At the docks, Ike goes over instructions to the Cubans that will help him rig the lottery and collect the money needed to secure control over Havana’s casinos. They’re to bet all $3,000 on the number 185 and collect their winnings at 1:00, with the boat leaving at 2:00. If they miss the boat or get made by the bolita owners, they’re on their own, which they all seem to be okay with as a condition of their participation.
Meanwhile, Stevie’s DJ convention is getting into gear and has already made the Miramar booked up in July, traditionally their slowest month. However, everyone from the photographers to the singers and record label executives are loud, reckless (one man asks to get a boat and a female water skier in the hotel pool), and make Ike extremely anxious of the damage to come from their time at the hotel, impossible to enjoy a movie with Lauren and Vera. Also troubling him is Ben’s presence, especially once he sees that The Butcher is still rather friendly with Stevie, something he explicitly forbade his son from doing.
Ike approaches Ben and the two talk in private, where the former asks about Theresa Suarez’s disappearance and what Ben may know. Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t claim to know any Theresa Suarez, claiming that she probably ran off with a guest or something; he does, however, tell Ike that he thinks the Havana hotels are his, which upsets Ike, seeing as how Castro’s men could overhear their conversation and blow the deal for him. At one of the bolitas, Cisco places his money down and has to get an executive approval from the bolita owner before his wager gets approved. He has to concoct a story about how his mother recently died and came to him in a dream to tell him to sell everything and use the money at the bolitas on her birthday, but he manages to get his bet approved and make it out to the car in one piece.
Danny goes to Judi and asks her about why Doug has taken such an interest in getting her out of time. She says she’ll only talk over an Irish coffee and once the two get to the bar, Danny inquires about whether his father killed Jimmy Shoes. Whether it be the brandy or her hatred of secrecy, Judi confesses that he saved her life and she’s grateful that he did, irking Danny even with the self-defense angle. She bets that he would have done the exact same thing, had he been in Ike’s shoes. While Ben receives a visit from Senator Sloat, who he sends running back to Tallahassee after hearing concerns about harming innocents, Ike has a meeting with the Secret Six where he expresses interest in avenging Theresa’s death by using the information she gave him to build the case against Ben. There’ll be an article written about her in one of the newspapers, a sort of “whatever happened to…?” type of piece, that will be published alongside a profile of Ben Diamond, as suggested by Meg.
Back at the hotel, the photographers are swarming and Susie Klein has decided to skip the meeting with her father at his office and check out the convention. Almost as soon as she gets there, she runs into Ira, an executive from Geneva Records who charms her into giving him her demo and agreeing to meet him at the Atlantis at 1:00. He promises that her favorite singer Peggy Lee would be there to perform, but once she agrees to go and the two part, he chucks her tape into the garbage. Later, after receiving a cigarette and a kind word from Ray Ray, Vera meets with Mercy and hears the news that she definitely wasn’t expecting: the young girl is pregnant. With Danny’s baby. And doesn’t want to keep it. Although she’s never had a child herself, she still sympathizes with what Mercy’s going through and lets her cry on her shoulder.
Out of Judi’s place, she expresses regret in telling Danny about Ike and the two flirt about the color of his “true blue” eyes. He uses the opportunity to ask her about Doug again and she decides to leave, but not before telling him that she wants to take this one secret at a time. I mean, she has to have some reason to see him again, right? Ike meets with Vic in his office and the two have an argument about the presence of El Tiberon at the Miramar, which Ike doesn’t like and Vic deems a necessity, at least for now. Once he’s alone, Ike turns on the radio and hears the numbers in the Cuban lottery being read and, as expected, he gave his men the right combination of numbers to take their $3,000 and increase it to $200,000 each. While Bel is overwhelmed at the amount of money being paid out at the bolitas (and the amount of calls he receives), every one of Ike’s men makes it out safely, except for Cisco, who gets stopped by Butterball and has a confrontation with him that ends in a gun being fired.
Susie shows up to the Atlantis expecting to see Peggy Lee and finding a loud, alcohol-fueled party instead. Ira insists that Peggy heard the demo and loved what she found and after a few drinks (and one little red pill), takes her to a crowded hotel room where a cunnilingus competition is going on. Sensing something is wrong, she tries to leave, only to be stopped by him and brought into the nearby bathroom. The maid finds the two on the floor of the room and runs out to find help. Both Danny and Stevie come running to the room when they find out what’s going on and while Stevie punches a few people to try and clear the room, Danny finds Susie completely out of it on the bathroom floor and being raped by Ira. The record guy leaves and Danny performs the CPR that she needed to survive, though she’s not in good shape.
The battle between Ike and Ben has now turned its focus to Cisco, as the former is going with Vincent to try and nab him from Butterball’s guys and the latter, who stops what could have been Lily’s escape attempt, is expecting Mike to deliver the better to his doorstep. Ike and Vincent get the upper hand when Vincent takes out of the two men holding Cisco and Ike maims the driver of the vehicle that had been circling the block, grabbing their man and speeding off amid a series of shots from Butterball’s shotgun. Ben is, of course, furious about losing to Ike once again and pulls a gun on Bel out of frustration. The bookie tries to calm his friend (and boss) down by saying that it wasn’t him he was responsible for what happened; it was likely someone who knows Castro and is around the Cubans. Ben thinks that Santo is involved and that, by extension, Nicky Grillo is, too. It’d make sense, this being payback for the arms deal bust from last week’s episode.
Ben sends his men to snatch Nicky from his hotel room and invites Lily to come into the study to see their guest, whose face was beaten nearly beyond recognition and whose blood was all over Ben’s steam machine. Ben threatens to cut Nicky’s entire face off with one motion and Nicky simply asks him to check in with his “whore”, a woman he says is always working. After mentioning that Ben should also ask Lily about Al, Nicky responds to The Butcher’s threats with laughter and taunts before Lily pulls a gun and shoots him in the head herself. Ben is upset because he didn’t get the information out of Nicky that he wanted to. Lily’s response? She was just so upset at all the things Nicky was saying about Ben. He curiously asks her about whether this was the first time she had met Nicky before excusing her from the study.
Danny meets with Klein at the hospital and gets commended for taking the actions needed to save Susie’s life. But even with her stomach being pumped and everything seemingly okay, the state’s attorney is infuriated about whatever happened taking place within the confines of the Miramar. He vows to destroy Ike, even if he has to die trying. Back at the hotel, Danny fills Ike in on the events of the evening, including that Jack Klein’s daughter was raped in the bathroom of one of their room. Ike storms into the hotel and has a major altercation with Stevie, telling him that he’ll always only be a bartender and that he’ll be a bartender until he says otherwise. Stevie then leaves the hotel, possibly for good.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-I’m not quite sure why Vera and Lauren were going to watch The Diary of Anne Frank together as part of a mother-daughter bonding moment. (Unless it was to be followed up by a serious discussion about the events of the movie, what they meant for their religion, and how what happened on screen made her feel, but that doesn’t sound like a fun activity for a kid.) Thankfully it was called off and Lauren’s friends got to have their makeup done by a real professional dancer.
-In case you weren’t sure, Butterball was played by rapper Rick Ross, who was such a big fan of the show that creator Mitch Glazer wrote him a small role.
-It feels like the show is setting Danny up as the bad guy in his relationship with Mercy, as they threw in her being pregnant just as he was getting closer to Judi Silver. Is there a chance that they would have Mercy decide not to follow through with the pregnancy and get an abortion without telling Danny about her condition first?
-One of my favorite parts of the second season has been the introduction of the Secret Six, mostly because I’m interested in the type of string pulling that goes on behind the scenes of major cities and how a select group of people can alter the mood for millions. It’s also a nice way to bring Ike and Meg together, as well as give Ike something proactive (and frankly, very smart) to do away from the Miramar.
-I loved the sequence with Ike and Vincent extracting Cisco from custody and bringing him to the boat on time. Magic City doesn’t do a whole lot of action, but when they put something like this in, it’s always very effective and stylishly shot.
-So, Nicky died. I didn’t expect that before the season finale since we hadn’t spent much time with him. I do think this direction could be good, though, as Lily unintentionally drew suspicion to herself with the shooting and could have sealed her fate worse by what she did vs. had she let Nicky talk. I still don’t think there’s any way she escapes this season alive, though.
-Awesome argument between Ike and Stevie at the end of the episode. It very much felt like a father-son fight, the resentments and the held tongues spilling forth in a moment of anger.
-The phrase cunnilingus contest is the best. I believe my career of writing about television has peaked. It’s all downhill from here, I think.
-At Starz’s TCA session, they wouldn’t confirm whether or not Magic City is renewed for another season, but surprises were promised for the remainder of the season. Any guesses? I think a big one will be that either Stevie or Danny won’t survive to a third season.
-Next week on Magic City: Ike’s relationship with Victor is impacted by his plans to run the Havana hotels, while Sy Berman shows up in Miami and Stevie’s position with Ben begins.