The Spin: Well, the third season went off in grand style with a suspense and violence-riddled hour mixed with quiet manly heartbreak as the brains of the show – Nucky (Steve Buscemi) – and the heart of the show – Harrow (Jack Huston) - closed off their story arcs in classic style. Van Patten opened with another signature montage detailing the war on the streets of Atlantic City between Rosetti’s gang and Nucky’s thugs-for-hire that the whole season has been building to. Meanwhile the mechanization of the plot became more twisted than a flapper’s dress in a cyclone, and to try to recap who double-crossed who would leave me with mental whiplash. Suffice it to say, Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) appeared to be holding all the cards, until at the very last-minute… Continue reading →
The Spin: All the soldiers moved into battle ready positions in this Margaret-less Korder penned hour. In the wake of the special delivery announcing the start of the war, after a violent shoot-out at the hotel that leaves loyal aid Eddie (Anthony Laciura) badly wounded, Nucky turns to his only “friend” left in Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) who uses his armed men to keep watch while his med-student-son-in-law-to-be mends Eddie. Of course, Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) is leaving no stone unturned, leading to a tense stand-off of words at Chalky’s beach-side gangland cottage where a hefty reward is offered to anyone who turns in Nucky. Meanwhile, Gyp’s uncouth cohorts invade Gillian’s (Gretchen Mol) house of ill repute, leading Harrow (Jack Huston) to plot an escape for himself and Tommy to Julia’s. Gillian catches wind and kicks him out, leading him to take stock of his supplies and plot an extraction – wait until next week! All the while, Eli (Shea Whigham) has been in Chicago, and just as Nucky decides to stand his ground and makes a deal with Chalky to ensure his army will help, little brother finally comes up big with an eager to join Al Capone (Stephen Graham) arriving on the scene happy to help decide who gets killed. All of which makes for a perfect build to what should prove to be a sizzling season finale next week. Continue reading →
The Spin: A man a plan a canal panamA…frontwards or backwards…the fate of those on the boardwalk is the same. Not a single plan went down as planned…from Means’ double-dipping hit-turned-suicide (with Stephen Root giving a delicious performance), to Nucky’s attempt on Masseria (Ivo Nandi) involving Owen (Charlie Cox), to Owen’s own plot to flee to St. Louis with Margaret (Kelly Macdonald). NOTHING went right. No matter who the man or what the plan, in this world, people’s fates are sealed by the beds they’ve made and now have to lie in with the evil beside them. In the shadows, Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) was Gyp (and continues to find creative ways to kill those who offend him), the Muller formerly known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon) saw his decent into private Norwegian bootlegging lead to a brush-up with Al Capone (Stephen Graham), and Chalky (Michael K. Williams) gets rebuffed for trying to open a new club. Women’s rights and minority rights mean nothing when bottles of (symbolic) poison wash up on the pristine shores turning everyone into smiling or hysteric drunks. Continue reading →
The Spin: Reeling from a serious concussion, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) has a hard time dealing with the loss of Billie while trying to rally his allies to prepare for war against Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) who have literally bought Tabor Heights. In the midst of the confusion and growing threat, Owen (Charlie Cox) makes a bold proposition asking Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) to go away with him…far away…from all of this. Meanwhile at the House of Darmody, living in a den of whores is starting to take its emotional toll on little Tommy, leaving Gillian (Gretchen Mol) to scold Harrow (Jack Huston) as he tries to have a life of his own and romance Miss Sagorsky instead of watching after the boy. Harrow knows, though, that what the boy needs is a proper home…but can he provide it? After a final pep talk from Margaret in her last-ditch effort to see if this “life” is worth the trouble, Nucky confronts his allies only to learn that Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) has convinced the group that being in business with Nucky certainly isn’t worth the trouble. And so the Nuckster is left standing alone. Continue reading →
The Spin: It was an hour of new alliances made, chapters coming to a close and pawns being put in their place as series creator Terence Winter colluded with the series’ best writer Korder to coauthor an explosive episode where an act of fiery terrorism brought destruction to the boardwalk (and poor Babette’s!) while in real life the modern day Atlantic City licks its wounds from Hurricane Sandy. And wouldya look at that, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has become the greatest pawnbroker: her mock-Jimmy funeral brought her ownership of the whorehouse, she kicked Luciano to the curb as a partner, she came to verbal blows with Nucky (revealing that she’s not delusional and is fully aware of his part in the real Jimmy’s death), and then invited Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) into her lioness’ den to give him a tasty bit of information about where Nucky and Rothstein would be cavorting on a certain evening (hint: there’s only one supper club in town).
The Spin: Is there a more tortured and twisted character on television right now than Gillian Darmody? And is there a more heartbreaking and fascinating character to watch than Richard Harrow? Gretchen Mol and Jack Huston sealed the deal tonight…and if there is any justice in this cruel world, their Emmys are being mailed to them right now. Oh, the peformances…the looks on their (half) faces! The two thespians shined again tonight in this Korder penned episode that proves the trend on the boardwalk that all the best episodes focus on family. On Easter Sunday, Harrow and little Tommy venture off to the Sagorsky house (for some of the best dinner table talk you’ll find all year) while Gillian stays at the empty Commodore Manor to perpetrate the most heinous act any character on this show has ever committed (and that’s saying a lot for a show full of murderous and sometimes perverted gangsters). Harrow’s unshakable committment to protecting Jimmy’s son while trying earnestly to start a romance with the lovely Julia Sagorsky (who carries her own baggage) foiled against Gillian’s demented obsession with Jimmy and his death while running a whore house is by far the most interesting plot thread running through this misshapen season. Meanwhile, the Thompson brood reunites at Eli’s house where Nucky and Eli (Shea Whigham) make up and Margaret bonds with the super sweet June. Up in NYC, Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) is hilariously put in his place at the Easter table by his overbearing female relatives, beats up a priest, and is almost killed by Boss Joe’s gang – saved only by his offer to bring them the heads of Nucky and Rothstein. Continue reading →
The Spin: After last’s week depraved hour, there was somewhat of a return to normalcy in this episode of reunions and introductions that featured the return of one of last season’s strongest female characters, Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson), the former Assistant US District Attorney now regulated to night court after taking the fall for the botched federal case against Nucky. It’s in that night court where she “reunites” with Nucky, who’s been brought in on a petty charge of buying a pint of liquor in Washington D.C. after threatening the Attorney General (Christopher McDonald) that he would bring him down with him if anyone came after him again. After some barbed banter, Esther agrees to let Nucky buy her breakfast where he claims he can help her fry the corrupt big fish all the way at the top. Back home in AC, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) can’t figure out if Teddy is setting fires and telling tall tales about a gypsy threat, a vagrant is doing it, or Gyp Rosetti is stalking them. The suspense and mixed emotions lead to a “reunion” with Slater (Charlie Cox). Meanwhile, in the land of interesting subplots featuring top-notch acting and psychosexual melodrama – Harrow (Jack Huston) meets a potential love interest while missing his sister, and Gillian (Gretchen Mol) finds a Jimmy substitute and acts out her deranged fantasies. Continue reading →
The Spin: If last week’s episode was meant to show the softer side to these tough guys, tonight’s episode existed to remind us of the deep-seeded depravity of the male characters as manifested through their misogyny and repeated degradation, oppression and violence against women. Out in Cicero, the Muller formerly known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon), can try as he might to be a simple family man, but his violent past is infecting his sweet Swedish wife’s emotional well-being, leading to a shocking turn of events that has Muller running back to the Irish mob-run flower shop. Back in AC, Poor Gillian (Gretchen Mol) still can’t come to terms with Jimmy’s fate and refuses to have him declared dead – the only action that will leave her with any title or credit to fix-up her house of ill repute in ill repair. Nuckster, meanwhile reeling from a breakup with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) over the incompetence of the Jersey operation, can’t help but meddle in Billie’s career, desiring to control her destiny even while he tells his wife, Margaret (who learns tonight of the affair), that the young lady seems more than capable of taking care of herself. Then there’s Gyp (Bobby Cannavale - revealing way too much tonight), taking the cake for most disturbing fetish (a title previously held by Van Alden), making a new deal with Rothstein that leads to a bloodbath leaving a nameless red-headed waitress naked and dead. And all of this makes what had been Margaret’s previously boring story-arc concerning the opening of a women’s clinic finally carry some weight. Continue reading →
The Spin: It was a tense hour as two oncoming “showdowns” ran parallel in this David Stenn penned episode. First, Nucky joins Slater (Charlie Cox) on a run to finally take out Roland Smith – the last guy Manny was supposed to have taken care of. Turns out Roland Smith is just a kid – a charming chap with plenty of moxy who was also being trailed by the Feds who come crashing down on his hideout forcing Nucky, Slater and the kid to bond in the cellar and wait things out. There Nucky tests Slater’s loyalty, and once free and clear, comes to terms with his new nature, making it clear to Slater who is boss. Secondly, idiot extraordinaire Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) decides to run Rothstein’s shipment through Tabor Heights (which is increasingly becoming like a Middle East occupied territory) despite Nucky’s clear orders and the wise protest of Eli (Shea Whigham) leading to a Gyp-ordered massacre that at the end of the episode throws Eli back into Nucky’s confidence.
Meanwhile, there was nice little side-story in Chicago where the writers finally found something interesting to do with Al Capone (Stephen Graham, whom I’ve slighted before but pulled off a nice performance tonight). We get to see Al’s softer side as he comes to the defense of his deaf son and the fat slob of a collector working for Torrio. Seems he’s becoming a champion of the defenseless, even if it involves beating a man to death. The closing rendition of Capone playing “My Buddy” on the mandolin while his little boy “listens” by touching his father’s throat was another sweet, melancholy moment in an increasingly melancholy season. I couldn’t help getting misty as it transitioned into playing over the scene of Eli “reuniting” with Nucky at night in the cold on the boardwalk – the pretty lights strung up over the damp wooden planks – the Empire quietly lying down for a winter’s nap…for now. For there’s a war brewing. Continue reading →
The Spin: Here I was thinking tonight’s episode was another food-themed affair after last week’s “Spaghetti and Coffee” – but the title is instead a riff on the Italian for “Good luck” – a play on words that Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Canavale) takes as a personal insult after Nucky tries to repair their relationship to avoid bloodshed. This was a finely nuanced affair that gazed deeply into the dominant arcs for our main characters. Nucky is heartbroken and guilt-ridden over killing Jimmy while Margaret appeases her own guilt for being a “gangster’s wife” by conning the hospital’s head-honcho into opening a women’s clinic by getting the Bishop to give his blessing to the idea. Meanwhile, Gyp sees an opportunity in Gillian (Gretchen Mol - receiving one golden moment tonight to paint a look of regret as wide as the Atlantic Ocean on her beautiful face when remarking that one has nothing if they don’t have their own flesh and blood) to find out secrets about Nucky. Out near Cicero, The Muller formally known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon) finds himself in an ironic pickle when he gets bullied by coworkers into going to a speakeasy only to see the place get busted. Lastly, that world-class moron Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) tries to be a bad-ass by telling people he killed Manny leading Harrow (Jack Huston) to a revelatory confrontation with Nucky. Continue reading →