Ike meets with Klein at the state’s attorney’s office and presents the journal that he acquired from Lily, claiming that every single illegal dollar that Ben dealt with was written down. But in order to get the information, Klein has to agree to drop the case against Ike and Sid; when Klein declines Ike’s offer, still enraged at what happened to his daughter at the Miramar, Ike says that he’ll take it to the press if need be and frame Klein as the DA who sat on his hands rather than going after Ben Diamond. Klein thinks that giving in would be him becoming what he swore to destroy, but Ike’s apology for what happened to Susie and pledge that he would do the same if similar happened to Lauren seem to stick with him.
Ben confronts Lily by the pool about her past with Nicky Grillo. She cops to dating him in Tampa for three months, though Ben is more concerned about a potential connection to Sy, which she denies. He claims that if she’s lying about only knowing him in passing, and having met him for the first time when she was introduced to Ben, it could end up being very bad for her. Meanwhile, Ike sneaks away to have a talk with the CIA officer he has monitoring Tiberon, the same man who was listening to the Cuban rebel’s conversation with Victor on last week’s episode. The officer admits that Victor’s in pretty deep right now and Ike rushes over to his former friend’s abode to tell him everything. Apparently, Tiberon lied about what happened with Maria; rather than dying in his arms like he told Vic earlier this season, she was found caught in a fishing net in the middle of the ocean. Vic seems to believe him, but he doesn’t let Ike into the home after storming away.
When Ike returns to the Miramar, he discovers multiple police officers, who he leads out of the lobby and has a quiet chat with outside. They’re there in regards to Nicky Grillo’s body being found in the barrel and he quickly gives them the okay to search the gangster’s room, though he urges them to use the service elevator. Sensing an opportunity, Ike calls the Secret Six back into session and preaches that they need to publish another article, this time linking Grillo’s death with increased mob activity and the gambling bill. With only hours before the papers go to print, the one option they have is an editorial written by Meg; her power and influence around town should persuade citizens to the dangers of the gambling bill and be strong enough to deliver the finishing blow to the bill’s chances. Meanwhile, after hearing Antonio confess his love to her and knowledge of her pregnancy, Mercy and Vera meet in the Atlantis, where the former laments about wanting what Vera has – security in her relationship. However, Vera is more concerned about not being able to give Ike a child and the chance that Mercy could be her final chance at doing so.
The following morning, Ike gets Meg to sign her editorial and rushes it to the printers, where it runs on the front page and disrupts the vote in Tallahassee, as two men stand outside the senatorial offices and hand out papers to all who walk inside. As such, every vote that Ben bought turns against him and the bill turns out to be DOA. While Sy hears about Nicky and is forced to leave his religious services, Danny goes to Klein with one final card to play: the attentive student. He recalls the conversation they had when Klein was trying to convince him to intern at the office, where he questioned the young man about what he would do to destroy evil. Though Ike may be crooked and a whole host of other adjectives, he’s not evil, according to Danny, and using a personal vendetta to go after him would go against everything that Klein has told him, the entire reason he got into the law in the first place. That does the trick, as Klein calls Ike and accepts the deal; as long as all the information checks out, he’ll drop the charges against Ike and Sid.
Currently on an upswing, Ike tries to reconnect with Stevie by going to Madame Renee’s brothel, but he doesn’t want anything to do with his father, not after being kicked out of the Miramar. (On less of a high note is Ben, who is avoiding all contact with Sy after the vote falling apart. Unknowingly to him, Sy told Cyrus that if the vote goes down like it did, Ben was to be taken out.) His meeting with Sy on the balcony goes a tiny bit better, though, as a little reminiscing turns into the old man trying to strong-arm Ike into buying Ben’s part of the Miramar back for $10 million and giving up 40% of all money that comes into the hotel from here on. Having already offered the Chicago outfit Havana, Ike whips out evidence that links Sy with Ben, who he claims to be heading for the penitentiary once Klein gets done with him, and boasts to having a hell of a lot more where that came from. Sy may threaten to kill Ike’s family before taking him out, but if that were to happen, the boss would lose hundreds of millions of dollars, so he has to keep the hotelier alive, much to his chagrin.
However, Ike still has to pay back the money and thinks about going deeper in bed with Meg, who he’d much rather be in business with than people like Sy Berman. He wants to borrow the money from her and then pay her back on a monthly basis, but Vera doesn’t like that idea, since this isn’t just business to Meg. Ike doesn’t flinch, though, claiming that their marriage will have to be strong enough to make it and all but dismissing how uncomfortable the new arrangement makes her. Meanwhile, Vic leaves Mercy a note on the dresser and heads out to the boat where Tiberon awaits. Before setting sail, though, he badgers the rebel to tell him the story of what happened with Maria one more time. Before he can, though, Vic confronts his “friend” about lying on what happened with Maria and taking advantage of a group of men under the guise of killing Castro. The two scuffle, Victor gets shot in the stomach, and they drop into the water, where he has enough just strength to strangle Tiberon before losing consciousness in the water. One of the men on the boat dives down and brings him to the dock, where he looks at the stars (and presumably dies from his wounds).
When Ben gets interrupted by Lily from doing line after line of coke, he tells her that he won’t be going to the brothel tonight with her and urges her to take Stevie along for the ride, where she shouldn’t pay and should bring him home. While out, she tells Stevie of Ben knowing of their affair and that she thinks he plans to kill them both that night, due to his demeanor before she left and anguish over the gambling bill. Elsewhere, Ike thanks Meg for everything that she did and she agrees to reinvest into the Miramar, keeping herself on as a partner. She then kisses him.
Danny bursts into Klein’s office where he asks about the whereabouts of Doug, who stepped out of the office earlier that day under the guise of looking for files and never returned. He thinks that the man could be after Judi Silver and guides them all to the brothel of Madame Renee in hopes of catching her before he does. Sy leaves Shabbat with several of his associates and gets jumped by a gang of Ben’s men, led by Bel. Sy ends up having to kill Bel and takes a shot in the arm, only to jump into his car and be blown up thanks to the bomb that had been planted while he was inside the synagogue. Back at Ben’s, The Butcher is happily watching Lily and Stevie together when she flips him over onto his back and he fires several shots into the two-way mirror, sending Ben crashing to the floor below them. Still alive, Ben tells Stevie he’s forgiven and escapes with his life, since the gun ran out of bullets. Lily makes Stevie get out of the house as Ben continues coughing up blood.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for Judi Silver, as Doug makes it to her first and stabs her twice, leaving her for dead against the window of her room. Danny finds her and calls for someone to get an ambulance before she loses anymore blood. Back at the hotel, Vera learns from Antonio that Mercy had a miscarriage and Ike arrives home to find Danny packing his things, distraught from having to deal with what happened to Judi. He chastises his father for the lifestyle he’s involved in and tells him not to love him anymore before speeding away.
The series ends with Stevie paranoid in his hotel room and looking out to see Vera parked in her car outside his room; Klein telling a bed-bound Ben that he was too bad to die and that when he survives, he’ll stop at nothing to get him on the electric chair; and Ike drawing the Miramar on the beach by the real thing.
A true castle made of sand.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-So, as a season finale, this was a pretty strong effort, with the focus being less on the results of the bill and more on what happens afterward and how everyone responds to the latest curveball. (Also, a lot of housecleaning, in terms of ancillary players being taken out.) But as a series finale, it just makes me frustrated and reminds me of The Borgias, another abruptly canceled cable drama that didn’t have enough time for resolution. (Here’s an interview Jeffrey Dean Morgan did with Entertainment Weekly about the cancellation. Most interestingly, the extravagant sets were already paid for, so the show’s expensive aesthetic wouldn’t be a factor in the show ending.)
-Speaking of said ancillary players, I wasn’t horribly surprised about who bit the proverbial bullet (James Caan has an ABC series this summer, Judi Silver has been living on borrowed time since early season one, Victor was on the outs with Ike and left his daughter), but the ways they were bumped off were immensely well done. The gun fight-turned-car bomb made me (loudly) gasp, while Judi’s stabbing gutted me and Vic’s exit was creative and ended on a peaceful note that was more comforting than concerning. I am shocked, though, that Lily didn’t get taken out.
-Can we talk about the stretch in the show that went old guy gun fight, car bomb, Stevie shooting the mirror and sending Ben flying? Because that was amazing. And totally worth him not knowing that Ben knew all season. However, considering the show’s cancellation, I kind of wish that there had been one more bullet in Stevie’s gun and that he ran off with Lily to escape those who would look to avenge Ben’s death.
-Another disappointment in the cancellation: no more awkward Stevie/Vera sexual tension. Do you think they got it on after the final scene, where she shows up at the hotel? I think they would do it once and then she would be beside herself with regret for letting the situation with Ike cause her to act out of character.
-Is Antonio gay? My gaydar must be broken, because I never picked up on anything during the season and in his first scene tonight, the emphasis on him saying he had never wanted a woman before made me curious.
-Great shot: Ben, with an undone tie and loose collar, letting the front page of the paper waft into the pool while the camera was looking up at him.
-I really enjoyed seeing Ike go full shark on Sy on the hotel balcony, but I thought that he had fended off the old man’s desire to collect the $10 million. Or was I hearing things?
-The only person who escaped the series happy was Lauren, who is probably up in her room doing her hair or watching The Diary of Anne Frank for fun again or something. Literally every other character ended up dead or miserable due to something they can’t have.
-Thank you guys for keeping up with my Magic City coverage this summer. While I’m annoyed that we don’t get to know what happens next, I think the show grew quite a bit during this season and seemed ready to take an even bigger leap during a (hypothetical) season three, even if we (meaning me and all the beautiful people who read these recaps) would have been the only ones watching. Meet you all in the Atlantis for a drink, okay?