Boardwalk Empire' Recap: L'Shana Tova Nucky, Margaret's mind takes flight, some thoughts
By April MacIntyre Sep 17, 2012, 13:53 GMT
Actor Michael Pitt left big shoes, and Bobby Cannavale has stepped up to the plate and knocked his character and all that he portends for Nucky right outta the park.
"Boardwalk Empire" returned to HBO in larger than life gangster style, as Nucky's completely rounded out nature is revealed: A man whose intelligence and facile mind is further emboldened by surviving legal scare and payback retribution in the Prohibition wars.
He's bad, but like any well-scripted baddie we see flashes of humanity that are redemptive, to a point.
Nucky's (Steve Buscemi) got himself a side piece of tail like any power player would. Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) is firmly "the wife" now, and all the passive aggressive behaviors (the land donation) that Nucky had to suck up are now manifested in to his infidelities. Margaret is a political and social climber, and she certainly knows about Nucky's nature and asks no questions.
But will she be the 1920s version of Carmela Soprano, or a breakout femme fatale and fly off with her handsome Irish lover, Owen Sleater (Charlie Cox), who still burns for her?
This season is a delicious new stew of players to soften Darmody's void, a death I still shed a tear over when I reminisce. Actor Michael Pitt left big shoes, and Bobby Cannavale has stepped up to the plate and knocked his character and all that he portends for Nucky right outta the park.
Gyp Rosetti is a thin-skinned Sicilian gangster with a volatile nature that kills first and asks no questions later. He reminds me of Scorsese-penned heavy and he blazes on to the scene in the opening scene, a hapless do-gooder tries to assist Gyp's driver with a repair only to be laid to waste for the egregious error of making Rosetti feel stupid when he asks what "3-in1" is. The guy fixes the rusted lug nut for him, only to be paid back with a tire iron to the face repeatedly until dead.
Meanwhile, Nucky relishes his big man in AC role to a fault, overseeing an execution-style murder after a preamble about breakfast, kids and the nature of certain vocations. But make no mistake; his relationship with Margaret has withered to the point of borderline contempt for her brazen move of giving away his assets to the church and hospital. Nucky's been played and he will now find pleasure with singer Billie Kent (Meg Steedle).
Margaret is uncomfortable still as the well-heeled Mrs. Thompson -- she hides it well and does her wifely duties with organizing elaborate parties, but one administrative doctor's careless remark at her King Tut New Year's party over Margaret’s inquiry for a beefed up women's health program for the hospital she is a benefactor of was interesting. The man scolds her in front of Nucky not realizing it was Margaret who controlled that generous purse string for his benefit. I would have loved for Margaret to square off with the officious hospital official and set him straight on never disrespecting her, but hopefully she will get him back somehow.
All of this rampant sexism and being marginalized in a man's world has made Margaret obsess a bit over Aviatrix Carrie Duncan, an Amelia Earhart-styled daring female pilot, the obvious metaphor for Margaret's yearning to be taken seriously and accomplish something significant of her own doing, not supplicant to a man.
Back to Darmody. His absence is acute- yet no one speaks of it. Mother/lover Gillian (Gretchen Mol) - ever the survivor - has taken over the maternal role for his son Tommy and runs a high-class brothel called the Artemis Club, with Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) in place as their "caretaker."
Another favorite, Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe), was gunned down New Years Eve by Harrow in an act of retribution for Angela's death, whom Harrow loved. We will miss Manny Horvitz's larger than life character as he and boychik Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) were a good team together in this bathtub Gin mix of players.
Harrow also is doing his best to keep the memory alive of Angela and Jimmy for his young charge, to Gillian's discomfort. In her classic sweet mouthed way she lets Harrow know her rules and wishes are the law in her home and business, in her attempt to keep Harrow on a short leash.
We are anxious to see Harlem Kingpin Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams), whose story arc is an insightful glimpse into the making of the east coast African American elite in this country. His kids will not have his hardscrabble experience and will be educated, enlightened and powerful for generations to come.
The metamorphosis of former Fed Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) sees his alias Mueller, an earnest door to door iron salesman. He has a tenuous grip on sanity and has married the Dutch nanny, concocting some sort of God sanctioned semblance of what a family should look and act like. His energy is chilling in many regards, and how his character may be inadvertently drawn into the gang life was a clever move on the writers' part.
Meanwhile in Chicago, Capone (Stephen Graham) and Torrio are warring with the Irish of the north side. This is where Van Alden unexpectedly saves the neck of a nearly whacked rival of Capone, and picks up the cues to act the heavy - making his salesman's satchel he totes play the role of a Tommy Gun suitcase as he stone faced eyes Capone. Capone will kill another day, but not New Years Eve.
The Jewish gangsters are representing beautifully by Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), token Goyim Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Meyer Lansky, who became the Miami mafia king later in life. Rothstein and company have upset our thin-skinned Rosetti who all but ruins the King Tut New Year’s party with their unproductive lack of terms on the sale of hooch.
Season three is crackling, and the new blood and the established players are firing on all pistons. Look for more from Irish Owen, Chalky and Harrow to throw curve balls Nucky's way.
See you next week.