Boardwalk Empire: Whatever I Had, You Would Have Taken

Boardwalk-Empire-Season-4-Episode-12-Farewell-Daddy-Blues-600x377Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Chalky reconnected with his old mentor, only to have the guy get shot. Eli persuaded Nucky (who may or may not be suspicious of his brother) to have a sit-down with all the players from New York and Tampa, which will allow Knox to move in with serious charges, and Gillian unwittingly confessed to first degree murder.

A not-at-all symbolic storm is brewing off the coast while masked men approach the Albatross, taking Nucky’s men hostage. Nucky is apparently oblivious as he gets some Spanish lessons over the phone from Sally. She asks him what his plans are going forward and he tells her that, after today, he’s not going to make plans. Today, however, he’s doing the last thing he needs to do.

New Eddie appears at the door and calls out to Nucky, who finally turns and sees a gun held to the back of the man’s head. He hangs up with Sally and the gun wielder emerges: Chalky. Nucky tells him he had nothing to do with the attempt on Chalky’s life, but Chalky knows Nucky’s in bed with Narcisse these days, and he doesn’t want to hear any excuses from Nucky. Nucky urges Chalky to trust him but that’s only going to happen if Nucky hands over Narcisse. Nucky says he wants to bring down Narcisse too. Well, having something in common is the best basis for a relationship.

In DC, Knox requests eight extra men for the move against Nucky and the others. Hoover can’t believe Knox is actually managing to get these guys together, but Knox thinks Hoover’s just always been rooting for him to fail. Hoover doesn’t deny it, but he does give Knox the extra agents.

Richard is on the stand, testifying in Gillian’s murder trial. Wow, they fast-tracked that, didn’t they? Gillian’s lawyer sucks and is all over the place, and everyone keeps telling Richard to speak up, even though he really can’t. Gillian’s lawyer suggests that Richard’s eyesight isn’t good enough for him to have identified the body in Gillian’s tub as Jimmy or not, but Richard’s insistent. The lawyers start bickering, and Gillian starts reminding everyone that there’s no body, so they can’t really verify one way or another who tub man was. The judge calls in policemen to take her away and Harrow watches as she goes.

Knox and his partner have Eli in for a meeting at a very ritzy hotel. Knox is running Eli through their proposed operation to bring down Nucky and the gang. They need Eli to get up and visit the washroom before the agents move in. Eli asks for a guarantee that Will will be off scot free if this goes down like they say. Knox gives his word.

Al and Ralph talk about Al’s near assassination. Al invites Van Alden to join them in a drink, and he does, reluctantly. Torrio comes in and they ask who he thinks was behind it. He names a couple of guys (including Bugsy Malone) before leaving.

Mickey’s trying to move a shipment out in the pouring rain as Nucky arrives and gets his payment, which he’s not surprised to see is light, in part because of all of Narcisse’s meddling. Eli asks what they’re going to do about him, while Nucky peruses an article about Gillian’s trial. Nucky distractedly says it’s being handled. He asks if the meeting’s been set and Eli says it has, for the following night. Nucky notices Richard’s arrived and gestures for him to join them in the office. He’s come to ask Nucky a favour. Nucky dismisses the others and Richard asks for the whereabouts of Jimmy’s body. Nucky lies that Jimmy was cremated after his OD, but Richard’s no idiot. He needs the body so Gillian won’t get off on her murder charge and take Tommy back. Mention of the kid seems to reach Nucky, and he asks Richard what he would do if an anonymous source gave him the location of Jimmy’s body. Richard says he’d do whatever Nucky asked.

Nucky gives up the goods, and we see Jimmy’s body being unearthed in front of the press. He’s identified by the screws in his leg from the war wound.

Nucky and Narcisse are meeting in Bader’s office. Nucky quickly kicks Bader out so the grownups can talk. Narcisse asks if Nucky’s heard from Chalky, and Nucky says that Chalky just wants to be there for his daughter’s wedding. The what now? I thought Samuel dumped her. Nucky claims he’s just the middleman here, but Narcisse doesn’t seem too sure about that. Nucky tells Narcisse he can do what he wants with the club and the North Side, but if he messes with the rest of the city, he’s going to have to deal directly with Nucky. Nucky adds that Narcisse needs to clean up this situation, by getting rid of Chalky. Damn, Nucky. Before he leaves, Nucky informs Narcisse that Chalky knows where Daughter is.

Masseria gets ready to leave his house for the day when a man walks up, shoots his driver, and then unloads several bullets into Masseria at close range. His wife comes running out, screaming.

The agents are getting ready for the meeting, planting recording devices and testing them out. Knox dispatches some agents to the lobby and generally stresses out. His partner urges him to relax, but Knox stiffly says he’ll relax when this is over.

Nucky’s packing, and gets a message that Narcisse will be at the club by nine. He stops and looks thoughtful.

He calls up Eli and tells him they’ll be driving over together for the meeting. Apparently that wasn’t the plan, and Eli tries to put him off, but he has no choice. Will comes down as his dad hangs up the phone and asks what Nucky wanted. Eli just tells him to pass the message along to June that he’ll be home late.

Richard’s sending the family away to visit his sister. He embraces Tommy and tells him he loves him, and it’s adorable and gives me a deep feeling of dread, with this being the season finale and all. Julia asks him to promise again that he’ll follow them, because she doesn’t even know his sister. He kisses her tenderly and says he’ll be there in three days. She playfully threatens to hunt him down if he doesn’t show.

Eli arrives at the Albatross, looking around, all paranoid, goes inside the curiously deserted hotel, and calls out for Nucky. Nucky finally appears and tells his brother he’s closing the place up because he’s leaving town and going to Cuba with Sally, as soon as he’s finished his business. Eli reminds him of the meeting, but Nucky informs him he cancelled the meeting, because he’s not a moron. His New Eddie comes in and disarms Eli. Nucky pulls a gun and is ready to shoot his curiously calm brother. Eli informs him he has nothing, and that no matter what he had, Nucky would have eventually taken it all, because that’s the way he is. He takes off his hat and steps towards the gun, asking Nucky if he’s ready to do this, because Eli’s ready to die. He even kneels down. But Nucky can’t bring himself to pull the trigger before Will comes in and completely freaks out. New Eddie holds him back and Eli swears his uncle’s not about to kill him. Nucky tells him to tell Will everything, and Eli spills the whole story about Knox blackmailing him. He also yells at Will for going to Nucky instead of his father. Nucky says he’s the one who fixed it and Eli reminds him that he just fixed things so he wound up holding a gun to his own brother’s head. He rather cruelly tells Nucky he has no family, whereas Eli does, and nothing will fill that hole Nucky has inside. Nucky tells Eli this is his mess, and he can drown in it. He leaves, and so does Will.

The agents have realised the meeting’s not going to happen, but Knox refuses to believe that. His partner tries to soothe him, but Knox will not be appeased, so his partner asks for his sidearm. Knox doesn’t give it up.

Another week, another chance for Van Alden to hang out in a hospital with the Capones. Mrs Torrio comes out and tells them her husband’s asking for Al. Al goes into his room and Torrio basically retires right then and there and hands the reigns over to Al. How is Torrio still alive? He was shot, like, five times at point-blank range. That guy must have been the world’s most inept assassin.

Eli arrives home and June asks him what the hell is going on, because Knox is there, and I guess it’s now clear that he’s not an insurance salesman. Eli tells her to get upstairs right away and takes Knox into the living room. He tells Knox that Nucky knows what’s going on, but Knox doesn’t want to hear it and tells him that Will’s going to jail for a very, very long time. Knox pulls out his gun and holds it to Eli’s head, which is becoming a disturbingly common theme in Eli’s night, and asks Eli if he thinks Knox is crazy. Eli, cool as a cucumber, says he doesn’t know what Knox is, and then tries to get the drop on him. They start brutally tussling all over the living room, and Eli manages to get his hands on a saw his daughter was playing earlier and uses that for a while before Knox throws him through a glass-fronted cabinet. June comes down, panicking, and the children all start screaming. Eli finally gets the upper hand and strangles Knox with his own tie. And that’s how the FBI  instituted casual Fridays. Even after Knox is dead, Eli continues beating on him, just to make sure. Good luck with all those kids’ therapy bills, Eli.

The Onyx is hopping. Narcisse sits at a table, scribbling on a pad when Chalky and his men arrive. Chalky leaves them at the door and goes to speak with Narcisse, who asks where Daughter is, promising Chalky safe passage if he gives up her whereabouts. Chalky doesn’t seem all that interested in providing the info Narcisse wants, and tells Narcisse that, if Chalky dies, he’ll never find out where Daughter is. Narcisse, for some reason, tells Chalky Maybelle got dumped, which seems an odd move, because now he has no leverage to use with Chalky. Oh, wait, he does, because one of his guys yanks Maybelle from a hiding place nearby and Chalky looks a little panicked. Narcisse demands to know where Daughter is.

Meanwhile, Richard, hidden in some upper recess, takes aim at Narcisse’s head with his sniper rifle. But for some reason he’s shaking and can’t seem to get a good line of sight. He pauses to flex his hand, fires…and kills Maybelle. Wow. This poor girl’s just had the worst time of it. And what the hell is up with Harrow losing his mojo? Chalky can’t quite believe what’s happened, and goons start opening fire while the patrons freak out and flee. One of those bullets catches Richard in the side, and he stumbles towards an exit while Chalky desperately tries to revive his daughter and his men bundle him out. The Feds choose this particular moment to burst in, looking for Eli, for some reason—I guess because this wasn’t chaotic enough already. Richard manages to escape in the furore. Narcisse and several of his men are arrested.

Richard stumbles onto the beach and takes refuge under the boardwalk, stumbling, badly wounded.

Nucky arrives at the train station, only to be met by Knox’s partner, Shelby, who asks where Eli is, because he’s wanted in connection with the murder of a federal agent. Nucky has no choice but to comply.

Hoover himself questions Narcisse, because he really wants to know about Garvey and apparently thinks all black people know each other. He tells Narcisse that they can work out a deal whereby Narcisse provides ongoing information about Garvey to the bureau and helps bring Knox’s murderer to justice. Narcisse is reluctant to go along with that, because he considers Garvey a hero, but the possibility of getting out of jail and going back to business as usual is tempting. He agrees, but as a final humiliation, he’s made to say ‘yes, sir,’ to Hoover.

Will delivers a suitcase to Nucky’s car and Nucky takes the opportunity to tell Will that his mother and siblings will be relying on him from now on. He’s to tell the family that Eli’s safe with friends out west, and that’s just how it has to be. Will asks his uncle if he really would have shot his father and Nucky only says that Eli’s his brother, and Nucky is not the person Will thinks he is. He tells Will to come by the Albatross later, then reassures him it gets easier. Will steps back and Eli gets in the car, ready to go on the lam.

He’s sent to Chicago, of course, so maybe we’re finally making all this Chicago crap fit into the main narrative. Van Alden’s sent to pick him up, and he and Eli clearly recognise each other.

Time for a closing montage!

Gillian gets a visit from her lawyer in jail, and whatever he says, it’s not good news.

Rothstein shows Margaret and her kids their nice new apartment.

Sally pulls drinks down in Tampa.

Chalky sits on the porch of Oscar’s mansion, slowly turning into the old man.

Daughter sings the closing song, Farewell Daddy Blues, in some backwoods joint to an appreciative audience.

Richard rides the train out west, going home, to his family. He walks down some train tracks, and then approaches the house, where everyone’s waiting on the porch. And this is so disjointed it has to be some sort of dream sequence. He stops and a look of peace comes over his face, as Julia comes off the porch and heads towards him. We cut back to him and he’s no longer wearing the mask, and his face is perfectly whole…

…while back in AC, his mask lies in the sand, and he’s underneath the boardwalk, dead.

Aww, hell, no! Come on, I know this is one of those ‘anyone can die’ shows, but are we seriously being made to continue enduring the further adventures of Agent Van Alden while we lose Harrow, one of the few characters left on this show I actually cared about? I don’t care how badass Van Alden finally turned out to be, he’s still a character I feel we can live without. I don’t know guys, I think this might be the end of the recaps for this show. Not because of this, or because it’s a bad show, but for some reason, I really had to force myself to do these every week. And if all goes well, I’m on track to have an eight-month-old by this time next year, which means I’m going to have significantly less time to do recapping, so something’s going to have to go.

As a whole, this season was…ok. There were some very good episodes, and I really enjoyed Jeffrey Wright as the villain (waaaay more than the blithering insanity of Gyp Rosetti last season. Man, he sucked.) but I felt like, once again, there were too many people scattered about. Is it really necessary to keep following Margaret around, even if she is making deals with Rothstein? Is Chicago really all that compelling? And Tampa now? Can’t we let some of these people go? And I have to admit, I wasn’t really that enamoured of Sally Wheet. She kind of bored me. And Nucky’s sort of boring me too. Which is a problem since, you know, the show’s supposed to be about him and all. Even Chalky started to irk me after a while, mostly because I couldn’t quite fathom why he was so devoted to Daughter. She was pretty and had a nice voice and all, but…eh, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just cranky. We’ll see how I feel in a year.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the season and the recaps!

3 thoughts on “Boardwalk Empire: Whatever I Had, You Would Have Taken

  1. I don’t miss Richard Harrow. He was a good character, but whenever he was on the screen alone, his story always seemed to drag an episode. And I never understood why he hung around two seasons after Jimmy’s death.

    And it really pisses me off that poor Maybelle White was nothing more than a plot device for both Chalky and Richard in the end.

  2. I thought this was one of their better seasons. I was bored with Richard. He had just become a killing machine and that’s all. I’m glad he’s gone. I really felt his family situation was getting boring. I started out agreeing with you about Van Alden, but have grown to appreciate his quiet effectiveness. By the way, didn’t you think Nucky talked to Chalky and had put Richard in place to kill Narcisse for them both? I got the feeling Nucky persuaded Chalky he was on his side – and was.

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