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.
The Spin: After last’s week depraved hour, there was somewhat of a return to normalcy in this episode of reunions and introductions that featured the return of one of last season’s strongest female characters, Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson), the former Assistant US District Attorney now regulated to night court after taking the fall for the botched federal case against Nucky. It’s in that night court where she “reunites” with Nucky, who’s been brought in on a petty charge of buying a pint of liquor in Washington D.C. after threatening the Attorney General (Christopher McDonald) that he would bring him down with him if anyone came after him again. After some barbed banter, Esther agrees to let Nucky buy her breakfast where he claims he can help her fry the corrupt big fish all the way at the top. Back home in AC, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) can’t figure out if Teddy is setting fires and telling tall tales about a gypsy threat, a vagrant is doing it, or Gyp Rosetti is stalking them. The suspense and mixed emotions lead to a “reunion” with Slater (Charlie Cox). Meanwhile, in the land of interesting subplots featuring top-notch acting and psychosexual melodrama – Harrow (Jack Huston) meets a potential love interest while missing his sister, and Gillian (Gretchen Mol) finds a Jimmy substitute and acts out her deranged fantasies. Continue reading →
The Spin: The helmer of last season’s finest hour (Belle Femme: Episode 1.9) returns to direct just a week following possibly the series’ finest hour thus far (Two Boats and a Lifeguard: Episode 2.8). Brad Anderson crafts another tight hour full of drama on both sides of the pond. While Nucky’s away in Ireland looking to score some whiskey for guns, Jimmy ascends to the throne awash in paranoia. Jimmy gets Waxey Gordon to agree to take out Manny The Butcher of Philly (William Forsythe) leading to the episode’s greatest moment (hint: it involves a meat cleaver). Meanwhile, things more momentous are transmitted subtly and with great care – witness the take out of a certain elder Irish statesman at the last-minute so Nucky’s deal can be secured. This underhanded deal leaves Nucky with a bad taste in his mouth because Slater might be keeping secrets and all sons might like to kill their fathers. Meanwhile, on the home front… 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: 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 →
Written by: Steve Kornacki and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson
The Spin: Transsiberian and The Machinist helmer Brad Anderson directs this taut episode with great restraint and the best pacing since Scorsese’s pilot. Fresh from Chicago, Jimmy tries to reestablish his family life much to his little lady’s dismay. When he tries to pull a number on Lucky Luciano with Momma’s help, that crafty Van Alden spoils the party by bringing him in on murder charges for the Hamilton Massacre. But what Van Alden doesn’t realize is that his number two is in cahoots with Nucky, and he does his own number on their star witness against Jimmy. Meanwhile, as Nucky sets his sights on fixing the local elections, Margaret does her own bit of politicking. All of this leads up to a shocking denouement on the boardwalk, brilliantly pulled-off by Anderson’s slow-build. This pretty lady of an episode was an absolute knock-out. Continue reading →