The disappearance of union lawyer Mike Strauss continues to loom large over the events of Magic City. The district attorney is now investigating, Mike's father is adamant that Ike was somehow involved in whatever happened to Mr. Strauss and a bond has been forged between hotel manager Ike and shady gangster Ben that seems nearly impossible to break. In last night's episode, "Castles Made of Sand," Ike wrestled with how best to manage that unholy alliance.
The episode took place against the backdrop of the Miss 1959 Pageant, which the Miramar Playa won the right to host in last week's "Feeding Frenzy." Seeking to placate Ben's insistence that the Miramar become a gambler's haven, Ike used the pageant (and its many pretty girls) to attempt to woo a Tallahassee senator to their cause. Whether Ike's gambit paid off has yet to be seen, but the man from Tallahassee enjoyed a fair amount of drinking, flirting and groping throughout.
The stressors of running a hotel and keeping Ben off of his back have left Ike with precious little time for Vera and the kids, but Vera did receive plenty of attention from her old friend Clifford, who was on hand to direct the pageant for television. With Ike off trying to care for the future of the Miramar, Vera found a very willing dancing and drinking partner in Cliff as they reminisced about their shared past at the Tropicana in Havana. But when Clifford finally offered to whisk Vera off to New York City and give her her own television show, Mrs. Evans stayed true to her husband.
Meanwhile, Ike's buddy Victor set about cleaning up some of the loose ends from the Mike Strauss case. He tracked down Sterling Voss — a closeted gay man who spoke with police last week in exchange for protecting his own run-in with a vice cop — and threatened him with death if Mr. Voss even thought of testifying against Ike Evans. "I can tell you the name of each and every secret grand juror," Victor promised. "I can tell you when and where you’re gonna testify. I can tell you what room in the Biscayne Hotel they’re gonna put you the night before."
Victor's intimidation tactics proved extremely effective: Voss not only kept his mouth shut, he slit his wrists in the bathtub. Goodbye, Sterling Voss.
Ben employed some old-school intimidation tactics of his own, sniffing around to discover whether Lily has been cheating on him. He commanded that she stay at home, despite her insistence that she had a late-night hair appointment to hurry off to, then subtly threatened to drown her. Under the pretense of asking about a series of break-ins at the hotel, Ben then called Stevie to his cabana just to watch the kid sweat — which Stevie did, profusely. It's almost as if these two philandering idiots want to be discovered — and killed.
Meg Bannock, Ike's late wife's sister, sat down for a "business meeting" with Ike to discuss the future of the Miramar. Ike proposed that Meg buy 49 percent of the hotel, effectively pushing Ben Diamond out of the current arrangement. Meg proved herself to be a cagey customer and a savvy businesswoman, immediately asking to see Ike's paperwork.
Mostly, though, Ike and Meg looked back at their shared loss. "You look at me, I look at you, but all we see is her," he told her. But is there some chemistry here that extends beyond a possible partnership and family death?
Whatever might be on the horizon for Ike and Meg, death also brought Ike a little bit closer to Mike Strauss's widow, who arrived at the Miramar to say that she'd made peace with the very real likelihood that her husband had met his end. With equal certainty, she insisted that Ike stop making secret cash deposits in her mailbox. "I can't tell you that we don't need it," she told him, "but I earn what I get." Within seconds, Ike offered her a job in his hotel kitchen — a job she readily accepted. "I know why [Mike] loved you," Mrs. Strauss told Ike with a soft smile.
Shortly thereafter, Ike found some thank-you pastries on his desk. As Ike bit down into one of them, finally feeling confident that all is well in his world, the corpse of Mike Strauss suddenly bubbled up from its watery grave.
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