Episode Title: 'Castles Made of Sand'
Writer: Mitch Glazer
Director: Ed Bianchi
Previously on "Magic City":
Mike Strauss' body floats up in the Everglades while later that morning Ike (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sits in his car and watches Strauss' widow retrieve an envelope stuffed with cash from her mailbox.
Back at the Miramar Playa, Ike tries to convince a senator from Tallahassee to reconsider his stand on casino gambling at the hotel. The senator tells Ike he won't budge on the matter, but feels free to let Ike set him up with one of the Miss 1959 pageant contestants.
When Vincent tells Ike about Sterling Voss' statement to the D.A., Ike orders him to handle the situation. He also tells Ike about a guest who vaulted over a hotel room balcony. Moments later, Vera (Olga Kurylenko) calls Ike, hysterical over Jackie Kennedy canceling on her luncheon at the hotel.
At home, Arthur (Alex Rocco) dances with his caretaker but finds the exertion too much and faints. When Ike visits him at the hospital, Arthur advises him on how to handle his underworld business partners.
Anxious to see Stevie, Lily (Jessica Marais) tries to talk Ben (Danny Huston) into letting her go out at night to get her hair done. However, he easily sees through the ruse and orders her to stay home after making a-not-so-veiled threat on her life. Lily calls Stevie (Steven Strait) to let him know and confirm that he did, indeed, burn the pictures they took together. He tells her he did even though they're still sitting on the table, next to his camera.
Vera runs into her old friend, Cliff from her Tropicana days, who happens to be directing the Miss 1959 Pageant. The two quickly make plans to see each other the following night. Meanwhile, Ike and Stevie deal with the Senator, who's now making a drunk scene with the pageant girls in the hotel restaurant. When Ike takes him aside, the Senator suggests he might have had a change of heart on the gambling issue. Afterwards, Ike meets Mike's widow, Annie who tells him that she's certain he had nothing to do with the disappearance of his childhood friend and to stop leaving money in her mailbox. Ike then offers her a job as a baker at the hotel, starting the next day.
That night, Vincent gives Sterling Voss a talking to about his statement to the D.A. He hands him five-thousand dollars and tells Voss, who is scared that his mother will find out about his homosexuality, to recant his statement or else.
Ike meets with his sister-in-law, Meg (Kelly Lynch) and proposes that she buy out his partner, taking forty-nine percent ownership of the Miramar Playa. At first put off by the idea, she agrees to look at the hotel's books.
Later that day, Ike tells Victor (Yul Vazquez) that he's secured a plane to return his wife, Maria to the states from Cuba. At the Atlantis bar, Stevie is called to Ben's cabana. Scared to death, he assumes Ben wants to talk about Lily. But it turns out he's only concerned about the man jumping off the balcony. Once outside, Stevie appears shaken from the exchange.
At the hotel, Ike and Cliff await Vera's arrival and the three prepare to head off to the Latin Quarter when Meg arrives unexpectedly. Ike asks Vera if it's alright to give Meg a tour of the hotel. She balks at the idea at first but after a tense exchange, agrees to let Ike go off with Meg.
After a night of dancing, Cliff invites Vera to come to New York with him with the promise of starring in a network series. However, she turns him down before retiring for the evening.
In his cabana, Stevie is awoken by Lily. A few hours later, she sneaks back into Ben's mansion as dawn breaks. Elsewhere, Sterling Voss bleeds out in an overflowing bathtub as his mother watches the Miss 1959 Pageant in the living room. Ike returns to his desk to find Rugelach from Annie and somewhere in the Everglades an airboat approaches Mike Strauss' body as it floats to the surface.
The title of this third installment of 'Magic City,' "Castles Made of Sand' just about sums up Ike Evans' predicament. The ambitious hotelier turned his late wife's family estate into a massive resort, spurning his sister-in-law, Meg and then went into business with a psychotic mobster who just knocked off his childhood best friend, whose unwitting widow is now baking him rugelach as thanks for giving her a job. Only three episodes in and already things are a mess.
As I said in last week's review, "Magic City's" main storylines aren't what's holding my interest in the show. Stevie's affair with Ben Diamond's wife, Lily is so flagrant at this point, they'll both be dead before I even start caring.
And Ike's moral dilemma over Mike Strauss' widow, who is certain that Ike had nothing to do with her husband's death, is hard to buy. Only now, we find out about the close bond the two childhood friends shared. It wasn't something I picked up on during their scenes in the pilot and learning about it post-mortem doesn't make the weight of Strauss' death any heavier, after the fact.
Meanwhile, we've got a bit of a love quadrangle on our hands. Vera's old friend from the Tropicana surfaces at the Miramar Playa and looks to sweep her off to New York and into a TV career. It's hard to believe a guy who spouts of lines like "use it or lose it" and "honey is money" could woo the likes of Vera but OK. Thus far, Vera's seemed content with her role in Ike's life but in this episode, she's clearly feeling marginalized. Add another man to the mix and Ike may have another headache to deal with. Not the most compelling storyline but it might go somewhere interesting.
Then there's his sister-in-law, Meg. At first, there seemed to be a tension between these two that had more to do with Ike's history with the Bannock family than any kind of sexual tension. It felt a bit jarring when their somber lunch date, where the two commiserated over Molly, turned flirtatious. And was it really necessary for the claws to come out during Meg's meeting with Verna, err Vera? I guess we'll just have to wait and see what her true intentions are.
One facet of 'Magic City' and it's main man, Ike Evans that does have me intrigued is how he'll handle the dirt piling up at his doorstep, now that Ben Diamond's no longer a silent partner. We're seeing Ike squirm a bit, dealing with Mike Strauss' widow and now poor motel clerk, Sterling Voss is dead in a bathtub. A gruesome death at the hands of a mobster (or mob associate), isn't anything new or shocking in this world, but how it affects Ike could mark a pivotal turn in his character. Will it be a cancer he can live with, as his father, Arthur suggested or will Ike find dealing with an unknown entity in Meg Bannock tougher than the devil he already knows in Ben "The Butcher" Diamond?
Either way, this third episode marked a promising start to a series we're going to be seeing a lot more of, like it or not.