Vegas
All That Glitters

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You’ve Got to Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Beat Up the Dealer
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

In the Las Vegas Convention Centre, present day -- oh hold up, the screen says that it's actually 1960 -- the U.S. men's Olympic boxing team fields a press conference of central casting reporters who want to know what the champs felt like knocking out the Russkies. Tommy Carroll, the gold-medal-winning golden boy, doesn't have any time for that patriotic nonsense and would rather talk about the mistreatment of his black teammates. Cassius Clay is referenced as training for his first prizefight, and everybody wants to know who's going to be next. Tommy, with a signal from his teammate, gives up his anti-jingoism lecture for a half-hearted U.S.A., much to the delight of the reporters in their hats with the little "PRESS" cards sticking out of the brim.

Elsewhere, the Lamb brothers are ridiculing flambé food at a nice French restaurant and good-naturedly fending off a breathless reporter who wants to write The Legend of Ralph Lamb, when ADA Va Va Voom comes in to tell them they're not laying any charges in Robert Perrin's death. Seems there's a pesky lack of proof.

Anyway, she asked them here so she could see the old fossil Savino's squiring around tonight: It's Angelo, played by Jonathan Banks, also known as Mike from Breaking Bad (guess he's got a little free time now). Angelo's there to check on how Savino's doing with the Savoy. Savino himself comes over for a little insincerely friendly chit-chat, and doesn't rise to O'Connell's bait when she pokes him about Perrin. All he says is that construction sites can be deathtraps.

The Lambs and O'Connell leave to do some "research" at the "office," which sounds pretty hot if you ask me, and leave our mob guys alone. Angelo can't believe they have oysters in the desert, and Savino says "Fat Tony" has them flown in every morning. Really... "Fat Tony"? Couldn't the writers come up with a mobster name not used by The Simpsons?

Savino points out a high-stakes keno player who drops two G's an hour when he's on the floor, but his dining companion prefers to eat in fancy places -- which the Savoy doesn't have, meaning the whale has to leave the casino to come here. That's why Savino wants something similar on site. Angelo asks Red what he thinks, and Red says it's a good idea, so Angelo gets in a dig about why Red didn't think of it when he ran the joint.

Then it's time to meet the other visiting friend, Johnny Rizzo, suddenly up in a waiter's face about the lack of dryness in his dry martini. Savino steps in by pretending to be pissed too, whispering to the waiter that the guy's a hothead, and telling him to get out of there. After Savino defuses the situation, Angelo says Johnny's good with numbers, so if he OKs Savino's restaurant idea, they'll work out the details on the way home.

Turns our O'Connell was really talking about research at the office. Johnny Rizzo is one of her subjects -- he's the money guy and the key to the whole operation. There are other guys mentioned -- I'm sure we'll be reminded when it becomes relevant. Jack's worried about Chicago bringing their racketeering and other crimes down here, and O'Connell's eager to tackle the money-laundering. So it's time for Sheriff Ralph's Homespun Wisdom: "Elephants. You know how you eat 'em? One bite at a time." The metaphor breaks down when you realize that you first have to kill the elephant for that culinary strategy to work.

O'Connell says last time Rizzo was in town, he took out a dealer's eye with a dice rake, and got banned from gambling anywhere in the state. Ralph decides Savino should be reminded of that condition, so we saddle up and head over to the neon lights. But before we get to that, our socially progressive boxer Tommy is wandering down the street under the neon wash, blood streaming down his face, at least until he falls over dead in the street.

Daylight now, and the Lamb brothers are on the crime scene, no eyewitnesses to anything other than Tommy stumbling from the alley. Tommy's distraught teammate Ray Humphries shows up, but when Jack and Ralph are distracted by Dixon's finding of what looks to be the murder weapon, a bloodied pipe, Humphries hauls ass down Freemont and into a diner, where he tackles some suit having breakfast. The Lambs are right behind to pull Ray off, who's yelling, "The son of a bitch killed Tommy!" The Lambs sit Ray down in a booth, where he says the guy is a parasite who's been following the team, trying to sign Tommy, who got into an argument yesterday. "Tommy tuned him up so bad, said he was going to kill him next time he saw him," says Ray. Ralph puts on his best intimidation face and stomps over to the guy, who's a foot taller than Dennis Quaid and a fight promoter named Max Gerety, who says he's allowed to talk to anyone he wants. Ralph is one of those cotton slick suit-wearin' types who don't quiver in the face of his authority, so he tells the guy they're going to sort this out downtown. Frisking the guy, Savino finds Tommy's gold medal.

Ralph decides to stop off at the Savoy to see Savino, who's giving the Chicago visitors the tour of the floor, including the new baccarat table, which makes gamblers feel like they're James Bond or whatever. Along comes Mia, who says hello to her father and basks in the praise of Angelo, who says the first week's skim was perfect. Savino tells her to take some time off to spend with her father, and Rizzo cracks wise about how maybe one day she'll be running the joint.

Savino runs into Sheriff Lamb and makes a pretty good joke about getting him a room, since he spends so much time in the place. Lamb tells him Rizzo needs to get him on the next plane out of here. Savino says Rizzo's allowed to be here, he's just not allowed to gamble. Lamb's all, "I know what I said," and takes off.

Time to interrogate the fight promoter, who says Tommy sold him the gold medal for $211, all that was in Max's wallet, and said he was desperate for cash and a drug addict to boot; he saw needles in Tommy's bag so he threatened to expose him if Tommy didn't sign.

At the front desk of the sheriff's office, Yvonne is excitedly reading of Lamb's exploits in the newspaper. "I never knew you lassoed a purse-snatcher!" Jack says the reporter made Ralph out to be the pope. Now there's a man with a hat-size Ralph can respect.

Over at the Savoy, Rizzo's having lunch with Mia and telling her again what a good job she's doing, and how she's not getting paid enough. Then he uses a milk metaphor to tell Mia she should skim a little bit more just for the two of them to split, but before Mia can respond, Savino shows up break the news that Rizzo's not allowed to gamble.

Rizzo takes it about as well as you can imagine, but Savino's no dummy and has already set up a private casino in a private suite with Rizzo's very own tables and dealers (and hookers, I presume).

Rizzo might be crazy, but he's not an idiot. He knows the gaming commission can yank their license and he seems pleased with the personal casino anyway. That's when Savino starts bending his ear about his restaurant plan, but there's more: Dress shops, golf course, even an arena, much to Rizzo's shock. Savino points to how many people will be at the fight tonight, and how many gamblers will just walk to the nearest casino rather than wait in the long lines for cabs.

He's barely into his business proposal when Rizzo interrupts to say the old man doesn't want to pay for a restaurant, let alone a casino, so Savino appeals to Rizzo's vanity by praising his unconventional thinking: sending his daughter to college and training her for the business, not to mention seeing the potential for Vegas in the first place back in the forties. Rizzo, happy to get a fucking dry martini at last, says he'll talk to the boss.

On their way down in the elevator, Mia tells Savino she knows he wanted her there because her dad would be more likely to say yes when she's around. Savino, poker-faced, says her dad's too smart to be influenced by anything like that. Mia says back home in Chicago, no one's talking about the future of Vegas, but if Savino gets what he wants all the other casinos are going to have to adapt or die themselves. "You can change this city," she says. Savino's not too dumb to accept a compliment from a pretty woman, and he says he's just trying to keep his job, and then he heads back out on the floor.

The Lambs go to see the trainer, taping up Ronnie. The trainer tells him Tommy was getting neck injections after a pretty bad hit by the Russians. The kid could barely turn his neck without the painkillers, but he was not a junkie. Also, he was just about to sign a bunch of endorsement deals, so there's no reason he ought to have been so desperate for cash as to hock his gold medal. In Tommy's locker, Ralph finds a crucifix, a picture of a boy and his mother and half a coat-check ticket. They can't tell which place it's from, but Jack suggests Dixon will.

That of course means: strip club. Dixon admits to hanging his hat "once or twice" at the Lost Oasis, but his Norm-at-Cheers-like welcome tells a different story. Ralph brings the ticket over to the coat-check woman, who says she wasn't expecting a bunch of ranchers to pick up the item, which is a bag, not a coat. Inside they find $211 -- how much Gerety paid for the medal -- a scrap of paper with LASTUS7 written on it, and also a gun.

She tells them Tommy seemed pale, sweaty and nervous. Jack asks her if she knows what "LASTUS7" means, and she says she doesn't, coyly adding that if he writes it on his card she might be able to think of something later. Jack, all business, tells her they're in the phone book. Don't think you're having sex with this deputy sheriff! Anyway, since either Tommy or a friend was supposed to come pick up the bag, Jack says he'll stake out the place in case that someone does come along. Dixon gallantly volunteers to stay, using the excuse that whoever it is will sniff out Jack in a second. The "Hi, Dixon

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