Boardwalk Empire: Anastasia

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireAnastasia

Season One: Episode Four

Directed by:  Jeremy Podeswa

Written by:  Lawrence Konner, Margaret Nagle and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The Spin:  How empowering it is to see a show where many of the writers also serve as executive producers!  While director Podeswa takes a cue from Scorsese and fills this amazingly layered and poetic episode with wall to wall period music, the writers (most notably, I am to assume, Nagle – who also penned Episode Three) settle into their groove.  Woven into this compelling hour are national politics, women’s rights vs. violence against women, race relations, romances, jealousies, turf wars and a wonderful “time capsule” of a frame story involving Princess Anastasia.  There is so much to admire in this episode, but it clearly belongs to the women from writer/producer Nagle, to stars Kelly MacDonald and Gretchen Mol to Emily Meade as the kind-hearted hooker Pearl.  Last week the focus was on dark humor, which rightfully leads to a quietly aching sadness in tonight’s affairs – as if reality is now staring the audience and the characters in the face.  If the writers keep this up…we’re looking at a show to rival Mad Men.

My Favorite Parts:  Gillian (Gretchen Mol) expressing her woman’s rights to Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza); Margaret’s (Kelly MacDonald) fairy-tale introduction to Babette’s Supper Club; Jimmy (Michael Pitt) getting all sweet on wiser-than-her-years Pearl (a ravishing Emily Meade); and that funny lookin’, knife-wieldin’ Irish mobster in Chicago who bares a striking resemblance to a psychotic Conan O’Brien.

Characters/Plots I Can’t Wait To See Develop:  Just what kind of games are Gillian and Lucky Luciano about to play with each other?  Will we see any more of Pearl, despite her cruel fate?

Favorite Lines:  That banter between Gillian and Lucky.

The Verdict Is Still Out On:  Nuthin’, sonny.  This show is a real peach. 

Commentary by David H. Schleicher 

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


  1. This was definitely a great episode with much going on. The slashing of Pearl’s face was brutal. The slowly building relationship between Nucky and Kelly MacDonald’s character continues to intrigue me on where it is going to lead.

    John, yep. I hope we see more of Pearl, though. Or at the very least, I hope Jimmy and Capone give that Conan-lookin’ fella what’s comin’ to him. –DHS

  2. This was the best episode except for Nagle’s episode last week. The balance of male and female is what this show needs. Nagle and Konner did an excellent job. Cudos.

    Sally, agreed. I hope Nagle and Konner continue to be the main writers. I’d like to see more eps directed by Podeswa as well, as this was more lively than the last two directed by Van Patten. –DHS

  3. This was by far the most powerful episode. The female characters were finally given their due. The writing was outstanding although I felt the Chalky monologue felt self conscious. It didn’t fit into the rest of the show. I realize I will be in a minority about this. Thought Nagle last week and Konner and Nagle this week wrote the most powerful episode.

    The show has been too dark and inactive during the first two episodes. I thought the pilot and 2 sorely lacking in momentum and character. But these last two show something great. Margaret and Gillian were the highlights. Could it be that is because a woman was creatively involved. Show seems sadly short of women.

    Kendall – you make some interesting points. I think Nagle’s intimate involvement in writing the last two episodes and the burgeoning storylines of the female characters display a strong positive correlation. I look forward to where this is all headed. –DHS

  4. Nagle and Konner did excellent work I agree with you both. The entire subplot of the surprise party played so well. My two favorite scenes are last weeks torture scene in dirty yiddish and this weeks scene with Margaret and the dim wit politicians. They had some pop and some spin to them. The show has a problem with several of the characters sounding the same. The pilot and first episode dragged at a snails pace. The women were minor. Now the women are starting to evolve and it is changing the energy and pace of the show. Maybe it is Konner and Nagle. The only scene I didn’t like was Chalky White breaking into a long monologue in the middle of the show. Felt out of place with the rest of the episode and not in a good way. He is an excellent actor. Next weeks is written by Konner. This feels promising.

    Geoffrey – you, Kendall and I agree on the Chalky monologue. It probably sounded so good on paper, too…and I read somewhere it was the one part of the episode not written by Nagle or Konner…which is very telling. I hope Chalky gets more to do, though, in future episodes. His character holds a lot of promise. –DHS

  5. David: I’ve been meaning to respond to these since episode one…I just keep forgetting. I always open up your episode thoughts along with Alan Sepinwall and Ed Copeland. I always love your thoughts on the show.

    Something I thought was interesting was how this episode was devoid of Michael Shannon, and yet it didn’t miss a beat thanks to that fantastic show-off moment from Michael K. Williams. My favorite line was this: “I’m not buildin’ no bookcase”. God, what a great scene.

    Anyway. I love your format here. I wish I had the time to recap these shows because it’s rivaling Mad Men as the best show on television right now.

    Thanks, Kevin! It was interesting Shannon wasn’t involved in this ep. Neither was Micheal Stuhlberg. It’s good to see Michael K. Williams get some screen time, but I thought that scene was a bit “out of place” – but, yeah, that line is kinda classic. –DHS

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