For sheer body count, scope of historical American gangsters and politicians, taught scripting, editing and pitch-perfect below the line crafts, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" Season 3 has been nothing short of masterful smallscreen fare.
Better than damned near everything in a year of epic TV (Homeland, Dexter, Luther, Game of Thrones, Bedlam, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Mad Men, Hell on Wheels, The Walking Dead to name some of my top picks).
This season we are light one James Darmony (Michael Pitt), but we gained Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) the cuckoo crazy Italian mobster whose battle-ax of a wife belittles him, driving him to seek release with redheads who give him the asphyxiation foreplay treatment.
The best lines this season are courtesy of Gyp, who has no earthly idea how funny he is. Until he makes Osso Bucco out of a human head with a shovel.
"Bone for tuna. What the fuckís thatís supposed to mean?" says Gyp Rosetti. "...Who the fuck is Nucky Thompson to wish me good luck? And in Italian, no less, like heís mocking me? Heís real cute, Iíll fucking tell you. Sets me up to lose. Pulls our whiskey deal at the last minute thenís itís buon fortuna like heís rooting for me to get back on my feet. Push me over a cliff, why donít ya? Real attitude on him. Scrawny Irish prick. I need his blessing to make my way in the world? I need HIM to lecture me? Nothingís personal? WHAT THE FUCK IS LIFE IF ITíS NOT PERSONAL?"
Tonight Gyp's match arrived in New Jersey after 18 hours on the road, with Nucky's brother Eli in tow. Mouthy Al Capone (Stephen Graham) joins Chaky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) in helping Nucky (Steve Buscemi) get his town back from Rosetti. No thanks to Rothstein, Luciano or Lansky, mind you.
Let's talk Stephen Graham for a minute. First, he's British, and that accent is so good as he nails the quirky Chicago hybrid accent Capone had. This whole season has featured comedic, tender to horrific moments for the actor, especially the moment with his deaf son he was trying to toughen up. It still gets me.
It was already announced that HBO has already picked the show up for season four, so I am hoping he is well served next round.
"Boardwalk Empire" Season 3 Episode 11 ďTwo ImpostersĒ sees our Gyp move into Gillian's (Gretchen Mol) in Atlantic City, forcing Nucky and a wounded Eddie (Anthony Laciura) to flee the hotel - post-dead Owen in a box delivery - fast and seek refuge with Chalky at the shore. Great scene as Chalky and Nucky come to an accord.
A grieving Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) bails from the hotel too, and takes the kids and her pregnant self to New York. Stay tuned.
Harrow (Jack Huston) is exiled by an enraged Gillian, and gears up for war. Great scenes are coming for him as he reclaims Tommy from this house of gangsters and molls for hire.
Nucky manages to survive the Gyp $25,000 carrot dangle with Chalky's men, and he holes up at the lumberyard. Best scene? Al Capone driving up with Eli, "We need a bath, some chow, then you and me sit down, and we talk about who dies."