Boardwalk Empire: Valentine’s Day

Previously on Boardwalk Empire: The Commodore and Co. hit Nucky hard by sending the Klan to attack one of Chalky’s warehouses. Because Chalky’s not the type to take that sort of thing lying down, he killed a Klansman and had to be placed under arrest for his own safety. While he was locked up, Jimmy and Two Face cleaned out the warehouse and sold the hooch on to Mickey Doyle. Van Alden and his wife had some quality time together before she went home to her prayers and he went home to his pregnant one night stand. The evening ended with Nucky being arrested for election fraud, forcing him to stand up Margaret and the kids at the movies.

Margaret comes down the stairs early in the morning to the sound of three ladies—her maid, her cook, and one other woman not in uniform—whispering together. They spring apart when she appears and she asks what’s up. The cook hands over the newspaper, which has a big headline on the front page about Nucky being arrested. Margaret holds it together to an almost creepy extent and asks about the weather and chats a bit out the kids, clearly freaking her staff out. The ununiformed woman—the nanny, apparently—hands Margaret a Valentine’s Day card from the kids, and the cook asks if a dinner party planned for that evening is still on. Apparently Margaret thinks it is, because she tells the maid to beat one of the carpets before the guests arrive.

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Boardwalk Empire: Truth and Consequences

Photo: Abbot Genser/HBO

Well, we’ve come down to it—the final episode of season one of Boardwalk Empire, and I have to say, I was quite pleased with it. I think it set up the start of season two quite nicely, and it wasn’t too maddening with the cliffhangers. Plus, I think just about every character who’s showed up over the course of the season was onscreen at some point (well, except Sebso, poor man), so it was like a charming reunion. With shotguns and corruption. But enough of this, on with the recap!

Van Alden kicks things off this week by–what else?—preaching. He’s reciting the words of St. Augustine to a bunch of agents gathered at the Post/Fed Field office. What he’s saying basically boils down to this—cities like AC (and Carthage in Augustine’s case) are modern-day Sodoms and Gomorrahs full of temptation that they must all resist. It seems these men are there to apply for Van Alden’s job. He warns them they’ll be bribed, coerced, and tempted every day. This prompts one guy to crack: “bring on the dancing girls,” which earns him a vicious slap across the face from Van Alden. It’s so brutal all the other guys recoil in shock. Supervisor Elliott, who’s sitting right there, does jack all, of course. Van Alden’s got the blazing crazy eyes on today, and tells the jokey recruit that his partner, Sebso, died in the line of duty of a heart attack (!!) and he won’t have his name sullied by infantile humor. He died of a heart attack in the middle of a lake? Did they not do autopsies on fairly young people who just dropped dead back then? Because if they had, I’m pretty sure those lungs would’ve been full of water, which would have put paid that heart attack excuse. Whatever, I guess we’re supposed to just accept this. But I really expect better than that from an HBO show.

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Boardwalk Empire: Fight Night

We open with a strangely red-lit shot of a man who’s clearly hanging upside-down and struggling against some sort of restraints. Why, are we seeing the great Hardeen at last? Yes we (or, rather, Margaret, Nucky, Annabelle, and her idiot) are, during a semi-private show at Babette’s. Seems Hardeen’s not as good as his brother—it’s taking him quite a while to get out of those restraints, and the crowd’s getting restless. When he does finally manage to free himself, the applause is pretty weak. During the show, Annabelle notes that her idiot’s looking a bit nervous. He says it’s the show that’s making him tense, but we’ll soon learn it’s a bit more than that.

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Boardwalk Empire: Mitzvah

The camera pans past the waves washing up on shore while exceptionally sappy old timey music plays. We catch up to a young couple—a man and a woman, walking along the beach, all cute and cuddly. The woman playfully runs away to splash in the water, and the camera spins around the man to reveal it’s Two Face, but he’s now got one whole face—no sign of his war wounds at all. He watches the woman fondly, but then she turns and starts screaming in horror.

In non-dream world, TF is startled awake by screaming, all right, but it’s poor little Emily, Margaret’s tiny daughter, doing it, because he’s asleep on her mother’s couch with no mask on and his awful wounds out in the open for all to see. Ok, there are a few things wrong with this. Most important, why the hell is he staying here? Nucky owns an entire floor of a hotel, he couldn’t find somewhere to put a cot for this guy? Or maybe get him a room in one of the other hundred or so hotels in Atlantic City? Or maybe have him stay with Jimmy? And if he must stay at Margaret’s, why is he sleeping on the couch? She’s got three bedrooms, she can’t have the kids bunk together for a little while to avoid this exact issue?

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Boardwalk Empire: Tete a Tete

Nucky and the boys are gathered at Eli’s bedside, examining police records and mugshots for the D’Alessio brothers. One of the cronies sighs that it’s easy to forget faces and facts in the confusion of a holdup, but Eli’s sure the guys in the picture are the ones who robbed the casino. George O’Neill, the guy whose route Eli picked up last week (and who was also the one who got robbed on the boardwalk not so long ago) picks up one of the pictures and identifies the subject as the kid who spit on him, thus precipitating said robbery. Halloran, Eli’s right-hand-man, helpfully informs Nucky that the gang they’re looking at is the D’Alessios, “Dagos out of Philly.” They’ve been busy, robbing restaurants and shooting customers and waiters. All George cares about is that the kid called him fat. Nucky gives him an identical glare to the one I’m giving him for saying something so stupid. Eli points out that these guys are pretty violent, so George got off fairly easy.

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Boardwalk Empire: Love, Love Me Do

We start off with a close up of someone reading the Chicago Daily Tribune, so we know where we are. The paper is folded up by the reader, and now we see we’re in a diner with a really cool stained glass frieze around the upper edge of the windows. A police officer sitting at the counter turns as another customer enters, sits down, and orders his usual—corned beef hash and eggs. The cop eyes the man (whom I didn’t actually recognize, but we learn soon enough this is the guy who slashed up Pearl), then gets up and makes his way to a nearby phone booth.

At Torrio’s, Al’s on the phone, presumably speaking with the cop from the diner. Al thanks him, calls him a credit to the force, and hangs up before making his way into a nearby room, where Jimmy’s laid out on a sofa, nursing his aching leg. Al cheers him up with the news that Pearl’s attacker’s currently enjoying a nice breakfast in a diner, and apparently does so quite often. Jimmy takes this news fairly emotionlessly.

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Boardwalk Empire: Arrangements

Out on the Boardwalk, everyone’s going about their normal business, including one of Nucky’s guys, who’s making his regular collections. As he’s crossing a name off the list (which only has one more name left on it, so he’s clearly near the end and probably toting plenty of cash), some young punk type comes up and starts insulting him. The guy tells the kid to get lost, but the kid hocks a loogie in the guy’s face and takes off, leading the guy on a merry chase down the boardwalk. He runs through an archway, and as the collector follows him, someone comes running out from behind a large poster and lays him out flat with a club to the head. The attacker grabs the dropped bag of cash and leaves our poor guy lying stunned on the boardwalk, watching the birds wheeling overhead.

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Boardwalk Empire: Nuck O’ The Irish

And we’re back! Sorry about the delay, folks, but honeymoons don’t take themselves (thankfully) and thank you notes don’t write themselves (sadly). But now all that’s behind me and I’m ready to sink my teeth back into the glorious world of Prohibition-era Atlantic City. Let’s get to it!

In the cool light of early dawn, Margaret’s peacefully sleeping with the kids when she’s awakened by a slight ruckus outside. She gets up, goes to the window, and watches some men rolling barrels out of a truck and into a garage behind her house. One man, more well dressed than the others, takes a glass of something from one of the barrels and tastes it.

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Boardwalk Empire: Fairy Tale

I have to start by confessing I seem to have made a mistake. Since the actors playing Gillian and Jimmy are less than a decade apart in age (and look it on the show), I assumed Gillian was Jimmy’s stepmother, but it seems that’s not the case. According to someone actually involved with the show, Gillian really did give birth to Jimmy around the age of 14. Which is so squicky I didn’t even really consider it. I hope you’ll forgive me the slip up.

On with episode four. In snowy Chicago, Capone makes his way into a fairly quiet building. It seems to be pretty late—employees are cleaning up as he heads upstairs, passing a scantily dressed woman and a customer on his way up. They don’t give him a second glance, but maybe that’s because he has the sense to wait until he’s alone on the second floor to pull out a pistol. He quietly enters a room where a young woman and man are sleeping naked together. The woman wakes up and jumps when she sees the gun, but Capone playfully gestures for her to be quiet. He levels the gun at the sleeping man’s head, pulls the trigger, and fires into the pillow right next to the guy. The poor guy jumps a mile and tumbles out of bed, amazingly not soiling himself, as Capone cackles gleefully. Dick. The sleeping man raises his head, now awake and angry, and we see it’s Jimmy. He asks Capone just what in the hell he thinks he’s doing, as Capone continues to laugh and says he was just playing. Double dick. Jimmy tells him he can’t hear out of one ear now and Capone just tells him to go back to sleep. Yeah, that seems likely.

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