Boardwalk Empire: Under God’s Power She Flourishes

Gretchen Mol refuses to let that Emmy go quietly into the night.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

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

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Boardwalk Empire: What Does the Bee Do?

Gretchen Mol could give any man a stroke.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – What Does the Bee Do?

Season Two: Episode Four

Directed by:  Ed Bianchi

Written by:  Steve Kornacki

The Spin:  Kornacki crafts a compelling hour built upon the themes of disillusionment and being put back in one’s place.  The show opens with the Commodore (Dabney Coleman) suffering a stroke at the height of lechery, leaving Gillian (Gretchen Mol), Jimmy (Michael Pitt) and Nucky’s idiot brother wondering what the heck to do now.  Meanwhile, Margaret gets disillusioned by Nucky’s cheerfully amoral politicking (“It’s about happiness” he tells her after deliberately publicizing a scandal with whores and votes so that he might get charged by the feds and then let off the hook by his old pal, the Attorney General) as well as by the attitudes of her servants.  Heck, ain’t nuthin’ a little cash stashin’ can’t fix, eh, old gal?  Meanwhile, it was a real treat to see Luciano put in his place by Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), the professional businessman to Nucky’s professional showman.  And then we had ol’ Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) getting pressure from the widows of those who were killed by the KKK only to have Nucky tell him to be a “good boy” and wait for justice to be dispensed (again, we see Nucky promise to solve everything – with money).  Oh, that don’t sit well with Chalky, and he takes it out on his civilized family at the dinner table.  Lastly, Harrow (Jack Huston) provides Angela (Aleksa Palladino) with some much-needed artistic inspiration, leaving poor Jimmy to wonder if he’ll ever really understand any of the people he loves.  Things come full circle in the final scene where Gillian, disillusioned by having to play nursemaid to the Commodore, reveals in a fit of angry tears and powerful slaps, that she’s been giving a grand performance all along. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: A Return to Normalcy (Season Finale)

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireA Return to Normalcy (Season Finale)

Season One: Episode Twelve

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The Spin:  If I’m being honest, Van Patten has been the weak link in terms of directors for the series, but he finally pulls out all the stops and delivers a deeply satisfying season finale helped immensely by the hands-on teleplay from series creator Terence Winter.  Next to Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire is the best written show on television, and though there’ve been some rough patches, it tops AMC’s award-winner in terms of pure entertainment.  In the finale, all of our favorites get their big scenes (Emmy…Emmy, can you hear me?) but Van Patten keeps the histrionics turned down a notch.  Just as it seems like Nucky is making peace with all his enemies, the local and national elections go his way, and Margaret comes back to his side (not after his emotional revelation about the true nature of his wife’s passing, but after a silly superstition gives her a grim premonition she will do anything to make not come true), those closest to him (a recovering Commodore, a soused Jimmy, and a spiteful Eli) begin to plot against him.  Meanwhile, Van Alden is about to heave-ho from his new Carthage riddled with guilt until a saucy special someone shows up while he’s packing to announce a bitter bun is in the oven.  A winning period-song accompanied montage (which in grand Scorsese-inspired style has become the show’s most potently dramatic calling card) leaves us tinged with melancholy over what has passed and filled with equal parts hope and fear over what is to come.  The closing images of an early dawn soaked boardwalk are the perfect postcards to send viewers off for a long hiatus. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Paris Green

Oh, happy days...aren't here anymore...

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireParis Green

Season One: Episode Eleven

Directed by:  Allen Coulter

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