Boardwalk Empire: Blue Bell Boy

At last, Capone owns the night!

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Blue Bell Boy

Season Three: Episode Four

Directed by:  Kari Skogland

Written by:  David Stenn

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.

Favorite Character Development of the Week:  I loved seeing the true colors of the brothers Thompson, but it was tonight that belonged to Capone.

Wait Until Next Week:  Will someone, for the love of all that is holy, get frickin’ Doyle off the payroll before he gets someone else killed??!!

Commentary by David H. Schleicher 

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


  1. Gyp Rosetti is pulling some awfully smart rent-seeking by maintaining the highway (true definition of a highwayman, thinking of the pleasant rogues at the beginning of Barry Lyndon). It’s a move of desperation, but it’s smart. But it was a bold move to finally just ambush some of Nuck’s men by tricking them into going there, thinking the cops would clear it up. I think Rosetti is smarter than he looks, but his rage leads him to overstep.

    About the Capone scenes .. something a veteran told me once really stuck with me: soldiers lose all sympathy for other able-bodied males. They begin to see the worst in them. In contrast, they begin to cherish women, children, and animals, the helpless more, and feel a protective drive.

  2. I think its time for Nucky to have Mr. Slater use his Irish know-how to bomb that hotel and diner Gyp and his peeps like to hang in. This is a tough one for the Nuckster. Its clear Rothstein is fed up. What to do, what to do. I think first and foremost, Doyle needs to go. Then get some of Rowland’s Irish warriors to combat Gyp while Nucky send a couple of free loads to Rothstein via the icy backwoods in the mean time.

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