bill bodkin kicks off pop-break’s boardwalk empire review series…
The Low Down: It’s New Years and as usual, the times they are changing in Atlantic City. Nucky Thompson is no longer “half a gangster” — he’s the real deal now. He’s running all the bootlegging out of Atlantic City and providing to the highest bidder. However, due to his political friends (in particular Christopher MacDonald’s attorney general) possibly dropping the dime on him if they go down due to scandal, Nucky decides its time to change the rules of the game, which doesn’t sit well with New York gangster Gyp Rossetti (Bobby Cannavale). Meanwhile Margaret continues her mission of repentance with her work at the local hospital she’s on the board of while secreting wishing for freedom. In Chicago, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) is infuriated by the Irish bootleggers while “George Mueller” AKA Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) is now working the thankless job of door-to-door iron salesman.
The Body Count: Four — The “3-in-1” Guy, the unfortunate thief, Manny’s driver and Manny (William Forsythe).
Our Favorite New Jersey Reference: “Tabor Heights” — a nice fake name for Seaside Heights. How do we know it’s Seaside? The fictional town of Tabor Heights is roughly 60 miles from Atlantic City, the realistic Seaside Heights is 61.8 miles.
Favorite Performance: Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rossetti. The real concern about Season 3 was how would the void left by the departure of Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) and I think that Cannavale’s mercurial gangster can do the job. In the first scene we see just how unhinged Gyp is when he beats the “3-in-1” guy to death after a perceived slight. When he goes off in Nucky’s basement on everyone from Nucky to Rothstein to Luciano in an extremely profane way shows that this character isn’t just “this season’s villain” — he’s a character that’s full of charisma and has a dramatic heft to him. He’s also one of the few characters that doesn’t have to become engaged in the Atlantic City political machine that Nucky runs. He’s a wild card that Nucky can’t keep in his deck and that’s going to prove to be exciting.
The Supporting Scene Stealer: Jack Huston as Richard Harrow. No surprises here. He’s one of the best characters the show has ever had. He’s so endearing yet so deadly. As soon as you feel sorriest for him, he goes for blood…literally. In this episode we still see he’s feeling the fallout of the Darmody family’s demise and when he has to listen to Jimmy’s son call Gillian, Jimmy’s mom, his mother instead of his real mother Angela, Harrow’s heartbreak is palpable.
The Best Part of The Episode: Harrow’s Revenge. Literally jumped out of my seat when he pulled the trigger and sent Manny to an early grave. It was a really awesome scene because a.) we’ve been given scenes that really humanize the murderous butcher from Philly b.) we’ve been reminded throughout the episode that Harrow truly misses the late Angela Darmondy and c.) this ties a nice bow on a loose string from last season.
The Part We Could’ve Done Without: Remus. Seriously did we need to hear this guy refer to himself in the third person so often? I
The Little Thing We Loved: The Accidental Hitman. When Van Alden/Mueller trudges into Danny O’Bannion’s flower shop just as Capone is about to bring the heat is fantastic. The way Van Alden/Mueller plays along with O’Bannion and pretends to be packing heat in his steamer drunk, is both brilliant and hilarious. When the florist buys two dozen irons from Van Alden/Mueller and then says “If you ever want to make real money” I got the feeling that our former G-Man is going to end up back in the world of organized crime.
Final Thoughts: Loved the episode. Boardwalk Empire is one of my favorite shows of all-time and I did have some trepidation going into this season. I felt they could’ve saved Jimmy’s demise to be the finale of the third season, so when they did it last season, I was concerned that the creative tank might be dry this season. However, this episode proved me and all naysayers wrong.