Big Vern, Tony Ciulla, Huck and all of the other characters versus the stiffs being shown on Luck. Better yet, how about some clips of David Milch sprinting through the Las Vegas Hilton after he cashed a huge bet on Gilded Time.