Boardwalk Empire – Resolutions (Filthsposition)
The opinions presented in this review are not shared by myself, but sometimes it’s nice to hear thoughts from the other, less right side of the spectrum. That is what Filthpositions are for.
Boardwalk Empire is back!!! I feel like I am the only one in the world majorly excited by this. Not just on this blog, but everywhere that I linger, both online and offline. I could understand such indifference back in Season 1 when I had a more love/hate relationship with the show myself. But for me Season 2 was a big step upwards and really cemented my love for the show, whereas for others it was just more of the same and locked in their hate.
I however feel the need to review this show weekly on this site because A) it is now one of my favourite shows on Television, and B) for me it is ‘big’ enough that it ought to be talked about. Maybe not in popularity, but at least in terms of how many amazing actors, writers and producers are involved with creating the world of Atlantic City that sprawls across our screens.
“Resolutions” for me, was a very confident and beautifully-paced premiere to Season 3. It set up a lot of the conflicts for the season, and gave most of its sprawling cast a moment or three to shine. All without feeling rushed or shortcutting any of its disparate story threads.
A lot of critics, such as Alan Sepinwall and Dan Feinberg, seem unable to get over the way that the supporting cast is juggled on the show. Their podcast review consisted of incessant complaining that say, if character A is in Episode 1, then we won’t see him again until Episode 3, while character B will be in Eps 2 and 4, etc. This, along with the way some of the subplots feel merely like vignettes, unrelated to any of the rest of the show, evidently lessen the enjoyment for some viewers.
For me that was a problem back in Season 1. As the show has progressed I have come to accept and even embrace the fact. For me the idea of a huge world and a sprawling cast has become a positive. To me it no longer matters how ‘relevant’ any of the subplots are as long as they are good. And because I’ve fallen for almost every character I can no longer actively wish to lose any more of them in order to have more streamlined storytelling.
The show has lost some characters recently though (ones that I think it was wise to sacrifice, albeit painful to watch like all good TV-deaths should be), and that has seemed to streamline things (unless the writers are just trying harder). “Resolutions” seemed to have a good deal of confidence and control to me. Maybe the season will indeed get messier as it goes along, but this episode was the right way to handle an ensemble cast.
I never understood any of the criticism for Nucky as a character either. He’d have a shot at being my favourite character (but then again, so would at least half a dozen others). I think the way the character is written and acted is consistently compelling, and I look forward to seeing how he develops now that he is a more brutal gangster.
Gyp Rosetti seems well-acted and interesting as a new adversary. Richard Harrow’s scenes were simply beautiful. Same for Van Alden, the montage of him knocking on door after door was so beautifully done, and really captured the idea of the character being out of place with the world around him. I was ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT when he walked in on Capone about to commit a murder. I thought that scene was such an unexpected thrill. And Van Alden’s joy at selling the two dozen whatchamacallit’s (I can’t remember what he was selling) was so beautiful to witness. Just once I really wish the show hadn’t then pulled the rug out from under him, by denying him his victory in the contest. But I can see how it’s probably necessary in order to set up his arc for the season. Margaret’s scenes were all superb- I really can’t wait to see where her character goes this year.
I know Boardwalk showed its one-billionth extravagant party in this episode, but damn I never get tired of watching them. They’re so damn glorious to behold.
Anyway, for me this episode had it all. Emotion (Margaret, Harrow, Van Alden), tension (Capone, all the Gyp Rosetti stuff), some surprises, gorgeous production values, the appropriate jolts of unexpected murders, some interesting new characters (mainly just one, thankfully). A lot of interesting subplots getting kicked off. Great dialogue. Great acting. Great pacing- the hour flew by for me.
I know it must sound like I’m rubbing my enjoyment into the face of the dissenters, but I really thought I couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the season.