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MAGIC CITY 1.02 ‘Feeding Frenzy’

Ben pressures Ike to take a gamble while Danny gets dangerously close to Lily.

Episode Title: 'Feeding Frenzy'

Writer: Mitch Glazer

Director: Ed Bianchi

Story:

Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is confronted by Mike Strauss' father while trying to land a deal to host a beauty pageant at the Miramar Playa. Ike tells the distraught man that Mike will be found. Meanwhile, D.A. Jack Klein (Matt Ross) and his team try to figure out who's behind Strauss' murder and suspect Ben Diamond may be involved. Aware of Ben's close ties to Ike, the D.A.'s clerk and a classmate of Ike's son, Danny, offers to reach out to him in hopes of getting a lead.

Vera (Olga Kurylenko) goes to see Arthur (Alex Rocco) to try and convince him to attend Lauren's Bat Mitzvah, but having rejected Judaism, he refuses. Back at the hotel, Stevie (Steven Strait) spots Ben Diamond (Danny Huston) playing cards out by the pool. Diamond calls Stevie over to take his food order and then sends him to Lily (Jessica Marais). She tells Stevie that Ben will be away that night and to come over.

In the hotel restaurant, Ike sees the pageant director with Judy (Elena Satine) and presses him again about making a decision. Afterwards, Ike finds the hotel photographer and arranges for a shoot in Judy's cabana.

Jack Klein talks to the motel attendant who was on duty when Mike Strauss was there. When Klein asks him who Strauss was with, the young man clams up. Later that night, Ben Diamond sends one of his henchmen to get Ike and bring him to his boat. Once onboard, Ben tells Ike it's time to add a casino to the hotel and hands him a suitcase full of money to bribe the necessary politicians. Meanwhile, Stevie arrives at Ben's mansion to see Lily and the two have sex in his car before heading inside.

The next day, Ike, Vera, Lauren (Taylor Blackwell) and Stevie have dinner at the same restaurant where Danny (Christian Cooke) is meeting with the D.A. When Ike spots them he quickly rushes his family out of the place, claiming he doesn't want to intrude on Danny's "business meeting."

That night, the pageant director is photographed in bed with Judy. The next day he agrees to have the pageant at the Miramar Playa. Meanwhile, the hotel clerk gives up Judy's name when the D.A. has him arrested for sexually propositioning a  male police officer.

After asking Arthur to come to her Bat Mitzvah, Lauren is elated to see him as she makes her entrance. Elsewhere, Judy is arrested in connection with Mike Strauss' murder. Lily is in bed with Ben, who says that he can tell if she's been with another man by her smell.

While Judy is questioned, Stevie leaves the Bat Mitzvah to have a sexual encounter with a hotel employee and Ike dances with Lauren.

Breakdown:

I hate to be critical. Especially when it comes to a promising new TV show with a big star on a network that's delivered before. Really, In the case of Starz' "Magic City," I'm trying to adopt a "glass is half full" kind of attitude about the slick new drama. And currently, the glass is half of boobs, booze and a Bat Mitzvah.

All alliteration aside, "Magic City" has yet to make me want to know about its main characters – or what's worse, care what happens to them. I'm trying to buy the love-at-first-sight passion between Lily and Stevie, but I'm still not convinced. They're also apparently not that bright. It's one thing to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but it's another to take pictures of yourself in a mobster's (who Stevie pointed out, is nicknamed "the Butcher") bed with his wife. As miserable as she is with Ben, maybe Lily wants to get caught but Stevie on the other hand…

There were, however, a few things that did work in this second episode. We got a better idea of the kind of moral code Ike is operating under. He's not above blackmail, but murder isn't his style. Ben, on the other hand, will break, shoot or light things on fire to make a point.

We got to know Ike's dad, Arthur a bit better and I'm interested to learn more about his aversion to Judaism. Meanwhile, Vera's endeared herself to me as more than just Ike's trophy wife, but a woman who wants to be a real part of his family.

While I'm mostly tuning out Stevie and Lily's storyline, I am excited to see where things go with Danny and Mercedes go, especially now that we know Ike is trying to help her mother, Maria flee Cuba.

The relationship between Ike and his well-to-do sister-in-law, Meg is also intriguing. There's some definite tension between these two which appears to be centered around Ike building the Miramar Playa on her family's land.

"Magic City's" already been given a second season, so I'm prepared to give it time to grow and evolve. What's best about the show so far isn't its sexy setting or the seedy undercurrent that promises to rise up and raise hell, but the quieter B storylines. Now that we've established who these characters are on the surface, I'm hoping we'll go deeper as the next few episodes play out.