Monday, November 12, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Three, Episode Nine "The Milkmaid's Lot"

Nucky is in a post-concussive haze following the attempt on his (and Rothstein's and Luciano's and Lansky's) life. Owen, Margaret, and Eli attempt to minimize his interactions with others so as to hide his weakness. Gyp has set up shop in Tabor Heights, taking in shipments on its beaches. Nucky attempts to enlist the help of Rothstein, Lansky, Luciano, Waxey Gordon, Peg-Leg Lonergan, and Frankie Yale in the war he's about to wage against Gyp, but they all turn their backs on him.

Pain in the junk. The worst kind.
Old Man Duggan: This episode seemed very much akin to when Al Swearengen was knocking at death's door, doubled over with stones following the balls-out brawl with Seth Bullock in Season Two of Deadwood. Nucky's not right, his position is arguably weakened. Those around him look on with worry (at least in part informed by their concern for self-preservation) while trying to cover for him in his infirmed state.

Wordy Ginters: Gleets! Holy shit I loved me some Deadwood. Coincidentally or not, the director for this episode, Ed Bianchi, worked on Deadwood, the similarities may be more than accidental. I liked how he ginned up a jagged, fuzzed out and skittish vibe from scene one to the very end. Mirrored Nucky's concussed mental state nicely.

OMD: Chalky White sighting! It's been too long. If anyone has been underutilized this season, it has been Michael K. Williams. He had the one big episode and got to strong-arm an effete actor. Otherwise, not enough Chalky.

WG: I concur. I'm currently plowing through the book Boardwalk Empire is based on, and real life Nucky's recognition of how important keeping minority demographics properly coddled was a key to his long reign as AC power broker. But yeah, Michael K. is the man. Think about the cast up in this piece. Excellent acting. Phenomenal cinematography. Although it is very good, it still adds up less than the sum of its parts.    

OMD: Yes, unfortunately, it seems like the potential of the show seems destined to be not quite fully realized.

I'm a little surprised that Gyp allowed Sheriff Ramsey to live. Restraint isn't a character trait that he seems to be imbued with. Quite the little town hall meeting. The $200 a month that Gyp's giving the townsfolk of Tabor Heights equates to just over $2,700.00 in 2012 money. I'd have to say I'd gladly put up with a crazy mafioso in my backyard if it meant I was netting $32K per annum. You?

WG: The address requirement was a little disquieting. What are you gonna do? You take the money and keep your mouth shut. I was shocked to see Sheriff Ramsey still sheriffing at the best public meeting ever. I assumed he was ground into powder. Should have realized that for Gyp, without fire, there is no death. I also dug his little reassurances: "Barbers cut hair, cooks cook, librarians keep checking out books... Bible school is canceled."

OMD: I think the weirdest part of this episode was Manic Nucky. Seeing Nucky out of sorts is obviously all kinds of weird, but we've been treated to that throughout the season as he's been trying to manage his adolescent romance with Billie Kent. Manic Nucky was truly bizarre. His wishing of a happy day of birth to his step-daughter was something else.

WG: How much coke did Buscemi inhale as "prep" for that scene? Worst birthday party ever. Seeing Nucky off-kilter flatters Winter's choice of Buscemi as the lead. Would you buy Gandolfini hamming it up like that? On the same hand, when Nucky has to get physical, it doesn't work nearly as well. Regardless, I've always been a Buscemi fan, or at least a fan of the work he's been in. Trees Lounge.  

OMD: Trees Lounge was actually the reason I got into Hayden in the first place. But yes, he does lack the natural physicality to pull off scenes like the beating of Billie's actor friend in the last episode.

How much did you want to see Harrow take the smirking Legionnaires out behind the woodshed? Fuck those smug, grinning toolbags. Once he's worked those shitheads over, I hope Harrow takes Tommy and Julia Sagorsky off and starts a makeshift family with them.

WG: Seems like things are headed towards a twisted little family with Tommy and Sagorsky. That would be a happy resolution. Many monsters on this show, but Gillian may be the most ghastly. I wonder how many will end up surviving in the end? Did it surprise you that Harrow could handle himself on the dance floor? Me neither.  

OMD: I'm sure Harrow learned to dance with his sister back in Ohio or wherever the hell he's from.

Wick dipping
This was certainly the episode in which children were scared shitless. Nucky traumatizing Emily with his unorthodox cake-cutting. Teddy exposed to the Gypsy man of his nightmares on the phone. Tommy exposed to swinging middle-aged scrotum while poor man's Matthew Modine was dipping his wick in Josephine wax vat. These kids are sure to be well-adjusted positive contributors to society, right?

WG: Absolutely. Kids are resilient. They won't remember this stuff in a few years when they begin snorting bath salts and having sex with priests.

OMD: So Margaret promising to run away with Owen when the time is right pretty much seals his fate, eh? It probably does not mean that Nucky offs Owen himself, but Margaret can't have nice things, and Mr. Slater is an immigrant girl's dream come true, fresh from the glen. He'll surely fall for daring to fly so close to the sun, and the pyromaniac in the Continental Army-issued hat walking the beach in Tabor Heights is likely to be the one to melt those wings. After all, what is Margaret Schroeder-Thompson if not destined to waste away in a loveless marriage?

WG: Spot on. Margaret isn't the one who gets hurt in this scenario. The whole thing was a bit muddled. I foolishly thought Margaret's pre "going to war with Masseria speech" pep talk to Nucky signaled loyalty. Evidently not. Gyp in the hat. Perhaps may favorite scene this whole season was the disembodied hand smashing the glass, and reaching in to snatch that sweet colonial lid off the Pamuk-visaged replica of Mad Anthony Wayne. Meaningless aside: when I was courting Mrs. Ginters, she had a part time job at an upscale tchochtke joint called The Colonial Shop. Truth be told, it was my imagined witty repartee with an unrelenting and heavy dose of questions about their tri-cornered hat selection that won me a first date. They sold no hats. I have yet to hear a valid or logical explanation of the goods and wares actually sold by The Colonial Shop, other than artisanal candles and primitive furniture. They are out of business. Marriage creeping up on 15 years. Victory for Ginters and the symbolic tri-cornered hat.

OMD: Hard to imagine a colonial gewgaw shop not thriving in Athens of the Plains. I'm glad something came from such a brave business venture. I can only assume your house is littered with Yankee Candles.

It would seem that Nucky is backed into a corner, what with Gyp being insane and Rothstein, Yale, Lonergan, et al wishing him luck in his future endeavors. If one were to handicap his odds of taking on Gyp and coming out victorious without a little help from his friends, they would not be in his favor at this point. At this point, can we assume that the absence of Remus (Torrio's hooch connect for any who may have forgotten), the running of Old Overholt, and the old connection with Johnny Torrio--along with the continued presence of the Chicago storyline in the first place--would indicate that Nucky will get help from Torrio's crew and that Nucky will later be called upon to come to Torrio and Capone's aid when things on the O'Banion front heat up? Does this mean a Florentine holiday for Torrio and Nucky in which they walk arm in arm through the museums, taking in the finest the Renaissance had to offer?

WG: Another in a long-line of plausible spin-off series that I would definitely watch. Much better than Burt Wolf twaddling around Europe with a fanny pack. I was expecting a rah-rah, everybody joins Nucky's quest, pep rally type situation. I'm glad they turned shoulders. Makes for a much more interesting end of the season. Historically, Nucky did preside over the first "gangsta's convention" of sorts. There were many discussions about cutting out the rough stuff, making nice, and sharing the wealth. The end of prohibition made much of those Occupy Wall Street tenants moot, but I appreciate the sentiment. You've likely got it sussed just about right. Torrio to the rescue, or more likely, Capone. Winter has often talked of his fondness for the unexpected. As we hit the home stretch, I'm looking forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve.

OMD: I sure hope he surprises me. While being right about the way the season ends up would be all fine and dandy, I'd rather be shocked.

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