Boardwalk Empire – Havre de Grace
Season Four: Episode Eleven
Directed by: Allen Coulter
Written by: Howard Korder
The Spin: Korder again proves to be the best series scribe with this crown jewel of an episode, a tightly focused hour of drama featuring the richest characters Boardwalk has to offer, executed with the skill of a master chef as a slow boiling fifty minutes culminated with a steam whistle in the final five. This is what television drama is all about in the new golden age – blisteringly cinematic, tight, and dramatic tension crafted from interesting characters we have come to know over the years living on the razor’s edge.
A sober Gillian (Gretchen Mol – who for the fourth time in the series history totally OWNED the hour) seems to have finally come to terms with Tommy not living under her wing and selling the Commodore’s mansion. Her beau Roy (Ron Livingston) also has great news – his grocery empire deal closed, he’s up for a big bonus, and he proposes marriage and leaving Atlantic City behind for good. But then the man he screwed by securing the merger shows up scathing mad and threatening, and boy, old Roy turns out to have quite the trigger figure. Riddled with guilt, he talks of turning himself him in, but Gillian finally lays all her cards on the table explaining that a person can learn to live with anything. And out comes her confession about the murder of the Jimmy doppelgänger. And then out comes the handcuffs. Roy, oh boy, was a Pinkerton.
But as if another award-caliber performance from Mol wasn’t enough, death warrant escapees Chalky (Michael K. Williams) and Daughter (Margot Bingham) hide out in Havre de Grace at the home of Chalky’s former father-figure, the blind but still wily Oscar (portrayed by legendary actor Louis Gossett Jr. in the type of guest spot Emmy Awards were specially made for). When Daughter up and leaves in the night, some of Narcisse’s men come raining down on the peaceful homestead leaving Oscar to take his last stand and Chalky with some surprising new alliances in Oscar’s previously underestimated nephew and men.
And then there’s Eli (Shea Whigham) – who almost screws the pooch and reveals his double-crossing nincompooping ways while getting hot under the collar with his poor wife’s nattering about the insurance salesman (who was actually Agent Knox) at an otherwise pleasant Thompson family dinner. Yet he somehow still manages to get Nucky to agree to a meet up with the New York and Tampa contingencies to arrange the putting of Narcisse in his place, a perfect set up for the Feds to prove their case for organized crime straddling state lines.
Best Lines of the Night: Just about everything that came out of Louis Gossett Jr’s mouth.
Wait Until Next Week: Did Daughter get away unscathed? Is this really curtains for Gillian as a character? Does Nucky know what’s up with Eli?
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?