Monday, September 24, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Three, Episode Two "Spaghetti & Coffee"

While Nucky is away sort of tending to business and sort of tending to Billie Kent in the NYC, Eli gets out of prison and begins working under Mickey Doyle. Gyp Rosetti takes up root in Tabor Heights to block the way between Atlantic City and New York. No goldfish were harmed in the filming of this episode.

Old Man Duggan: So an entire episode without either Harrow or Van Alden is a sad one, but the world keeps spinning on its axis. At least the specter of Harrow's bold act at the conclusion of "Resolutions" looms over the proceedings herein.

Wordy Ginters: Building blocks. Bricks were laid with future mayhem in mind. Still, it is a buzzkill to endure an episode without some of Boardwalk Empire's best characters.

OMD: Starting at the top, we are presented with two potentially innocent victims who are mercifully spared by the larger Powers That Be. First, the goldfish, dumped from its bowl into the sink left to, well, do whatever the opposite of drowning is, only to be spared that dire fate at the cost of a glass of whiskey, of course. Second, the gas station attendant. If there were any question as to whether or not Gyp Rosetti's introduction was an effective one, you need look no further than the tension that fills the scene with that kid. Motor oil? Map scaling? Both petty corrections that could result in one's death, I suppose, at least when those corrections are directed at Gyp Rosetti--or do we call him D.L. "Pop" Collingsworth now?

WG: Gyp reminded me a little bit of Nosferatu walking around in that long coat with the black gloves. Terence Winter did a nice job of setting Gyp's character at full-on menace. That he ultimately restrained himself this week is a nice touch too. Who knows what he'll do? What do you think happened to Pop Collingsworth? The Italian accent drifts into Super Mario Brothers territory from time to time, but the "everybody has a gotta the guns" scene was as good as it looked in the previews.

OMD: Eli wastes no time, does he? "Let me ask you something, Mickey: How the fuck are you still alive?" I, for one, am glad that someone asked the question that has been nagging at me every moment I watch him do anything. It's even better that it is the great Shea Whigham who gets to chew on that line. And the hand on the leg? Great touch.

WG: Mickey is irritating. I'm going to call my shot and suggest Gyp rub's him out eventually. I cackled when Eli said that straight away on account of you asking the same question last week. No one knows the answer. With the shipment to Rothstein getting queered, and Manny pushing up daisies, Mickey may be losing his value.

OMD: Samuel comes a-courtin'. Can you imagine the media attention young Samuel would get if he were an athlete this day and age? Jesus, all the subcutaneously racist buzzwords would get thrown in his direction. And, of course, when Maybelle is given the opportunity at the life that both her father, Chalky, and Samuel want for her, she attempts to piss it away, favoring the excitement that the danger inherent her father's way of life could bring. Well, she favors that until she's presented with the harsh reality of that danger. I'm pretty sure she shat herself. Samuel, however, got his druthers about him rather quickly and began to tend to his severely bludgeoned assailant. You think Maybelle still wants to walk on the wild side, or is she done wanting to slum it? All that really matters though is that we get more Michael K. Williams.

WG: Maybelle definitely gains a better understanding of the distance between whispered stories of jazz speakeasies with her brother in the safety of her house, and the hot, sweaty, unpredictable reality underneath the glare of bare bulbs in a real roadhouse. I liked that Samuel, the Jacque Vaughn of Boardwalk Empire characters, side-steps Chalky to tend to the man who carved his cheek. The dude who plays Samuel did a great job of alternately trembling like a bunny, and then forcing himself the courage to deal, i.e., regulate the motion offense from the point, knock down the money free throws at the end, and then dazzle Bob Davis by using 4 syllable words and being polite in the post-game presser.

I don't know if devil_fingers lurks in these parts, but it would be interesting to hear his take on the jazz in this episode, and the series in general. Chalky mentions something about a Professor from Kansas City who beat on his piano pretty good, I wonder if it was Count Basie? Also a reference to a King and Carter number. Klaassen, reveal thine self and share the jazz love in the comments section.

OMD: I also like the parallel drawn between Chalky and Eli in this episode. Both wanting better lives for their children. Both having lived lives with a modest amount of success but having had to make sacrifices of themselves to get where they were. Then they are faced with their children not embracing the lives they envisioned for them. Did their respective sacrifices of character poison the well from which their families drink? At the very least, I can answer Chalky's question. Yes, you're interesting now.

WG: Excellent question. Seems like Chalky's kids are well-suited to succeed. He can't read, if I recall correctly. But his children appear to be headed for bigger and better things, college for example, which was pretty rare for African-Americans back in the '20s. I assume the incident at the speakeasy has washed away any lingering fantasies about living a bohemian lifestyle that Maybelle had. Maybe not. Eli's kids seem like they are in a tougher spot. Will obviously resents Eli. Didn't even open up his present from a few years ago, and has quite literally taken over man of the house duties. Even his clothes looked too small, like he was growing over the course of a few scenes to further illustrate how he made the move from boy to man in Eli's absence.

Dr. Mason, I presume?
OMD: So Dr. Mason is a douche. He certainly does have "a maddening way." More importantly, doesn't it just feel like the actor Patrick Kennedy is channeling French Stewart. Also, appalling tobacco? Is that code for something? And a Catholic Hospital? Do we think Dr. Mason simply wants to educate about birth control or something far more nefarious? Abortions for all the poor, perhaps?

WG: I think he was inferring that they spend an inordinate amount of time covering up child abuse within the diocese, doesn't leave the resources necessary for pre-natal outreach.

OMD: What do you think Gyp said to Sheriff Sickles between the point at which Sickles tried to give them the ol' heave-ho from the hospitable Kinneret Lodge and Tabor Heights with the head on back to New York line and when they're cowering in fear in the street telling the booze caravan to turn tail.

WG: Very effective to leave that bit of business off screen. Only helps Gyp grow in stature. Sickles is still alive. So I'm guessing Gyp crushed his palm with paper. With favors of more sweets to come. Or more likely, totally bulldog bullied him into turning traitor.

I got a big kick out of Gyp and his henchman forcing down the diner's spaghetti and meatballs. Reminded me of the faces on the gang at Downton Abbey after Daisy sabotaged some of Patmore's dishes.

OMD: Just like mom made. Would you put $40K in a fishbowl, sight of contact unseen?

WG: Remus did. Remus is what Remus does. I don't think I would have. More out of fear than bravado. Seemed too shady. The Gaston Bullock Means character was a trip. He'd fit in nicely in a David Lynch movie. Cryptic. Intense. Knew too much. I loved how he insinuated that Smith and Daugherty were gay.

OMD: Bringing Jimmy James into the fold is never a bad idea. I'm just glad that he's not a fish killer. Stephen Root should be in everything, especially when being called upon to generally confuse all those with whom he interacts.

It seems that Nucky spends the episode living in a haze like Don Draper in The Village, running from the life he fought/lied/cheated/killed for, finally obtained, and now has mixed feelings about having gotten in the first place. And in Billie's apartment, the razor blade? I mean I get what's going on with the razor (it's not his), but why did he take the blade from the razor in the first place? Obviously, if he can kill his figurative son, the gloves are probably off, but are we to view the temporary removal of a razor blade as a brief flirtation with killing Season Three's Paz de la Huerta in a jealous rage? And leaving Mr. Sleater out to dry? Obviously, he doesn't know he's shirking off an urgent phone call for himself, but I suppose that's what happens when the King tries to run away from the throne.

WG: I read it as a possible way for him to emasculate his various competitors. She IS a vivacious young woman. Nothing more emasculating than staring at a mirror with a face covered in of ridiculous cream, and nothing to raze it with. Stealing their razors. Sending a message. Could completely be a prelude to a Soprano's style goomar whacking as well.

OMD: That seems a much more likely reading of that scene than mine.

WG: I wonder if there is anything more to the playing pool at Rothstein's place scene. Nucky and Rothstein engage in their usual bon mots chess match (Nucky has a nice habit of zeroing in on exactly the issue at hand with his speech, usually clouded in some social nicety.) Rothstein runs the table as easily as he ferrets out Nucky's knowledge of the Manny murder, and the depth of his relationship with Billie. The one point where he gets stopped in his tracks is when Nucky, absentmindedly, I think, gives the wrong date for a shipment of booze. Rothstein stuffs the pool cue in the corner pocket and gets assertive and says I hope your boys have calendars. Now that the booze run has been put on hold, I wonder if the little moment of confusion Nucky had over the date of the delivery is going to get him into hot water. 

OMD: It's hard to say whether or not that will play out at all. One would assume it would, but I can't imagine Nucky doesn't relay news of the obstructionist Gyp setting up shop as Pop Collingsworth.

WG: Ordinary men avoid trouble. Extraordinary men turn it to their advantage. This has to be about as close a definition of private equity work as I've ever heard.

OMD: Pretty on-point there. That said, Mitt Romney must have been horrible at it, judging by his complete inability to avoid trouble on the campaign trail, this in spite of the fact that an entire "news" network employs advisers to his campaign.

WG: Time for a White Rock beverage.

OMD: Crack comes in liquid form?

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