‘Magic City’ Season 2, Episode 2 Review – All In The Family

Published 1 year ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 6:17 pm,

James Caan and Danny Huston in Magic City Angels of Death Magic City Season 2, Episode 2 Review – All In The Family

Every now and then it pays to add a highly recognizable guest star to a show’s lineup in an effort to lend it some credibility and to use the audience’s knowledge of said guest’s past roles as an ominous indicator of where the present storyline could be headed – as is the case with James Caan showing up in the second episode of Magic City.

Given his history, it likely comes as no surprise that Caan is portraying Sy Berman, an aging, hard-nosed mobster from Chicago who has to deal with the unpredictable and greedy Ben Diamond in addition to the financial mess being caused by Castro closing down all the casinos is Cuba.

It’s a short scene and Caan easily slips into the surly I’m-getting-too-old-for-this routine that the character calls for, and, at once, Magic City has a promising new character and a new subplot that seems poised to take center stage and hopefully bring the various threads that’ve been dangling – or were otherwise pushed back after the season premiere – together and add a dash of spice and a sense of danger to what can sometimes be the languid pacing of the program.

Pairing Caan off with scene-stealer Danny Huston was also a good idea, as he seems to always be having a good time onscreen (and considering the things he’s been asked to do so far in the series, you can’t blame him) and his energy translates well to his talk with Sy. There’s a history between the two, and although we don’t know the details, the wary manner in which Sy regards Ben’s nature – especially with money – tells us pretty much everything we need to know.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kelly Lynch in Magic City Angels of Death Magic City Season 2, Episode 2 Review – All In The Family

Besides, the more interesting takeaway is how the Chicago mob sees Ike Evans as disposable, and just how much of its financial future is riding on the gambling bill Ben’s trying to push through with the help of the most overtly lecherous TV politician not appearing in Boardwalk Empire. It’s not entirely clear where they’re headed with the Cuban casino plotline, but after the final shot of the episode revealed Ike was flying to the island, it seems a good bet that Ben and Sy will be involved soon enough, and they’re not likely to see eye-to-eye on whatever proposal Ike may be putting on the table.

Ike’s betting large on this one, and he’s even confident enough to refer to himself as a shark – in a bit of dialogue that assumes no one has ever watched an episode of Breaking Bad. But Ike’s not the only one getting too big for his britches. There were a few Ben Diamond lines that really stood out during ‘Angels of Death,’ which suggested The Butcher had grown large enough – in his own mind, anyway – to feel he no longer needed to be watched over or controlled by the powers that be up in snowy Chicago.

This idea of a looming presence that is perpetually out of sight was tied not too subtly to Ben and the Evanses celebrating the Seder – though separately and in drastically different ways. Ben acknowledges the occasion by throwing a massive bacchanal and enjoying some light conversation and an illicit white substance with his wife’s touchy-feely ex, Nick Grillo (Jamie Harris), then settling down to drunkenly quote Lord Byron before relieving himself on the one-way mirror while gazing down upon a mass of writhing bodies in the bed below.

Steven Strait and Elena Satine in Magic City Angels of Death Magic City Season 2, Episode 2 Review – All In The Family

However, Seder was a bit more sedate for the Evanses. The most heated point of the evening belonged to Vera explaining to Meg what the salt water was for. But really, the night belonged to Ike’s dead wife, since her presence was overwhelmingly felt in everything from Lauren’s new white gloves to Grandpa Arthur’s words at the table. And so, in one fell swoop, Magic City manages to underline the two recurrent themes in the show in the least subtle manner possible.

At this point, it seems like Magic City is keeping a running tally of how many times it can drop the word “family” into otherwise casual conversation and, at the end of the season, it’ll meet up and compare with Fast and Furious 6 to see which storyline reigns supreme in ham-fistedly bringing every character thread back to that single notion.

All joking aside, it’s nice to see the series is trying to connect its subplots by taking stories that could have been forgotten – like the death of Victor Lazaro’s (Yul Vazquez) wife at the end of last season – and making them relevant within the context of a single episode. With luck, the series will continue to find more and more inventive ways of doing this as the season progresses.

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Magic City continues next Friday with ‘Adapt or Die’ @9pm on Starz.

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  1. The James Caan scene surprised me in that he seemed older and a bit more slow moving than I expected. Regardless, I’m sure that when the time comes Sy will erupt like the simmering volcano he most likely is and perhaps even put Ben Diamond to shame as far as being one mean, dangerous SOB. As in last week’s episode, the groundwork is being laid for a lot of interesting, intertwining plot lines it seems,and I especially like the potential for the one involving the CIA and the Esai Morales character. Like Caan, but not as well known, Morales is an outstanding actor and if his character becomes a well developed one he should add a lot to the series.

  2. I’m new to watching the show. So far I’m loving it except that it seems a little too much like soft core porn plus a mob storyline. I could do without so much nudity (I’m not a prude trust me. I love the body) I feel that if we are going to see so much of the women, we deserve to also see more male bodies. What’s fair is fair in my book. Also, I remember when they were looking for actors for this show, the director wanted only “natural” women, no breast augmentation, no face reconstructive surgery. Yes these women are to DIE FOR in terms of beauty, but are they really all “natural” I have some issues with this. Plus, back in the 1950′s/60′s in Miami, they women were very curvy these women are quite thin in my opinion and not at all what the real women of the 1950′s would have looked like. I know, I know it’s just a tv show. I am enjoying it, but I think they can do a lot more without so much nudity and sex scenes and concentrate more on the story and plot.

  3. I don’t know why exactly, but the part when Nick confronts that whore Lily and he scares her exited me. I don’t know why. The acting on this show is fantastic as is the scenery, but some of the story lines are ridiculous and beyond idealistic. Also, why is Judy still working her tail at the hotel after what happened? She should go away otherwise she is going to be killed.

  4. I have a question that I’m hoping some one can assist me with. How do they do all these nude scenes when they have a child on the set? Also, what do they show during the red carpet. If Lauren is only about 14 on the show thanks to her Bas Mitzvah in season 1 and the actress is only about 15/16 in real life, I don’t find this reasonable to have so much nudity around such a young child. Anyone else?

  5. Regarding the nudity factor on the show, from what I know about Starz I would say if one is a relatively new viewer get used to it. This network leaves little to the imagination when it comes to nudity, sex, and violence. I’m guessing they’re trying to style the show somewhat after “The Sopranos” by combining the nudity / sex and mob elements, and although it is nowhere near being as good as that show “Magic City” does have a lot of potential. I enjoy the show a great deal, and hope that the writers do develop it more or else it will end up being kind of what it is already, a great looking “car wreck” that is hard to turn your eyes away from. As far as Taylor Blackwell’s “Lauren” is concerned, I can only guess that she’s nowhere around when the nude scenes are filmed; as risque as Starz can be, I’m hoping even they would not expose young actors to the R and close to X rated scenes when filming takes place.

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