Rating : Mature
Show Tagline : “What the f—is life if it’s not personal?!” – Gyp Rosetti
Just when we think Gyp is a reasonable man, that he really does know how humans interact with each other normally, he loses his raging temper once again. Nucky had gone to unnecessary lengths to try and start over again with Rosetti, but a simple, well intentioned Italian saying got lost in pronunciation and turns out to be the proverbial straw breaking his back. Nucky may have thought he had a new ally, but he’ll learn soon enough that he’s as alone as he fears he is.
The episode opens with an interesting dream sequence with Nucky, a technique Boardwalk has used before, showing that Billie hasn’t been returning his calls, and that killing Jimmy is weighing on Nucky even more. I hope they don’t really expect the audience to feel too badly for him; Jimmy had tried to make amends, and his marriage to Margaret started off so well. He’s desperate to feel needed; Margaret uses him for her own benefit and ignores his subtle plea for help, and Billie is a free spirit. He eventually is driven to New York in the middle of the night when he can’t take it anymore, and appears to find some comfort waking up in Billie’s apartment. Nucky is clearly not in a good place mentally right now, and Buscemi is very convincing- one of his best performances to date.
Nucky’s better half is up to her old tricks again; Margaret, it turns out, has been plotting for weeks. Her plans to add prenatal care facilities to the hospital had hit several snags, but she finally got the best of Dr. Landow by using Nucky’s award ceremony to her benefit. Margaret has always had that certain way about her; she lays low for a few weeks before giving you something to really cheer about. She should be careful though- she’s in an all-boys club at the hospital, and I hope she’s also been noticing the looks she’s been receiving from Dr. Mason…
Van Alden returned this week, and I must admit to being much more invested in his character this season versus the previous season. Instead of brooding around and being angry with Lucy, Van Alden is a much different person. We see a tender, yet incredibly awkward moment with his adoring wife, and that he’s willing to try to have a sense of comradery with his co-workers. Of course, none of this is by choice; he’s a man on the run and has to try and fit in. Instead of commanding men and giving speeches, he is the butt of office pranks and has to listen to his boss try and excite him to sell irons. We know what kind of devoted, stubborn and righteous man Van Alden is. It’s only a matter of time before he boils over. At the climax of his story in this episode, he is caught in a speakeasy and gets the shake down from a corrupt man doing his job as a liquor control agent. At some point very soon, he’s going to have to realize that he can’t beat corruption himself, and use his training and skills in the underworld of Chicago.
Also making her return this week was Gillian. From the very beginning, Gillian has always been a professional conversationalist. She knows how to work a room, children, and men easiest of all. We learn Rosetti has had his eye on her for some time, and after a dinner with Nucky that left him feeling good about their temporary partnership, he wants to take Nucky to her place of business. Gillian is clearly in denial about her son, but seeing Nucky in passing as he sits in the backseat of a car is enough to get her manipulative wheels turning. Gyp may have had some lingering angst towards Nucky and his empire, but Gillian’s silver tongue makes sure that he forgets everything he’s said to Nucky about being happy to start over with him.
We also learn that Lucky is part of the bankroll for Gillian’s gentleman’s club. Whether or not they’re still an item is unknown for sure, but is pretty safe to guess. Lucky is a busy man. He’s invested in the club, and has continued to run his heroin operation with Lanksy. They’re careful where they deal, and they’ve been trying to steer clear of paying their operating costs in the agreement arranged by their boss, Arnold Rothstein. This lack of respect almost gets their drug mule killed, and it’ll be interesting to see how long Lucky wants to live in the shadow of Rothstein. Give him credit though; he’s more patient that Rosetti.
Of course, no self respecting episode of Boardwalk isn’t complete without Richard Harrow. Harrow-time is brief, but poignant as ever this week. He gets word that Mickey has taken claim for the murder of Manny Horvitz. He’s killed many people, he reveals the number to be at 63… for now, but he does so with purpose. He feels taking a man’s life is a very serious thing, which could be hard to believe given his nature, but what the hell. He’s awesome. Naturally, he catches Mickey with his pants down about the situation (literally) and decides to set the record straight with Nucky himself. He reveals he killed Manny to avenge Angela, and that he knows Nucky killed Jimmy. He has no quarrel with Nucky or his family though because they were always nice to him. He offers no help when Nucky looks for advice on clearing his conscious, however. It’s sad that he can reduce a description of his deceased best friend to one sentence: “he was a soldier; he fought and he lost.” There’s never enough Harrow-time. Sadly, his showdown with Nucky has come and gone, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets shelved for a while.
That’s the one thing concerning me going forward at this point. Boardwalk Empire is Nucky Thompson’s show, but he’s quickly becoming the least interesting character. Chicago and New York are much more interesting than Atlantic City right now, and thankfully the preview for next week makes it look like we’ll be spending lots of time away from the boardwalk. If last week’s episode wasn’t up to your standards, this episode is pretty close in quality to the season premiere.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Written By : Matt Gilmer
“Boardwalk Empire” stars Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Gretchen Mol, Shea Wigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Stephen Graham, Michael K. Williams, Jack Huston, Charlie Cox, Bobby Cannavale, Arron Shiver, Christopher Macdonald, and Meg Chambers Steedle. The episode was written by Chris Haddock and directed by Jeremy Podeswa