Empire State of Mind: Boardwalk Empire, ‘New York Sour’

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The Low Down: It’s 1924 in Atlantic City and we begin with Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) brokering a peace with Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg). Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) fights over the custody of Tommy Darmody, is trying to sell the Artemis Club and oh by the way, is now a heroin-addled hooker. We’re introduced to a new federal agent named Knox (Hurt Locker’s Brian Geraghty), high roller Roy Phillips (Office Space’s Ron Livingston) as well as Al Capone’s (Stephen Graham) brothers Frank (Morgan Spector) and Ralph (The Wire’s Domenick Lombardozzi). Speaking of Capone, it looks like he’s starting to plant the seeds for his criminal empire. Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey) gets involved with the wrong woman and it could cost everyone. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) is still out there, executing those who would steal from the poor.

The Body Count: Four — a sliced throat, two heads shots and one brutal stabbing.

Our Favorite New Jersey Reference: Asbury Park is part of Nucky’s territory..nice!

Favorite Performance: Steve Buscemi, as always, is just perfect as Nucky Thompson. In the season four premiere he’s not looking to line his wallet or get ahead — he’s looking for peace. This season Nucky is someone on the mend, possibly looking to atone for past sins. I mean he’s even nice to his loyal assistant Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura). Sure, he’s still knee deep in graft but he’s also drowning in a sea of loneliness. There’s no Margaret, no children, no Jimmy and he’s got a still rocky relationship with his brother Eli and Chalky White. One has to wonder where 1924 is going to take Nucky Thompson. Steve Buscemi shines showing this new shade of Nucky Thompson. It’s nice to see Nucky a bit more subdued, a bit more in control and Buscemi nails it perfectly. Buscemi is one of my all-time favorite actors and what he brings to this show is what brings me back every week.

The Supporting Scene Stealer: Brian Geraghty’s Knox is a really interesting character. He starts off in a very simple, almost naive manner not unlike his character in The Hurt Locker. Then we see Knox’s true colors…he’s as sneaky, dastardly and cold-blooded as the criminals he has to pursue. His scene, monologuing over his fallen partner is fantastic. Geraghty plays both the simple and sinister parts of Knox excellently.

The Best Part of The Episode: “Emma, I’ve come home.” It’s a tender moment that ends the episode perfectly. For years we’ve heard of Richard Harrow (Jack Huston’s) beloved sister Emma, now we finally get to meet her and for me, the reunion of these two was a very sweet moment.

The Part We Could’ve Done Without: When Purnsley, is forced at gunpoint, to have sex with a woman while her husband awkwardly pleasures himself. Yeesh.

The Little Thing We Loved: The very cool, dramatic shot of Steve Buscemi reading documents on the balcony of the Albatross hotel. It’s such a beautifully cinematic shot something that the series has not been known for.

Final Thoughts: This wasn’t the slam bang, in-your-face premiere of seasons past, but I really dug this episode. It set a table for a very interesting, more focused season. Characters seem a bit more interesting, their story lines have more meat on their bones and more directions to go in and things seem a lot less cluttered than last season.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites