Written by: Terence Winter, Howard Korder, Dennis Lehane
The Spin: Jeffrey Wright makes a compelling appearance as new series regular Dr. Valentin Narcisse, the man behind the talent loaned out to Chalky’s Onyx Club, who exploits the mess Chalky’s man, Dunn, made last week to insinuate himself into Nucky’s world and get a piece of Chalky’s pie. Though Narcisse is certainly intriguing, the writers are starting to spin their wheels with Chalky who is caught in a continuous spiral to no development where he’s trying to be a “king” only to ruled a “servant” by those around him.
The Muller formerly known as Van Alden is sent by O’Banion to spy on Capone and make sure he’s staying in Cicero and not coming back to Chicago. Capone, though suspicious, is happy to use Muller in some voter intimidation, where Muller gets clubbed in the head, which makes one wonder is it the blows to the head that are making the Muller character dumb and dumber or is it lazy writing? Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
The Spin: Well, the third season went off in grand style with a suspense and violence-riddled hour mixed with quiet manly heartbreak as the brains of the show – Nucky (Steve Buscemi) – and the heart of the show – Harrow (Jack Huston) – closed off their story arcs in classic style. Van Patten opened with another signature montage detailing the war on the streets of Atlantic City between Rosetti’s gang and Nucky’s thugs-for-hire that the whole season has been building to. Meanwhile the mechanization of the plot became more twisted than a flapper’s dress in a cyclone, and to try to recap who double-crossed who would leave me with mental whiplash. Suffice it to say, Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) appeared to be holding all the cards, until at the very last-minute… 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: It was an hour of new alliances made, chapters coming to a close and pawns being put in their place as series creator Terence Winter colluded with the series’ best writer Korder to coauthor an explosive episode where an act of fiery terrorism brought destruction to the boardwalk (and poor Babette’s!) while in real life the modern day Atlantic City licks its wounds from Hurricane Sandy. And wouldya look at that, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has become the greatest pawnbroker: her mock-Jimmy funeral brought her ownership of the whorehouse, she kicked Luciano to the curb as a partner, she came to verbal blows with Nucky (revealing that she’s not delusional and is fully aware of his part in the real Jimmy’s death), and then invited Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) into her lioness’ den to give him a tasty bit of information about where Nucky and Rothstein would be cavorting on a certain evening (hint: there’s only one supper club in town).
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 →
The Spin: Home is where the spaghetti and coffee are in this Winter & Korder penned family-focused episode. That old dope Eli (Shea Whigham) must’ve learned him a few things in prison as he comes out contemplative and humbled to a loving brood of children and a kind wife he knows he doesn’t deserve while having to suffer the humiliation of now working under that even bigger dope Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks). Meanwhile, Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) shows up and is served a compelling self-contained story-arc concerning his eldest daughter. After having a turn of heart and blessing her well-groomed boyfriend’s intent to marry her (a doctor will be good for the family is his train of thought), his daughter rebuffs the idea thinking her suitor a bore and longing for the romantic thrills of gangster life. Well, my friends, expect a lesson to be learned here. Chalky ain’t havin’ none of that youthful foolishness in his house. Up in NYC, Nucky can’t seem to get enough of that youthful foolishness and has become totally enamored with the flighty but charming Billie Kent (Meg Steedle – again stealing the show) to the point it might affect business. Lo and behold, in Tabor Heights, Gyp Rosetti (an increasingly interesting Bobby Cannavale) sets up shop to get back at Rothstein and Nucky for their rebuke of his business offer last week by blocking their fuel supply on their route from AC to NYC. 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 →
The Spin: Although the Philly plotline was passed over entirely in this episode, Korder never the less made this an hour about brotherly love. With the AC bigwigs demanding a return on their investment and getting antsy about The Commodore’s new lack of engagement, Jimmy (Pitt) and Eli (Shea Whigham) find themselves up shit’s creek…but would one of them find a paddle? Look at the idiot Eli go running back to brother Nucky only to get rightfully slapped in the face and spat upon (though if it weren’t for Margaret’s shotgun antics, ol’ Nuck might’ve found himself choked to death). And whoops, funny how a wrench can then slip out of a drunken Eli’s hand and bash fat George’s face in. Meanwhile, sad-sack Harrow (Jack Huston) traipses deep into the woods to blow his depressed brains out only to have a bit of felicity (in the form of a dog and two amiable hunters) thwart his plans. Back to Jimmy’s house he goes, where he gets a pledge from his “brother” that he would fight for him to the last bullet. Ahhh…nothing like scalping a fat old bastard to bring two war buddies closer together. Seems Jimmy found his paddle…and its name is Richard Harrow…and together they’re going to take care of that debt by “taking care of” everyone they owe. Continue reading →