After a fairly colorless beginning, it looks as though events at the Miramar Playa may be primed to go out with a strong finish – so cheers to Magic City for being able to string together two rather compelling episodes before the season finale next week. The season's penultimate episode, 'Who's the Horse and Who's the Rider?,' lets the Evans clan finagle their way out of a few particularly tight spots, only to practically guarantee an unexpected reprisal.
More importantly, Magic City has found itself telling stronger stories by better utilizing the Miramar Playa as something far more potent than merely a gathering place for unbecoming types like Ben Diamond (Danny Huston) and his associates. Instead, the Miramar now serves as a looming structure so massive it swallows people and their memories as efficiently as the limestone quarry Ben utilizes to dump those who have outlived their usefulness. As a result, it is revealed that Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) mortgaged more than his own ethics by partnering with Ben to get the Miramar up and running. He forfeited a free pass for his children by signing over their inheritance back to his late wife's family.
For the first time, Molly becomes something more than a sad blip on the otherwise meteoric rise of Ike Evans. She is a key figure in the Miramar's existence, and now helps to validate Ike's need to succeed at any cost, as well as his desire to reel Molly's sister Meg (Kelly Lynch) into his teetering empire.
But Ike isn't the only one mired in the past. His new wife, Vera (Olga Kuryleko), is not only constantly bombarded with reminders of Molly – with Lauren (Taylor Blackwell) being in her care, and Danny (Christian Cooke) and Stevie (Steven Strait) running around, inadvertently upsetting their father's empire – she is also reminded of the life she gave up to become the new Mrs. Ike Evans. Though she's only seen briefly this episode, Vera has a poignant encounter with Ike in which she proposes to enlist the help of her old choreographer, Cesar Ramos, and perhaps take to the stage again to breathe new life into the Playa. The offer is simultaneously endearing and selfish, the move of someone still youthful enough to right the course of the ship they're sailing, but naïve in thinking the world is waiting to see it happen. In one instance, Vera sets her sights on the Miramar's future by attempting to resurrect her past.
As hard as it has been to see Vera on the losing end of nearly every battle she undertakes – conceiving a child, getting Jackie Kennedy to attend her luncheon, be more than just a trophy wife to her husband – perhaps the most unpleasant thing to watch was her already anemic smile become outright lifeless following Lauren's reaction at the similarity Meg bears to her late mother. One can't help but wonder what, really, is still in this for Vera?
Still, no matter how bleak things may be looking for Vera, at least she doesn't have the proverbial boots of Jack Klein (Matt Ross) and Ben Diamond pressing down on her neck like Ike does. Klein makes it clear that, after dragging Ike's limestone quarry, and coming up with an unanticipated number of dead bodies, it's only a matter of time before he finds Judi Silver and she hands over the evidence he'll use to put Ike away. Meanwhile, Ben continues to demonstrate just how wildly erratic he can be by proclaiming, "people will die tonight," if he doesn't get the $100k intended to grease the palms of certain politicians back from Ike.
At this point, Ike and Stevie should really get together, compare notes and decide what's worse: being in bed with Ben in the figurative sense, or worrying Ben will find out you've been to bed with his wife. While Stevie is an impulsive brat with a death wish, at least he has the decency to tell Lily (Jessica Marais) he's being blackmailed. With her life on the line, Lily makes an interesting phone call, revealing herself to be more than just Ben's pretty little wife.
One has to hand it to Stevie though. It takes guts to get the guy who would kill you if he knew you were sleeping with his wife to kill the idiot threatening to reveal that fact. It's a pretty big gamble, and unlike the bets Ike has made, this one seems to pay off. Divin' Dave Donahue (Andrew Bowen) should have stuck to burglarizing rooms; at least then he was merely climbing the Miramar, instead of being thrown from its top floor.
And even though things are looking up for Ike and Stevie in the end, the site of Klein leading his men like Washington on the Potomac to retrieve the redheaded Judi Silver (Judi Ginger, maybe?), means more trying times are ahead for the Evans boys.
Magic City wraps up its first season next Friday @10pm on Starz with 'Time and Tide.'