Luck – Episode Three
Since we’ve been speaking so much about serialization of late it seems only right to stare at this ’David’ through that very prism. While the content – the concept and characters – of Luck still seem a little too shadowy to call at this early stage in the it’s run, the shows structure on the other hand has actually started to take shape. Essentially Luck is replicating in each episode exactly what a ’david’ would normally do over the run of a debut season: conversations are had in a language that we’re yet to learn, characters come and go without any initial introduction or statement of importance and whole plots unfurl before we know that they’ve even begun, but eventually it comes together and we cotton on to the context, just in time of the credits to roll.
Then the next week we again enter at a moment of confusion as the show takes us down a level deeper and shifts to a new speed ( in this case an involved discussion on the financial effect of derivatives); never even dreaming of letting us catch our breath, let alone catch up. Every episode then is an education, one where the whiteboard is wiped clean as the screen fades to black, ready for the coming morning. While this may not make for an easy viewing experience, for those who are willing and able to keep pace it is certainly an exhilarating one. Every episode envelops you in its universe entirely, pulling no punches in its depiction of the parasitic ecosystem that surrounds this racetrack and is utterly engrossing because of that. This is useful because unfortunately the events occurring within the world are far less interesting than their frame and in this case the shows slow speed is mostly to blame.
This early in the game a show should be striving to hook its viewers in but Luck appears uninterested in any such pandering, like Nolte’s neurotic trainer it will simply plod along at its own pace. Now it’s not that these stories aren’t interesting, just that they are moving so slowly so as to basically be invisible. The primary plot-points at play in this weeks episode do not include sex, murder or other such saucy things, instead we focus on pain, paperwork and elevator politics. It should be enough to make Jerry Seinfeld shake his head, but if he’s anything like me he wouldn’t want to, lest he risk missing a minute of this.
So nothing happens; though if it were I wonder, would we actually be able to handle it? The show is so dense and intense as it is right now, without any discernible over-arching narrative ( Seriously, try to synopsize this show now and look back at the effort after the next episode and see if it hasn’t changed entire.) that immersing us in both the world and story simultaneously would have been too great a shock to the system. There is a reason why these shows are so steadily paced, they take the time to tie you in before turning on the plot proper and this is likely what “Luck” is doing; if it is truly following the ‘David’ model then it will open the narrative gates next week with the kind of fourth episode that will have us all wishing for a fifth season.
As for the episode itself, all ambiguous and theoretical statements aside, it was excellent. This is really the only time that i’m ever going to be able to accurately rank episodes and so i’d have to say that it is the best since the pilot. It had everything that you could want from Milch and thus everything that you could ever want from television: the brave banter stretched the gamut from geriatric rumblings through wry and sardonic verbal sword fights while the mute sections delivered magic; the four A’s with their wide eyes and the two made men with their droopy ones were both seriously sublime scenes.
The shows thesis is also starting to solidify and so far i would say that it goes something like this: people’s lives are shaped by luck in some ways, but we still have the strength to best it if we want. Fate may have final control over who rides the horse, throwing the false choice off in a freak accident so as to allow the fit one to follow its proper path, but human resilience proves fruitful in the ownership stakes, despite what the dice may say. In this way the show itself is adhering to its own advice, it’s not simply sitting and hoping to get lucky and be great but striving for it and more importantly structuring itself so strongly that no singular accident could topple it. I think we’re onto a winner here.