03/26/2012 4:32PM

Luck Episode 9 Recap: That's All, Folks!


"Today's the day they take it all away from us" -- Marcus

It's hard not to look for hidden meaning to the dialogue in the final episode of HBO's ill-fated "Luck." The season finale that aired on Sunday night was supposed to set the stage for Season 2, which was already in production when the show was canceled following a third horse death on the set. But now that it serves as the series finale, Wheelchair Marcus's words bring on an added layer of poignancy.

The track rats are getting ready to head to Santa Anita for the Western Derby (read: Santa Anita Derby) race card, in which their claiming horse will be running in a $75,000 overnight stakes. It's a steep class hike for Mon Gateau, and with the exercise rider Rosie on the mount, the rats are expecting a huge price -- at least 20-1. But can they win? Jerry handicaps the race and announces, with "100 percent objectivity," that they are in the mix.

Meanwhile, Ace and Gus have a surprise visitor to deal with: Ace's grandson Brent Bernstein. The kid shows up at Ace's hotel thinking that he's been flown in by Gus for a reunion with gramps. But it was really Michael Smythe who brought the kid to L.A. to show Ace that he can hit him where it hurts. If you recall, Brent's drug possession charge is the reason Ace did three years -- "three years!" -- in the clink.

Ace leaves his grandson specific instructions to not leave the hotel, which of course he disobeys first chance he gets.

Ace and Gus head to the morgue to see if the unidentified body found in the harbor belongs to Nathan Israel. What they see is gruesome enough -- a severed head -- but it doesn't bring them closer to finding Israel, who we know has been turned into fish bait. On their way to the car, Gus sees a brief glare on top of the building across the street that could very well indicate Smythe's hired killer is ready to snipe. They head to their regular restaurant, where they spot one of Smythe's goons at a table nearby. "Remember that time in Chicago?" Gus suggests, and Ace knows exactly how to play it from there. They pretend to argue, Gus leaves the restaurant. Ace heads toward the bathroom. The assassin follows expecting to find Ace but instead gets his neck snapped by Gus.

At the track, Ace pays a visit to his Irish horse Pint of Plain. But something has gone wrong -- the goat with the abnormally large testicles is missing! The horse likes having the goat around; this is a bad omen.

As Turo Escalante's other horse, Mon Gateau, prepares to race, the track rats are busy setting up their plays. They have Mon Gateau keyed on exacta wheels, trifecta wheels, superfecta wheels, daily doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s -- as Marcus says, "all the gimmicks." With Rosie aboard, the old claimer rallies in the stretch to win. The total payout, excluding the purse from winning the race, comes out to $417,000 -- about $104K for each of the four track rats. Feeling generous, Jerry gives bug boy Leon Micheaux a $500 win ticket. "We don't get here without you," Jerry says. It's a nice going-away present for Micheaux, who is headed to Portland Meadows now that he has eaten himself out of the Santa Anita meet.

The track rats' transformation is complete. They have gone from eternal losers to the ultimate winners, though Marcus knows it won't last long. "I expect in the long run, our story is we all go broke," he says.

Or worse -- get canceled! (Sorry.)

The scene is set for the climactic showdown of the meet -- Gettin' Up Morning vs. Pint of Plain in the Santa Anita Western Derby. They duel down the stretch side by side just like Sunday Silence and Easy Goer in the '89 Preakness. (If you look closely, you can see the jockey on the third-place horse pulling up the reins.) They cross the line together -- HOLD ALL TICKETS! The official result: Pint of Plain by a nose. "A bobbing of the head," Escalante says.

Both of Escalante's horses have won, but the news is not all good: Jo the Vet has lost the pregnancy. Good luck and bad luck have a way of balancing out.

Right after the race, Ace is horrified to see his grandson wandering around the grandstand. Ace panics and makes sure to get him over to the winner's circle for the photo op. Ace notices Smythe's crew watching from the terrace and they have a staredown.

Later that night, while watching the webcam of Pint of Plain's stall, Gus notices a beautiful thing: The goat has returned to Escalante's barn. They don't know why he left or why he came back -- both completely random acts -- but the important thing is he returned.

-- Jacob Luft


Since we won't get a Season 2 of "Luck," why don't we go ahead and write our own endings for these characters? We'll start you off with some easy ones. Please write in your own for the rest.

Trainer Walter Smith
He loses Gettin' Up Morning in a bitter legal battle, then falls upon hard times.

Jerry the track rat
Gets to the final table of the World Series of Poker only to find his nemesis Leo Chan sitting across from him. Jerry says goodbye to his good luck mojo as well as his bankroll shortly thereafter.

Brent Bernstein
Having gone through this little adventure together, Ace decides to let his grandson get into the family business.

Leon Micheaux
Yeah, he's too big to be a jockey. Good thing he finds a second career -- motivational speaker! (He's a big Tony Robbins fan.)

Ronnie Jenkins
He rides Gettin' Up Morning to victory in the Kentucky Derby -- by a nose over Pint of Plain -- but soon falls off the wagon again. He spends the rest of his days fighting his demons while futilely searching for mounts.

Michael Smythe
He counsels Harry Potter from the afterlife on how to defeat Voldemort -- oh, wait, wrong series!

Finally watches "E.T." He likes it!

But what about Ace, Gus, Turo, Renzo, Lonnie, Marcus, Rosie, et al? Give it a shot in the comments below.