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?
The Spin: The title of tonight’s episode refers to the picture of the king the Norwegian Mrs. Muller hangs in the kitchen. Turns out she’s been having drunken afternoon tristes with Eli (Shea Whigham) who can only barely remember a thing. Too bad his memory gets jogged by the mustachioed regent, and Mrs. Muller chose to reveal the tawdry details at a disastrous dinner where Eli’s pregnant wife had come to visit from Atlantic City, a dinner that could only have gotten worse if say, I dunno, the Feds had shown up. Oh, they did. The Muller formerly known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon) and Eli have been paired as a some sort of tragic comedy team this year where they try to one up each other with their sad, ironic life events. Two former law men nabbed by the feds who now want their help getting the books on Capone so they can nail him on tax evasion – what a joke. And sadly it was about the only interesting turn of events tonight.
Irving Rosenfeld (an overweight and badly combed-over Christian Bale in total method mode) is a con man with a heart of gold from the Bronx. He got into the con game as a kid as a way to help his dad’s glass business by breaking windows to drum up customers (awww). He runs a series of dry cleaners while selling fraudulent knock-off art and running loan schemes. He fell hard for a young passive aggressive sassy lass named Rosalyn (a delightfully scenery-chewing Jennifer Lawrence with full-on Long Island accent and big hair), married her and adopted her cute baseball card loving little boy (double awww). But Irving can never show his true self and feels trapped emotionally and financially to his overbearing wife who uses the kid as collateral against Irving jetting off to fantasy land with his new red-headed saucy mistress, Sydney (a never sexier Amy Adams). You see, Sydney is like Irving’s soul mate or something, a woman who reinvents herself to survive and is now his fully fledged partner in crime posing as a British Lady with banking ties to take the loan schemes to the next level. This set-up is presented to the audience in crisscrossing voice-overs full of lies, back-handed insults and memoir-esque longing between Irving and Sydney, whose beautiful dry cleaning chemical soaked romance comes to a screeching halt when curly-haired hot-shot FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper, hilariously pent-up) entraps them.
And then the fun starts. To get immunity, our lovers are forced to bring in more marks for take down to the feds. And what starts out as “just take down four more guys” explodes with DiMaso’s wacky ambitions and crooked nice-guy Camden Mayor Carmine Polito’s (Jeremy Renner, doing a great South Jersey Italian accent) connections into…you guessed it! ABSCAM! Continue reading →
The Spin: The title of the fourth season finale may have been “Farewell Daddy Blues” (and Daughter Maitland blesses us with down-and-out moody blues over the signature closing montage) but “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” could’ve easily been an alternate title. If the penultimate episode was a prime example of tight focus on just a few characters, the finale proved how effortlessly Winter and Korder are able to pack so much into a single hour, and how unpredictable their Empire can be. This hour was a doozy.
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: 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 →
Written by: Christine Chambers, Howard Korder and Terence Winter
The Spin: Sally (Patricia Arquette) surprises Nucky by arriving in AC along with the first shipment of booze from Tampa, but Nucky is still too busy trying patch things up between Eli (Shea Whigham) and his son Willie (Ben Rosenfield). What he doesn’t realize, though, is that Agent Fox (Brian Geraghty) has been clued into the mysterious nature of Willie’s schoolmate’s death and how his roommate got charged with the murder. Thus he visits the poor kid in the slammer and gets the real scoop. This allows Fox to brazenly approach Eli with an ultimatum.
But the really interesting action this evening was the Chalky vs. Narcisse plotline, which got even hotter and heavier. Continue reading →
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: 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 →