Monday, September 23, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Three "Acres of Diamonds"

In this week's installment, Nucky heads to Florida, Harrow's chickens come home to roost, and Narcisse makes a new friend.

Wordy Ginters: Boardwalk Empire travels well. Some of the most memorable episodes have taken place away from Atlantic City. Stellar forays to New York, Ireland, and Chicago come to mind. Nucky’s shenanigans down in Tampa were no different. The opening scene, with Nucky alone, isolated, and adrift, looking out the middle window of his hotel room to the ocean, had to be influenced by art. Piss Christ?

Old Man Duggan: Either Piss Christ or they're having fun with John Donne's "No Man Is An Island." If Nucky is able to succeed at anything in Tampa, I hope it is in getting them to build a baseball stadium downtown. I'm sure it's just me, but I imagine every Floridian to be exactly like the drunk passed out at Sally's when Nucky goes back in the second time around.

WG: Tampa. Money, cunny, sunny. Director Allen Coulter was working the hot and steamy Tennessee Williams vibe hard this episode. The unofficial Tampa city slogan summed up the sleazy hick backwoods milieu nicely. Too bad August Tucker ended the episode with a machete quite literally in his coconut. He would have been a fun goon to loathe. With his swatting and spitting and fuck all. My favorite detail may have been Nucky’s disdain for the frou-frou drink.

OMD: Yes, August "Don't Call Me 'Gus'" Tucker could have joined Mickey Doyle amongst the ranks of irksome tools in middle management. But for the blade swung half-way through his gourd, of course. Coulter must have spent the months leading up to this episode watching A Streetcar Named Desire on a loop. I guess it makes sense as Tampa is essentially New Orleans without the history, culture, character, and taste. After all, you've got to gussy shit up for Boardwalk. As for Nucky's disdain towards namby-pamby cocktails, it'd be hard to argue with him. Just pour the goddamn whiskey in a tumbler, barkeep, and don't pussyfoot about.

WG: I’d pay big bucks to enroll in the Narcisse lectures: “No man who continues to add to the material intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.” I’m not so sure I’d be welcomed into the Universal Negro Improvement Association. I don’t know which power move I appreciated more: director Allen Coulter silhouetting Rothstein next to the U.S. flag in his meeting with Narcisse, or Narcisse not so discreetly wiping his hand after shaking hands with Rothstein at the culmination of that meeting? Beautiful. Dude is apparently unflappable. I’m guessing some white devil will get his goat at some point. Maybe.

OMD: I'm sure you'd learn a lot from Dr. Valentin Narcisse. The hand-wipe was great. I quite literally laughed aloud when Narcisse hit the cushion upon which he say while telling Rothstein, "Nonetheless, you succeeded despite yourself," after Rothstein apologizes for having possibly offended him. By the way, amongst Narcisse's students: Leander Sydnor (actor Corey Parker Robinson) from The Wire.

WG: How does the little sermon by Narcisse square with the Tea Party bullshit coming out of the record player at the lecture hall in Temple? “I sympathize with the poor, but let us remember, there is not a poor person in America, in these United States, who was not made poor by his own shortcomings.” Based on Narcisse’s plan to sling heroin to “inferiors,” I’d say the philosophy behind both sentiments is pretty similar. For what it’s worth, Paul Whiteman was the Vanilla Ice of his day, and that coed who gave young Eli Jr a hard-on in the library does look a lot like Colleen Moore. The older you get, the more remarkable you find it that you could have ever been embarrassed by getting a hard-on.

OMD: That sermon playing on the Victrola was from Russell Conwell, the founder of Temple University. It was an excerpt from his motivational speech "Acres of Diamonds," which he was said to have delivered more than 5,000 times between 1890 and his death in 1925. He also used the proceeds from his speech to found Temple. The tenets of the Conwell speech, especially the underlying self-satisfied superiority and the disdain for those who haven't succeeded, definitely seem to worm their way through not only Narcisse's philosophy but also in Nucky's dealings in Florida and the Temple indoctrination seminars.

Now while Eli's progeny may be into Colleen Moore's doppelganger, I do feel obligated to note that Paul Whiteman is the spitting fucking image of Roy from Wings.

WG: Your Strangers on a Train theory is pretty damn solid.

OMD: I'm just glad Carl Billings didn't get the better of Harrow.

WG: Loved the scene with Harrow in the barn. Takes off his mask to bask in the light. Birds sweetly chirping. Assumed it was a precursor for some kind of renewal or change of fate. I didn’t think he’d barely escape getting shot. Too bad he buried that sweet little hand gun in that dolls grave. Sis to the rescue. Those Harrows, think they’re the only people on earth.

OMD: Given Emmy's handiwork with the shotgun, I think it's safe to say that being a member of the Harrow clan means that you sprang forth from the womb with a piece in hand and the know-how required to take care of yourself. I'm really glad Carl's brains were sprayed across the side of the barn. What. A. Dick.

WG: Is Daughter Maitland literally Narcisse’s daughter? Speaking of unflappable, I never thought I’d see Chalky looking completely gobsmacked, but he was damn near drooling over Maitland. Poor bastard doesn’t have a prayer does he? Narcisse is working him every which way. Chalky: “White people seem to like her.” Narcisse: “Yes, that would be very important (pregnant fucking pause) to you.”

OMD: Initially, I thought that "Daughter" was her stage name but a cursory stroll around the interwebs indicates that she is, indeed, the daughter of Valentin Narcisse, making his referring to her as Daughter Maitland just another interesting wrinkle in his character. It would seem that she'll lead to his potential undoing, per her father's request. One wonders if the pregnancy of that pause actually got Daughter Maitland pregnant. Is Chalky fucked before he even got to make fuck?

WG: Back in Tampa, I was shocked to hear Nucky quote former University of Nebraska football coach Bill Callahan, by using the terms “two-bit fucking hillbilly” and “world’s tallest midget”. Callahan levied these very same descriptors at Oklahomans back in the day. I miss Bill more and more each game. Please take this opportunity to spin a tale about another Bill Callahan, I’m still trying to figure out why Bo Pelini, the August Tucker of the Big 10, still has a job.

OMD: While the awesome Bill Callahan was on the front of the boat tonight on the Dream River Showboat album release party, a bandmate or two were blocking my co-worker, the captain's view. My co-worker poked his head out and said, "It's not a big deal right now because there's no one out there [on the lake in the path of the boat], but could you guys tell me if I'm about to hit somebody? I don't want to kill anybody. [pregnant pause] Again." The Bill Callahan set tonight was fantastic [and was the reason this is getting posted a couple hours later than usual.

WG: Run, Ron Livingston! Run!

OMD: No shit.

WG: Great scene with Nucky and Patricia Arquette in the bar discussing whether or not the wealthy know where to shop, when plenty isn’t enough, and how one defines being alive. That scene encapsulates the ennui draped all over the first few episodes of this season, and sets the table for the wise guys from up the coast to come down and roll the local rubes in Florida. The only thing missing was Arquette and Nucky carving up a cake shaped like Florida. Jesus, the episode ends with a moth circling a flame (light bulb). Nucky can’t help himself.

OMD: I have to say I like the headspace Nucky is living in to open this season a whole helluva lot more than where he was to open last season. I like Nucky a lot more when he's getting down to business. He's definitely not happy, and he sees what his thirst for power has cost him, but it's time to shit or get off the pot, and he knows it. It sure looks like he's going to shit.


[taken by Logan Fry on the cruise earlier this evening]

2 comments:

WordyG said...

I can't believe how great that boat video sounds. All shows should take place on water.

Josh Duggan said...

Indeed. All should take place at Capital Cruises.

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