With all due respect to Schoolhouse Rock, five seems to be the magic number for Magic City. Last season, it was the fifth episode which proved to be the turning point for the series, where it transformed from just being pretty into being a pretty damned great drama. Now that we’ve arrived at the fifth episode in the show’s sophomore year, we’ve been provided with the strongest installment of the season, an effort which—appropriately enough, given that it’s entitled “World in Changes”—ramps several slow-burning storylines all the way up to their boiling point.
After the way last week’s episode ended, it was hard to tell if Theresa was still alive or not. As it turns out, she was, but it’s a situation that doesn’t last long, as it quickly becomes evident that the only reason Ben wanted her brought to him alive was because he wanted to kill her himself. It appears that it wasn’t quite as evident to Bel, however, based on his unabashed shock when Ben whips out his gun and literally blows her brains all over the room. While it’s probable that Theresa would’ve ended up on the receiving end of a fatal bullet no matter what, it certainly didn’t help her situation any that Ben’s been exceedingly tense lately, having been battling through a dry spell in the bedroom due to Lily and Stevie being on the outs. But we’ll get to that.
Ike’s thrilled about the possibility of his big bolita plan coming to fruition, but he’s stuck biding his time until he gets the word from his connections in Havana that they’re good to go with the idea of slipping him the numbers to the Cuban National Lottery...not that he doesn’t have plenty to keep himself busy, including the beginnings of an uprising in his hotel. When Ike tries to offer his condolences to Victor on the death of his cousin, he gets a snippy reply (“Sorry about…” “Losing a good busboy?”), and when he tries to tell Victor as calmly as possible to keep all the arms business out of the Miramar Playa, Victor goes cold and ends the conversation.
The death of Alberto winds its way through several storylines. In Danny’s case, his well-intentioned if not well-thought-out plan to shove Doug in an effort to save Alberto’s life has put him on the verge of being charged with obstruction of justice. Klein’s clearly not thrilled about the way Danny acted, either, but he doesn’t want to press charges. Nor, however, does he want him around until he manages to work out what their next plan of action is going to be. As Danny leaves the office, though, Klein catches up with him and tells him that, although he knows Danny’s going to be haunted by the memory of Alberto’s death, he can work through it by having it mean something. Unfortunately, it’s still haunting Danny when he arrives at Antonio’s funeral to pay his last respects. While Mercy’s happy to see him at first, her tune changes after he admits that he was actually there when her cousin was killed. She didn’t seem to be completely on board with her father’s call to arms at the Miramar Playa, but between Danny’s admission and Antonio instantly being there to lend her a shoulder to cry on, it seems likely that she’s at least a little bit closer to joining the cause than she used to be.
After her triumphant return to the stage last week, Vera gets a strong dose of reality when she goes to the doctor—a proper one this time, not just the one who works for the hotel—and discovers that she’s suffered major trauma to her knee. At first, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to fix the problem, even if it’s going to painful and will still only be a temporary solution, but when she’s informed that her injections are doing her more damage than anything else, she actually decides to do the smart thing and retire with her dignity intact. It seems hard to believe at first, given how much she put into preparing for the show in the first place, and yet it’s right in line with Vera’s personality to do what’s best for her family. Having made the decision, she’s steadfast in sticking with it, blowing off Eddie Blue’s skeevy flirtations and attempts to sell her on having her own in the new casino, but the encounter with Eddie leads her back into conversation with Ike. It’s tense at first, but Vera gets in a few solid jabs, and in short order Ike’s finally opening up and admitting that, yes, Ben Diamond is his minority partner. She’s not happy about it, but he tells her that “Ben Diamond is my mistake” and that it’s a mistake that he’s going to fix by himself.
Of course he is. Ben’s making this more and more personal with each passing moment, including his efforts to groom Stevie as his protégé, and Ike’s sick of it. But Ben’s pretty fucking sick of Ike, too, telling him that he’s “becoming very tiresome,” then casually mentioning how his tiresome marriages have “sadly ended in death.” Ike’s not going to be scared off by his threats, though, telling Ben outright, “Stay the fuck away from my son.” It takes some time, but Ike finally sits down with Stevie and does the best he can to salvage their relationship, agreeing to let him take on the challenge of the DJ convention that he won last week. The only caveat: he’s got to cut ties with Ben Diamond. Thing is, Ben’s already offered Stevie the opportunity to partner with Madame Renee on her new gentleman’s club / fuck palace (“They will write limericks about this place!” trumpets Ben), so who’s say that what Ike’s offering his son is going to be enough for him to take it?
Whichever route Stevie decides to take, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s not going to work out well for Lily, whose future is directly tied to whether or not she can continue fucking Stevie under the watchful eye of her husband. It’s typically ballsy / desperate of Lily to attempt to fool Ben into believing that she was having sex with Stevie rather than the nobody she picked up on the beach, but it seems unlikely that it’ll work for the long haul. Ben’s a sharp guy. I’ve no doubt that he’ll figure out that he’s being fooled before long.
Lastly, there’s Meg’s gang of friends, who Ike seems to have successfully convinced to join the revolution, as it were. The man certainly gives a good speech, and Meg looks as though she couldn’t possibly be more proud of him. By the end of the evening, no one is left except for Ike and Meg, but the flirtation between them, although certainly still present, seems somewhat less profound. Is it because Ike’s feeling more comfortable with Vera now? It certainly could be, but it may just be tied to Meg’s comments about how “no matter how far you run, you always find yourself back where you started.”
Meg may be back where she started, i.e. in the family business, but Ike’s on the cusp of a new beginning. When he’s handed the lottery numbers from “a friend from Havana,” he looks legitimately shocked, to the point where he’s not even able to take it in, but he isn’t even allowed a moment of happiness before he’s reminded of Theresa’s absence and the guilt he feels about her death. It’s also a harsh reminder that playing the lottery is like playing with fire, that he’d damned well better be ready for the repercussions if he’s going to be playing this game.
- Sherilyn Fenn, oh, how you still make red dresses pop…but I won’t lie to you, her red-headed friend certainly had my attention as well.
- Wow, did Eddie Blue really think that pretending that he thought Vera was “Ike Evans’ daughter” would win him any points with her? Lines don’t get much cheesier than that one.
- “Things are going to get very ugly in La Casa Diamond. You understand, my love?” I wouldn’t want to meet Ben Diamond in a dark alley.
- I almost wish we hadn’t gotten to see what Judi Silver’s up to nowadays. Bondage photo sessions for snap-happy tourists? Oh, how the gorgeous have fallen…