25 November 2014 | chaos-rampant
A lesson in impermanence
This was cancelled early, it's unfinished work, so that even after 9 hours of narrative time it feels like only the first few pages have been turned; but were we any better for having seen six seasons of The Sopranos rather than two, did it enrich that much more?
I came to it for Mann, one of the preeminent makers of the alert eye in our time, the finished thing turned out to be in the template of The Sopranos and Deadwood where the actors and word are the vessels for drama. It is complex plotwise and immersive enough because colorful characters articulately snarl at each other; but complex expression is not deep intuition, immersion is not concentration.
So it might seem like complex work if you get caught up in the schemes for money and ownership and here is where the lack of resolution will disappoint, it ends just as the stage has been set for conflict. But if you don't get tangled up in them, you can discern all that matters.
The racetrack as the stage of drama with desperate souls caught viewing by the sidelines at what they have chosen to have a stake in. The Jewish mobster who wants to buy off the racetrack will win against his rival but at what cost to his soul? Loved ones will perish, it could be a grandson or a horse, so that we finally awaken at what had been valuable all this time.
It's all in the horses and what they exemplify, magnificent creatures that everyone should spend some time with. Characters of course ignore the horses as anything more than ticket slips that buy them a seat in that arena of spectacle where their presence can be rewarded with the anxiety of winning or losing. To what purpose? So they can carry the drama with them in unfulfilled lives until another scheme the next day.
So this is the insight to leave this with, it's in Mann's pilot and the last episode. The horses race marvelously simply for having the exhilarating capacity to do it, there is no "horse race" for them and only running, doing without ego. The viewers watch from the sides transfixed. Would any of this have meaning for them had they not hedged a bet that imbues the beauty with the anxiety and drama of winning or losing? Would they be at all there? Would you?
So if you're disappointed that we don't get to find out how any of the schemes pans out (Turo's race fixing, the old man's legal trouble), you become like they are, bogged down in meaningless schemes. Meanwhile what has the capacity to enrich had been right under your nose all this time, simply being there to take care of something for its capacity to be what it is; the woman who arranges the horse caring program for inmates inserts this notion in the small portion we have.
But with the caveat that it will not always be there for you to postpone it. A horse might have to be put down. A show might be cancelled.