Boardwalk Empire – You’d be Surprised (Filthsposition)
I sat down to watch Boardwalk Empire this week the only way it should be done- with a 720p copy and a bottle of Rekorderlig alcoholic cider in my hand (DAMN that stuff is good!). This season has maintained its tradition of the odd-numbered episodes (1, 3, 5) being better than the even ones. I’ve loved every episode this season, but with this being an odd-numbered installment it turned out to be a particularly great one.
The cast was well-managed this week, everyone who was due their “turn” in the spotlight this week got it (in the way that this season has been deploying “turns”). A whole lot of characters were weaved well into this episode. Except Richard Harrow, who was due to be here but just wasn’t. Which sorta sucked. Although my research tells me that he will feature in the next two episodes, getting a double turn in the spotlight to compensate, thankfully.
This episode was the second one in a row to kick off with a sex scene. The one here was more unusual than expected, with Gyp Rosetti being shown enjoying himself some autoerotic asphyxiation. I think for the most part the writers have handled Gyp well this season, but every now and then they take a step towards the cartoonish. I felt that the autoerotic asphyxiation was over-the-top and unnecessary, although I am willing to partly recant that because it led to a very cool image at the end of the episode.
Then we were straight into business with a scene between Nucky and Rothstein, and both of their henchmen. I think this was the first time we’ve ever seen Rothstein get truly angry and confrontational, and it was a great sight to see. Particularly his accusation that Nucky would’ve had this situation resolved already if he wasn’t running off with some woman all the time instead of taking care of business. That led to possibly the funniest dialogue exchange of the hour when Nucky says “That’s an easy thing to say, for a man who is dead below the waist”, to which Rothstein replied “I practice discretion.” and the only retort Nucky can come up with is “You practice bullshit!!!”. I LOL’d.
The revelation that Gyp is closely allied with Joe Masseria was also fantastic, because it makes Masseria’s scenes feel more relevant (they were a bit boring last week). They also make it hard for Nucky and Rothstein to kill Gyp without major consequences. The way that the vast majority of the cast is connected to some degree by the situation with Gyp this season is brilliant. It is awesome that Gyp is a catalyst for tension between Nucky and Rothstein (and also now Rothstein and Masseria). Those three central centrals cover a huge section of the cast when they factor in their employees as well. That sort of streamlining of story is very nice, even though I don’t mind the unrelated vignettes with other characters when we get them (eg. Capone, Van Alden, Richard Harrow).
Van Alden’s scenes were great, as usual this season. The slow-build and meticulous attention to detail looks set to pay off soon. His wife Sigrid is a badass! A shame that her display of badassery was only troublesome in the end though. The way that this reconnects Van Alden with Dean O’ Bannion was awesome, and Alden’s storyline looks set to really take off pretty soon.
Gillian’s storyline is effectively haunting.
James Cromwell and Stephen Root are great additions to the cast, but I hope the story cuts to the chase with their purpose before it runs out of episodes this year. It looks like it will leads towards Daugherty trying to send Nucky to jail, which could be fun. They’re just going to need to get there sooner rather than later. I wish Boardwalk Empire had 20 episode seasons because I’m loving the set-up so much this season that I’d love to just bask in it longer before the show has to ramp up the pace. But unfortunately no, next week will be the halfway point of the season (not this week, like Alan Sepinwall continually says incorrectly) so the show will have to start to shift into payoff mode soon-ish.
Eddie Cantor (the comedian character) is f*cking funny!!! So brilliantly acted. I want to BE that man. I feel overjoyed whenever he comes onscreen, and he had two of the best moments of this brilliant episode. The first was when Chalky and Dunn Pursley make him act in front of them, and he is prancing around with his flamboyant routine and the camera keeps cutting back to a disinterested Chalky and Pursley. That was such a hilarious sight. The second was Eddie’s line to Billie Kent “Ever heard of Lucy Darzinger? Well, the next one will have never heard of you either” just before going out to dance with her on stage in front of a crowd. Such a great moment.
I’d love to see an episode revolving around Nucky’s butler, by the way. It’ll probably never happen, but damn that could be interesting. To turn him from comic relief into an actual character. God knows this show already has enough characters though. Admittedly perhaps a few too many. But they’re all so good!!!
Rothstein’s meeting was Rosetti was a good contrast of character. We can see via their interaction that Rothstein can be reasoned with, whereas Gyp is a much more impulsive being. This will mean that Nucky cannot defeat Gyp the way he sorta “defeated” Rothstein at the end of Season 1, by making it worthwhile for Rothstein to not target Nucky anymore. There will be no such arrangement between Gyp and Nucky at the end of this season, I can pretty much guarantee that. Gyp’s pretend-annoyance at the paperboy was a great, I love when we think we’re about to get a Gyp outburst but then it’s just a joke. The writers are good to have fake-outs like that to keep us on our toes. That moment with the paperboy also reverberated cleverly in the final scene of the episode too.
Nucky’s apology to Margaret for adultery was interesting in that Margaret has cheated on him too. Normally it’s the male characters applying that sort of double-standard in shows so it is interesting to see a female character do it here. Nucky was a bit too passive in this particular episode, he really needed an unprovoked emotional outburst at some point to show the various stresses he is currently under. This could have been a good scene for him to vent all of his anger at Margaret instead of apologising. I think that was a bit of a missed opportunity.
Margaret’s resilience and determination with the various struggles relating to her health classes is truly heartwarming.
The attempted murder of Gyp at the end of the episode was goddamn SPECTACULAR. One of the best action scenes the show has ever done. It also tied in the autoerotic asphyxiation and Gyp’s fondness of the paperboy in interesting ways, and visually referenced Taxi Driver to boot! Great, great scene.
This was a really awesome episode, one of the best so far of a great season.