After spending last episode as merely a topic of conversation rather than an actual physical presence, Sy Berman is back on Magic City this week, if only at the top of the hour and interacting with Ike solely by phone. Try to resist the “James Caan is phoning it in” jokes, though, because even though you know the guy could play Sy in his sleep, he still delivers the goods. The way Ike’s puffing away on his cigs gives an idea just how nervous he is about broaching the subject of his big plans for Havana, but he manages to deliver his speech, even if it isn’t received quite as rapturously as he might’ve hoped. Sy’s a guy who’s heard it all before, hence his repeated acceptance of Ike’s comments by dryly saying, “Well, of course you do,” and no intention of risking making any false moves when he knows he doesn’t have to, so Ike’s clearly not going to get anything straightened out with Sy anytime soon.
But let’s not gloss over the brief, unexpected flashback that’s delivered while Sy’s on his way to take Ike’s call: although we never see any faces, it certainly appears that, at some point in the past, Sy beat the living shit out of Arthur while a young Ike looked on at the carnage. If that’s the case, then hopefully we’ll get the story sometime soon about what would inspire a kid to follow in the footsteps of the man who laid into his dad like that.
Meanwhile, Ike’s looking around so desperately for a million bucks that he ends up with Bel on his trail, who’s reporting his every finding back to Ben. You wouldn’t think it’d be so hard for him to come up with the dough, but given that he’s taken the possibility of asking Meg for the money off the table, it suddenly makes it much less easy to come up with the funds. Speaking of Arthur, he’s used to interesting effect this episode, with his obsession over betting on the bolita and his knowledge about the Cuban lottery inspiring Ike to contact Madame Minister with a possible plan on how to rid Havana of much of its criminal element.
Ike also soon learns that Theresa, the most devoted elevator operator in Miami, has gone well above and beyond the call of duty by getting intel about Senator Sloat being paid off by Ben to get the gambling bill passed. It’s incredibly valuable information which Theresa has provided to Ike with no interest in being paid, assuring him, “This I don’t do for money, this I do for you.” Those words are likely to be echoing in Ike’s ears when he learns what’s happened to her as a result of her attempted to continue her undercover operation.
Elsewhere in the Evans family, Vera continues to practice her heart out in an effort to be the same dancer she once was, and she comes far closer to succeeding than anyone could’ve expected, but it’s all due to chemical enhancement. Give Magic City credit for defying expectations by not having her collapse mid-episode—she said she was going to nail it, and damned if she didn’t—but there’s no way there won’t be some sort of repercussions from having taken these injections.
Despite Ike’s attorney telling him outright, “If Sy even whispers to Ben that you’re trying to get rid of him, you’ll vanish,” Ben becomes aware of Ike’s intentions before the end of the episode, and while he’s certainly not pleased about the development, his reaction is that eerie calm which is always dangerous with anyone who has as much of a dark side as Ben does.
The relationship between Ben and Stevie takes another interesting turn this week, with Stevie kicking ass in a poker game and securing a DJ convention for the Miramar Playa, only to find out that it’s not nearly as great a deal as he’d believed. Still, he’s convinced it’s a win for the hotel, so he’s infuriated when Ike refuses to let the deal go through. It may not lead Stevie to take Ben’s side over his father’s, but it certainly isn’t helping their father/son relationship, that’s for sure. Not that things are going that much better with Danny and Ike, with Danny being played like a fiddle by the D.A.’s office in an effort to get him to do something to help them take down his dad. Based on his performance during the bust, it’s clear that Danny doesn’t have the makings of a criminal or a law enforcement agent. Might be time to reconsider your career path, dude…
It’s a pretty skeevy episode all around, with Eddie Blue leering at Vera and Nicky Grillo reminiscing about what a complete C-word Lily used to be. There’s really just no way that Nicky gets out of this season alive; the only question, really, is whether it’ll be Stevie, Ben, or natural causes that take Nicky down first. Meanwhile, Mercy’s being mercilessly hit on by Antonio, and with Danny off on his D.A. business, it’s only a matter of time before she realizes that her future lies with someone of her own background. (Antonio’s constant reminders of her Cuban heritage can’t possibly hurt this process.)
The only storyline that seemed way too by-the-book was Lily’s, with her creeping around, trying to swipe money from Ben’s behind-the-bookcase stash and then hiding it in her own closet’s air vent. That’s pretty basic stuff to begin with, but then to have the obligatory scene where Ben ends up in the closet and is just inches away from possibly find the money…well, that just seems kind of lazy, y’know? Hopefully things don’t end up getting too predictable anywhere else. Most of other storylines currently tend to keep you guessing at least a little bit, which is as it should be.
- “In my good ear, you fucking moron!” “Well, of course you do.” “The next words that come out of your mouth, choose them very wisely. “ James Caan’s really got quite the way with a one-liner.
- Ben Diamond’s recitations on the history of King Farouk were pretty great.
- “I have seen the Virgin Mary on that ass!” Senator Sloat sure knows how to deliver a compliment, doesn’t he?
- I love that one of Ike’s advisors works out a plan for the DJ convention by just saying, “We just keep the press away and pray that nobody gets killed.”
- When exactly did prune danishes fall out of favor? They’re a staple order in anything that takes place in the ‘50s, ‘60s, or ‘70s, yet you never heard about ‘em anymore.
- “You are a fucking genius.” “Finally he sees it!” Father/son bonding, the Evans way.
- “You wanna fight crime or you wanna fuck around?” The Miami D.A.’s office really should have this put on t-shirts.
- Eddie Blue vs. Ike Evans: “I’m her biggest fan.” “Probably not.”
- I really liked the decision to cut between the arms bust and Vera's dance. Artsy, yeah, but still pretty cool.