‘Magic City’ Season 2, Episode 6 Review – Sweet As Old Havana

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 27th, 2013 at 8:05 am,

Steven Strait in Magic City Sitting on Top of the World Magic City Season 2, Episode 6 Review – Sweet As Old Havana

Normally, the simple pleasure of watching Danny Huston chew the opulent-looking scenery of Magic City is enough to get me through most episodes. In fact, the scenery Huston is so fond of gnawing on and his explosive delivery as Ben ‘The Butcher’ Diamond are often the two best things this occasionally languid series has to offer. And as single episodes go, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ is in no short supply of wholly amazing Danny Huston line readings and the kind of intricate ’60s scenery that likely sold the show in the first place.

But aside from the sheer pleasure that can be derived from hearing Danny Huston utter the phrase “Thank you, Mr. Butterball” and “Tell that to the Geneva Convention” with complete conviction, the episode simply stands out as a superb instance of the kind of breakneck storytelling the series should be accomplishing on a week-to-week basis.

Say what you will about procedurals, but they specialize in boiling down a complete story into the framework of a single, hour-long episode. I only mention this because so much of what’s difficult about Magic City is how over-serialized the show feels sometimes. Here, though, the larger series-level elements like Ben and the developments with Cuba, and then smaller season plot points like the DJ conventions Stevie helped bring to the Playa, are inserted perfectly into the smaller frame of this one episode, which manages to have a distinct and mostly fulfilling beginning, middle and end – and yet still leaves the viewer intrigued about what will happen next.

Danny Huston and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Magic City Sitting on Top of the World Magic City Season 2, Episode 6 Review – Sweet As Old Havana

‘Sitting on Top of the World’ not only sounds like the inevitable follow-up to last week’s ‘World in Changes,’ it actually takes the stakes that have been raised over the course of the last five episodes (and more, as much of the narrative is not so much a progression from the first season, but a continuation of many, many elements started there) and delivers a small, but important pay off from Ike’s rigging of the Cuban lottery. It’s nasty, brutish and occasionally vile, and manages to take the story into a more interesting and convincing place of discord – especially amongst the Evans boys.

The whole episode spins like a top (right down to the subplots and the musical cues), and becomes a prime example of how a program’s shortcomings can sometimes be excused for 50 some-odd minutes, so long as it is able to maintain the notion that what is transpiring on-screen is truly meaningful to the overall story, and stands the chance of coloring not only the world around these characters, but also (and more importantly) the characters themselves.

Now, to be fair, you could count the number of Magic City episodes that successfully worked this much story into a single episode on one hand – and still have a few fingers left over – so when the series pulls the proverbial trigger, it’s definitely worth mentioning, and it’s nice to be able to find enough working within the episode that’s worthy of praise.

However, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ is not a perfect episode by any means. Certain characters make brief appearances here that are intended to have ramifications for their relationships elsewhere, but this only causes the lack of development of those elements to be put under the spotlight. Most notably, this refers to the underserved female characters of the show like Vera, Mercedes and Meg.

Christian Cooke in Magic City Sitting on Top of the World Magic City Season 2, Episode 6 Review – Sweet As Old Havana

While Meg seemed to be an exciting addition and possible romantic obstacle for Ike Evans, she’s been relegated to an Agent Coulson role (provided Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Nick Fury) in regard to the assembling of the Secret Six. Meanwhile, Vera’s troubles with B-12 shots (i.e., amphetamines), her aching knees and dreams of reliving past dancing glory seem to have been completely put aside, as her only worry here is whether or not Ike can find the time to watch The Diary of Anne Frank and whether Lauren and her friends will be suitably impressed with her skills applying make-up.

Mercedes, however, speaks to a larger issue of ‘El Tiburon’ and his men; namely, Antonio Rivas, who it seemed was poised to whisk her off her feet in search of revolution and romance. Instead, Tiburon and Rivas – like Mercedes – have been relegated to a smaller role off in the periphery, so when she finally approaches Vera about an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, it comes off feeling shoehorned in – especially since she’s only been in the presence of Danny a handful of times this season and none of the scenes illustrated much beyond them growing apart.

Underdeveloped characters aside, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ does a great job of setting up the final two episodes this season, and creating the sense that there’s actually something at stake in the games these characters are all playing in the name of money and the Miramar Playa.


Magic City continues next Friday with ‘…And Your Enemies Closer’ @9pm on Starz.

TAGS: Magic city
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  1. I liked the episode, but didn’t love it. Like you, I could care less about Meg, Mercedes and Vera. They aren’t important to me and their stories are boring. RIP Nicky Grillo. I liked Nicky. I liked that he told Lily the whore off. Why Lily would shoot him infront of Ben and his goonies was a stupid move on her part. I know that Ben has to be smarter than he is letting on and knows that Lily is a setup from Sy. That she is indeed a whore and her whole purpose in life is to be a whore. I like the actor playing Lily, but the character needs to go. Didn’t care much about the Cuban lottery story. Loved Danny and Judi. I can’t believe they are both only 22 years old. Danny I figured had to be in his early 20′s as is Stevie, but I thought, for some reason Judi would be older, maybe 25. I figured she’s been hooking for some time now. She seems very comfortable at it and is pretty well verse in the world. Susie Klein is as stupid as the other women on the show. I had high hopes for her being that she is Jack Klein’s daughter and all. Why go to a hotel, by yourself and fall for some stupid jackoff? I felt really bad for her about the rape, but Jack is stupid to put the blame on Ike, the hotel or Stevie. It’s his daughter’s fault no one else’s except for the jackoff who raped her. Loved Lauren and the tutu on her head. Cute little actor Taylor Blackwell is. Could have done without the stupid hotel orgy scene. No need for that. The show was doing okay in my opinion without all the excessive sex and nudity, but whatever Starz. I know HBO is the king of porn shows and I guess you want to jump that shark also. Definitely not for their women viewers that is for sure.

  2. Wow, really good, entertaining episode with tons of stuff to digest (even with James Caan AGAIN not a part of things; hey Starz, is Mr Caan ever going to show up again? As I posted before, you guys made it seem like he’d be an integral part of season 2 and so far it’s been just a couple of cameos. What gives ? Is he not well enough to put in a lot of work, or is the lack of screen time intended, with the final couple of episodes planning to make up for it? ). Without a doubt Danny Huston is the main reason to watch this series, and again he did not disappoint. Whether torturing Nicky, threatening the senator, or just those casual utterances you mentioned ( I agree, the “Mr Butterball” line was a real hoot ), one looks forward to every scene the Butcher’s in. As far as the rest of this episode, Ike couldn’t be in a bigger mess after the incident with Klein’s daughter ( I love the ramifications there not just with Klein but with Stevie, whom obviously figures to be siding with the Butcher after that big blow up with Dad ), and the Judy Silver / Danny storyline that seems to be developing, including Judy’s secret, has me wondering if the “good son” will be hooking up with miss Judy other than in a conversation in the front seat of his car. With so many plot lines whirling about, and not a lot of time left in the season, I hope this means that the show will be renewed for a third go round, so we can finally see some answers to the potential the series has teased us with so far.

  3. Someone asked in last week’s posts if Magic City’s getting renewed for a third season. Well, just read that Starz’ CEO commented the other day that there’s uncertainty regarding a renewal. He added that there will be some surprises in the remaining episodes, and that could tell the tale on whether or not we’ll see a third season. For me, that “uncertainty” does not bode well for the show, and that’s too bad if true. There’s no doubt it is just not that popular ( take a look at the weekly posts here, they’re few in number compared to posts on other shows ), but I’ll continue to keep my fingers crossed that’s there still a chance for further episodes.

    • I think the show is great being from south Florida I love seeing the fountain blue back up and running again and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Come on Starz Friday is a tough spot to get viewers but I know allot of people that like the show as much as me.

  4. Did people really skinny dip in the hotel pools in that era? Aren’t there children staying at this hotel? Imagine all the diseases just swimming in that water. It’s disgusting. I just don’t believe it’s true. Anyway, the whole orgy scene and cunnilingus(sic?) scene was really uncalled for and this is coming from a man who loves sex, having it, watching it etc. No need for all that porn. Show was doing damn well on it’s own with the story until that point. Stevie is a dickwad. He’s just stupid. That is why your father doesn’t want you to move up, you’re not ready yet Stevie. Didn’t you think that you would have to have security during this DJ convention? What did you think would happen. You just stand around starring at the pretty girls and everything would be okay? Love Judy and Danny. Kind of hoping he runs off with her. Merecedes being pregnant, could care less. Vera, Meg and Lily need to go. Love Ben Diamond. He is the baddest ass out there. I think Lily is a gonna. RIP Nick Grillo loved you man. Jack Klein blaming Ike for what happened to his dimwitted daughter is just stupid. Why did she take pills and drink with that loser. I thought she was a lot smarter than that. Guess not. Two episodes left. I hope we get some sort of great ending.

  5. Really Magic City? A Cunnilingus Contest at a hotel? Where these suppose to be college students or a DJ convention? WTF did that have to do with anything concerning the story? I just can’t with these cable shows any more. Too much nudity, sex and violence for no reason except to keep their male viewers happy. You’re going to lose your female viewers due to this.

  6. whos the actor that raped susie

    • Mike Irwin I do believe.

  7. Just for the record, Lizette, not all male viewers are happy with such stuff either. Watching this episode with my wife, I cringed with that scene as it was over the top, and unnecessary. Unfortunately that’s the way things seem to be with Starz, nothing is left to the imagination as far as violence, and especially sex, is concerned, and sadly better storytelling is often sacrificed as a result. If it wasn’t for Jefferey Dean Morgan and especially Danny Huston, I might not even be watching the show, but since I really like them I am hooked. Starz should really try to cut down on some of the unnecessary content, though, and focus on making this series more than just a car wreck that’s hard to take your eyes off of.

  8. JohnB. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Not all male viewers like or need to see so much explicit nudity or violence. I have the same issues with HBO. I guess with these cable shows they feel they can get away with it and keep viewers intrigued and interested, but I don’t think it really does serve any purpose. A good show, with great acting, story, directing, etc should be able to hold it’s own without any of this extra crap being thrown in. Just look at how good regular tv shows can be even some regular cable shows like Justified doesn’t have to throw in all this extra stuff to keep viewers and they hold their own. My brothers and I (I have four and two sisters) aren’t prudes. I like the naked body as much as the next person, but I don’t need to see it thrown in my face constantly or see sexual intercourse going on. I enjoy it in the privacy of my own home and don’t need to watch it. My sisters and mother had to leave the room when that uncalled for orgy scene at the hotel came on. I think Starz is trying too hard to compete against Skinemax(Cinemax), HBO and Showtime.

  9. Lizette, I agree with JohnB and Colton. Not all men need to have that s*** in their faces. I do understand why you would think like that tho. My mom says it all the time also. It is meant more for the male viewers than the female, but please don’t generalize that all of us men are perverted sick pigs that need to see or watch porn to make us happy. I prefer a great story over any of that.

    • Love this season hope next season is just as juicy.

  10. Would you please let me know when the 3 sseason will begin?