So last week’s episode was divine. Van Alden is working for Capone (is Torrio all but gone now?), Eli heads off to meet up with them, Mickey is sent to Mellon’s defunct distillery, Richard Harrow gets the girl, Gyp beat a man to death with a shovel, Owen gets himself killed, and Margaret reacts exactly how you’d expect a woman who just saw the father of her unborn child dead in a box would. It was epic.
This week? I’ve said it before (last week even) but seriously, this was the best episode of television I think I’ve ever seen. At one point I realized that I’d been holding my breath when I got that panicky “you need oxygen now!” feeling. From the first scene to the last, I was just a big ball of tension. Whew.
Even though there were obviously more tense moments this week, knowing what I do of history, the bit with Lucky and “Sam Moceri” had me on the edge of my seat. Just a few days ago I had looked up when Lucky got arrested for the drug deal, and when he first met with the Buffalo mute I immediately thought this might be it. Of course, I was right, but that didn’t make it any less surprising for some reason. I can not wait to see Rothstein’s reaction. No, wait- I can not wait to see Meyer’s reaction. It will probably be a lot about “you should have listened to me you dipshit”.
One of my absolute favorite parts of this show is the background noise and music. The ominous drumbeat when someone is about to end up dead, the conversations of nearby people, and most especially the sounds of the boardwalk while in Nucky’s office. There’s just something incongruous about it all. Coming from a humor writing background, I’ve mainly used incongruity as a comedy tool, but here it seems to be more of the writer’s acknowledging that it is such a ridiculous situation.
Case in point: Gyp sitting at Nucky’s desk, reading the copy of Ragged Dick given to Nucky by his mother on his birthday, all while children are laughing and playing down below and carnival music fills the air. Of course, Nucky would keep that book on hand. I’m sure part of it is because it was from his mom, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t relate at all to the story of the sort of “rags to riches” story. As for Gyp? He’s probably heard of the story (the book was published in 1868 and was wildly popular) and could also see a bit of himself in the main character. Dear Boardwalk Empire writers- I love you.
Another bit of incongruity that ended up being more humorous than perhaps it was initially intended?
A grown man being spanked like a child by a broom in the drawing (?) room of a not-a-whorehouse by the madam of said not-a-whorehouse while he was going at it with a not-a-whore. I bust out laughing at this part thanks to its complete ridiculousness. Gillian is either the smartest woman alive, or she’s the most delusional sociopath that ever walked the Earth. If she survives the finale (which she will), then maybe she’ll realize next season that she is running a WHOREHOUSE, not some high-class entertainment venue. Of course, I wanted to beat her ass with that same broom when she was such a bitch to Richard. I was sitting at my desk, mouth agape when she pointed out that Julia “doesn’t look blind”. WTF bitch. However, unlike the rest of the internet, I think she has a plan.
Surely she knows about Richard’s small arsenal. Of course, she knows about Richard’s willingness to kill. I think Gillian was trying to goad Richard just enough to piss him off and send him running to the box under his bed. She wants him to come back to the not-a-whorehouse and shoot his way to Tommy, getting him out of Dodge. Takes out two birds with one stone; gets rid of Gyp and “saves” Tommy. Then again, maybe she saw Richard trying to steal Tommy away from her and he’s the only link she has left to Jimmy. Maybe she’s just a horrid bitch. Yea, that’s the more likely situation. What I really want to know though is what Richard meant by the “not afraid of camels” caption on his happy family scrapbook picture. There are some who posted that it is a throwback to season one with the episode about Gillian and the tarot reading but I don’t know, that’s a bit of a stretch for me.
What’s not a stretch is saying that Michael Kenneth Williams had perhaps his best episode to date. This week almost made up for an entire season with limited Chalky White. Not only that, but it seemed like every bit of dialogue out of his beautiful mouth was meant especially for my language loving self. When you are busting out words like ‘mite‘ and ‘gabble‘, oh be still my beating heart. However, the best one was ‘nonce‘.
Chalky sitting there like a king with his court, busting out great words left and right, ’twas perfection. Not to mention, his total dedication and loyalty to Nucky. The same Nucky who was sort of a complete ass to him with the whole club thing. Then there was the “Nucky is concussed” bit. Yikes, I daresay if someone called me uppity, concussion or not, I would not be so willing to lie to the psychopath Gyp Rossetti for them. Again, if Chalky survives the finale, there better be a club run by him on the Boardwalk.
This entire part of the episode was epic. While the banter between Gyp and Chalky was fantastic (I seriously would never have guessed that the idea of “paging” someone was so old) it was the parts with Nucky that were the best. Last time Nucky was hiding, he was with the kid and Owen. He killed the kid and sent Owen to his death so now he’s alone. Even the lighting was similar. It was just so well done that I felt the need to clap.
Steve Buscemi brought his A-game in this entire episode. Nucky ran the gamut of emotions this week. From the despondency of realizing that Margaret and Owen had a thing going and Margaret leaving and taking the kids (where did she go?!?! But I did love the overturned toys and general feeling that they left in a hurry.), to the panic of realizing that Gyp was at the Ritz and then the adrenalin-fueled drive through Atlantic City as Eddie sat bleeding and muttering in German only to finally realize that this person that has stood by his side for how many years is basically a stranger because he was too wrapped up in himself to notice him. Seriously, it was amazing to watch. I was damn near in tears as Eddie was able to be lucid enough to tell Nucky about a poem.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
Of course anyone who has taken AP English (in the 90’s at least), or just keeps up with poetry, in general, knows the poem as If by Rudyard Kipling. It is an extremely well known and often quoted poem so it’s not that surprising that Eddie would quote it. However, what is amazing is that is a poem that is usually told as a father to son perspective. So here is Eddie, dying (if he dies I will be so pissed, screw Owen and Jimmy, it’s Eddie that needs to live) and he’s mustering up strength and mental acuity to try and give Nucky a life lesson! The same Nucky who doesn’t even know if he has a family or not! My poor heart just can’t handle this.
Thankfully there were a few little things to draw my attention long enough that I didn’t dwell on the possibility of Eddie dying, which would send me into a fit of hysterics. One being the billboard of “Krueger’s Special” behind Chalky and Dunn as they shot the guys trying to search their truck for Nucky. Much like Bevo for Anheuser Busch, Krueger’s Special was a non-alcoholic beverage brewed mainly so breweries could stay open and try to make a profit during Prohibition. If it tasted anything like O’Douls, there’s no question as to why Prohibition was eventually repealed. That crap tastes like piss in a can.
This is my favorite one though, perhaps of the entire season. If you look closely at those bottles, that is none other than Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. That shit is so good. I have not come across a bottle of that in over a decade, but there was a place that sold it down the street from an old house of mine and it is one of the best drinks there is. Especially with a deli sandwich. Yum.
As awesome and fabulous and wonderful everything in this entire episode was, nothing tops the last scene. Eli returns and he has struck a deal. Much like when the “crowds” parted to reveal Chalky sitting in his throne, this time they made way for Mr. Al Capone himself to make another Atlantic City appearance. And boy did he ever.
Holy shit folks. It’s about to get real. So we’ve got Capone and Chalky with Nucky vs. Gyp and Masseria (if he comes to fight). The question remains what side Rothstein will end up on. All we know, whoever ends up on whatever side, people are going to die. A lot of people are going to die. I can’t wait.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but shit this episode was perfect. For real. I think to give it anything but a 5 would be a crime.
The season finale is next week and it promises to be as amazingly epic as we could ever hope for. Until then Boardwalk fans!