(spoiler warning: don't read below if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to hear about it!)
- As with most of the other episodes, some of the poker hands were rather contrived, and Eddie winning in the end wasn't a surprise to anyone, I hope. I was rather disappointed that the Matador didn't catch and Ace or a King and win in the end, because him winning and then getting arrested would have made for, in my opinion, a better story and a great example of a tragic hero.
- The final skyline shot of Vegas is fairly new because the new Wynn property is visible and appears to be completed.
- I really liked the way they squeezed all the real poker players into the action. This kind of fits into my previous post about ESPN blurring the line between Tilt and the real WSOP, but Binion's obviously doesn't own the rights to the players themselves.
- Although I thought a different final hand would have been better, I think the ending was actually pretty good, especially the Matador's wagers on Eddie (and Dee's getting to stick it to Eddie one last time), although I thought I remembered reading or hearing somewhere that sportsbooks didn't take prop bets on individual players precisely because these types of bets would be so easy to fix?
- Miami's line about, "Before you were a has been?" was great.
- Plot holes everywhere, just like all of the episodes - my favorite one this time was that Miami could "seduce" the mobster guy, go back to a hotel room with him and get him arrested (walking through a casino no less), and then when he turns up arrested no one seems to have seen him with her or made the connection that she had anything to do with it. I thought the Matador had spies everywhere?
So now I am wondering about the second season. In the poker magazine that Junell referenced last friday, Michael Madsen doesn't come right out and say it, but he alludes to future seasons after this one, and I have seen references elsewhere, so there is probably going to be one. But after this one, with all of the gangsters and murders and the culmination with the hero winning the Big One, what else is left? Aliens abduct the Matador and Eddie has to win a tournament on Mars to save him? I think a reasonable premise for the second season will be quite a feat if they can pull it off.
Finally, I will admit that I was pretty harsh with my reviews when it first came out. All of those criticisms are still valid - the writing was pretty choppy and the some of the premises and situations rather outrageous all the way through - but the whole thing did grow on me, I must admit. It was enjoyable to watch and ended up being kind of like Dallas (another Season Pass on my Tivo) - too outlandish to take seriously (JR was one hell of a dude), but too entertaining not to watch.
Now I need to move on to the latest episode of Deadwood that I have saved up.
UPDATE: Deadwood was really really good. But that's not surprising, it's been good since the beginning of the first season last year. No one is a saint. No one is unredeemable (even Al Swearengen; remember the sick minister episode from last year). And there is plenty of T&A and coarse language to make everyone happy. But it's the dialogue, I think, that sets it apart, especially the one-liners.