Boardwalk Empire season four is all about getting back at each other, but in really shitty, underhanded ways. Time to break it down.
Agent Knox Who? – Agent Knox is just full of surprises. First, he pretends to be a corrupt Prohibition agent, when he is really working for J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Now, we discover that Knox really isn’t his name. It’s Agent Tolliver, and apparently he’s got a ton of surprises up his sleeve because he’s working with Gaston Means to take Nucky down. Unfortunately, his champion, Hoover, is also his greatest challenger, something viewers discover when Hoover takes the credit for all of the work Knox/Tolliver has put in trying to tie Nucky and his operation to widespread violence and mayhem. I wonder what Tolliver will do to get back at Hoover. Oh, Tolliver! Everybody knows Hoover was a jackass. We just don’t care that he’s being an asshole to you.
Willy Thompson… Ugh! – I cannot be the only one to find Willy Thompson utterly contemptible and annoying. It’s hard to like a kid who was too much of a coward to take responsibility for accidentally poisoning a classmate, blaming an innocent roommate, and wanting to be a gangster. Willy, if doing all of that was enough to make you drop out of college, then you are really NOT about that life… I’m just saying. Of course, Eli found out he dropped out of school and goes postal. Interestingly, Willy’s sister really wants to go to school and would no doubt take her studies seriously. Eli being the jackass that he is, tells her that she only needs to learn how to sew, cook, etc. Meanwhile, Willy is a douchebag who doesn’t appreciate his privilege. Someone serve this tool a tall glass of karma now!
Mrs. Rowan Meets Mr. Redstone – Margaret’s office job she told Nucky about in the last episode, “The North Star“, is working in a real estate office as a secretary. Apparently her imaginary “husband”, is also quite the talk around the office, with Margaret acting as some sort of intermediary for the man. She enjoys quite a modicum of respect for her business acumen with her boss, despite the veiled, sexist references to women’s delicate constitutions. Whatever. Anyway, she’s absolutely speechless when she meets Mr. Redstone. Why? Because Mr. Redstone is actually Arnold Rothstein pretending to be someone else. They recognize each other, but they keep the charade going long enough for Margaret to bounce, claiming that she’s feeling ill. Later, Rothstein calls her to tell her that he won’t tell, if she won’t tell. Interesting…
Eli and Nucky on the Rocks… Again? – I hate seeing these two brothers fight, but thanks to Willy being a bum, and obviously looking to Nucky for approval and a come up, that’s exactly what happens. It’s not a physical fight, but a verbal one. When Eli tries to beat Willy’s ass for getting mouthy and dropping out of school, Nucky holds him back, natch. Willy leaves, and you know this is an invitation for Eli to get plastered, the lush. He does, and when Nucky asks after the progress of finding Willy, Eli goes on a tirade about his family being his, not Nucky’s. He hits below the belt reminding Nucky about his first wife Mabel’s death trying to give him a child. He accuses his brother of family stealing, and brings up Nucky’s dead wife. Did it stop there? Negative. He minimizes Nucky’s relationship with Marge’s kids. He did care about those kids in his own way. Low blow, Eli. Nucky decides to leave telling Eli that he’ll forget it this time because he knows he downed a ton of hooch, but he won’t let it slide again. Eli had better remember one thing. He’s only alive because Nucky says so.
Gillian Rehabs – Gillian is in the grips of an in-house, ratchet rehab where Roy is the only one taking care of her. She’s in a very bad way–sweating, puking, writhing, and all that horrible stuff–but Roy’s right there to help her through the worst of it all. He’s even grown some stubble and took off the suit to get down and dirty. I’m not sure what to think of him or his intentions yet, but he nurses her through the worst of it. She feels terrible about him seeing her that way, but he tells her he divorced his wife the day after he met her. I don’t know what to think. He could love her because he’s deeply troubled himself and sees a kindred spirit. I guess nobody wants to believe that anything good is destined to come to Gillian after all that she’s done.
Heroin Game – The black community in the town is at a town hall meeting at the church where Dunn is getting his ass handed to him by concerned citizens. They’re mad that Chalky hasn’t been on top of things, especially with more and more people in the community falling to heroin. Dunn pretends to give a damn, but we know he doesn’t. He’s the one pushing it! Dr. Narcisse is present and pretending to care. He explains that he will be opening another center for Negro improvement there in the community in an effort to take back the streets and to be a bastion of activism. His character showed such promise… He’s definitely a bad guy for sure. The Deacon doesn’t seem to believe him, though. As the Deacon is on his way to tell Chalky, Dunn shanks him in the church. Oh, Dunn… If Chalky finds out, it’s your ass.
Chalky’s Hooked – The sexual tension between Chalky and Daughter Maitland came to a very consummated head in “The North Star”. So they are firmly in the midst of a tawdry affair. Chalky is so hooked by her that when Narcisse says her run at Chalk’s club is up, Chalky negotiates with Narcisse to have her stay on longer. Narcisse obliges him easily, but it wasn’t unexpected. We know he’s been plotting against Chalky for sometime. We don’t know to what ends yet, but her continued employment under Chalky, and Daughter’s convincing act that she is in love with Chalky, is all part of the plan.
Daughter Maitland and Dr. Narcisse Exposed – At one point in the episode, Daughter Maitland tells Chalky that her mother was once a prostitute in a brothel when she was a child. Her mother was killed after she attacked a trick, scarring him in the process. Come to find out, it was Dr. Narcisse that was the attacker and he has taken care, or has been the benefactor of, Daughter Maitland since that time. Later, in Dr. Narcisse’s room, she tends to his massive scar as he gleans intelligence about Chalky from her. He indicates that he saved her when her mother died in some weird, bizarre way. I’m not sure what those two are to each other just yet, but they are thick as thieves.
Al Capone Wants Revenge – Al Capone will not forget the murder of his brother Frank. I can’t blame him. Truth be told, I think he feels guilty that their last conversation was mean and hurtful. He will murder that guilt away, one cop at a a time. While one cop is chilling out, reading a paper, he walks up and puts a bullet in his head before getting away. Johnny Torrio is not happy about this, and tells Al to chill. Al is sure Dean O’Banion was the one who got the cops involved in the first place. Torrio doesn’t really believe Dean had anything to do with the cops, until he’s dragged to jail with Dean in a conveniently timed raid by the fuzz the minute he signs documents taking a warehouse off of Dean’s hands. Dean is let out with no charge within an hour while Torrio waited in a cell. This, however, makes him mad enough to tell Al to “kill that Irish f*ck”. Finally… I will miss his accent though.
So that’s it for this week’s recap! Sorry I missed last week’s, but life gets hectic. What did you think of last night’s episode?
Guys, this was a sad episode of Boardwalk Empire. Spoilers ahead!
Eli’s son, Willie, finds himself in jail after fratboy douche Henry is found in the bathroom like a dog, utterly dead. Who does he call? Well, he doesn’t call his dad, that’s for sure. When Nucky heads out to Pennsylvania to meet him, Willie admits he got the liquor from Mickey Doyle for a party, but doesn’t tell the whole truth about the situation. Nucky promises to fix it, and they doctor his story.
Honestly, I find this kid highly annoying. I can’t stand him. He’s like Alma Pastor… who is dead for her attempts at trying to screw someone else’s life up. The producers, I hope, will do that to Willie. Anyway, when Nucky goes to meet with the Prosecutor, things start to unravel. It turns out Henry’s father is a major contributor to the PA Republican Party and Nucky’s favors aren’t going to go very far right now. Nucky also finds out that Henry was poisoned–or was given a lethal dose of whatever chemical Willie was pranking him with. Talk about being hit with a double whammy. Nucky goes back and asks Willie for the truth, asking him who slipped the dead kid the “Mickey”. Willie admits he and his roomie Clayton did it, and by the time he says the kid’s name and Nucky asks who that is, you’ve figured out where it’s going. They put everything on Clayton, and he is arrested for poisoning Henry. Poor nerdy Clayton actually wanted to be somebody.
Willie, until you do right by
me Clayton, everything you even think about is gonna crumble.
Gillian shows up this week, and she’s acting like a crackhead; manic and crazy as she tries to find Roy Phillips. Gillian hopes to use her burgeoning relationship with Roy as a way to get her grandson Tommy back. Roy seems to have disappeared without one single thought of her. Later, when Gillian goes to meet the judge in her custody case in his quarters, she tries to use sex to bribe the judge. He promptly tells her to get the hell out of his office.
Gillian then goes to see Dunn Purnsley in an all black barber shop. I love how they look at her and then ignore her. They’re not stupid. If they say one thing to her, she could just run out and say they all raped her and it’s a wrap!
Anyway, she sees Dunn doing the “Boss” thing, getting his shoes shined, and approaches him affably enough. God, Gillian. What are we going to do with you? He asks “Little Bo Peep” (Gillian) what she wants, and she basically says that through her connections as a dancer, she found out he was selling some heroin. When she goes to pay him, he tells her it’s not enough. Of course, Gillian will not be stopped. At least not while she has a working vagina between her legs… Or a mouth… Or whatever she uses.
After that situation with Alma Pastor, Purnsley is not about to take her up on her offer and, with the aid of her sob story, he gives her some dope, but not before warning her, “You best go easy now, Little Bo. I like my lambs keep coming home.” She later turns up at Tommy’s school hoping to take him home, but he can’t stand her. Julia, his guardian, whisks him away with all the scorn for Gilly humanly possible, and Gillian is shown out of the school protesting all the while. Poor Tommy.
Later, Gillian wakes up in bed and Roy walks in (no sexy times were had). Roy discovers Gillian’s secrets and doesn’t seem to judge her at all. He tells her he knows about sins and mistakes. I think he might save her from herself. She seems to be over the heroin or at least wanting to let it go.
Speaking of drug problems, Al is seriously enjoying his cocaine. Thank God for his brother Frank keeping things together. The last two Boardwalk Empire episodes, I’ve come to like Frank. He’s a smooth operator. Him and Al are both freaking crazy, but he’s a slow burn; not volatile like Al. Van Alden is getting weary of Al, but Frank tells Van Alden to stick with him and not to worry about his brother Al too much. Frank seems like a nice guy, right?
Van Alden gets conscripted into another Capone job in Cicero which goes terribly wrong. Van Alden can barely control the first mob he’s in charge of leading to intimidate guys at a local factory to vote Republican. The second time, the Capones show up and all hell breaks loose.
Al is seriously tripping off of something. I’m not sure if it’s the first signs of syphilis or the cocaine he’s sucking down, but he even gets into a fight with his own brother before going off on Van Alden and the very large number of now pissed off workers who outnumber them at the factory. In the ensuing melee, Van Alden sees an opportunity to kill Al Capone. Frank sees this and goes to shoot Van Alden, but is shot instead. Thing is, it wasn’t Van Alden. Turns out an Army of cops came and shot him before he could pop Van Alden. They literally filled him up with lead. Al knows NOTHING of this (he was crawling when Van Alden was going to shoot him from behind), so Van Alden survives to see another day.
Agent Knox is a serious snake in the grass. He holds Eddie against his will in a dilapidated house and aside from being creepy, he starts to torture Eddie by beating him. It is a physical and mental torture, as he proceeds to launch a psychological attack on him by bringing up his past. Turns out Eddie left Germany, his wife, and sons to come to the US with stolen money from his department store job and his mistress, a lingerie department employee from the same store. Knox finally breaks Eddie when he tells him that his sons have all changed their names because they are ashamed of his thieving and betrayal. He also adds the threat of deportation to the mix.
Eddie tells Knox that he gave money to Ralph Capone because that is what Nucky told him to do. Knox seems pretty happy with this and they let him go. I feel bad for Eddie because now he’s made a deal with the devil to stay here and not be deported back to Germany.
Alas, it was more than he could handle. The episode ends as Eddie is seen writing a note, organizing some clothing and socks (earlier in the episode when he finally returns, Nucky scolded him for not telling him where he was, and then shows him his mismatched socks, telling him that is something he never wants to worry about again), fixes his tie in the mirror and then quite resolutely jumps out of the window. It is a heartbreaking episode on all accounts.
The good—or at least the better alternatives—die young.
Boardwalk Empire’s fourth season finally addresses racism in the 1920s in a meaningful way as this season’s formidable foe puts Nucky and Chalky in his crosshairs.
The body count climbs some more at only two episodes into Boardwalk Empire season four. Spoilers ahead!
“Resignation” has to be one of the best episodes of Boardwalk Empire in all four seasons. Though some storylines were a bit weak, the arrival of Dr. Valentin Narcisse, expertly played by Jeffrey Wright, and more Chalky White screen time really took the series to the next level for me.
One of the aforementioned weak storylines was former Agent Nelson Van Alden’s (Michael Shannon). He’s out in Chicago bumbling his way around as he tries to navigate family life and life as a fugitive–I guess the Feds must have forgotten about him for the time being?–and a hired tough fronting as a florist for the hard to like Dean O’Banion (Arron Shiver). Dean tells Van Alden to help the Capones with their “election efforts” in Cicero, so long as they stay in the sticks and leave Chicago to him. One minute it seems Van Alden is O’Banion’s man and the next minute, he’s bonding with Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and his brothers over cracked skulls at the election meeting they violently halted. What happened to the shrewd and slightly maniacal Van Alden? I feel like he’s going to snap this season. The question is when and who will be the one to feel his wrath? Still, I like him and his wife, and their bizarre home life is one of the purest, most normal things on a show filled with broken people reveling in abnormal circumstances.
History nerd note: O’Banion shouldn’t have been so dismissive. Cicero was a huge turning point for Capone.
Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Eddie (Anthony Laciura) have reached a serious turning point in their relationship and I’m firmly with Eddie on this one. Of all the characters that have come and gone on Boardwalk Empire, Eddie hasn’t quite gotten much of his due for all that he’s done for Nucky. He decides to fix that after snapping on Nucky several times. Eddie’s grown tired of being a factotum. He wants to do more, and his injury sustained while serving Nucky should have garnered him more than serving and waiting on another grown man. Really, I am glad Eddie stood up to Nucky. To Nuck’s credit, he didn’t have Eddie killed. It shows how much he ultimately cares for Eddie. We’ll see though. Eddie has to stay behind with all of Nucky’s scratch in his name while Nucky heads down to Florida on business. I worry for Nucky. Those Florida cats are something else…
Speaking of business, Nucky’s bootlegging enterprise once again comes under the watchful eye of the authorities. This time J. Edgar Hoover (Eric Ladin) is on the case and we discover that the shady Agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty) has been working for Hoover as an undercover the entire time. Knox feigns offense at criminals and their lying ways, yet he doesn’t seem to have told anyone exactly how his former partner, the late Agent Sawicki, met his untimely and painful death. Or do they know and not care because Sawicki was corrupt? I am not sure what Knox’s angle is, but I don’t think it will end well for him.
Harrow (Jack Huston) continues to bond with his twin sister Emma who has seen her share of tragedy and hard knocks since Harrow left. Harrow attempts to continue his murderous duties for Carl Billings, the man who hired him to kill his two other associates, but things seem to have taken an emotional turn for Richard now that he’s back home with his sister. He’s already killed one associate, Werner in Michigan, but when it came time to off the last guy, a man named Liebling, Harrow couldn’t pull the trigger. Harrow is so tired of killing at this point; he couldn’t even put the family dog down. I’ve said it before, I want Richard Harrow to win. He’s been used and thrown away by so many people. I know it’s good for him to be home with his sister. However, I think his sister has the ability to go to dark places too, so I’m not sure if Harrow will end up living happily ever after. Still, I feel for them both, but Harrow deserves so much better than what he’s gotten in life. I am glad he’s getting more depth this season.
Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) seems to be on top of the world as his new club opens with some of the sexiest, most talented black entertainers in Atlantic City. He’s slowly impressing his daughter’s future in-laws, clearly people with a certain pedigree who aren’t too fond of his, and he’s finally moving on up. Unfortunately, Alma Pastor (Jo Armeniox) is still on the run and Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey) can’t find her. Not a good thing since she’s a witness–a white female one at that–to the murder of her lecherous husband Dickie by Dunn. Chalky is still unhappy with Dunn after his serious misstep in sleeping with Alma, the reason this whole drama started in the first place and won’t find peace until she’s found and eliminated. As long as she lives, her false accusation will mean the end for them all.
Alma eventually turns up at Chalky’s club, but she’s brought weaponry in the form of Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), an incredibly intelligent, refined, and articulate businessman and gentleman from Trinidad. We know that Dr. (and don’t you forget it, he studied too hard for you to drop the title, something he is quick to remind Nucky of) Narcisse has affiliations with gangster Owney Madden and apparently employed Dickie as a talent agent. What we don’t know is whether or not he’s an actual “villain” in the traditional sense, or even a “gangster”.
Dr. Narcisse gets a lot done in a very short amount of time. He manages to get in on 10% of Chalky’s profits from his club and he eliminates a serious problem in Alma, who is utterly incorrigible with those fake tears. Dr. Narcisse doesn’t seem to hate Chalky. I think he really pities Chalky for being so simple and for lacking education, something that Narcisse clearly wields like a highly sharpened and well-forged sword against blacks and whites alike. He seems to be over the racism and white paternalism of the day and his contempt is thinly veiled to those who get it. If you don’t get it, he’s insulting you. He insults people without them really even knowing; you won’t notice you’ve been “cut” until you see the figurative “blood”.
Alma thinks she’s gotten over on Dunn by lying about her raunchy tryst with him and calling it rape, knowing she’ll be believed without question or doubt. She thought Dr. Narcisse would come to her rescue, but in one of the most satisfying death scenes on Boardwalk Empire ever, Dr. Narcisse has her choked out with the very same rope she suggested be used to lynch Dunn for “raping” her.
Who is Dr. Narcisse really a danger to? I think it will depend on what your own personal views and values are. I’ll explain more later… What I do know is that I was given a whole shot of pure epic whenever Wright was on camera. I can’t wait to see more of him.
I’ll talk a bit more about race, racism and “Resignation” in another post tomorrow, so stay tuned for that. As a history geek, there’s so much awesome in episode two that it needs a breakdown.
That’s it for this week! What did you think of “Resignation” and how are you feeling about season 4 so far?