Boardwalk Empire: The Ivory Tower

The fetching Gretchen Mol joins the cast in Episode Two.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireThe Ivory Tower 

Season One: Episode Two 

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten 

Written by: Terence Winter (series creator, from the novel by Nelson Johnson) 

The Spin:  HBO’s go-to man behind the camera, Tim Van Patten (of The Sopranos and The Pacific fame) directs what will likely be the first of his many episodes.  Gone are Scorsese’s non-stop jazz numbers and snazzy editing, and here the series settles into its long Sopranos-esque silences, dialogue heavy scenes, and intimate little details used to develop characters over long, languid arcs designed to last years.  It’s a change of pace…we’ll see how it goes. 

My Favorite Parts: Rothstein (a decidedly insipid and sinister Michael Stuhlbarg) tells a great “cue ball” story, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) gives “a statement” in a Chicago speak-easy, and the most welcome Gretchen Mol makes her first appearance as Jimmy’s show-gal ma. 

Characters/Plots I Can’t Wait To See Develop: Everyone (from Buscemi’s Nucky to Shannon’s Van Alden) seems to have a deep-seeded “thing” for Kelly MacDonald’s sweet-as-Irish-pie Margaret.  There’s something unsettling about it all, and it has the potential to become the series most mysterious and dramatic story-arc. 

Favorite Line: Jimmy (Michael Pitt) telling the phone operator to “go jump in a lake” after Capone gives him the brush-off. 

The Verdict Is Still Out On:  Action taking place in NYC and Chicago, and all that crazy stuff going on along the road through Hammonton: the Blueberry Capital of the World. 

Commentary by David H. Schleicher 

To my readers and Boardwalk strollers:  Thoughts, reactions, comments?



  1. Capone “making a statement” was a definite high point for this episode and I think Nucky was making a statement of his own to Jimmy when he bet and blew the $3k at the roulette wheel in one spin. The pace of this episode definitely was slower from the opening Scorsese directed show but I still think it is going to be an interesting ride.

    John, I’m hoping the period details and the momentum of the plot will keep the show from falling prey to the types of annoyances that made The Sopranos (as brilliant as it was) intermittently frustrating — i.e. dropped story-lines, whole episodes about nothing, main characters with little to do. We shall see. It’s top notch so far. –DHS

    • I am glad you mentioned the story-lines that would be dropped in “The Sopranos.” That use to drive me crazy. At times I thought it was just me, that I missed something. You would wait episode after episode for that thread to be picked up again and nada. Still the show was one of the best.

      John, indeed. –DHS

  2. I apologize for the delay in this comment as I just watched the second episode.
    Your thoughts on the bloodied guy in the Hammonton woods (along the White Horse Pike?)? Could he be Rothstein’s Sister-in-law’s nephew possibly?
    Also, is Nucky pissing off some of the wrong people? Like the funeral parlor guy with the weird chuckle. Wouldn’t he be someone who could bring Nucky down?

    Boz, could be, could be. But the bigger question is why do your comments keep getting stuck in the approval queue when you are a regular poster? Hmmm… –DHS

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