Monday, November 5, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Three, Episode Eight "The Pony"

Nucky, Gaston Bullock Means, and Esther Randolph plot to enlist Andrew Mellon in their mission to take down Remus and Daugherty. Van Alden begins working off his debt to O'Banion, but not before going out at Farraday Electric Iron Company with a bang. Gillian uses Proxy Jimmy's body to gain Tommy's inheritance and sets about avenging her son's death by siccing Gyp on Nucky. Babette's on the boardwalk would appear to be no more and Billie Kent would appear to have gone right along with it. 

Old Man Duggan: Primitive ages these folks lived in. Proxy Jimmy passed for Jimmy rather easily. "Jimmy deserved better than this." Well said, Harrow. Apparently all you need for the County Coroner to pronounce you Dead James Darmody are a dopey haircut and his dog tags. Well, that and an unscrupulous mother/lover.

Wordy Ginters: Cremation too. It occurred to me that a scene from an early episode this season reveals that Harrow knows Nucky killed Jimmy. After rubbing out Manny, Harrow marched into Nucky's office to tell him that Mickey running around claiming the kill as his own was bullshit. Nucky, understandably, was worried that he might be next on Harrow's revenge tour. I don't recall the reason why, but essentially Harrow gave Nucky a pass. He knows Proxy Jimmy is in the kindling box. That Jack Huston was able to milk an ambiguous response like that with half a face is evidence of his royal acting bloodlines.

OMD: Harrow had known where Jimmy was headed when he left, and Jimmy had told Harrow to stay where he was needed. Harrow didn't blame Nucky for doing what needed to be done because Jimmy was a soldier. Harrow basically believes that Jimmy was in the game and that he understood why Nucky took him out. Nucky and his family always did right by him, so he doesn't begrudge Nucky anything.

It sure looks like Van Alden will get to go after Capone after all. Not exactly in the way I had envisioned, but still. My favorite Van Alden moment in this episode was the iron to the face. So great. That buffoon got his without a doubt. The entire staff at Farraday were toolbags. I don't know about you, but I am glad they're all traumatized. I hope he walks by the front door every day and just leers at his former co-workers Fuck that face-burned mook. I just hope we get to see Mr. and Mrs. "Mueller" pushing their kitchen aquavit at every Norwegian celebration.

WG: That scene was tense. The build up was tantric. The steam iron in Van Alden Mueller's hand was hissing like a snake. And the way he destroyed the office reminded me of Frankenstein on a rampage. The best part may have been the way Van Alden Mueller mustered up a "smile" into the headwinds of future skin-graft patient's withering smart ass repartee. The friendly grimace that emerged on Van Alden Mueller's mug reminded me of a teenager trying his first shot of whiskey, not wanting to make a face to play tough in front of friends. As we've mentioned before, a lot of the characters in Boardwalk Empire run cool, with icy hostility pushed down below the surface. No one shows the intense effort required to keep a lid on it more than Van Alden Mueller.

OMD: Now we're getting to the meat and potatoes of the women's issues. The build-up was as slow as one could expect from an HBO Drama, but we're finally getting to what feminists worked for: reproductive rights; birth control. It seems to be an especially timely episode given the women's issues playing a central part in this Presidential Election. We get to see up close and somewhat personal what a woman would have to have gone through just to get birth control to keep their pawing husband's sperm from impregnating them. How demoralizing would it be to have to go to French Stewart's doppelganger every time you needed a diaphragm?

WG: Being a man and everything, it is sadly too easy to overlook how brutal life was for women in that regard, up until the very recent past. Other regards, too. Let's see. Right to vote? Check. Equal pay for equal work? What year does that get accomplished? I believe the pill came on the scene in the 60s? Jesus. Dutch Caps? It was a refreshing bit of lightness to see Owen and Margaret waxing nostalgic about tinkers and bandy-legs in the Pony Rain. Pony Rain. Sequel to Purple Rain. Replace Prince with U2. Setting moves from Minneapolis to Belfast. Switch out Morris Day & the Time with The Alarm. The Edge doesn't have a word of dialogue but carries around a mirror so that Bono can ensure that his sunglasses remain at a rakish angle at all time. Slainte.

A Man not to be trifled with
OMD: Johnny Torrio's trip to the homeland and the ensuing waxing nostalgic/poetic about Italia (I loved the Pompeii allegory) brought back a flood of images related to the seminal 1986 Burt Reynolds star vehicle Heat, in which Nick "Mex" Escalante spent his free time gazing longingly at a poster of Venice. If you've not seen it, you've not seen the best action sequences in the history of the medium that is film. Capone sure seems to be on edge now. Has Torrio taken a turn to the existential? I can tell you that I'd pay to watch Greg Antonacci turning history into allegory as Johnny Torrio.

WG: Agreed. Sweet, silly, Torrio. Traveling does have a tendency to open your eyes to different possibilities, an antidote to the myopia one can fall into. Timmy Van Patten contrasted Torrio's new found laissez-faire outlook nicely with the half sides of beef hanging in the background (ribs!) at the stockyards. I can only assume Upton Sinclair was creeping around just off camera. I share your hard-on for Heat.  Best Burt Reynolds movie ever, right? I'd entertain arguments for HooperDeliverance was more of an ensemble thing than a proper Reynolds vehicle. Stroker Ace maybe? Thoughts?

OMD: In the Burt oeuvre, I'd be hard-pressed to omit Sharky's Machine, and the White Lightning / Gator combo is pretty sweet. I also hold Malone and Stick in special places in my heart.

"Whatever you're trying to pull, there's something you best keep in mind: You exist in this town because I allow you to." Well, Gillian, I'd say your days are numbered because I think Lucky will know he told you where he was heading for dinner. Only so many people knew. Your number is coming up soon. It's only whether Nucky or Lucky does her in.

WG: No doubt, a definite contender for the next cremation. It's one thing to seek counsel from Leander, quite another to mix it up with Luciano, Nucky, and Gyp.

OMD: As for Gyp, again with the fire? This time it's at least a flaming ball of it. He really gives zero fucks about collateral damage. Bystanders be damned.

WG: Now that we've established that the pack of homely jackals at Easter dinner in the last episode included Gyp's wife and daughters, how hard are they trying to make Gyp unlikeable? Jesus. One of them looked like a buxom Ernest Borgnine. That family was seriously ugly for television standards. The big blow up at Babette's seemed a little too impersonal for Gyp. The failed attempt to get any of  his target sets up some interesting themes going forward. The bosses in New York and Chicago are moving to the fore.

OMD: I was shocked that he'd do something as hands-off as just blowing up their dinner destination. I'm sure they were watching from nearby, but still, you would think Gyp would want to light the match and see the looks on their faces.

Horniest ginger in the Western Hemisphere
Who's hornier: the sex ed nun or Ethel from Downton?
WG: Ethel. She's had a taste and is ruined because of it.

OMD: Did this episode make you more or less likely to pick up a bottle of Old Overholt next time you hit up the liquor store? It seems as though the backroom dealing is going to succeed in taking Daugherty down. I like that Mellon is in the mix now. Interesting character. I like that he worked to get the top marginal tax rate cut from 73% in 1922 to 24% in 1929 only to have all of his work undone by FDR. All that work for naught.

WG: Mellon serves well as a stereotypical barron. Maybe if Mitt wins, we can return to those halcyon days, when something as juvenile as democracy wasn't a hurdle for leaders of men. Galt lives! 

OMD: How about Nucky beating down that nunce Gilbert Longacre? Bully for you, Nucky. Lesson to all: Don't call Nucky "sir."

WG: I guess Nucky's rough upbringing gave him the skills to handle himself. I thought maybe Bin Fartin would get over on him. Barely plausible. 

OMD: It would seem that with the presumed death of Billie Kent the Winter & Co. will make sure to punish any character as soon as they abandon their beliefs for the glitz of the gangster lifestyle. There's a cost to every action. Once she was kept, that was all she wrote.

WG: The real tragedy: she died a blonde.  

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