Sunday, October 16, 2011


Boardwalk Empire No. 16: What Does the Bee Do?

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.

By Edward Copeland
Gillian Darmody may well be the most inscrutable character within the Boardwalk Empire. Performing in risqué shows at 13 and then plucked from the dance line by then-Sheriff Nucky Thompson at the behest of the-then fiftysomething Commodore who "ran" Atlantic City at the time, she gave birth to a son who grew up to be Jimmy. During his childhood, she left most of the childrearing to Nucky and other showgirls while she kept performing. Though it seems certain that the Commodore's ex-housekeeper Louanne alone tried to poison the man to death last season, I can't help but believe Gillian had a hand in it somehow (and will we ever learn what message Louanne gave Nucky in that Bible?). Now, she encourages her son to betray Nucky, who merely followed orders in taking her to the Commodore as a girl, and to side with the pedophile who raped her and knocked her up in the first place. She does seem devoted to Jimmy — not every mother would sleep with a dangerous gangster such as Lucky Luciano just so her son could get the drop on him. Then again, perhaps she just wants him to turn on Nucky so he can gain the Commodore's fortune now that he's in his late 70s. Gillian — is she just a woman who loves her family as she said last week or is she someone with larger schemes or just plain revenge on her mind? Gretchen Mol plays Gillian in such a way that any of the answers could be true. Tonight, we get a fuller picture of Gillian. As far as tonight's episode as a whole, if Executive Producer Martin Scorsese were selecting the music for this episode and allowed to be anachronistic, I imagine The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" would be heard somewhere because most characters can't seem to get any.

"What Does the Bee Do?" marks the first time Ed Bianchi has helmed an episode of Boardwalk Empire, coming to the show with a lengthy resume that includes episodes of The Killing, Men of a Certain Age, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street. He adds a lot of nice touches, though misses some obvious opportunities as well and, in some ways, it's the most uneven episode of the season so far. Steve Kornacki, a longtime story editor on the show, penned the episode and provides some great individual scenes.

The show begins with one of Bianchi's particularly good shots as we start overhead on a warehouse bootlegging operation crowded with crates, workers and various equipment as it moves above the scene and we pick up the conversation between Jimmy and Mickey and follow them through an aisle created by the space between high stacks of crates. Jimmy comments on how the operation seems to be barely moving. "Got your friends at the Coast Guard to thank for that," Mickey replies. "They got three ships … the Nina, the Pinta and the Canadian Club." Jimmy says he imagines that Bill McCoy is still crying his eyes out. "On Nucky Thompson's shoulder. What happened to you and Nucky anyway?" Mickey asks. "The business between Nucky and I isn't. You need more space," Jimmy tells him, changing the subject. Mickey says there isn't another garage for 10 miles so Jimmy suggests trying 11 miles out. "By the end of next summer, we'll be the biggest distributor in the northeast," Jimmy promises. The camera has moved to an even level with the men in the corridor now that they've reached the end of the aisle and face each other. "From the tiny acorn grows the mighty elk," Mickey says. "If you had a brain, you'd be dangerous," Jimmy replies, giving Doyle a light tap on his face as he leaves.

The Commodore's eyes are squeezed tightly shut. "I don't like not knowing what's going on," he declares. Offscreen, Gillian's voice says, "That's what makes it fun." As the shot widens, we see that the Commodore is stretched out on a comfy-looking chaise lounge with a drink in his hand while Gillian wears a skimpy, fairy-like costume with a crown on her head and one breast exposed. She turns on some music which the Commodore inquires as to what the hell it is. "It's The Pipes of Pan," she replies as she poses and dances about. "Goddamn cats in a rain barrel," he says in describing what he thinks it sounds like. "Open your eyes — if thou darest," Gillian dares. The Commodore chuckles as he gazes at Gillian's getup. "Ain't you the humdinger?" She continues her dance moves. "Silence, mortal. I am Diana, daughter of Jupiter, and no man may look upon my nakedness as I bathe." Assessing her act, Kaestner assumes this is one of her performances. "You should have come dear — at least once," she tells him. "I never liked the idea of you parading around in front of other men," he admits. "You could have married me," she suggests. The Commodore takes a swig from his drink. "I had a city to run." Gillian says she understands and twirls, telling him that she always has. "But I did have a boy to raise." The Commodore reminds here that they're all together now, aren't they? Gillian tells the Commodore that Jimmy has so much to learn from him and it means so much after all this time. "We're going to take care of you," she promises. The Commodore beckons her mouth and she slips back into Diana mode. "Do you know what happened to the shepherd who spied on the virgin Diana? She turned him into a stag?" she tells him, posing like a statue. "He tried to run away but his own hound," she emphasizes each word with a claw-like scratch of her hand in the air, "tore — him — to — pieces." The Commodore says, "Get your ass over here." Gillian completely disrobes and tells him to prepare for the punishment as she brings out a bow and arrow. She fire the toy arrow which sort of bounces off him, but the Commodore doesn't seem to react. "Louis," she calls out. She goes over to him. He's shaking, including the glass in his hand. "Louis. Louis." As she repeatedly says his name, it begins to echo as the first line of the following scene bleeds in and we hear a child's voice sing, "What does the bee do?"

The child's voice belongs to Emily Schroeder who is reciting a slightly revised version of the classic children's poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti for her mother, brother Teddy and Katy at the table in the covered garden at Nucky's Margate estate. Picking up from the first line we heard, "Bring home honey./What does Father do?/Bring home money./What does Mother do?/Lay out the money./What do children do?/Eat up the honey." Teddy, Margaret and Kay applaud when Emily finishes just as Nucky arrives. He kisses Margaret good morning and the kids say in unison, "Good morning, Uncle Nucky." When Katy asks if he would like breakfast, he declines and says he won't be home for dinner either because of Mayor Bader's birthday dinner. A knock on the door is followed by the entrance of Owen Sleater, who once again flirts with Katy. Nucky tells Margaret that Owen serves as his driver now. After everyone has departed except for Margaret and Nucky, she asks him if he doesn't find Owen "a little cheeky." Nucky asks her to remind him what that means. "Impertinent," she answers. "He's serving a purpose," Nucky tells her while counting out bills in her hand. He gives her some for household expenses with a little extra for the staff. Margaret doesn't understand why they should, especially right now. "Two dollars extra a piece. It means no difference to us, but to them it's a windfall," Nucky says. "You do realize they steal from us — it's what servants do," she tells him. It reminds me of the many times Tony and Silvio had similar talks on The Sopranos. "It's what everyone does," Nucky says. "We pretend not to notice and life goes on." With a bit of a whine in her voice, Margaret complains that no one gave her a bonus when she worked in service. "All the more reason to be generous now," Nucky tells her as he kisses her goodbye for the day.

Back in his home for the first time in weeks for a home-cooked breakfast, Chalky asks Lenore if she has any more eggs. His wife informs him that he's already had at least half-a-dozen. His youngest child, daughter Adeline (Skai Jackson), thrilled to see her father again, shrieks, "Daddy" and runs to him. "There's my little sweet pea," Chalky says as he hugs and kisses her. His teen daughter Maybelle (Christina Jackson) enters right behind and asks her dad when he got back home. Chalky, still addressing his littlest one, "Last night, after your bedtime. Crept in like the sandman." The little girl asks Chalky if he'd check her homework for her. Obviously, not all members of his family are privy to the fact that Chalky can't read. His talented piano-playing, college-bound son Lester (Justiin Davis) says with some sarcasm, "You askin' Daddy?" Chalky tells Adeline that she let her mother do that. He looks at Lester. "Your brother know I'm too strict." His son shrugs and says, "If you say so." From the other end of the table, Lenore warns Lester, "Don't toy with your father." Chalky pats Lester on the hand. "He know who bring home the bacon," Lester insists before turning his attention to Maybelle. "How my princess doing?" Maybelle asks Lenore if she asked him. "Ask me what?" Chalky asks. "Mama invited Samuel over for dinner tomorrow evening," Maybelle informs her father. "Did ya now?" Chalky says. "We did discuss this. If a young lady is being courted, it needs to be in a respectable manner," Lenore insists. Maybelle tells her dad that Samuel plans to study medicine. "Hmm. Educated buck. I suppose it'll be alright. Dinner with all the fixins," Chalky declares before turning to Lester. "I been cravin’ Hoppin’ John since the moon was blue."

Richard comes by the beachhouse looking for Jimmy and Angela tells him she thought he was with him, mentioning a late night call from Gillian and his quick departure. Richard asks if everything was OK, but Angela says he never tells her anything, not even about this business with Nucky. "I saw (Nucky) on the Boardwalk. He wouldn't even look at me," she tells him as she finishes hanging her latest painting. Richard calls it "very bold" and mentions that there was an artist he saw in Paris who did very stark cityscapes without people. "de Chirico?" she asks, but Harrow doesn't know. "He also did figures that looked liked mannequins." Richard tells her he used to draw when he was a child and found it to be very relaxing. "It can be. It can also be maddening. Took me years to be able to draw hands," Angela replies. She then asks if Richard has ever sat for a drawing.

The Commodore lies in his bed with Dr. Surran (Kevin Henderson), Gillian, Jimmy and Eli gathered around him. "It's apoplexy — a stroke. His entire right side is paralyzed," Surran informs them. Gillian tells the doctor he can eat but hasn't been able to talk. "Was he agitated? Overexcited in any way?" the doctor asks. Diana — I mean Gillian — insists she found him in that condition. Jimmy suggests his father should be in a hospital. "No! No one can care for him like his family," Gillian says adamantly. The Commodore motions to Eli with a finger on his still-working left hand. "What do you want to say?" Eli asks as he bends as close to the infirmed's mouth as he can, but all Louis can get out are sounds similar to "cock" and "fuck." The doctor tells them that should be all for now and that they should let the Commodore rest. The door from the bedroom to the hallway forcefully swings open as Eli storms out. "Jesus Christ, he's a fucking vegetable," he shouts. Gillian tells him to keep his voice down. "What are we going to do now?" Jimmy asks. Gillian maintains that he will be fine while Eli and Jimmy talk over one another with their concerns, Eli preoccupied that Nucky will have the upper hand since the Commodore has all the political connections and Jimmy concerned that Dr. Surran didn't say recovery was likely and he still thinks he should be in a hospital. Finally, Gillian has had enough of them yelling over one another. "Stop it right now! The both of you!" she yells. "Now you listen to me. I didn't spend my life getting groped by a bunch of drunks to wind up in a goddamned poorhouse!" At last, some of the deep, buried Gillian rises to the surface. "I've got eight kids, Gillian," Eli says. "Jimmy and I are well aware of that," she responds rather unsympathetically. "Jimmy and you — that's it exactly. The two of you and — him. Not exactly normal. Never was," Eli declares. "It's normal to me and to my son and to his father. It suited you, didn't it? Up until this morning," Gillian fires back before leaving the hall for the grand living room where the men follow her. "Up until this morning, the man with the clout wasn't drooling into his pajamas," Eli states. "You have a cruel streak, Eli. That's not an attractive quality," she tells him. "He can't even talk," Eli says. "Louis is unwell," Gillian understates. "He's going to recover. It's all going to work out." Jimmy has remained quiet during Eli and Gillian's arguing and now that they're in the big room, he stands, stroking the stuffed leopard. "How the fuck would you know?" Eli asks Gillian. "Because Jimmy will handle it," she replies. "We're in for 70 grand to his cronies," Eli reminds them. "We'll get paid back when we unload the booze," Jimmy says, finally joining the conversation. Eli asks him what he is waiting for and Jimmy tells him that right now the town is flush. "Then sell out of town — New York, Philadelphia," Eli suggests. "You want to give me names, addresses or should I just go door to door?" Jimmy asks sarcastically. "Why ask me? You both got it all worked out, right?" Eli answers as he storms out of the mansion. "Maybe this wasn't the best idea — letting Eli see him like that," Jimmy tells his mother. Gillian, back in sweet mode, approaches her son. "I'm sorry if I seemed somewhat heated. It's a difficult time for both of us." Gillian then plants a kiss on her son that seems somewhat more than motherly and Jimmy might think so too, given the strange reaction that registers on his face afterward.

Nucky, Eddie, Flemming and Bill McCoy walk from the Boardwalk into the Ritz Carlton as Nucky dictates orders to Eddie about Bader's birthday bash. It's filmed mostly as one continuous tracking shot. Eddie asks about dancing girls. "Wouldn't be much of a party without them," Flemming comments. Since Damian spoke up, Nucky gives him that assignment. Eddie asks how old Bader is. "Fuck if I know. What's the difference?" Nucky responds. "The candles on the cake," Eddie says. Nucky tells him not to make a production of it as the foursome board the elevator. "He is the mayor of Atlantic City," Eddie justifies. "But he's not the prince of Wales," Nucky replies as the elevator doors shut. When they disembark on the floor where Nucky's office is, Thompson tells Eddie to get Arnold Rothstein on the phone.

Rothstein sits at his dining room table eating when his wife Carolyn (Jennifer Ferrin) comes in and informs him that "a Nucky Thompson is on the phone." She then asks him how his stomach is doing. "It's still a little tentative," Rothstein replies. "Too much apple bread," Carolyn assesses. Rothstein chuckles and says, "It has a binding effect." His wife asks if that's the best thing for him right now. "Sound elimination is the basis of good health," he tells her. Rothstein picks up the phone, covers the mouthpiece and clears his throat. He practices saying, "Mr. Thompson" before saying it into the phone for real. The sequence that follows, so soon after that simple and short but well-executed tracking shot into the Ritz, puzzles me in its direction and editing. Granted, phone calls never turn out to be the easiest scenes to film but this sequence bounces back and forth between Atlantic City and New York nearly after each line at times — almost inducing whiplash. If ever something screamed for the use of a split screen, this did and that's how I'm laying it out.

ROTHSTEIN: Mr. Thompson, to what do I owe this pleasure?
NUCKY: A change in my circumstances which I'm sure you've already heard.
ROTHSTEIN: Are we discussing a problem or a proposition?
NUCKY: Depends which side of the phone you're on. I need a port to land some cargo.

ROTHSTEIN:: I was under the impression Atlantic City was aptly named.
NUCKY: Coast Guard's locked me down. I can't land a mackerel.
ROTHSTEIN:: Well, I have an import operation in Montauk.
NUCKY: (to Bill McCoy) Long Island? (McCoy shakes his head no. Nucky returns to phone.) Too far. What about Philadelphia?
ROTHSTEIN: We'd have to cut in Waxey Gordon.
NUCKY: (looking upward and annoyed) I'm listening.
ROTHSTEIN: There's my 20 percent and I'll convince Waxey that 20 percent is a fair price also.
NUCKY: That's a pretty penny, Arnold.
ROTHSTEIN: Of course, my cut includes men to oversee the operation. You remember Mr. Luciano?
NUCKY: I do.
ROTHSTEIN: Then it's settled. Direct your ships to Philly. Let me know the details.

During that short phone call, the scene switched between four scenes from Nucky's Atlantic City point of view and four from Rothstein's N.Y. P.O.V., with half of those starting with Nucky's "pretty penny" line. After the final New York shot when Rothstein hangs up, we return to Nucky's office. "You've got a new port of call," he tells McCoy. "I can feel the brotherly love already," McCoy says.

At a small church, most of the seats have been filled by members of the African-American community getting their first opportunity to speak with Chalky since his release from jail. Chalky sits on the stage between Deacon Cuffy (Franklin Ojeda Smith), whom viewers might recall as the minister from last season's "Paris Green" episode who was performing baptisms at the river when Van Alden dropped by and drowned Agent Sebso, and another man who stands to introduce Chalky. The man named Wilfred Bowman (Tyrone Michael Henderson) thanks Chalky for joining them. "We know how busy he is and how hard he works for our community," Bowman says. Bowman starts to go into how this is an unofficial meeting and they won't be following strict parliamentary procedure and asks the attendees to just raise their hands, but Chalky quiets him and Bowman finally sits and lets Chalky take the floor. "Now, I know you all got your beefs and various complaints. I hear an earful over the past weeks I've been in jail," Chalky tells them, inciting laughs. "But I'm back now and everybody know my door always open." Only two questions come Chalky's way. One from an older woman, Mrs. Adinah Mayhew (Marilyn Berry), complaining about noisy neighbors and parties with ragtime music, and Travis Elkins (Rege Lewis), a second-shift kitchen worker at the Ritz who spends 12 hours on his feet, gets one meal "that ain't fit for a dog tied to a stake post" and has various things such as broken dishes and washing for aprons taken out of his meager wages. Chalky promises Mrs. Mayhew that he'll stop her problem and tells Travis that he will look into the situation at the Ritz. When no one else seems to be raising their hands, Chalky says to enjoy the refreshments and starts to leave. As he steps off the stage, a woman named Henny Walker (DeWanda Wise) stands up. "What about my husband? Those white men cut his throat while he loadin' your trucks with your illegal liquor," she says accusingly to a stunned Chalky. Deacon Cuffy calls for "moderation in the Lord's house." Henny extends her hand in the stop motion. "What bein' done about that?" she asks Chalky directly. "It'll be looked after, I promise," he replies, still taken aback. "You promise, you promise," Henny mocks him. A slightly plump woman, Cora Wiggins (Sidné Anderson), rises in the front row directly next to where Chalky stands and says, "My son is dead." Near the back of the small church, Delia Hancock (Linda Thompson Williams) stands and announces, "I buried the father of my three children." A few rows behind Henny Walker, Aphra Tyson (Nneoma Nkuku) gets up and tells the crowd, "They bring my man home rolled up in a wash bucket." Chalky looks mortified, having never been attacked by members of his own community like this before. "I said it will be taken care of," Chalky insists. "When? How?" Cora wants to know. Wilfred tries to calm the situation, urging order, but to no avail. "Did anybody put you in charge?" Henny asks Chalky. "You walk around takin' a bite off everybody's plate. Don't give nothin' back except at the summer clambake and a Christmas turkey." Another great scene for Michael Kenneth Williams, since we've never seen Chalky shaken by being called out by his community. In this season so far, the show has set up a real parallel between Chalky and Nucky as powerful men whose leadership is being questioned. There hasn't been the creation of any rival African Americans to set up someone trying to usurp Chalky's place, but I wonder if that is coming.

The prohibition agents, still working out of the Post Office, record cash taken in various establishments busted for selling liquor: $422 from the Continental Tea Garden, $216 from Margot's Oyster House. Agent Clarkson offers to tag the cash with currency stamps for Van Alden, but he declines, telling the other agent to finish his affidavits for the next day's search warrants. Van Alden tosses the cash into a safe and informs Clark and Sawicki, "I'll be in the WC." After Nelson exits, Clarkson returns to his desk next to Sawicki's. "According to The New York Herald, half of prohibition agents accept bribes or engage in some other form of illegal activity," Clarkson tells Sawicki who doesn't want to hear it. "Come on Stan, you don't notice anything strange about him?" Clarkson asks referring to Van Alden. "Where do I start?" Sawicki replies. "I'm not talking personal habits. A few weeks back…I spot him with another fella in a derby. It was suspicious. He didn't see me, so I tailed him," Clarkson shares. "You tailed our boss!" Sawicki says. "They went off to a barn. Trucks were coming and going, the smell of alcohol was in the air. It was a bootlegging operation. I'll tell the world," Clarkson promises. Sawicki suggests that Van Alden was waiting for the right time to bring them in and make the agency's move. Clarkson reminds him that it was a month ago. The two junior agents clam up as Van Alden returns and slams a book down on his desk. "Heads will roll, gentlemen," Van Alden growls. "Someone scribbled an obscenity on the water closet wall." He did hide the cash Jimmy mailed Angela last year from Chicago. Clarkson's intuition may be correct, just wrong in what Van Alden is doing. Nelson has to be getting that cash to pay Lucy each month, rent that house and buy tips from Mickey from somewhere.

Margaret gathers Katy, Lillian and Pauline in the kitchen and explains that recent events have made it necessary for the family to scale back in an effort to conserve financially. "Are we being sacked, ma'am?" Katy asks. Margaret reassures them that isn't the case, though they've considered an across-the-board cut. Pauline tells her that her husband hasn't been able to find work and Lillian adds that she's the sole support of a crippled brother. "I'm sure you all have hardships which we've taken into consideration," Margaret says. "You'll each find an extra two dollars in your pay this week." Katy asks if it's only for this week. Margaret confirms it is as a bonus and then tells them a thank you is customary. Pauline gives a weak thank you, but Margaret can tell that they all were expecting something else so she urges that they come out with it. It turns out that a few weeks back, Nucky came in drunk one night and promised that they all would be getting a raise. "Well, it's a special kind of fool who relies on the promise of a drunkard," Margaret tells them with a cruel tone before sending them back to work.

In Philadelphia, Jimmy, Richard and Mickey enter a butcher shop. "We made it," Mickey announces. "Manny Horvitz, this is the fella I called about, Jimmy Darmody." In the middle of cutting some meat, Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe) says, "This is Darmody? Oi — he's just a baby." As far as I can tell, Horvitz actually is a fictional creation. "Thought you liked 'em young, Manny," Mickey jokes. "If you're talking veal, yes, but when it comes to business…" Horvitz replies. Jimmy tells Horvitz, "It's nice to meet you" in Yiddish. "You speak Yiddish?" a surprised Horvitz asks. "That's all I know," Jimmy admits. "Still, you make an effort. I'm impressed. Already I feel this is going well," Horvitz comments. He points at Harrow with his carving knife. "This man looks interesting." Jimmy introduces Richard. "What happened to you?" Horvitz inquires. "I put my nose where it didn't belong," Richard answers, unleashing a rich and hearty laugh in Manny. "You're funny, he's a sweetheart and Mickey — he's a goyim from way back when," Horvitz says. He turns to the tall man in the suit who has sat in silence in the store. "Chayem, introduce yourself." The man (Solomon Shiv) stands and shakes hands. "Kaufman. Herman Kaufman." Jimmy decides to get down to business. "So what's your pleasure, Mr. Horvitz?" he asks. "Call me Munya or Manny. My pleasure — I got a daughter — she's an angel. My wife — her ankles got thick, but I love her anyway. And Waxey Gordon is a cocksucking piece of shit," Manny answers. "Why's that?" Jimmy inquires. "He's a greedy prick with his hand in my ass pocket where my wallet should be," Manny replies. "We hear you're flush with hooch," Kaufman speaks up. Jimmy confirms that's true. "How'd you like to make some dough?" Manny asks. "We didn't come to Philly for the brisket," Mickey says. "You got liquor, we got money. You see where I'm drivin'?" Jimmy tells Manny that he needs cash up front. Horvitz asks him to consider that he's got restaurants and 30 or 40 speaks. "About 10 blocks or so in Jew-town, Weikel off Somerset. It's a nice opportunity," Manny dangles the possibilities. "We do 100 cases a week — build our business from there," Kaufman adds. "And we stick it right up Waxey's tuchus," Manny smiles. Jimmy stands by $5,000 in advance, but pledges delivery the next night. They shake on the deal. "But just so we're clear, my freezer is full of pieces of fellas who tried to fuck me over," Manny tells Jimmy. "I just got creamsicles in mine," Jimmy responds, saying that Richard will contact him with details.

In another nice directorial flourish, we begin with an overhead shot of a crowd swarming a man for autographs. As the camera moves to ground level, we see that we are outside the entrance to the Ritz Carlton and Nucky's Democratic pal Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague (Chris Mulkey) tells the crowd that the champ has had enough and takes him into the hotel. As the two men enter the Ritz, the camera scales the hotel so we see the Ritz Carlton sign that hangs higher on the building and enter the room where Bader's birthday bash is well under its debauched way. Among the guests are Nucky's lawyer Issac Ginsburg, Ernie Moran, Damian Flemming and a bevy of hookers equipped with whips, one of whom is currently punishing the birthday boy. In a nice touch, we get to hear Anthony Laciura aka Eddie share his talent as an operatic tenor. The hooker who currently has Bader bent over removes his blindfold as a cake appears before him and he's asked to make a wish. "I already got mine," Bader says as he blows out the candle. Hague and his guest enter the suite. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were in the middle of a city council meeting," Hague jokes. "Jesus, is that who I think it is?" Bader asks as his jaw drops. "Jesus wouldn't last a round," Nucky declares as he shakes the man's hand. "Jack Dempsey, say hello to our esteemed mayor, Edward Bader." Dempsey (Devin Harjes) shakes Bader's hand and wishes him a happy birthday. "He needed you a minute ago when they were beating the tar out of him," Moran interjects. "I wouldn't take on any of these girls, that's for sure," Dempsey says. "And if you would, you'd do it in Jersey City," Hague comments. Flemming makes a joke about the odorous nature of Jersey City which the heavyweight champ agrees with, citing the sewage plant. Nucky suggests coming to Atlantic City to train for their fresh sea air, morning runs on the beach and, pointing to the women, "our other natural resources." One of the hookers, Alice (Megan Sikora), speaks up, "Sorry hon, but we ain't homegrown." Damian explains that these were the girls he shipped in from Philadelphia for the election. "She's responsible for a thousand Republican votes single-handedly," Damian boasts. "Except it wasn't my hands I was using," Alice adds. Something he heard prompts Ginsburg to dump the working girl from his lap and rush to Nucky, telling him he needs to speak to his lawyer immediately. They adjourn to the adjoining bedroom and Eddie shuts the door behind them. "What's wrong?" Nucky asks with a sigh. "Wrong? I just figured out a way to have your case dismissed. Moving whores across state lines — that's a federal charge."

"Bureau of Internal Revenue Special Agent Van Alden," Nelson answers the phone. Rose is on the other end, in quite a state, worried about her husband. She tells him she called his boardinghouse five times the night before. "That seems excessive," Nelson says. "They said you no longer live there," she replies. Van Alden assures her that that is ridiculous and asks who she spoke to at the boardinghouse. Rose can't recall the name but believes it was a Greek gentleman. Nelson tells her that it's ridiculous and he'll get to the bottom of it, but at the moment he's busy with agency matters. "I was very frightened that something happened," Rose cries. Nelson continues to try to end the call, even as Rose tells him how lonely she is and how she doesn't like the way he sounds.

Nucky meets Chalky at Chalky's house where Chalky nurses a scotch — and it doesn't appear to be his first of the day. Nucky assures him that they are making progress, slowly but surely. "That won't cut it with four of my boys in unmarked graves," Chalky says. "Their families will be compensated," Nucky tells him. "It ain't about money, Nucky — it's about revenge on those ghost-riding motherfuckers." Nucky tells him he needs to sit tight with that, causing Chalky to stand. "Been sittin' tight. My ass sore," he replies. Nucky suggests that his silk cushions could help with that. "You keep makin' this about money," Chalky says. "It's always about money," Nucky tells him, reminding him how much Ginsburg had to pay to get him out of jail since Chalky's lawyer was inept. "I'm not sayin' thank you," Chalky promises. Nucky rises as he prepares to leave. "You can thank me by being a good boy. I gave you my word. Now save your strength. Enjoy your family," Nucky suggests. "How am I supposed to do that? I got four other families waitin' on me for justice," Chalky says, his anger welling. "You're not the only one looking to settle scores," Nucky tells him as he leaves.

Flemming takes Alice and another hooker to State Attorney Bishop where they give sworn affidavits about Nucky bringing them from Philadelphia to service sexually labor leaders and others in exchange for votes. "The charges keep piling up," Bishop says. "It's not like he don't have it comin'," Damian responds as if he really meant it.

Angela only had to ask him once and Richard now sits in a chair in front of a window facing the beach so she can sketch him. He notices the framed wedding photo of Jimmy and Angela and asks, "Does he love you?" Angela pauses, then responds, "There's love and then there is everything else." Harrow bashfully inquires if he's allowed to talk while she's sketching him. "It doesn't hinder me," she says. The sequence marks another one with interesting choices in this episode, choosing at various times to focus on various parts of Richard — his eyes behind his glasses, his mouth and moustache, his hands. "Have you ever been in love?" Angela inquires. "Not in the sense that you mean," Richard replies. He tells Angela about his twin sister Emma. They grew up on a farm in Plover, Wisc., and since there weren't other children their age, they became each other's closest companion. "Inseparable," Angela comments. Harrow tells Angela how they milked cows, baled hay, fished and ate. Emma taught him how to cook, he says. Angela calls their relationship "sweet." "Whatever love is, that is what I felt for Emma," Richard shares. Angela asks him if he visits her often and Harrow's mood noticeably darkens. "When I came back from the war, she nursed me, gave me morphine to keep the pain at bay. Despite my injuries, she treated me no different — I was her brother, the closest person in her life, but suddenly, I felt different toward her. I'd stare at her and feel nothing. I lost whatever I thought love was. When my wounds healed, I moved to Chicago to get lost there. I haven't spoken to her since," he tells Angela, who tries not to look stunned. Harrow then turns his head and removes his mask, placing it on his leg and looking at it. He finally turns and shows Angela his disfigured visage. Angela doesn't react other than to get a fresh piece of sketch paper and start a new drawing. Jack Huston truly was such a find last season and this is the best chance he's been given to shine this year, though he gets another great one next week. At the same time, it's part of the reason this episode seems so uneven. Most episodes of Boardwalk Empire tend to have a more consistent tone if not a theme, but while no scenes stink up the place, the episode fails to feel cohesive. For just one example, you have Jimmy worrying about the Commodore's health one minute, then he's in Philadelphia where the show introduces William Forysthe as a colorful, scene-stealing character for him to meet. Only Chalky has a consistent arc from start to finish in this episode.

Sleater explains how a bomb he and his comrades helped build destroyed a police constabulary in Tipperary and when they cleared the rubble, they found the bodies of 12 Black and Tans, "one had no head," Owen adds. "For the cause," Nucky says as he stands next to Flemming watching Sleater construct an explosive. "A message for the crimes. After that, it was our mission to execute a bombing a week," Sleater tells them as he asks Damian to hand him some wires. Owen describes the components of the bomb, how they prefer using gelignite which unlike dynamite, doesn't sweat "like he is now," Sleater says pointing to Flemming, which makes it more stable for transport. Owen asks Flemming to give him the blasting caps, which he attaches. "Someone is going out of business tonight," Sleater announces. "Mickey Doyle," Nucky says. "There ya go," Owen declares as he pretends to toss the device to Damian who freaks out but gives Sleater a good laugh.

Luciano annoys Lansky by hauling in a bunch of stolen watches to the office behind the card game. "I wish you'd stop this. What does this make us look like?" Meyer asks. "Guys who know what time it is," Lucky responds. "Might as well have a pushcart." Benny comes in, looking nervous. "Arnold Rothstein's here," he says. "We're talking, Benny," Meyer tells him, either disbelieving him or not listening. "So I should tell him go fuck a duck?" Benny asks. "Enough with the crazy shit already, huh?" Luciano says then Meyer sees through the window that Rothstein indeed is there. They hurriedly try to clear things off the desk. "Bring him in before he breaks the house," Meyer tells Benny. Rothstein enters the back office. Lansky asks him if he wants to sit in on the game. "You know you're always welcome," Lucky says. "I'm afraid those sharps out there would fleece me," Rothstein replies as he waits for Benny to exit. "Owing to his present difficulties, I've made a deal with Nucky Thompson. He'll be off-loading his liquor shipments in Philadelphia. Waxey Gordon will ensure safe passage. The route to Atlantic City will be my responsibility," Rothstein informs them. "And you'd like us to recruit the muscle," Lansky guesses. "I'd like you to be the muscle," Rothstein responds. Lansky and Luciano shoot each other nervous glances. Lucky says they have some business going on at the moment. "Mr. Thompson is paying me a premium," Rothstein tells his soldiers. Luciano, determined to get out of this duty, argues that anyone can ride shotgun. "Until you encounter Indians," Rothstein replies. Lansky attempts the diplomatic approach, telling him how honored they are that he'd come below 14th Street to tell them in person. Rothstein lets them know that he happened to be downtown having dinner with Joe Masseria "who left me with the distinct impression that he'd still like to see both of you dead." That Luciano anger bubbles up. "You broke bread with that prick?" Rothstein approaches Lucky. "We were served that native dish of tripe, which I cannot abide, but I ate it anyway to keep the peace," Rothstein says as he places both hands on Lucky's shoulders. "Sometimes Charlie, you just have to swallow." He pats his shoulders and exits.

The evening for Maybelle White's beau Samuel Crawford (Ty Michael Robinson) to join the White family for dinner has arrived and unfortunately for Samuel, Maybelle and the entire White clan, it has coincided with the day Chalky got upbraided by members of his community and spent the majority of his time since swimming in scotch. Needless to say, it isn't a happy bender that Chalky's on either. Lenore invites Samuel to lead the table in grace and everyone takes the hand of the person seated next to them except for Chalky who just stares into space. As Samuel begins his prayer, Chalky's stare zeroes in on the main dish. "Is that a duck?" Chalky asks. "Yes, Albert. Of course, it is," Lenore replies. "I thought I asked for Hoppin' John," Chalky says. Lenore tries to quiet her husband so Samuel can complete saying grace. "I asked a question. Where's the damn Hoppin' John?" Chalky slurs. "Albert, that's not proper food for a guest. Let's let Samuel finish," Lenore says. "Maybe our guest would have liked some." Maybelle's boyfriend, feeling even more awkward than a beau meeting his girl's family for the first time would be normally, tries to calm the situation by saying, "I have always enjoyed that type of food." It doesn't help since Chalky turns his gaze on Samuel and asks, "What type of food?" Samuel tells Chalky that his grandma would make it. "I say something funny, son?" Chalky asks Samuel. "Beg your pardon?" the puzzled guest responds. "You're laughin'. What's the joke?" Chalky wants to know. "Hoppin' Johns, Albert. You're being ridiculous," Lenore tells her husband. "I've been eatin' rice and beans all my life. Don't tell me it's not good enough," an angrier and drunker Chalky shouts. "You'll have to forgive my husband's country ways," Lenore says to Samuel, who responds that he understands completely. Chalky slams his fist on the table. "It's my house and my country ways put the food on this goddamn table!" Lenore possesses the glare now. "Albert, you're drunk." Chalky notices that Maybelle has begun to cry. "Sir, I apologize. I'll leave," Samuel offers. "Stay right where you are son," Chalky tells him. "Right there — inside the house. It's pretty clear who the field nigger here is." Chalky gets up and leaves the table.

Angela tells Richard she's almost finished. Day has stretched into night in this sketching session. She shows the drawing to him and he asks if he can buy it but she refuses any money, telling him that he can keep it. Jimmy comes in carrying a sleeping Tommy over his shoulder. He tells them that he fell asleep on the Ferris wheel and he's going to put the boy to bed. When Jimmy returns, he reminds Richard that they have to go to Philly the next day to make that delivery. Harrow excuses himself and says goodnight. "He sat for you?" Jimmy asks. "That so surprising?" Angela replies. "Don't know. Not really sure what goes on inside his head," he admits.

Margaret looks over the headline announcing the new charges against Nucky. She isn't as delighted by the news as Nucky is. "Surely, it's nothing to be proud of," she says. Nucky explains that it's a means to an end. It's a violation of the Mann Act which is a federal charge. Which means Attorney General Daugherty could help, Margaret says. Nucky welcomes her understanding of the move and reassures her that he had no relations with the women, if that concerns her. Margaret tells Nucky she needs $100 for clothing for the children. Thompson hands it over and Margaret announces she's going to bed.

Agents Clarkson and Sawicki drive out at night to that barn Clarkson told Sawicki about. "If it's what you think it is, Van Alden will have our heads," Sawicki says. "Then we'll arrest him too," Clarkson vows. When they get out of their car, Clarkson asks Sawicki if he can't smell the alcohol in the air. He suggests that Sawicki go around back while he takes the front. Before Sawicki even gets to the back of Mickey Doyle's building, the bomb Sleater planted explodes sending Clarkson flying. Sawicki runs back and puts out the flames on his fellow agent whose flesh has been seared away. Sawicki picks up Clarkson and carries him from the scene.

When Margaret goes upstairs, she places the $100 Nucky gave her for clothes into an envelope thick with cash and places it under a false panel at the bottom of her jewelry case. Margaret's mood has darkened of late, especially after Katy guessed that she might be someone else. Is she keeping a stash such as Annabelle advised her to do last year?

As Samuel and most of the White family stand around the piano listening to Lester display his talents, a still seething Chalky carves on a long wooden stick in a shack behind the house.

Gillian gets the Commodore to take the last bit of his food. After she puts his spoon and dinner down, she takes a big swig of a drink. "Do you remember when we met?" she asks the man who can't answer. "I'll never forget your smile. Jimmy, sometimes I look at him and I see you. That first night when you plied me with wine — I never felt such a sensation. You were downstairs and I'd fallen asleep on the divan when you carried me to the bedroom, went to say goodnight to your guests and I lay there in bed, dreaming of the waves. I'd been on the beach that day. Suddenly, I felt a crushing feeling. I couldn't breathe. I opened my eyes to find you atop me, your breath smelling of whiskey and tobacco, one hand covering my mouth, the other groping me. Do you remember that?" The Commodore appears to be trying to get some words out. "Still, sometimes when I sleep, it wakes me with a start. Do you remember that?" It still looks as if he's trying to speak. Gillian suddenly slaps him — and hard. "I asked you a question." Even with half his face paralyzed, the Commodore registers shock. Gillian slaps him again — and again. She stands and continues to slap the immobilized old man. If nothing else, I believe this episode has made Gillian's intentions clear.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Follow edcopeland on Twitter

 Subscribe in a reader