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?