Nucky’s mistress Lucy lives up to the “dizzy dame” image, but she’s perceptive enough to recognize that Nucky isn’t completely satisfied and has an untapped paternal streak. She suggests that they have a child together, and seems to take his demurral at face value. Then she changes the subject thanks to some cream and her cleavage. Lucy’s more effective at recognizing a rival when she encounters Margaret at her knew job at “Le Belle Femme,” and humiliates Margaret in a scene reminiscent of one of Polly Walker’s (literally) naked abuses of power in HBO’s “Rome.”
In this week’s overly obvious “Awww” scene, Margaret’s daughter asks “When’s the baby coming, Mama,” and Margaret replies, “The stork might’ve gotten lost.” (I expect to hear sad violins playing every time the show cuts to the Schroeder house.) Overall, however, things look up for Margaret. True, she has to put up with her new boss, the snooty French shopkeep: “You must bathe at least once a week.” (Who, by the way, is bilingual. Take that, male chauvinist pigs!) But when Margaret gets to try on one of the fancy dresses by herself, she looks in the mirror and shows an appreciation for something fine, as the bruise on her cheek fades.
This week also featured the third funeral procession in a row, following the pilot’s mock-funeral for John Barleycorn and last week’s lavish burial of Big Jim Colosimo. This time we see a livery-driven hearse, but it’s actually filled with whiskey, since Chalky White’s operation has officially taken over for “Mickey Doyle” Kozik. (And Kozik's investors are none too pleased.) When Nucky and Chalky talk about how many watered-down bottles they can get from a pure one, it seems to anticipate cocaine-dealing scenes from “The Wire” when someone discusses “stepping on pure product.” Some viewers find that “Boardwalk Empire” follows gangster conventions too closely for their tastes, and so far, its not as daring with its genre as the most famous HBO or AMC shows. But the historical bootlegging details fascinate me.
After his cameo on the pilot, Michael K. Williams makes a powerful impression as Chalky White, showing a gift for menace, pathos and humor. (“Simon Legree.” “I don’t give a fuck if they agree or not.”) After the lynching of the driver, Nucky insists that Chalky take no further action. Williams’ face is a mask of sorrow, but he still uses the situation to his financial advantage. When Eli shoots the already dead body, we realize that Nucky’s progressive treatment of African-Americans only goes so far.
Eli, incidentally, proves to be better at killing a dead man than a living one, as Van Alden foils his attempt to smother the gut-shot witness. (Is it me, or does the witness’s survival wink at “Pine Barrens,” the fan favorite “Sopranos” episode with the Russian who got away?) Eli also proves jealous of the leeway and attention his brother Nucky grants to Jimmy. Eli may not be as touch as Shea Whigham looks.
It’s an understatement to say that Van Alden, the Fed of Frankenstein, has shortcomings as a caregiver. He springs the witness thanks to an (apparently fake) writ and bundles him into the back of a car. When the witness begins dying en route to New York, Van Alden bustles him into a New Jersey dentist’s office. After the dentist administers cocaine as an “anesthetic,” Van Alden, wearing an expression of terrifying determination, jams his hand into the witness's innards until he gives up Jimmy’s name.
Incidentally, does Van Alden, the Fed of Frankenstein, have an anti-Semitic streak? After the witness expires, he recites lines from what sound like the Book of Revelation about “those who worship the Beast.” He means it as a wages-of-sin-is-death kind of epitaph, but given the witnesses’ Yiddish insult, I wonder if Van Alden would’ve chosen a different verse for a Christian crook. At any rate, it’s probably the scariest Bible reading since Samuel L. Jackson quoted Leviticus in Pulp Fiction.
Nucky orders Jimmy to leave Atlantic City, since the Feds are onto him (not to mention Rothstein and Luciano). So why can’t Jimmy take his wife and son when he skips town, anyway? Is there some kind of rule? Of course, she’s not his wife (although Aleksa Palladino is identified as “Angela Darmody” on Wiki, unless I’ve got the wrong person). Earlier, Jimmy has been seething with jealousy over Angela’s relationship with the naïve but friendly boardwalk photographer — his accusation of infidelity is like a poor imitation of a scene from Raging Bull. Given that Jimmy was a college student with a child out of wedlock when he joined the armed forces, I wonder if he left the country for reasons other than patriotism.
At any rate, his willingness to abandon his wife and son Tommy (named for Nucky Thompson?) make Jimmy even less likable than he was already. As he leaves on the "Broadway Limited," he reads Free Air by Sinclair Lewis. But at least his absence inspires Angela too use the vacuum sweeper to remove the traces of that shabby Christmas tree. She’s no dummy.
Best line: “What’s ‘motherfucker’ mean?” It’s all in the way Buscemi says it.
What is “the arrangement” between Nucky and Jillian? Nucky mentions seeing 10-11 year old Jimmy with his “father,” so does that preclude Nucky from being his biological parent?
What kind of reception will Jimmy get in Chicago?
What exactly is the gonorrhea treatment subject to Luciano? Never mind, I don’t want to know. Forget I said anything.
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