When a premiere season loaded with David Milch-scripted detail is only nine episodes long, each show seems to take a few minutes to recalibrate after characters drop early hints that things have changed since we last encountered them. The premiere concluded with the Degenerates plotting the best strategy to claim their multimillion-dollar Pick-6 payday without drawing unwanted attention; last week’s followup simply started with the money already in their pockets. Same thing with last night: Renzo had been crushed after he lost a draw to claim Mon Gateau, and his potential trainer Goose told him of another horse that could be had. (“I was gonna get him for my friends,” Renzo groaned then. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen now.”) In the interim, apparently, all four Degenerates came around to his idea of ownership and concluded that Mon Gateau was the only horse for them. Renzo can barely contain his childlike glee — he tells everyone in the hospital where they’re picking up Lonnie following his treatment for a cracked skull — and the quartet are now willing to pony up much more than the initial claiming price of $8,000 for the colt. (Renzo is my favorite character on the show so far — does actor Ritchie Coster’s sweet, well-intentioned doofus remind anyone else of John Cazele’s most famous roles?)
The prospect of owning of racehorse is also having a positive impact on Jerry, who’s tasked with negotiating with the new cowboy owner of Mon Gateau. Before making an offer, Jerry pays Escalante a visit at his barn, hungry for any inside scoop on the health of Gateau. For once, the gambling addict looks fresh and boyish, even as he’s shelling out dead presidents for Escalante’s insight. “Next race, he don’t get around the track,” sneers Escalante, who clearly is not over the sting of losing his favorite moneymaker. But Jerry’s not completely buying it, and he calls the trainer on it. They come to an understanding, and yes, just maybe, Escalante might be willing to train the horse again. “Come to a price with that cowboy, I tell you who should examine him,” he says, committing to steering the horse to a friendly veterinarian (a really friendly vet!).
Ace starts his day on the hotel treadmill, stopping when his friendly neighborhood probation officer checks in. Time to pee in a cup, Ace. “Door open?” Ace asks. “Not necessary,” answers the government employee, who accepts the offered apple from the buffet. Awfully deferential, this probation officer. Is it just because Ace is a man to be reckoned with? We find out later that Ace is not some simple wise-guy; he can free up $50 million with a few simple words in a corporate board room. So is this guy simply looking for a handout — something tastier than an apple? Or is his real assignment something deeper than pee-cup transporter?
At that subsequent corporate board meeting, Ace is treated with reverence. (The chairman, himself, calls Ace, “Sir.”) Only a fresh-faced kid — looking like a slick Wall Street shark from American Psycho — pipes up when Ace commits the company to taking over Santa Anita. “I see we mean to draw attention,” the kid says, sending Ace out of the room without another word. But the kid made an impression, and Ace senses some talent. Turns out he’s a master of muni derivatives. (Outstanding! Some Wall Street calculus should simplify these complex storylines!) “Send him to my place,” says Ace, who’s been looking for a new go-between for his imminent business with the mysterious Mike Smythe.
NEXT: Ronnie gets tossed and toasted