Written by: Howard Korder, Christine Chambers and Riccardo DiLoreto
The Spin: Coulter masterminded his best Scorsese impression, harkening back to the style of the Marty helmed pilot, with montages and narration and a tick-tock-gun-shot-gavel-pounding score accentuating this written-by-committee penultimate episode. It was a refreshing and impressive piece of workmanship coming off the jaw-dropping events of the previous episode and the scattershot nature of the season prior to this.
AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS: The gang war between Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Nucky reaches a fever pitch that results in the nabbing of Ben Siegel (Michael Zegan) as a bargaining chip. Luciano one-ups Nucky, however, by nabbing Eli’s eldest son (Ben Rosenfield) in return. Continue reading →
The Spin: Director Coulter takes advantage of this being the last season by adding some compelling directorial flourishes, and was that a nod to Twin Peaks and Lynch in the opening “through an ear” dissonant audio-visual cross-cuts, which were bookended nicely in the end with an all-too noticeable missing ear? It’s nice to see the regular series directors give it their all, but it has me worried that Winter felt the need for such a ho-hum filler episode when the there’s only six left to go after this. This week we got (mis)treated to some bizarre sequences in a women’s sanatorium where Gillian (Gretchen) has been spending her days that played with our prurient-minded expectations, continued grim flashbacks to Nucky’s childhood, Nucky turning to Torrio to see who tried to nab him last week in Cuba, Lansky still plotting with Luciano and Siegel to up their game (at the Nuckster’s expense?), the Muller formerly known as Van Alden still making a mess of things at home and at work (with no help from a drunk-as-a-skunk Eli), Capone getting all Capone-y (seriously his character has become a clichéd bore after some shining moments in seasons’ past), young Will Thompson vying for an Assistant DA spot, and some distracting Look, Ma, who it is! guest-appearances by Joe Kennedy Sr. (Matt Letscher) and Eliot Ness.
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.
The Spin: Symbolically characters in tonight’s episode were searching for their “north star” which often came in the form of women and families. Eli (Shea Whigham) wondered how Eddie could take his life like that, leaving children behind, while that crafty double agent Fed insinuated his way into the lesser Thompson’s confidence. Harrow (Jack Huston) made his way back to Atlantic City to find the elder Sargorsky diagnosed with cirossis and Julia (Wrenn Schmidt) making a sincere plea that she can’t raise little Tommy (now obsessed with star-gazing and mapping his way home) alone. Then there’s Chalky (Michael K. Williams) falling under the spell of Narcisse’s songstress, who gives a mesmerizing performance of “St. Louis Blues” at the Onyx Club.
Before venturing off down south, Nucky, seemingly directionless without Eddie, stopped in New York to deliver a belated birthday present and the personal news of Eddie’s demise to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) in a sad attempt to weasel his way back into her life.
Meanwhile, down in Tampa, things are getting soupier than a hopped-up alligator wrestling match. Continue reading →
The Spin: Series creator Terence Winter takes the reign and finally puts up the first episode this season worth talking about. Wisely he chooses to ignore the Midwest shenanigans of Muller the dope and Capone the cliché, and somehow even manages to make the otherwise dull-as-dishwater plotline involving Eli’s son at Temple worth watching.
But what was really interesting was the display of ladies tonight: a pawn, a lost soul, a hero, and a Sally saucy as all get out.
After getting into the heroin business with Rothstein, the increasingly crafty Narcisse (the incomparable Jeffrey Wright) uses a beautiful jazz chanteuse as bait to make it seem like he’s smoothing things over with Chalky (Michael K. Williams). Little does Chalky know, Narcisse is about to turn his man Dunn against him.
Then we have our gal Gillian (the ever-fetching Gretchen Mol) gettin’ all domestic-like with the Office Space/Piggly Wiggly guy (Ron Livingston) only to have Jimmy’s murdered doppelgänger’s friend approach her at the soda shop leading her to shoot up just when things were starting to look rosy. Continue reading →
The Spin: All the soldiers moved into battle ready positions in this Margaret-less Korder penned hour. In the wake of the special delivery announcing the start of the war, after a violent shoot-out at the hotel that leaves loyal aid Eddie (Anthony Laciura) badly wounded, Nucky turns to his only “friend” left in Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) who uses his armed men to keep watch while his med-student-son-in-law-to-be mends Eddie. Of course, Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) is leaving no stone unturned, leading to a tense stand-off of words at Chalky’s beach-side gangland cottage where a hefty reward is offered to anyone who turns in Nucky. Meanwhile, Gyp’s uncouth cohorts invade Gillian’s (Gretchen Mol) house of ill repute, leading Harrow (Jack Huston) to plot an escape for himself and Tommy to Julia’s. Gillian catches wind and kicks him out, leading him to take stock of his supplies and plot an extraction – wait until next week! All the while, Eli (Shea Whigham) has been in Chicago, and just as Nucky decides to stand his ground and makes a deal with Chalky to ensure his army will help, little brother finally comes up big with an eager to join Al Capone (Stephen Graham) arriving on the scene happy to help decide who gets killed. All of which makes for a perfect build to what should prove to be a sizzling season finale next week. Continue reading →
The Spin: Is there a more tortured and twisted character on television right now than Gillian Darmody? And is there a more heartbreaking and fascinating character to watch than Richard Harrow? Gretchen Mol and Jack Huston sealed the deal tonight…and if there is any justice in this cruel world, their Emmys are being mailed to them right now. Oh, the peformances…the looks on their (half) faces! The two thespians shined again tonight in this Korder penned episode that proves the trend on the boardwalk that all the best episodes focus on family. On Easter Sunday, Harrow and little Tommy venture off to the Sagorsky house (for some of the best dinner table talk you’ll find all year) while Gillian stays at the empty Commodore Manor to perpetrate the most heinous act any character on this show has ever committed (and that’s saying a lot for a show full of murderous and sometimes perverted gangsters). Harrow’s unshakable committment to protecting Jimmy’s son while trying earnestly to start a romance with the lovely Julia Sagorsky (who carries her own baggage) foiled against Gillian’s demented obsession with Jimmy and his death while running a whore house is by far the most interesting plot thread running through this misshapen season. Meanwhile, the Thompson brood reunites at Eli’s house where Nucky and Eli (Shea Whigham) make up and Margaret bonds with the super sweet June. Up in NYC, Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) is hilariously put in his place at the Easter table by his overbearing female relatives, beats up a priest, and is almost killed by Boss Joe’s gang – saved only by his offer to bring them the heads of Nucky and Rothstein. Continue reading →
Boardwalk Empire– Under God’s Power She Flourishes
Season Two: Episode Eleven
Directed by: Allen Coulter
Written by: Howard Korder
The Spin: Well, my friends, Angela (Aleksa Palladino) may have lived one episode longer through a flashback, but it was Gillian (Gretchen Mol) whose insidious ways haunted the hour. Here we learn the back story of how/why Jimmy (Michael Pitt) left Princeton and joined the Army. Korder and Coulter cinematically weaved the long flashback into the current proceedings where an air of melancholy hung over various characters in dire straits who made desperate plays to turn the tides. What’s that, Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks)? The Italians told you to go screw yourself? So why not try to screw them by brokering a deal with Van Alden (Michael Shannon)? Well, guess what, you moop, Van Alden is too busy getting ratted on concerning his 86-ing of his Number 2 — ahhh…remember that baptism by drowning last season? Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) must’ve thought it was Christmas as just as she was tying the rope tighter around Nucky’s neck, in comes the surprise that Van Alden murdered a fella, too. But that screwy Van Alden pulls a fast (and dumb) one before he can be brought in by shooting Esther’s Number 2 in the foot…and here we had just gotten some juicy back story to his childhood, too, that explained an awful lot. And then there’s Margaret…coming to blows with Nucky after she receives a subpoena…but she stops short of telling him her most damning sin. Still it was refreshing to see Nucky in the classiest of ways threaten his paramour. “If you don’t know me by my Word, then you don’t know me at all,” he says to her. Sounds an awful lot like her God. Continue reading →
Written by: Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki and Bathsheba Doran
The Spin: For the most part, each episode of the second season thus far has been attributed to a single staff writer (many of them also producers on the show), unlike the first season where gaggles of staffers were penning stuff trying to get the cadence of the series down. The single “author” for each episode has made the second season infinitely stronger and more direct in theme. For episode seven, a trio of seasoned staffers worked together, giving us an hour more reminiscent of Season One. In other words…a whole lotta shit went down, brother – and the result was hit or miss. Director Allen Coulter held it all together, culminating in a sun-drenched scene harkening back to Episode 1.5 where Margaret succumbed to her desires. Before this however, we witnessed a cavalcade of rebuffs and insults. Jimmy is proving to be a weary man in charge, guided by his Lady Macbeth of a mother (Gretchen Mol) who is still knocking boots with that slimy Luciano fella. Meanwhile, Lucy (Paz de la Huerta) presents her motherhood and sad predicament to an always willing to help Nucky. Seeing this as an opportunity to mend things with (I mean blackmail) Van Alden (Michael Shannon), Nucky falls into a fit of bad luck – getting double-crossed by Van Alden (who seeks to appease the new lady ADA) and then shot at by one of Jimmy’s hired hands – in the hand no less. Then there’s little Margaret… Continue reading →
Written by: Howard Korder and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson
The Spin: Director Coulter wisely keeps with the “less is more” mentality he presented back in Episode Seven in this subdued but powerful episode where Korder weaves a stinging leitmotif around poisoning in both the literal and metaphorical sense. The message boards have been a few steps ahead on this one, and it’s finally been confirmed…The Commodore (Dabney Coleman) is: 1. Jimmy’s pop. 2. Being poisoned. 3. Just might return for next season! In the mix of these developments, Gretchen Mol as Gillian continues to put the most interesting spin on the “hooker with a heart of gold” stock character I’ve seen in years. Kudos to the writers for keeping hers one of the most interesting characters on the show. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s paramour (the eternally weepy Aleska Palladino) gets emotionally sucker-punched by the old switcheroo (her lady lover ran off to Paris with the photographer instead!) and by Jimmy’s stoic reaction to her now anti-climactic “Dear John” letter. Poor old Nucky couldn’t seem to get a break as both Margaret and his brother came to verbal blows with him over this, that and the other thing, resulting in him announcing his brother’s resignation as sheriff and his Irish lass stealing away… And last but certainly not least, a strong case for Equal Opportunity Employment is made as Van Alden goes all “Church of the Third Revelation” on his two-timing-number-two’s Jewish ass. Whew…talk about a great set-up for next week’s season finale! Continue reading →