We’re heading round the curve into the home stretch of Boardwalk Empire and the threads that had been dragging somewhat in the past couple episodes have switched gear all of a sudden, so much so I find it impossible not to mix metaphors. By the way **ALL THE SPOILERS OH MY GOODNESS**
So it’s an unfortunate habit for great television, particularly something so character-heavy and time-generous as Boardwalk, to get a little sloppy once the demands of plot take the wheel and the delicate dynamics between our heroes’ desires and fears take a back seat. We’ll get to that, but suffice to say that a couple of the show’s recent decisions are going to take some explaining.
The newly-self-exiled Owen Sleater oversees the import of ten thousand crates of “Feaney’s Irish Oats” wink wink customs was lousy in the Twenties and delivered across Atlantic City. Owen personally brings a crate to the Ritz Carlton, blockaded by the strike commissioned by Chalky and overseen by a recuperating Dunn Purnsley. So that’s happened and there is simmering resentment from the boys in brown, a little nod to news from the #OWS protests? Maybe not. In any case, the booze is sold, Owen is charming and Jimmy has another headache.
Van Alden update: Rose files for divorce. Odd Swedish nanny is still odd, Swedish.
In part one of this week’s Goddammit, Boardwalk Empire, Margaret continues to spiral into a superstitious and helpless husk of the strong, confident and initiative-taking woman she was only weeks ago. She still believes Emily’s polio is God’s punishment for her low morals. Disappointing. She empties out her jewels and cash for the Father Brennan in exchange for ‘a miracle’, though for whom is not specified.
Teddy pretends to have polio to get Margaret’s attention and gets a firm slap for his cruelty. Enter Nucky for the line of the episode: “you were just praying!” Oh, Nucky. Anyhow, Nucky takes Teddy with him to New York to give Margaret some rest and also to pick up a new lawyer because the old one is broken. He meets Arnold Rothstein’s advocate, who has a drawer full of Ty Cobb baseballs and a heart full of judges’ bribes.
Nucky is suitably encouraged, somewhat less so when little Teddy lets slip that the reason he thinks Nucky’s in trouble is because he burned down his father’s house. “Don’t worry dad, I won’t tell” gives Nuck more than sufficient reason to pull his look of confusion. You know the one.
Over in Jimmyland the new grand poobah is having trouble keeping everyone in line. The watered-down, overpriced whisky is sitting idle in the warehouses and Al, Lucky and Lansky are getting antsy about distributing it. For all the air time these guys get, I have less and less of a sense of their motivations, and the days of seeing Al’s deaf son and Lucky’s affair with Gillian seem a long time ago. As does, incidentally, Gillian. Where she at, you guys? JimJim loses his cool and tells them to take their share to their respective towns, and sends Doyle to pay his debt to Manya in second-rate booze. Sound planning.
His meeting with the mayor and the lords of the boardwalk goes just as smoothly. He lobbies to raise the pay of the black workers and get ready for tourist times. They repost that Nucky would have sent in the Klan, and refuse to give a shiny nickel. Eli proposes a Third Way that involves fifty upstanding gents and some blunt instruments.
At the strike, the aforementioned gentlemen arrive to deliver an eloquent discourse on labour relations to Chalky’s men and women. They also make several convincing arguments to Deputy Halloran concerning why he should not discuss certain things with certain federal attorneys.
Later, Eli visits him and subtly implies that things happen for a reason, and he should think very hard about what it was he did that could have caused his predicament. Suitably convinced, he calls Amazing Randolph in probably the only sensible thing he’s done since he put a brown hat on his comically doughy head. After coaching Van Alden’s testimony regarding the Schroeder Case, Awesome Randolph visits Eli in jail and presents him with the option to rat out Nucky in return for hushing up the whole business. Thinky time for Eli!
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Harrow (remember him?) meet up with Chalky and Purnsley to discuss the terms of the strike, stronger than ever after the attack. Chalky wants $3000 for the families of the murdered men from season one and the three klansmen delivered to him personally. After an apologetic rejection, Chalky politely walks out, “Well, That’s the deal. there’ll always be next tourist season, right?” Pobre Jimmy.
Doyle’s meeting with Manya goes as well as could be expected. He wants to know where Jimmy is, and is prepared to beat it out of him. And does. Uh oh.
You may remember Angela starting a relationship with Louise from San Fran a little while back. You may remember her being the best part of several plotlines, and also being the one person who makes Jimmy a human being. She finds Jimmy admiring a guy sunning himself without a care in the world, then tells a joke about “I’ll take you to your room, but you’ll have to take the bath yourself.” It’s a very cute moment, and she leads him to bed. Uh oh.
Night time at the Darmody house. A shadow pushes open the door, a gun in silhouette. Manya. He sneaks up to the bedroom where Angela is asleep and Jimmy is in the shower. He puts his hand round her mouth and points the gun at the figure exiting the bathroom door. He shoots… Louise. Angela rushes to her and begs for her own life. “Your husband did this to you.” He shoots her. Angela is dead. The last scene has Jimmy driving to Princeton, his old Alma Mater.
Now, I don’t want to bang on here, but it will take some arguing to convince me this was what was always planned. The scene feels thrown together, and a lot of effort went into her time with Louise, Harrow and Gillian for what now seems very little payoff. While the story is slamming ahead now, some of the most compelling lines in the show have been relegated or discarded. We shall see, Boardwalk Empire, we shall see.
Two episodes to go, how is this all tying together? Where do you think the show has left to go? Let us know in the comments.