Boardwalk Empire – 21 (Season Two Premiere)
Season Two: Episode One
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Written by: Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson
The Spin: The winning combination of series creator/writer Terence Winter and producer/director Tim Van Patten pick up in season two right where they left off with season one’s superb finale. Opening with a signature Boardwalk montage done to the tune of “After You Get What You Want…” the masterminds behind the show deliver a two-fold message. To the characters, they’re saying, “Watch out, you might get what you ask for.” To the audience they’re saying, “We’re not going to let you down, and you will get what you want and then some this season.” Witness next a Klan shoot-em-up of Chalky White’s booze warehouse. Strung throughout the episode; where we find Nucky trying to balance work/partying with home life/Margaret, Jimmy now married to Angela, and Van Alden’s wife visiting the city for the first time; is one of the show’s most compelling themes: false domesticity and tortured father/son relationships. Nucky knows something is up with Jimmy and the Commodore, but it’s his newly strained relationship with Margaret’s young son (apparently there’s no one Nucky won’t try to pay off) and an arrest for election fraud that throw him for the loop. Meanwhile, other more hapless characters long for what Nucky and Jimmy have – seemingly having it all – the family, the luck, the power – but there’s something rotten in Denmark, my friends, and what those poor saps long for is a fantasy about to be riddled by bullets. Beautifully weaving in all of those painstaking period details with self-contained motifs (love the kids watching Chaplin’s The Kid at the end there) while propelling forward the plot and character arcs that will define the season, Winter and Van Patten are setting us up for one doozy of year.
My favorite parts: That opening montage, Van Alden “thrilling” the wife by busting up an alcohol-serving restaurant while celebrating their anniversary, and Jimmy literally shoving his feelings in the closet at the end.
The Best Line of the Evening: Jimmy, in reference to the hooded klansmen at a funeral, “It’s an awful waste of a lot of good tablecloths.”
Wait Until Next Week: Nucky apparently forgot to pay someone off and got himself arrested. Meanwhile, how’s he going to keep Chalky White and the white supremacists happy at the same time?
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?