When it takes time away from shooting dogs, prostitutes and johns, it's really quite amazing how much potential Magic City shows. In what is arguably the season's strongest episode, the Miramar Playa is prepping to play host to both a big time boxing match and Jackie Kennedy. Unfortunately for both Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his lovely wife Vera (Olga Kurylenko), neither event is going to pay off like they'd hoped.
'The Harder They Fall' seems far less concerned with setting up scenes of flashy violence or just plain flashing – though there's plenty of that - just not by anyone you'd expect. The episode digs deeper into the thinking of Ike Evans and his family, which, to no one's surprise, isn't exactly equal across the board. Sure, Stevie (Steven Strait) is in line with his father – when he's not letting his libido threaten to bring the full wrath of Ben Diamond down upon the Miramar Playa, his father, and Ben's wife Lily (Jessica Marais) – but Ike's youngest, Danny (Christian Cooke), has apparently come to that proverbial fork in the road and seems to be leaning toward a different path.
That discussion of Danny's future includes an alliance with D.A. Jack Klein (Matt Ross), who, conveniently enough, is preparing to launch a full-on investigation into the activities of the Miramar Playa and its owner in connection to the murder of Mike Strauss (Leland Orser). There has always been a hint at the differences between Danny and the rest of his family. For one, Ike and Stevie, well, there's a resemblance of sorts, but Danny might as well have been brought in off the street. Additionally, Stevie seems to be known around town as quite the ladies man, while Danny may as well be Lord Varys. Perhaps this is the way Magic City wants to show just how far Danny has drifted while supposedly under his father's watch. As Stevie is courting disaster with Lily, Danny is nurturing a romance with Mercedes (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) that has them waiting until the time is right to announce their feelings, lest their respective fathers perceive it poorly.
And that's the danger in Danny: he has, until now, been content to let things progress slowly, but his relationship with Mercedes is as forbidden as the one Jack Klein is tempting him with. It's dangerous because Danny is young and eager to pull the trigger on becoming his own man, and because his closet is free of skeletons, Danny feels certain in the decision he appears ready to make. If the younger Evans is as morally righteous as he's making himself out to be, then even Klein had better be on the lookout should Danny learn the true nature of his proposed internship.
Of course, all of this between Danny and Stevie is just the naiveté of youth, of believing themselves as infallible and as invincible as they feel. So what then, is Ike's excuse? He has ostensibly become the man he wanted to be, and that the public perceives, but in his own eagerness to become that man, Ike made a deal which has haunted him since – so maybe Ike and Danny are more alike than they'd care to acknowledge? Even Ben Diamond (Danny Huston), in the ultimate moment of the pot calling the kettle black, brings up Ike's sense of superiority, and gives him a bit of a reality check.
Apparently, the Evans' sheen of arrogance isn't hereditary it's contagious. Vera Evans, formerly Vera Cruz, has gone from earning the admiration of others to craving the admiration of those with little to no idea of who she is, or how important she's supposed to be. Poor Vera can't seem to catch a break when it comes to Jackie Kennedy and that luncheon which means so much to her. Despite what seemed like a sure thing – due to some Ike-like finagling on Vera's part – Jackie cancels last minute, and Vera, like the American people would eventually, has to settle for Ted Kennedy – or his new wife, in this case.
Such overconfidence often leads to ruin, so when Ike bets big on the boxing match the Playa is hosting, he does so believing the information that Ben has fixed the fight to be true. Sadly, Ben's earlier insistence that there's always someone smarter out there proves correct – and to add extra insult to injury, served as a warning, which went unheeded.
As Ike learns, so too then must Stevie. By ignoring Janice (Willa Ford. Yes, that Willa Ford) Stevie remains unaware the photos of him and Lily he'd promised were destroyed are now in the hands of two people who may seek to use them to their advantage. While it's pretty clear what the thief is looking to get, Danny's intentions, however, remain far murkier.
Magic City continues next Friday with 'Who's the Rider and Who's the Horse?' @10pm on Starz.