Boardwalk Empire – Devil You Know
Season Five: Episode Six
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
Written by: Howard Korder
The Spin: SUPER DUPER SPOILERS AHEAD – A skipping record plays over the closing credits of Korder’s masterfully penned slow-build to the two-fold finale, and Daughter Maitland’s (Margot Bingham) rendition of “Dream a Little Dream” haunts the hour as our dear Chalky (Michael K. Williams) makes a deal with the devil Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) in order to give Daughter and her/his daughter a chance (even if only in a dream). It’s been a roller coaster season of highs and lows and mostly frustration, but Korder, who has always been the most reliable of the Boardwalk scribes, operates on this one with the expert precision of a Shakespearian surgeon. Did anyone ever really doubt this was a tragedy?
In Chicago, Muller (Michael Shannon) and Eli (Shea Whigham) get caught trying to snatch Capone’s ledgers. Muller goes full Van Alden and loses his head (literally) while Eli escapes by the skin of his teeth. Capone (Stephen Graham) also unwittingly provides the actual Fed after him with those ledgers for safer keeping…setting himself up for his own downfall.
In Atlantic City, Nucky mourns the loss of Sally by getting soused with a couple of floozies who bash him over the head and run. Meanwhile, the flashback to newlywed Nucky shows him and Eli nabbing a boardwalk con-artist…a young girl disguised as a boy…named, yup, Gillian. Waking from his stupor in the alley after the floozies leave him for dead, there’s that kid claiming to be a Joe Harper from Indiana (Travis Tope)…who you don’t have to be a detective to realize is Tommy Darmody. “Why would you trust me, you idiot kid?” Nucky asks the third generation of Darmodies…but will he get to ruin this one or will he rue the day he ever nabbed Gillian under the boardwalk? Lo and behold, back safe on his perch, that dope Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) has proven to be the most loyal dope of all, rallying the troops for an inevitable showdown.
But it was in Harlem where Chalky met his sad fate. The writers didn’t know what to do with him from season to season, but his relationship with Narcisse and Daughter Maitland provided an ending to his character arc fit for a fallen king. I would tip my hat to you, Mr. White, but I haven’t got a hat.
Wait Until Next Week: Awww, Nucky, Nucky…just when things looked like they couldn’t be more frustrating, this empire is back on track for one helluva final two episodes…hopefully (and don’t question the grammar of this sentence).
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?