03/26/2012 3:32PM

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

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"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

Epilogue

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!

Eduardo
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.

aldo noble More than 1 year ago
I was two years ago with the real Julio Canani ( Turo Escalante) and he's not the guy likes they show. Al
Thomas Ibey More than 1 year ago
Just lov the Show. I too was a former owner and have been following the Ponies for 58 years. Never met anyone involved with Raceing that I dd not like. Win or Loose we all had a good time.. My moment of glory came at Del Mar in the early 80s. I was ahead for the day so I made a Large Exacta wager, $1000 one way only. The Horse I placed on top was my name sake and it was 12 to 1. I won about $25.000 on that single ticket... True Story
Maria Kern More than 1 year ago
I just cancelled my HBO.
VanessaG More than 1 year ago
I, too, think Ace and Claire will get together as will Marcus and Renzo's mother!! Lonnie wants to hook up with Rosie, but Gary Stevens bad boy character will spark her interest instead eventhough she still has feelings for Leon. Nick Nolte's character will continue to walk that thin line between sanity and insanity. Gus does away with all three of Ace's enemies then gives up that side of his life to enjoy life as a front man horse owner. I agree that Turo and the vet will start a family and adopt Eduardo. Jerry and Naomi will stay together. However, I don't know if any one had the same feeling that I had during the final minutes of that last episode. I felt that the show expressed very well the sentiment of how horses and the sport of horse racing makes people feel happy and excited. Ace felt so joyous in the paddock about the coming race that he wants to share that feeling with fans who would never have the opportunity to know the joys of owning a race horse. Ace also expresses his wonder over his expensive Thoroughbred by placing his hand on the horse's forehead during the saddle up. The race was well done, I thought, exciting, beautifully done. Marcus' physician even comes to the races per Marcus' invitation and finds the races thrilling. The show may have had its flaws but I enjoyed it very much and am sorry to see it cancelled!!
Miguel Bonifaz More than 1 year ago
Nice series for thoroughbred fans...but unsellable for the rest of mortals that don´t know if a know if a race horse is going forward or in reverse. Let´s face it, we are a tiny minority. Let´s just keep it to ourselves.
Joel Watson More than 1 year ago
Amen to all who say it was a great series. It's a good thing the PETA jerks can't read or they would have tried to ban Jaimy Gordan's National Book Award novel, "Lord of Misrule." Pulling the plug on HBO today...
Sal Rinado More than 1 year ago
It's too bad that just when the series was making sense to the non race folks it's over. It was very well done and the final episode left you wanting more. I think it's the best done since the Soprano's.Unfortunately we all suffer because of a few (PETA) and inaccurate reports. I think Frank Stronach had something to do with the cancellation. He put pressure on HBO. It would be nice if they found a different way to film the race scenes and the series could be picked up or sold to someone else. The characters really made the story. I'm cancelling HBO on my Direct TV. I've spent alot of time with racehorses as an owner and trainer and in my opinion this show depicted horse racing and the people who make it go. It would have only gotten better. I hope it returns...
Mike More than 1 year ago
Don't know for sure if Stronach had anything to do with cancellation. Do completely agree with the rest of what you said though. I,too, will be cancelling HBO, just as soon as I've had my fill of that last episode. That was great.
nancyb More than 1 year ago
Stronach stood to get good PR (like the Luck pick-6) plus the regular paycheck for the location fees and lots of shots making SA look idyllic.
Dennis Terrone More than 1 year ago
Just like horseracing in general their are so few that love it.The racerats that watched weren't enough to keep the show on.But they got a glimplse of the appeal of winning at the track,It's such a thrill.
Dennis Terrone More than 1 year ago
Just like horseracing in general,their are so few that love it.The show only had theracerats watching. But everyone got a glimplse of the appeal of winning at the track,it's exciting
Ed More than 1 year ago
Such a great series. Too bad the producer and the director are leaving the battlefield after they ignied a media brouhaha.They should fight back.