Boardwalk Empire Watch: A New Jimmy?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Macall B. Polay/HBO

Charlie Cox, Steve Buscemi

Spoiler alert: Jimmy yourself into a dank basement and then watch “Blue Bell Boy”—or don’t read further.

We start with Sleater, who’s getting both a service from a prostitute  Katy (who may or may not be a prostitute) and a phone call from Nucky. It’s unclear which one means more to Sleater, who takes the latter before allowing the conclusion of the former. Loyalty is the theme of this episode. Loyalty is more important to Nucky than money, but it’s difficult for anyone in this show to love, be loved, or especially to be loyal.

No one thinks of Al Capone as a particularly loving figure, which is the smart thing about how his character is being written this season and how Stephen Graham is playing him. Capone’s son, 4, is deaf and seems weak to the schoolboys who beat him. Al Capone—being Al Capone—wants his son to be able to fight. The boy’s weakness is a sign of his own. In a truly gifted piece of writing and directing, Graham kneels before the boy, gets him to raise his little fists, and then alternates among bullying the kid, teaching him how he might punch, and helplessly hugging him. Boardwalk Empire portrays a hardened world, but the show orchestrated this scene with moving delicacy.

Boardwalk is also a show free from advertising obligations, which means its vocabulary can be like part of an SAT. So in place of “pregnant,” the nun who is helping Margaret start her women’s clinic suggests “gravid.” It’s such a rare word for pregnant that they settle on “with child.” The nun also says that menstruation is “a regrettable neologism.” My dictionary got some use as I watched the episode.

Onto the main set piece of the episode: His liquor transports threatened, Nucky shows up in Tabor Heights the center of Rosetti’s small but growing empire,  at the a Pennsylvania house where his brother is helping load liquor for New York. Nucky arrives to meet someone who calls himself  whom Sleater calls Roland Smith and claims to be 15 years old. Smith is apparently helping guard the one of the houses that serve as Nucky’s a way station for whiskey shipments from Atlantic City to New York.

All of this sets up a fantastic conundrum: Nucky distrusts Sleater, who cuckolded him, and Sleater knows that the young man calling himself he called Smith is lying. Having shot another young liar in the face, Nucky may be seeking another stand-in son. Nucky isn’t a gangster because he murders people but because he manipulates them. He gives the kid a cigarette, which is simultaneously an act of kindness and an act of harm. In an earlier episode, it might have stopped short of that. This time, Nucky decides to kill him before all the drama.

A few thoughts before I shoot up the place:

How far will the writers go to make Capone a sympathetic figure? He defends his smelly employee and sings for his son, but he ends up a monster, right? And yet in the Boardwalk version, even as Capone beats a man to death and throws money out for the funeral, I think I’m supposed to root for him.

Eli is slowly asserting himself again. I don’t think there’s a way for Doyle to win their battle. I hope not. Please, again–let Doyle be shot. Let us see blood run from that giggling mouth.

Every time the writers need a villain too distant from Nucky to hurt him, they seem to choose Waxey Gordon. I suppose we will see him again, but when? Will he be saved for the finale?

9 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
timothyjwalsh
timothyjwalsh

The writer is completely clueless about this show, evident by his many errors regarding the plot. 

1. Roland Smith STOLE from Nucky (he's not running his "way station").  The house is Roland's warehouse of stolen booze.  And they are not in Tabor Heights, but Willow Grove, PA outside of Philadelphia.  See episode 1 (Manny Horvitz was originally on his way to kill smith before Richard Harrow shotgunned him).  Additionally, Agent Zwicky makes several mentions of their being "outside of Philly" and "the Philly office" during this very episode!  WAKE UP.

2. Waxey Gordon and Nucky have not been enemies to date on the entire series.  Also, the mention of Waxey in this particular episode is in the context that Roland Smith has ALSO been stealing Waxey's liquor, in addition to Nucky's.  I guess Mr Cloud (appropriate surname) is just making stuff up as he writes this tripe.

3. Owen is not in bed with a prostitute.  It's Katie, the Thompson household domestic servant, whom Owen carried on an affair starting in season 2.  She was also Margaret's maid of honor at her wedding to Nucky in the season 2 finale.

Start paying attention dude.  You have zero cred.

John Cloud
John Cloud

I made quite a few mistakes in this review, and I have tried to correct them above. Thanks very much for the corrections. I will beat myself with a belt on my back and try to do better. I do actually love the show, and I should have been more careful. John

Gary Coleman
Gary Coleman

I have read numerous reviews of this episode and I'm astounded by the the poor writing and research regarding it. This one, however, takes the cake. In bed with a prostitute? Nucky goes to Tabor Heights? The house is Nucky's way station? Here's a tip to Mr. Cloud: Go back to season 1 and watch the show. You might learn something. It might also be helpful to go through all the characters in the show to figure out which ones are true historical figures and which are fictitious. When this happens you'll be able to stop yourself from making easy mistakes like assuming that Waxey Gordon might be killed in any upcoming episode. Both Gordon and Enoch Johnson (Of whom Thompson's character is based) were removed from any power situations when they were imprisoned in the late 1930s. Neither were offed by other gangsters. Johnson died in an A.C. retirement home and Gordon died in Alcatraz.

ImtheSpacePope
ImtheSpacePope

lmao, this dude writes likes he's glanced over the episodes. 

GeorgeRoomey
GeorgeRoomey

Victor implied I'm in shock that someone can earn $6749 in one month on the network. have you look  this(Click on menu Home)   

jterp1985
jterp1985

 good points.  i noticed the error about katy right away as well. 

also, about al capone - the scene with him retaliating for the beating of his employee is a parallel to his son being bullied.  i think it's okay to make characters that are considered "monsters" sympathetic - it's character development, and makes the show more compelling.  a lot of other good shows do the same thing (breaking bad, dexter, etc.)  i'd prefer that to one-dimensional "monsters"

finally a note about nucky handing the cigarette to the kid: kiss of death.  nucky seemed to show a similar moment of kindness before he ordered the death of his accomplice in episode one.  i wonder if this style will continue throughout the season.