Monday, November 26, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Three, Episode Eleven "Two Imposters"

In the penultimate episode of Season Three, Gyp Rosetti's men storm the Ritz Carlton. Nucky shoots his way out of there, but not before Eddie Kessler takes a bullet. With nowhere else to go, Nucky turns to Chalky for help. Gyp turns Atlantic City upside-down trying to find Nucky, offering $25,000 to any man who brings Thompson to him. Gyp's men take up home at the Artemis Club. Richard Harrow begins to prep Tommy for a departure that Gillian stumbles in upon, leading her to banish him. Harrow begins to ready his arsenal. Capone comes to A.C. thanks to Eli's efforts in Chicago. Nucky and Chalky agree to terms. The powder-keg is primed to blow sky-high.

OMD: More so than any other episode this season, "Two Imposters" flew by. I was actually surprised when the episode ended. The suspense was really amped up here. Nucky was on the run, not knowing who he could trust. There were, what, five times Nucky could have gotten got this week? I was on the edge of my seat for virtually the whole episode.

WG: Much of Season Three has been a brutal tease: a great scene here, a clever line there, an interesting sexual fetish or an unexpected moment of tenderness, but ultimately things just didn't quite add up. This episode brought that promise to fruition. I had the same thought when the credits rolled regarding the time, was it a full 60 minute episode? According to my DVR, it certainly was. It was tight. Like it had been left overnight in the fridge marinating in episode tightner.

OMD: It looks (at least for now) that my supposition that perhaps Nucky tipped off Joe Masseria himself was overstepping his cunning. They could still reveal that Nucky provided some of the backing on Lansky and Luciano's heroin deal, but I'm leaning toward my initial read of the situation being wrong--unless, of course, I'm second-guessing just how subject Nucky is to the sway of jealousy.

WG: I don't know if I'd give up on your initial sussing just yet. The Feds (apparently?) popping Luciano on the rooftop with the sheets blowing in the wind at least leaves the door open to Nucky's involvement. Masseria could have arranged it himself. Means? A corrupt favor called in from the Harding administration? We shall see.

Preserver of innocence
OMD: So fuck Gillian, right? Looks like if anything happens, Harrow will go down swinging--er, shooting. Can Richard really start a family from such prodigious bloodshed as would be unfurled across the Artemis Club if he does, in fact, walk out of there on his own power? I suppose for Tommy's sake, there can be only one. He'll either be resigned to a life of a whore's son, or an existence with a family haphazardly pieced together from remnants of people damaged by the war. For a split second, I worried that the sidearm flashed by Gyp's goon would be discharged in this episode. Thankfully, Harrow will not be departing us in nearly as anticlimactic a way as that. Perhaps more importantly, Gillian's presence on the show wouldn't seem to serve much of a purpose going forward, would it? All I know is that it's about to get all Taxi Driver all up in the Artemis Club. I hope Tommy's innocence can be saved.

WG: If Harrow is starting a militia, I'm in. I want a cot inside the compound. He's got to end up backing Nucky in some form or fashion doesn't he? Gillian might be the one to rub out Gyp. Preview scenes are notorious for setting false expectations, but it appears that eventually she'll end up on the leash holder end of Gyp's Fem Dom erotic asphyxiation fantasies. On the other hand, she's been on a death spiral since Jump Street, with each episode revealing a new repellent low. And her quality in benefactor front men has declined as well, from the Commodore, to Jimmy, to Luciano, to Leander, to Gyp. She's got a career arc like Barry Zito. Don't let that flash of playoff luster fool you, it only gets uglier from here on out.

OMD: I liked the way Nucky handled himself in the penthouse suite in this episode's open. He's a crafty bastard. His skills in self-preservation clearly extend past that of back rooms and the political sphere. I'm thinking I may have sold him short up until now. I'm guessing his foes did as well.

WG: Agreed. Buscemi was excellent. He walked a nice line between running scared and maintaining. Sometimes I have trouble buying him as the heavy. Jesus, he's mixing it up with the legends of the mob world, and seeing him grump his way through dealing with idiotic bit players or mundane love affairs makes him seem dainty by comparison. But not in this episode. What a great scene in the opening when he was grappling through a door with a would-be assassin. Great camera work. Despite being alarmingly on the run in his own town, you never really got the sense that he wasn't in control. He had his dark moment of despair in the canvas-covered truck. And really, what says despair more than canvas-covered trucks? But other than that, he was nails.

OMD: Lucky's dealing with the Mute from Buffalo just go to prove what my grandmother always told me: "Don't trust any Buffalo motherfuckers." It's too bad Lucky's grandmother didn't pound the same advice into his numb skull. It really does seem like there's more the the heroin score than the audience is aware of though, doesn't it?

WG: Is your Grams Anjelica Huston from Buffalo '66? Yeah, the writers have left some room to maneuver with the heroin plot. Leaving it vague makes me think they've created some space to tie up loose ends.

OMD: Anjelica Huston from The Grifters.

Chalky's got beachfront property in addition to his nice family home. He's the 1%. I, for one, hope that the show becomes The Nucky, Purnsley, and Chalky Hour, hijinks will surely ensue. Something is going to have to happen now that Owen is gone. Of course, if Harrow takes out Gillian and even perhaps Gyp, you'd have to think he'd have a place at Nucky's side.

WG: Nucky, Purnsley, and Chalky - the original Rat Pack. What the hell took so long for Nucky to give in on the Babette's redevelopment project? Maybe Sid Bechet will be all up in that piece during Season Four for reals.

OMD: All right, seriously, what is the point of lugging Nucky's desk all the way to the Artemis Club? Nevermind. There is ultimately no point in trying to figure out what crazy-ass shit drives Gyp Rosetti. He probably wants to have sex with a whore on it while getting his balls smashed in each of the top drawers.

WG: Human sexuality is a strange thing. Gyp has already hung dong. Time to bring the scrote and ball-play into the foreground. That desk though. None of those odd details happen just for fun. I'm guessing something crucial is within. Or it could be a ham-handed symbol of Gyp's ham-handed takeover.

OMD: How great was the tension that was ratcheted up while Samuel was operating on Eddie Kessler? The cutting back and forth between that wacko in the yard offering up $25,000 to anyone who will turn over Nucky Thompson and Kessler getting the bullet removed then getting stitched up was first-rate. The quipping between Chalky and Gyp was fucking great, too. It was nice to see Michael K. Williams get his time in the sun, especially since he's already "done cooking."

WG: Very glad to see Chalky get meaningful minutes. Another stellar scene to see Gyp and Chalky square up. How can you not have those two guys together on the screen more often?

OMD: So Winter & Co. dug pretty deep for the title of this episode. Kessler's poetry recitation is of Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If--" in which the two imposters are said to be "triumph and disaster" each of which the reader is supposed to treat the same. The promise at the end of the poem after a series of conditions that must be met is that "yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, / And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!" Kessler is a regular old sage, even while knocking on death's door.

The Queen of the Sur
WG: The poem was vaguely familiar. Nice get. I took a couple of semesters of German in college, but that didn't prepare me to decipher what Kessler was moaning over and over on the harried ride from hotel, to hospital, to Chalky's beach house. In real life, Louis "Kessel" was Nucky's main man. Personal protector, valued confidante, shaman, and partner. I hope he makes it.

OMD: I took enough Spanish to be able to understand roughly 35% of what's going on in a telenovela and to be able to order food at a Mexican restaurant while having a decent idea what I'll be getting.

More so than any other episode this season, I was laughing aloud pretty frequently. With the tension as high as it was, there was a lot more cutting of the tension with chuckle-worthy lines. The biggest laugh of the episode came at the end thankfully. A laugh before the war. Shit is about to get extremely fucking real, but there's nothing like Capone descending from a truck after eighteen hours on the road and dropping the line, "And then you and me sit down, and we talk about who dies. Huh?" Fucking priceless.

WG: Awesome closing scene. The way the sea of soldiers parted and that little bulldog came forward with the great line. It should have been cheezy as hell, but it worked. A fist pumper.

OMD: Holy shit, am I excited for this next episode. It certainly looks to be the most explosive episode of Boardwalk Empire yet.

WG: Let's hope it lives up to the promise created in this episode.

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