What kind of man is roused in the middle of the night by a nightmare of his son and a half-naked prostitute being gunned down by the gangster who happens to be his business partner? A man who is desperate to get out from under the weight of a bad decision, that’s who. As Magic City cruises along it’s becoming clear that Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is not merely interested in ridding himself of the cancer that is Ben Diamond (Danny Huston), he’s desperate to do so.
‘Suicide Blonde’ not only reveals Ike’s desperation, it also chronicles the poor decisions of those around Ike that will only lead to more harm than good. Essentially, at this point, both of Ike’s sons, Stevie (Steven Strait) and Danny (Christian Cooke), have unknowingly become a liability to Ike, the Miramar Playa and themselves. Considering Stevie has chosen to continue his affair with Lily Diamond (Jessica Marais), and keep photographic evidence of their indiscretion (which has since been pilfered by the Playa’s balcony thief) Ike’s son and right-hand man has put himself on a collision course with a ruthless killer and minority owner of the Playa. On the other hand, Danny is being courted by D.A. Jack Klein (Matt Ross) as a means to further his investigation into the Playa and the deaths of Mike Strauss and Mirna (the Judi Silver doppelganger who was ventilated along with some poor john in ‘Atonement‘).
Danny’s troubles may be less immediate than Stevie’s, but the potential harm they may bring upon his father could potentially be worse than the wrath of Ben Diamond. At any rate Jack Klein and his henchmen can’t be beaten and drowned in a quarry like the predictable killers Ben sends to do his bidding.
Perhaps that is the major flaw in Magic City. Even though the characters are mostly compelling, their circumstances, and whatever connections that exist between them, are so linear they come off the screen as totally flat. So when the inevitable action finally does occur, it lacks the impact that was no doubt intended. Of course Stevie kept pictures of him and Lily in an envelope under his mattress. Of course there is a cat burglar targeting the Miramar Playa who sees a potential score in said photos. There is a seemingly endless string of predictability that robs the show of its drama. The same can be said for the major thread running through ‘Suicide Blonde’ – that being the fate of Judi Silver (Elena Satine).
Somewhere in their past, Judi’s story intersects with Ike’s, but really she serves to illustrate the sort of tolerance Ike has for certain immoral activities. In essence, Judi, and the episode as a whole, act as confirmation of what we’ve suspected about Ike all along: that he’s a bad guy – but the kind of audience-friendly bad guy who can have prostitutes doing business from his hotel, and still manage to think of them as family. But Magic City really wants us to wonder: when push comes to shove, just how bad a guy is Ike? Why else would Mitch Glazer have had Danny get his shoes shined by Grady (Michael Beasley) if not for the information that his father made his name through offering to end squabbles with a check book that happened to be a leather sap? There is a fine line between foreshadowing and spoiling, and in this instance, the Grady scene probably should have ended up on the cutting room floor.
Despite the fresh blood on his hands, the real issue is the future of the Playa, and once more, because of Ike’s dealings with Ben Diamond, he is forced to move further away from what he claims to be (a legitimate businessman) and closer to what many think he already is (a criminal). The latter being so offensive to Ike that when the counsel behind Meg Bannock‘s (Kelly Lynch) fortune want to know the identity of the Miramar Playa’s minority owner as part of her potential ownership deal, Ike just flips out and tells them to shove it.
Meanwhile, Ike is so caught up in keeping his head above water and intimidating Jack Klein that he is left unaware to Vera’s (Olga Kurylenko) concern about bearing children – which is so strong she sees a specialist who informs her such a thing would be difficult and unlikely. Rather than talk it out with her husband or see another specialist, Vera allows herself to be coaxed into seeing a Voodoo practitioner by Mercedes (Dominik García-Lorido). It’s interesting that a woman so intent on adopting the religion of her husband (one that he doesn’t even practice) would be so easily taken by the promise of another. It’s not readily apparent how Magic City would benefit from a little Evans conceived of Voodoo ritual, but at least it gives Vera something to do.
Magic City continues next Friday with ‘The Harder They Fall’ @10pm on Starz.