Created by Mitch Glazer
Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Steven Strait, Danny Huston, and James Kaan
Ike Evans has two loves in his life – his family and his hotel. To protect his luxurious Miami Beach resort, Ike Evans has made deals with the devil, and now he’s trying to take the devil down. Can he do it, or will he get burned first?
Picking up right where season one ends, Ike finds himself caught in a war between the law and the mob in 1959 Miami, as the state attorney’s office goes after Ike’s silent partner and resident mobster Ben “The Butcher” Diamond. All Ike wants is his hotel back under his own control, free of Diamond’s vicious hooks. That’s easier said than done, as Ike juggles several balls in the air – impending legalized gambling, Castro’s takeover of Cuba, and his family’s own personal drama – all to rid himself of Ben Diamond.
The historical backdrop becomes a much greater story focus this season. Castro’s rise in power in Cuba is hard for everyone, from the heavy Cuban population in Miami to Ben Diamond and the mob. Ike is put in a difficult situation of either supporting the new Cuban regime to hurt Diamond, or to support his friend and general manager whose wife was killed while escaping Castro’s Cuba.
As with the first season, this show’s strength is its ensemble cast of deep characters, lead by the outstanding job of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ike Evans. Ike continues his balancing act between his family and his dreams as a man who wants and tries to be good, but he has to take some dark paths to rid himself of the mob and take his hotel back. Despite all of his ties to the criminal underworld and what he’s had to do to get to where he is, you still want him to win in the end because he’s a generally likeable guy whose made some mistakes.
The entire cast carried from season one continues their standout performances. Ike’s wife Vera is trying harder and harder to make herself valuable to her new family. Ike’s children struggle to find their own ways in the world outside of his shadow. Ben Diamond grows even more sadistic as he struggles to keep his grip on Miami.
At a certain point though, the characters start bogging things down when more are thrown into the mix. This season sees added appearances from the state attorney Jack Klein, played by Matt Ross, and his entire team. On the other side of the law, new mobsters appear, lead Ben’s boss Sy Berman, well played by James Caan. While everyone turns in great performances, the size of the cast can become unwieldy at times.
This season is a pressure cooker, slowly building several plot points and character developments. Unfortunately, the slow build up makes the show also feel slow and drawn out. However, the series has improved in making its season finale feel more climatic, like an actual book end to the season.
Unfortunately, this second season is the also final season for Magic City, as Starz chose not to pick it back up. It’s painfully evident that this season wasn’t written to be the last one. The last episode resets the chess board as characters move around, change alliances, and find themselves in completely new situations. All of which leave the audience hanging for what happens next, a conclusion they are sadly never going to get.
While the show’s strong cast continually delivers great performances, and the season ends much stronger than before, this season is still bogged down by possibly too large of a cast and several different plot lines. It pays off though as everything develops into an intriguing finale to keep you engaged for next season. That’s what this part will be graded on, but once you realize that this season’s end is the real end, you’ll find yourself utterly unsatisfied with the lack of resolution.
The Video and Audio
The series is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound audio (Spanish in mono only. This show is very bright and crisp. The sunlight and moonlight create warm and cool glows off of the water, the setting, the cars and the people. If you’re a sucker for this late ‘50s aesthetic, you get to see it in all its glory.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The three-disc set comes in a folding case kept in a slip cover. The inside has a nice panoramic cast shot, with the episode titles neatly hidden under each respective disc.
The bonuses are five short featurettes – about five minutes each – covering the heavy crime elements, new characters, clothing style, and music that went into making the show. Some are more interesting than others, but they’re all over before you know it, leaving no real satisfaction in the bonuses. This is even truer given that this is the final season, so something touching that note would have been appreciated. There are also no commentary tracks on the episodes, which would have been nice to hear over some key scenes of the series.
Overall (Not an Average)
This second season definitely builds on the strengths of the first, but perhaps a bit too much by increasing the ensemble cast and their character paths. Unfortunately, this set doesn’t measure up much as a final season, with a disappointing set of features. Perhaps the crew is hopefully for a rescue. For now though, Magic City sleeps with the fishes, and it could have gone out better.