To outsiders, Ike Evans may not appear to have changed all that dramatically in the time that’s passed between the New Year’s Eve celebration that kicked off the very first episode of Magic City and where he stands in tonight’s installment of the series, but he’s a much bolder and far more confident fellow than he used to be. Just look and listen to the way he handles himself as he puts his master plan into effect, delivering his instructions in a matter-of-fact manner and wrapping up with six simple words that speak volumes about the inherent danger of the scenario: “You get caught, you die. Comprende?”
That’s a far cry from the guy we saw at various points during season one, who was very much in a place where he felt his whole world caving in on him. He’s putting a lot of eggs in this bolita basket, but it’s given him such a surge of self-assurance that, even if it should go horribly awry (as it very much does at one point, thanks to the bearded, gun-toting behemoth played by Rick Ross), it only serves to make him angry…and, no, you would not like him when he’s angry. Just ask Stevie.
When Ben first helped Stevie secure the DJ convention for the Miramar Playa, it seemed like the sort of thing that would help turn the boy into a man, but it quickly became evident that it had the makings of a major fiasco, causing Ike to refuse to allow the event in his hotel. But then he changed his mind, deciding it was worth giving Stevie a chance to stand on his own if it meant he’d be able to help his son cut ties with Ben Diamond. The end result: Things played out even worse than Ike could’ve imagined. There was a certain amount of comedy to be had from Ike surveying his kingdom and muttering, “I will kill him with my bare fucking hands,” while Vera kept reminding him to focus on the mantra, “We’re completely booked,” but things got much less amusing right around the time Suzi Klein met Ira Stein.
Looking back, it’s a little amazing that we’re at a point when Jack Klein can actually be seen as somewhat of a sympathetic figure, but we get a brief glimpse of his life of domesticity early in the episode, and for all of his undeniably assholish tendencies, he’s still at heart a family man who believes he’s doing the right thing for the community. Stevie may not have envisioned things would get so far out of hand so quickly with the DJ convention, but when they do, they do so in such spectacular fashion that the end result is Klein’s worst nightmare…and that’s not even factoring in the fact that the D.A.’s own daughter is the victim of some of the most despicable debauchery on the premises. When Klein commands Danny “tell your father that I will destroy him, I promise, or I will die trying,” it’s the first time that you can actually find yourself thinking of Klein, “I get where he’s coming from.”
Speaking of Danny, his relationship with Judi Silver continues to develop. “In my extensive experience, the Evans boys are born liars,” she says, but given her gift for charming men, there’s really no immediate reason to believe she’s doing anything other than using him to save herself. Still, she does open up to him about his father’s actions with Jimmy Shoes, assuring him she believes he would’ve done the same thing if he’d been in Ike’s position, and although she later claims to regret revealing the information to him, she also admits she wants to see him again.
But enough about the Evans boys: When it comes right down to it, the big story in this episode is how completely fucking insane Ike’s plan is making Ben…or, really, just how insane Ike is making Ben, period.
The scene with Ike confronting Ben about Theresa’s absence starts out dangerously quiet, but there’s an undercurrent of tension throughout, emerging abruptly–and loudly–when Ike dares to suggest the hotels in Havana belong to Castro. Ike tries to appeal to Ben’s business sense by reminding him that the whole operation could fall apart if The Bearded One realizes Ben’s anywhere near it, but it’s not enough. Indeed, all it serves to do is send Ben into conversation with Senator Sloat about the fate of both Theresa and the gambling bill, telling the lovable racist, sexist alcoholic, “Deliver what you promised, and there’s a slight chance you won’t be wearing your intestines as a necklace.”
Poor Bel gets the unfortunate duty of having to keep Ben informed about the increase in bolita ticket sales, uttering the telltale phrase “Jesus fucking Christ!” when it becomes evident just how much money they’re going to have to pay out as a result. Poor Nicky Grillo ends up getting the short end of the stick in the situation when, thanks to Bel, Ben becomes convinced Grillo’s responsible for the financial fuck-up, a situation which leads to an incredibly uncomfortable reunion between Grillo and Lily.
If things hadn’t been so completely crazed, it’s hard to imagine Ben wouldn’t have pursued the matter of Lily’s previous relationship with Grillo further, but knowing him, he was probably temporarily caught up in appreciation of her boldness in shooting the son of a bitch stone dead. Otherwise, she never would’ve survived this wonderful little exchange:
Ben: “You just silenced a man I was interrogating.”
Ben: “Tell that to the Geneva Convention.”
The last scene features Ike reasonably losing his shit when he finds out the poor girl who left the Miramar Playa on a stretcher was Jack Klein’s only daughter, screaming at Stevie that he’s a fucking idiot, that he knew he wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility, and informing him, “You are a goddamned fucking bartender until I say different!” Unsurprisingly, Stevie storms out of the joint, causing Ike to yell, “Where you gonna go now, boy?” But it’s as much of a rhetorical question to us as it will be for Ike once he takes the time to think about it, and the idea of what Ben might ask Stevie to do to help him win his war with Ike is enough to make anyone shudder.
- Ben’s casual reference to his “legendary self-control” was pretty fucking funny, as was his comment to Lily later that he wanted her to stick around as “a show of martial support.”
- Vera’s screen time is limited this week, but she did get three small spotlight moments. The first, where Ray-Ray tells her how awesome her show was, is presumably intended to suggest it’s not going to be nearly as easy to shrug off her dancing career if people are going to keep telling her how great she is. The second, where she and Mercy bond over the latter’s unexpected pregnancy, seemed a little forced, since we’ve never really seen any significant relationship between them in the past, but I guess it at least serves to move the pregnancy storyline along a bit. The last, though, with Vera trying to offer something to Lauren that she’s been getting from her relationship with Meg, was rather sweet.
- It’ll be interesting to see how this Secret Six plan of action plays out. It’s a slow build, but I expect it’s going to be a big finish.
- Wow, so DJs used to hold cunnilingus races with the ladies, huh? And here I thought it was Ron Burgundy who brought classiness to broadcasting…