"Episode 9" is this week's episode of HBO's Luck. Michael (Michael Gambon, Harry Potter) sends a hit man after Ace (Dustin Hoffman). This worries Ace more than usual, because his grandson, Brent (Jake Hoffman, Dustin's actual son) is in town. Thankfully, Gus (Dennis Farina) is able to dispatch with the killer, allowing them to enjoy the Derby. Ace's, er, Gus's horse wins, but as it does, Michael looks on, plotting his next move.
This is a bittersweet victory. Ace stays safe, and manages to keep Brent from harm, too. Ace's plans for the horse track are on course, he has cut business ties with Michael, and his steed, whom he cares dearly about, wins a major race. But the threat of Michael, sinisterly sneering down, literally, does dampen the mood. As does the discovery of Israel's (Patrick J. Adams, Suits) body in the ocean.
Ace feels responsible for Israel's death, but is he really? Ace does send Israel to Michael, but is not intending or expecting bloodshed to result. Ace clearly doesn't think Michael will harm Israel, at least not badly. Israel is a simply a business go-between. The tragedy of his murder upsets Ace. Michael is a bad man, Ace knows that, but apparently Ace hopes that Michael's business side will control his temper. Not so.
"Episode 9," the season one finale, is billed on HBO's website as the series finale of Luck, although one episode of season two was filmed before production shut down permanently, due to on-set animal deaths. As to whether that single episode will ever see the light of day, well, that's still up in the air. As a season finale, "Episode 9" serves it's purpose quite well. As a series finale, it leaves much to be desired.
The battle of wills between Michael and Ace is just getting started in "Episode 9," which makes it a shame that there will be no more to the story. These are two titanic actors, who can both perform circles around most people in the industry. Pitting them against each other in this story makes their struggle seem larger than life, as their characters are. The disappointment at their conflict going unresolved is heavy.