At some point, Vegas will have to be comfortable with expecting its viewers to be on board with the broad theme of the clash between the old ways with the new, between the sawdust and the neon, without beating us over the head with it every week. That'll give certain details a little more impact, as in the bookend sub-sub-subplot of Ralph not wanting to remove a century-old oak tree in order to dig a necessary well. The oak doesn't just symbolize Ralph's reluctance to be dragged into the latter half of the 20th century — although it does that — but, as we learn near the end, it's also a link to a more recent past, one in which his wife was still alive.
In between, we follow the same format of the Lamb boys solving a crime while Savino's ambitions of empire drive the overall arc. The case of the week meshes a little more with the ongoing saga a little more, when a maid, Estelle — who urges restraint and sacrifice in the face of pressure from the union for a wildcat strike at the Tumbleweed — is run down. Signs point to the shady union shop steward, with the Milwaukee mob trying to muscle in on Vegas turf (and "Milwaukee mob" as a concept seems hilarious by which I mean NO DISRESPECT,SIRS). But it turns out to have more prosaic roots. The maid is the offspring of a well-to-do white man and his "colored mistress," who just happens to be the housekeeper, and her murderer is a coworker who discovered her friend's secret lineage and who blackmailed her because of it. It's not just the unfairness the murderer felt in Estelle urging caution in union dealings while she had a steady secret income from her father, but in Vegas itself, where people get rich every day just for pulling a lever while she's working her ass off slinging towels and feeling like she has no shot at the pot of gold herself.
The Tumbleweed has caught Savino's eye, since he plans to develop it further with a legitimate loan so he can present it to Angelo when it's a good ways along, Savino's competing with the, snicker, Milwaukee mob on it, and he ends up with his arm in a sling while his car has fifteen bullet holes. Red will fix Milwaukee's wagon, though, and in short order there are two dead Milwaukee bodies in a trunk. That's the entire Milwaukee mob, right? Yeah, they should be good.
Oh, and Jack wants to bang Mia, which is obviously a terrible idea. On the "pro" side of the pros and cons list, though, is simply a picture of Mia, which is more than enough to tip the scales. Suddenly squiring her around town, though, is Assistant Dastardly Attorney Rich Reynolds. He might consider being a little more discreet, since Ralph caught him conferring with Savino, and then offering a half-assed explanation regarding warning Savino against a Chicago-Milwaukee war in Vegas.
Looks like Savino's going to get his loan, though, so here comes the "asphalt avalanche." We know it's coming, all right? We also know it's a slow process over decades and involves Joe Pesci popping a dude's eyeball out, and not an actual avalanche of asphalt. (Unfortunately.)
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. He would dearly love to see Sam Rothstein and Nicky Santoro show up on Vegas. Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at email@example.com.
Ralph stands outside at his ranch, gazing up at a huge oak tree, before heading back inside where Jack is totting up numbers on an adding machine, wearing glasses for added comic benefit. Ralph growls something about a couple of ranch hands talking about felling the oak, and Jack explains there's an aquifer underneath that'll be good for the three-hundred head of new, thirsty cattle they've got. Ralph has some kind of man-crush on the oak and insists that they put the new well in a distant parcel that Jack points out will take ten times the manpower to do, but Ralph is too busy gazing out the window at the oak to brook any more discussion or to answer the ringing telephone. Jack answers it and at this point I like to think the sheriff's office just to call and says, "Savoy" and the Lamb boys know what to do. It's like the Bat Signal!
At the Savoy, Savino's got a card-counter in his office. "Card-counting is just bad manners," Savino tells the terrified con man, but Buddy was also sending signals to a partner-in-crime at the table. Jack and Ralph show up, somewhat surprised to be asked to arrest the crooks rather than finding their bodies in an alley on the strip. "You people usually handle this kind of thing on your own," Ralph tells Savino. Whoa whoa whoa! "You people"? Let's keep this civil, Ralph! Nevertheless, they arrest the card-counter and leave, but not before Jack and Mia get an eyeful of each other's considerable genetic gifts.
Savino goes for his usual plot-advancement stroll with Red, who tells him Angelo is sending a new courier for the skim. It's Angelo's nephew and Angelo basically wants the kid to get laid. Not sure how going to Vegas will help that! Savino tells Red to "call Magda," and then outside, starts laying out his new grandiose plans. He's going to buy the Tumbleweed Club across the street, because it's got the most acreage on the strip, and advance his development plans from the outside, getting everything all tied up in a neat bow to present to Angelo (plus his usual cut). Red's less surprised about that than where Savino's going to get the money: "A bank," Savino says as he drives off, but I sort of assumed by "bank" he meant "the wallets of people I will personally beat up."
Then it's nighttime and we get a bunch of neon establishing shots of the Tumbleweed, and a couple of black maids are discussing a racist guest before the younger one begs off on a party suggested by the older one, since she's got to go to "the meeting," which turns out to be a meeting of the hotel staff union. The shop steward promises some shady guy that he "won't let Milwaukee down" and then attempts to rile the staff into a wildcat strike, at least until Estelle (the young maid from before) reminds everyone that they're six months away from their contract expiring, meaning a strike would be illegal and they could lose their benefits and jobs. "We need to sacrifice now so when the contract is up, we can get what's right," she says, to applause from the rest of the staff, including a co-worker who's a little too prominently featured to be coincidental. The union head isn't pleased.