Monday, September 16, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Two "Resignation"

This week, chickens come home to roost at The Onyx Club, Nucky prepares to become a Rays fan, Eddie Kessler steps up to the plate, and we find out that Nucky has two new potential threats.

Old Man Duggan: Well, the handful of things that were left unclear last week were made a little more clear this week. While I liked last week's episode well enough, it did seem like something was missing. With the stage having been set, Howard Korder and Dennis Lehane got to play around in this rich world this week. Now last week we didn't quite get around to talking about this last week, but Lehane has been brought on as a Consulting Producer [for those who may not know this, Consulting Producers typically have a little more input than a regular [writer-]Producer does, but obviously doesn't have the authority that the Executive Producers and showrunner would have] this year, which for me is a big deal. Given the subject matter and setting in his last book, Live By Night, and where Nucky is heading, I'm goddamn giddy. Even if the rumored Lehane/Pelecanos series gets picked up by HBO, this could be a great season. Pelecanos has also been brought on this season, but just as a writer.

Wordy Ginters: Stellar writing stable. I believe Pelecanos worked on both The Wire and Treme, Regardless, as a crime fiction fan, I share your giddiness. Lehane is a contemporary giant of the genre. This is where HBO has the edge on other TV serial dramas. Top shelf on everything from the writing to the cinematography to the acting.

OMD: Yes, Pelecanos was a scribe on The Wire and Treme. I do wonder if he was a bigger name if he, too, would be a Consulting Producer.

Onto this week's business: This week's big winner was Eddie. "Mr. Thompson is part of everything. He is in the sky and sea. He's in the dreams of children at night. He is all that there is. Forever." The look of revelation on Nucky's face when he delivers that screed is fucking priceless. I loved him coming to Nucky imploring that he entrust him with more responsibility. Respect. Seriously, this was a great episode for Anthony Laciura to work his chops a bit.

WG: I thought Eddie was riffing on Maggie Gyllenhaal from Secretary in that first scene. Poaching the eggs a little too long. Spilling the coffee. Dissing Nucky’s delicate undergarments. The petulance indicated he wanted something, but I didn’t know exactly what. It will be fun to see him establish a beachhead in Florida. Eddie blotting the coffee stain reminded me of the “stain blotting” from my favorite video by The Oh Sees, “Lupine Dominus.”

OMD: I guess we know what Harrow was up to. Gun for hire in a Strangers on a Train scenario. How long until an old man hazards death crawling underneath an out-of-control carousel?

WG:  Sooner that we think. A dog-eared copy of The Chessmen from Mars playing the role of lighter.

OMD: And while we're on the subject of Harrow, my money is on him not being done killing quite yet, seeing as though Carl Billings's old partner ended up with his brains dripping down the walls of his office. What sort of shit was this guy into? Gun underneath his jacket. Gun in the desk. Multiple men wanting to make sure you're taking a dirt nap. I can't help but wonder where this is taking Harrow's story. Seeing as though his business was in Milwaukee, I'm guessing he has to turn people into sausage. Sidenote: I'll be damned if the husband and father of two daughters dead in his office the second time around didn't look like he had to have been Jim Beaver's brother.

Ellsworth's kin are in Milwaukee?
WG: Brother of Ellsworth. I was getting a John Malkovich vibe. I read a pre-season interview with Terence Winter, and he specifically mentioned that Harrow’s early episode activities were intentionally vague. I want to know why sis walks with a limp, and what happened to her beloved Gerald. Could they be more stoic? No. None more stoic. Does Harrow’s obvious affection for Sampson lend weight to the great scene from Season Two episode “Gimcrack and Bunkum,” when Harrow was basically saved from suicide by a Sampson look alike mutt who stole his face plate? Let me answer that for you: Hell yes.

OMD: Good catch on the call-back.

I liked how they played with Agent Knox's angles this episode. Given his willingness to see Agent Sawicki offed and his lack of concern afterwards, I doubt we've seen the last reveal as to what Knox is actually up to. Regardless, enter J. Edgar into the mix. I'm going to be a bit upset if we don't see him in a dress by season's end. Unfortunately, however this plays out, it seems that we might end up seeing Eli in the clink when next season opens in 1925. Are we to believe that Gaston Means doesn't actually know what Knox is up to, or is he playing a different angle?

WG: Means is fantastic. Who knows how that crooked puppeteer will queer things? As long as he gives play-by-play in that syrupy everywhere-but-nowhere Janus-faced dialect, I’m on board. I also look forward to seeing J. Edgar and Knox hoofing it to some Gershwin. Knox is an interesting character. I’m a sucker for the faux-rube put on. Reminds me of Lou Ford from The Killer Inside Me.

OMD: Silent Cal shit-canned Daugherty. An Amherst classmate of Coolidge's Harlan F. Stone is his replacement, and as Treasury Agent Elliot found out in a closed-door meeting, now there's a Bureau of Investigation. Stone takes a seat on the Supreme Court in 1925, so I guess we'll see if he pops up.

WG: Has to be a challenge for Winter to deal with source material ripped from the history books. He hews closer to the spirit of things more than details. I’m not a huge historical fiction fan, but when you dig into legendary gangsters like Capone, the Prohibition Era, and figures like Rothstein and J. Edgar Hoover, I’m on board.

OMD: Dr. Valentin Narcisse. This wacky Trinidadian seems interesting. Libyans. Nordic tribe. Perhaps purity obsessed. I, for one, am very glad that Alma Pastor was taken care of. What an unconvincing tale of fictitious rape. Nucky was not buying it for a second. Narcisse apparently wasn't either, although I guess it wouldn't have mattered if he did or didn't. I suppose it was best that she was left where she was, if for no other reason than for Nucky and Chalky to know that episode was behind him. I'm sure Bader is none too pleased.

WG: Dr. Valentin Narcisse is straight out of a Tea Party fever dream. You can imagine him surrounding voting precincts in the suburbs with militant-looking jazz musicians and tap dancers. Isn’t he played by the same dude who set up Bill Murray’s logistics in Broken Flowers? As soon as they dumped Alma, he dropped a sweet Ethiopian Afro-Beat jazz mix-tape into the stereo for the ride back to NYC. I like him because he plays against stereotypes a little bit. The Capone family comes off a little too Mario Brothers for my liking. O’Banion has a facet or two. Early results indicate Narcisse lacks the unpredictably predictable volcano rage of past heels like my man Gyp, but in some indistinct way, he comes off far more powerful and creepy.

OMD: Jeffrey Wright was, in fact, Winston in Broken Flowers. On assumes that Jarmusch was unable to get Ernie Hudson to reprise the role.

Between Narcisse, Knox, and to presumably a lesser degree Hoover, this season should have some interesting forces pushing against Nucky. I wish I didn't have to wait a week to see what happens.

WG: I also bait with waited breath.

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