Empire State of Mind: Boardwalk Empire, ‘Acres of Diamonds’

Written by Bill Bodkin and Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs

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The Low Down: Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is in Florida to talk about running booze but is disinterested (or is he) in the flimsy deal. While in Florida, he is introduced to Sally the owner of the local bar (Patricia Arquette). Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) meets with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) to get into the heroin business. He then rolls back into the Onyx Club with a hot new singer that captures Chalk’s attention. Meanwhile the tension between Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey) continues a slow, steady boil. Seeing this, Narcisse begins to capitalize on this. Eli’s son, Willie, decides to impress a girl by getting some booze from Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks), who after smacking Willie around, let’s him have some. Roy (Ron Livingston) continues his interest in Gillian (Gretchen Mol) as he brings her to a business meeting posing as his wife. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) begins his rehabilitation from stone cold killer into a solid citizen, but Carl Billings (Sean Cullen) comes back into town with murderous intentions.

The Body Count: Three – a head shot, a gut stab and a BRAINING!

Our Favorite New Jersey Reference: Not too much Jersey love this episode as a bulk of the episode took place in Florida and Temple University

Favorite Performance: “Yes that is important…to you.” Oh Narcisse you sharp-tongued, brilliant bastard! Jeffrey Wright dominated this episode. Every line he uttered is brilliantly written and delivered with a velvety Shakespearean tone. He commands the screen and unintentionally outclasses everyone he’s on screen with. His villainous character is the best the series has ever seen. He’s a master manipulator — better than The Commodore ever was. His cunning and intelligence makes him more dangerous than the outlandish violent tendencies of Gyp Rossetti (congrats to Bobby Cannavale on his Emmy win).

The Supporting Scene Stealer: Richard Harrow has had his share of emotional lines and tear-jerking scenes, but the interaction between he and sister as he’s departing for the train, might take the cake. Throughout the series he’s wanted to be reunited with her, but now he realizes because of his violent past, he can never go home. Jack Huston is just such a brilliant actor and I think post-BE he’ll be on to bigger and better.

The Best Part of The Episode: The slow reveal at the end of the episode when Nucky’s old pal has buried a machete into the head of dim-witted Florida bootlegger Tucker. Seriously, this new DP is amazing! Every episode has at least one awesome, cinematic, “and the award for best cinematography goes to” kind of shot. This one was probably the best.

The Part We Could’ve Done Without: Patricia Arquette. She’s never been an actress I’ve ever enjoyed as I feel she has the charisma of stale bread. Her presence here as Nucky Thompson’s probable love interest really bums me out.

The Little Thing We Loved: When Gillian and Roy are confronted in the diner by the friend of the man Gillian murdered and passed off as Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) to get the insurance money. That’s a nice little nod back to last season’s more messy and salacious story lines.

Final Thoughts: This was such a “Season 3”-esque episode — a whole bunch of stories and no real direction to the episode. Season 4 has been on such a role that this felt like a giant step backward. I know, this episode saw the beginning and advancing some story lines and I should give this show the benefit of the doubt, but “Acres of Diamonds” had no intensity, punch or intrigue to it. I’m certain there’s a larger plan behind all this and I did enjoy the turn that the Narcisse/Chalk/Purnsley took, but otherwise, this was a whole bunch of ‘meh.’

photos credit: hbo

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