Boardwalk Empire: White Horse Pike

Stand by your man...

Stand by your man…

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – White Horse Pike

Season Four: Episode Ten

Directed by: Jake Paltrow

Written by: David Flebotte

The Spin:  As much as Nucky has tried to stay out of the Chaky-Narcisse War, he can’t help but get sucked in when he learns Narcisse is in cahoots with not only Masseria’s clandestine Tampa heroin run (of which he got tipped off by stalwart Sally) but also with his puppet Mayor (whom he learns about from the trusty Willie).  Meanwhile he’s completely oblivious to Eli’s ongoing betrayal.  Elsewhere up in New York, Rothstein makes an interesting deal with a desperate to be independent but still all kind of cutesy-crooked Margaret.  Out in Chicago, a newly confident Muller is in like Flynn with Capone and gang who are celebrating high off the hog, hooch and hookers oblivious to the obvious retaliation brewing in the wake of Obanion’s obituary. Continue reading

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Boardwalk Empire: William Wilson

Boardwalk Empire - Season 4 Teaser Poster Nucky

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – William Wilson

Season Four: Episode Seven

Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa

Written by: David Matthews and Terence Winter

The Spin:  Is it just me or are there some stories just being drug out for too long this season?

Case 1 – Eli’s son Willie (the first doppelgänger/Poe connection of the night) continues to be riddled with guilt (we get it) and starts a bit of a family row at pop’s house.

Case 2 – Don’t get me wrong, I love Gretchen Mol’s Gillian, but her detox scenes in this episode seemed trite as did her blossoming love affair with Office Space guy (Ron Livingston) while under his watchful care.

However, there was still plenty of intrigue.  Margaret (the regular-again-it-seems Kelly Macdonald), it turns out, is working for a shady stock broker and helping him swindle customers into shaky deals.  Into the office, under his own disguise, walks…you guessed it, Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg). Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: All In

Boardwalk Empire - Rothstein

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – All In

Season Four: Episode Four

Directed by: Ed Bianchi

Written by: David Matthews

The Spin:  New alliances and showing one’s true colors were the themes of the night as writer Matthews focused on the old plot thickening and director Bianchi provided some clichéd thrills with panache – check out the lighting, sound design and camera angles on that guy getting tossed out of a Chicago window or watch Capone going tommy-gun bonkers on that poor fat bastard who finally met his damnable fate.

In AC, Nucky calls on Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) to see if he wants in on the Tampa deal.  While waffling, Rothstein shows his true colors at an endless poker match, leaving Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) wide open to strike up his own deal with Nucky. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Margate Sands

Boardwalk Empire 3.12

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Margate Sands

Season Three: Episode Twelve (Season Finale)

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter & Howard Korder

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

A Director, an Actor and an Icon Clothed in Immense Power in Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln…in Spielberg’s perfect light.

Steven Spielberg is a director/producer clothed in immense power.  He has carte blanche to do whatever his heart desires in Hollywood after years of pleasing audiences.  Sometimes his whims and faults get the better of him – as lame attempts to resurrect past haunts (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) or return to childhood wonder (The Adventures of Tin Tin) often are rendered mute in artifice and strained sentiment.  Yet, when left to his own devices in pursuit of his most sincere ambitions, once in a blue moon, Spielberg is able to pull a rabbit out of his magician’s hat.  He did it with Schindler’s List.  And he has done it again here with Lincoln – perhaps the crowning achievement of his career and the greatest American film since Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.

Not surprisingly, like There Will Be Blood, Lincoln is anchored by an impossibly great performance by Daniel Day Lewis.  If Lincoln’s political successes (among them the passing of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, a process brought to painstaking and lively light here in the film) teach us anything, it’s that no matter how much power one is clothed in…nobody can do it alone.  There must be compromise, teamwork, and appeals to individual sentiments to achieve the greater good.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: The Milkmaid’s Lot

Masseria and Gyp…a not so happy couple?

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – The Milkmaid’s Lot

Season Three: Episode Nine

Directed by:  Ed Bianchi

Written by:  Rolin Jones

The Spin:  Reeling from a serious concussion, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) has a hard time dealing with the loss of Billie while trying to rally his allies to prepare for war against Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) who have literally bought Tabor Heights.  In the midst of the confusion and growing threat, Owen (Charlie Cox) makes a bold proposition asking Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) to go away with him…far away…from all of this.  Meanwhile at the House of Darmody, living in a den of whores is starting to take its emotional toll on little Tommy, leaving Gillian (Gretchen Mol) to scold Harrow (Jack Huston) as he tries to have a life of his own and romance Miss Sagorsky instead of watching after the boy.  Harrow knows, though, that what the boy needs is a proper home…but can he provide it?  After a final pep talk from Margaret in her last-ditch effort to see if this “life” is worth the trouble, Nucky confronts his allies only to learn that Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) has convinced the group that being in business with Nucky certainly isn’t worth the trouble.  And so the Nuckster is left standing alone. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: You’d Be Surprised

No wonder Margaret dreamed of flying away in the season premiere.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – You’d Be Surprised

Season Three: Episode Five

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The Spin:  If last week’s episode was meant to show the softer side to these tough guys, tonight’s episode existed to remind us of the deep-seeded depravity of the male characters as manifested through their misogyny and repeated degradation, oppression and violence against women.  Out in Cicero, the Muller formerly known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon), can try as he might to be a simple family man, but his violent past is infecting his sweet Swedish wife’s emotional well-being, leading to a shocking turn of events that has Muller running back to the Irish mob-run flower shop.  Back in AC, Poor Gillian (Gretchen Mol) still can’t come to terms with Jimmy’s fate and refuses to have him declared dead – the only action that will leave her with any title or credit to fix-up her house of ill repute in ill repair.  Nuckster, meanwhile reeling from a breakup with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) over the incompetence of the Jersey operation, can’t help but meddle in Billie’s career, desiring to control her destiny even while he tells his wife, Margaret (who learns tonight of the affair), that the young lady seems more than capable of taking care of herself.  Then there’s Gyp (Bobby Cannavale – revealing way too much tonight), taking the cake for most disturbing fetish (a title previously held by Van Alden), making a new deal with Rothstein that leads to a bloodbath leaving a nameless red-headed waitress naked and dead.  And all of this makes what had been Margaret’s previously boring story-arc concerning the opening of a women’s clinic finally carry some weight.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: To the Lost

Hey, kid - shove your guilt in a sack!

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – To the Lost

Season Two: Episode Twelve (Season Finale)

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter

The Spin:  Admittedly the season finale’s “big bang” was exactly what I thought it was going to be, but I have to give credit to Winter and Van Patten for making me think during the better part of the hour that maybe it wasn’t going to conclude that way.  It seemed Nucky and Jimmy were going to make amends.  Jimmy came through in a big way and brought justice for Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) – thus ending the strike are we to assume?  Then he helps commit the most egregious bit of witness tampering I’ve ever seen – with Harrow (Jack Huston) at his side of course.  All of this benefits Nucky, right?  And ol’ Nuck seemed to be in a forgiving mood.  After giving one of the more unorthodox marriage proposals, he and Margaret get hitched, thus solving her moral dilemma of testifying against him (as his wife, she can’t – badda bing!)  Then he offers up his dope of a brother (Shea Whigham) a nice ultimatum – take the fall for that other stuff and go to jail for a few years – it’ll make up for trying to kill me.  Poor, poor Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) – she’s suddenly in court with no ducks in a row anymore – because they’ve all been shot down one way or another by Nucky.  Look who’s off scott-free and looking like the family man of the year!  Hooray for Nucky!  But oh wait, there’s that thing, you know… Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Two Boats and a Lifeguard

Say, you wouldn't throw a guy like me over a balcony at the supper club, now would ya?

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Two Boats and a Lifeguard

Season Two: Episode Eight

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter

The Spin:   The latest Winter/Van Patten hour opens in purely Sopranos-esque style with Nucky’s dream.  Oh, the symbolism!  Oh, what does it all mean?  Where’s Dr. Melfi when you need her?  What transpires next is possibly the series’ finest hour.  Behold! – Nucky’s old pap bites the dust.  At last! – The Schroeder kids start callin’ ol’ Nuck “Dad.”  Look Yonder! – It’s Torrio and Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) meeting up with Nucky to discuss the little problem with their underlings.  Apparently Rothstein is the 1920’s gangster version of our own modern-day Warren Buffett advising the others to wait…wait…wait…and then place the perfect bet.   And then! – After his own brush with death last week, Nucky sees all the signs and tells his enemies he’s resigning and stepping down to retire with his new “wife and kids.”  Oh, brutha, but even Nucky’s own dumb-as-dirt brother (Shea Whigham) knows that Nucky is smarter than Jimmy – he’s smarter than them all.  And we know that Nucky is bamboozling his enemies into thinking they’ve won – as you see, he’s plotting with Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) to shut down the city with a strike and arranging for Slater (Charles Cox) to take him over to Belfast and arrange a meeting…for perhaps a little arms dealing?  While pouty-lipped Jimmy is too dumb to realize his wife (Aleksa Palladino) is about to hook-up with novelist Louise, he takes out his blind frustrations by throwing the even stupider Mickey Doyle (whose laughing now, buddy?) from the balcony of Babette’s during their evening of celebration.  Continue reading

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