Boardwalk Empire – New York Sour
Season Four: Episode One
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Written by: Terence Winter, Howard Korder
The Spin: The theme of the evening was deception: people pretending to be what they are not, or pretending to work the system better than the next person, when in fact they’re setting themselves up for their own comeuppance.
It’s the dead of winter, 1924, and Nucky is making peace with Masseria and Rothstein when Eddie Cantor introduces him to the next pretty gal, who turns out to be no Billie Kent, at Chalky’s hot new Onyx club. Meanwhile, Gillian is embroiled in a custody battle with the Sagorskys over Tommy and pretending to sell her now empty manor when in fact she’s selling herself all doped up. Back in Cicero, Al Capone is busy making a name for himself.
This curiously disjointed season premiere spent far too much time on a brutish subplot involving Chalky’s right-hand man getting into quite a mess with a sleazy talent agent and his slinky, kinky wife, though that wasn’t the worst of things tonight. There was also a painfully dull cliché of a plotline involving Eli’s eldest college-age son mawkishly wanting to learn “the family business.”
I was ready to give up on the sour hour if it weren’t for the as-yet-to-be-explained cross country-killing spree of last year’s best character – Harrow – as he made his way in the last scene (SPOILER ALERT)…home…and to his estranged sister.
Noticeably absent from the hour were the two characters writers had the hardest time with last year: Van Alden – victim of “how the hell do we fit him into the greater story?” character killing, and Margaret – long-suffering “woe as me” mater-familias.
New Characters to Watch: Ron Livingston has joined the cast as an alleged Piggly Wiggly exec (yes, you read that right) who seems like he might want to woo Gillian…but obviously there is something more going on there. Meanwhile, a novice FBI agent pulls the table on his superior in the episode’s most disjointed (but also most surprising) subplot and is sure to become some kind of player in the game in the weeks to come.
Wait Until Next Week: Looks like Van Alden will be back, Jeffrey Wright’s new character will make his first appearance, and what the heck is Ron Livingston’s character up to? And what kind of strange hell at home will Harrow be subjected to? Though ultimately disappointing, the season premiere certainly set up enough interesting threads for the new season that will hopefully be the type of high quality drama we’ve all come to expect.
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?