Everybody's so excited for the first race of Gus's horse, whose name I still haven't figured out. Leon's excited because he'll be riding; Escalante's excited because he's got some kind of scheme running; the Degenerates are excited because they love it when horses race; and Ace is excited most of all, because he is secretly in love with Gus's horse almost as much as the Old Man still is with Delphi.
Before the race, Ace demands that Escalante replace Leon as the rider -- but offers Porky and Leon five grand in recompense -- and invites the increasingly cagey Claire along for the ride. She's obliged, since he gave her a third more money than she was expecting. Escalante is pissed because he had a bet going that depended on Leon riding, but Jo eventually talks him out of balking, and Leon agrees to ride the Degenerates' Mon Gateau instead.
Meanwhile, Wheels is bothering Jerry about taking pity on that mean security guard (who's become homeless since we saw him left) when he ends up back at the ER for his impending death by heart condition. Back at the motel he pops a Valium and convinces himself he's gay and in love with Jerry, which Jerry takes in stride -- that whole conversation was fantastic -- but which freaks out their eavesdropping boys a great deal harder. It's all cute, and very enjoyable after the unending drudgery of Lonnie's grim near-murder and Jerry's gross Chan problem.
The actual race, as usual, takes about a million years of everybody oohing and ahhing, but in the end it's a sort of scary victory for Gus's horse, which catches a horseshoe to one leg and wins the race anyway. Ace sends Gus and Claire home, and -- Jo and Escalante cuddled up inside the office -- waits outside the stall all night to find out if the horse is going to be okay. It is very sweet -- if still touched with that cynical horse-moment romance this show won't ever stop shoving down our throats.
Less sweet: Porky Pig's continued descent into suicidal depression and a complete lack of both Nathan Israel and the Old Man. But you know, everybody was so kind and interesting and emotional in this episode, for once, that it felt almost like he was in it the whole time. That luck that Milch talks about -- we haven't really ever seen it until now, but it really did feel like one kind organism, pulsing with life, for just a second... which probably means next week will be a bloodbath.
Leon and Rosie shared jockey times together in the tree where they make their snack cakes and breakfast cereals. Porky Pig proved volatile in some ways once both his jocks went nearly out of commission. The Degenerates circled wagons, deferring Jerry's certain death at the hands of a plucky restaurateur. A yucky security guard was on the take. Claire caught the interest of Ace, less romantically than philanthropically, while Ace enjoyed being incredibly rude to Nathan Israel, among others, no matter what he said or did. The Old Man's connection to dead Delphi and his progeny was hard to understand from the outside, but lovely to consider.
Ace: "I am grumpy! This time, it's about Claire running late to our Dying Horse meeting."
Gus: "I am more easy-going, but still kind of stressing out about our horse. Apparently you're letting the Bug ride him?"
Gus and Escalante have a complex racetrack conversation about whether or not the horse is going to race today with Leon. It seems to have something to do with Escalante gaming the system, but to be fair much of this talk is highly coded. Escalante is smug, Gus is dubious, and -- surprisingly -- Ace is grumpy about it. Whatever it is.
Leon, looking great in one of his many outfits, has a long talk with Porky Pig about how he is, or is not, going to ride Gus's horse in a race.
Leon: "I just want Escalante to like me, and to ride this horse quite quickly."
Porky Pig: "Even though he is fucking with us, we have to pretend not to be excited and also be excited. Now, go be less fat."
Leon & Porky Pig: "[Cajun nonsense.]"
That mean security guard shows up to talk to the Degenerates, having been fired from the racetrack after his loan sharking was discovered.
Wheels: "I certain did not drop the dime on you, although you are a parasite hump."
Kagle: "I just want to talk to Jerry, okay?"
Jerry: "Wheels didn't mess with you. And I am sorry that your corrupt ass got caught."
Kagle: "I have money problems. I have recently been arrested for shitting in the street."
Jerry: "I have not in some time met a man in worse shape than I am."
Kagle: "Remember how I used to spit in your eye while loaning you money?"
Jerry: "Well, I could really use a feeling of control these days. I think you have a little barf on your sweater, buddy."
Kagle: Is somehow a sympathetic figure at this point.