Why You Should Still Watch 'Luck' and the Characters We'll Miss the Most

There's enough closure and great acting to keep - or start - watching.
HBO; Getty Images

Fans of Luck – and David Milch, for that matter – experienced a variety of emotions when they discovered that HBO was shutting down production on the drama because of three horse deaths during filming (two from Season 1 and another as Season 2 shooting commenced).

First, a dense and interesting subculture that made for a compelling drama was cut short. And you can’t help but think the dice have been rolling the wrong way for Milch, one of television’s finest and most original writers, after Deadwood was ended before its time, John From Cincinnati never found lift-off and now Luck gets unlucky.

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But something else important to viewers cropped up after the announcement: a good question.  Should they keep watching? Viewers who are current still have two episodes left in the season. Other viewers have every episode (save the last two) stacked up on their DVRs. Still others, who didn’t jump on the bandwagon despite the critical acclaim for the series, were planning on catching up at some time via HBO GO.

The answer to their queries is simple – yes, you should keep watching. The final two episodes bring together a number of important storylines and one of them features perhaps the best horse race of the year, filmed beautifully.

Fans should rest assured that after the last episode, there is indeed a feeling of closure. If you go against the nature of television – which is all about telling an ongoing story – and view Luck more like a miniseries or (very) long movie, the nebulous nature is actually satisfactory. It’s like we got a glimpse of this strange world and the people in it, then fade to black.

However, to be fair to those considering the time investment, there’s not really a satisfactory conclusion to the Ace (Dustin Hoffman) and Mike (Michael Gambon) storyline. That was clearly something meant to breathe and transfix viewers over the course of more episodes.

In a purely objective analysis, despite losing a fine drama, television is gloriously littered with such series at the moment, so it’s not like the medium takes a gut punch with the loss of Luck. (And HBO, with the returning Game of Thrones, the completely brilliant Girls, and the buzz-show Veep, look to be just fine). But man, fans of Luck will no doubt miss some of the characters.

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Personally, I’ll miss the evolution of Turo Escalante (so wonderfully played by John Ortiz). There was a lot left to say about that guy. Kevin Dunn did exceptional work as the wheelchair-bound, oxygen-needy Marcus. So many layers left unexplored there. I wanted to find out where Jerry’s gambling obsession would take him and how much more scruffy and downbeat Jason Gedrick could make him. On the jockey front, Rosie’s evolution (played wonderfully by Kerry Condon) and perhaps Ronnie’s devolution, were storylines I wanted to follow. Former jockey Gary Stevens did a great job as Ronnie and truly invested him with a veteran jock’s guile and pain. And Ian Hart as Lonnie? Give him his own show.

Yes, that leaves out the Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, etc. characters.  And I was certainly hooked into the bigger Ace story we won’t get to see. And whether Walter’s dream  horse would remain his (and remain a winner). But I liked the track-side stories the best. Which makes missing out on the larger mystery less frustrating. I can just assume, now that I’ve finished all of Luck, that Escalante might have his rough demeanor smoothed over by Jill Hennessey’s veterinarian character and that our motley crew of gamblers are going to have a run of bad luck. Maybe Rosie inherits their good luck. In either case, it’s just easier to pretend that those lives go on as their intriguing subculture vanishes from television.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine

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