Monday, October 14, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Six "The North Star"

Old Man Duggan: The opening note of this week's installment certainly indicated that we'd be seeing a transitional episode. As goes Nucky's camp so goes the action, and with them trying to make sense of Eddie Kessler's suicide, there weren't likely to be a lot of earth-shattering things happening. I liked the opening shot of the quaking cup of coffee. Nucky's still feeling the aftershocks. It is a murky business he's engaged in. Tearing him from his thoughts, an offer for more coffee that sends him into existential contemplation.

Wordy Ginters: Nucky is usually 17 steps ahead of the game, so it's doubly jarring to see him disjointed and off his axis. The cool overhead shot of that opening scene helps establish Nucky's growing discombobulation. But really, if I'm honest with myself, the rippling concussion pools in the cup of joe made me think of Jurassic Park. I was half-expecting Gyp to come roaring and stomping into the station naked with a belt looped around his neck.

OMD: Six episodes in and we finally have a Margaret sighting. She works in Downtown Manhattan. I believe that she and the kids are in Brooklyn with her brother. I think it's safe to qualify their relationship as estranged. Nucky is alone, as implied by the overhead crane shot of him sitting back down at the table alone, after his other former confidant brusquely cuts the pleasantries as soon as she's reminded of the world she's left with his off-hand remark about not sending Teddy anything living in a box.

WG: Without Eddie and Margaret, Nucky no longer has a compadre in any sense of the word. The off-hand remark about not sending anything living in a box was a nice way to remind the audience of Owen Sleater's appearance in a box at the end of Season Three. Or was it boxes?

OMD: I think it was just one box.

I, for one, am glad that Winter & Co. went the route of showing that Hoover's Bureau of Investigation cares very little about the Prohibition-spawned criminal underworld that's burgeoning under their noses. Apparently Agent Knox is tilting at very real windmills without a Sancho Panza. I sure as hell hope that Eli still has Kessler's note. Something tells me there's a bit more going on than Knox let on. It would certainly appear that either the inaccurate and truncated translation or the embroidered letters "JTM" on the kerchief that Knox hands Eli will be his undoing.

WG: The scenes between Agent Knox and Eli provided some nice tension . Knox--A.K.A. Mr. Big Roundballs--brazenly sniffing around to see if anyone had caught on to Eddie's informing ways was the shit. Initially, I wasn't entirely clear whether Eli and Mickey knew what was going on, or if they were just tough-guy fronting. I feel bad for Eli. He's pretty much in the dark about his son's shenanigans at Temple, and he's inadvertently thrown some more red meat to Knox in the way of additional deposit boxes. We haven't seen the last of the kerchief. I hope Eli gets his head out of his ass in time to get it sussed out. I'm curious as hell to see what the note really says. It has to have Anti-Semitic undertones at the very least.

OMD: I'm still not sure that Eli's not trying to evaluate Knox, and I don't remember how damaging the information in the deposit boxes was (if this was established), though I'm sure we'll find out next week.

After a round of drinks at a speakeasy in which Mr. Sagorsky gets existential (existential crises are apparently the daily special at The North Star) and tells Harrow he came back for a reason, it looks like Harrow is back in the fold at the Sagorsky household. There is something that I find ultimately satisfying in seeing Richard Harrow, Julia Sagorsky, and Tommy Darmody together trying to form a nuclear family despite the fact that they're all damaged goods. Hopefully they can fit together in such a way as to make each other whole.

WG: Like Harrow's face, there is no whole to be made. Only a simulcra of normalcy. I can't imagine that Harrow's past plus Sagorsky's family history can equal anything but damage for Tommy. I'm definitely rooting for them though. Harrow is probably one of my all-time favorite TV characters. I'm a sucker for brown eyes and quiet dignity.

OMD: Daughter Maitland (who I've seen referred to as Narcisse's daughter elsewhere, but I don't think "Daughter" is anything other than a stage name) sure sunk her teeth into Chalky. He is standing in a field, the grass up to his chest, and snakes are fucking everywhere.

WG: Chalky is fucked. I was kind of bummed to see him cheating on his wife, but Narcisse knew exactly what he was doing when he tucked Daughter Maitland into the fold at the Black Onyx. Did you notice the way Chalky's face changed expressions when she was singing that mournful blues ballad? He went from white-hot carnal to pissed to wounded in the span of 60 seconds. Good stuff from Michael K. Williams. Between the adulterous strife, trying to mesh with his soon-to-be uppity in-laws, and Purnsley siphoning power out from underneath him via the smack trade, it's only a matter of time until Chalky gets got by a 12-year-old in a convenience store while trying to score a soft pack of menthols.

OMD: The Pierce/Petrucelli is a nice little bit of foreshadowing for the ultimate fate of Luciano's relationship with Joe Masseria. I doubt the series ever gets to that point, as Bennie Seigel doesn't off Masseria until 1931. Regardless, ratcheting up the tension between Lucky and Masseria is a good thing. I like that the business all went down at the weird-ass gator fight. They hash out the details with gators hissing in the background, working on two levels: first, showing how weird and lawless Florida was; and second, with gators taking each other out because higher powers pit them against each other.

WG: Nothing says lawless redneck savagery like a gator fight. The cultural contrast between the boys from up north, and the Duck Dynasty yahoos fighting gators is the kind of regional stereotyping that led Lynyrd Skynyrd to pen "Sweet Home Alabama."

OMD: Eli's existential break was also a nice touch. Shea Whigham's work is too often overlooked, but he really does have to cover more range than most in this series are called upon to, given that he has to balance his work-life with his family life. I liked him breaking down with Knox. I hope the weakness he showed in Kessler's room isn't the way in for Knox wedging himself in between the Thompson brothers.

WG: Eli has always seemed more vulnerable, breakable, and human than most characters on the show, primarily because of his family ties. You know Knox just realized he's found a weak spot he can push on.

OMD: While we got two standing-and-fucking sequences in the final 15 minutes, the one with Nucky and Miss Wheet definitely worked better for me. It may have borrowed a page from Californication, though the punching was before the fucking, not during, but Nucky needed his bell rung. Maybe he's not happy now that he's running a criminal enterprise, but the show needs him to stop wallowing for its momentum to go forward and if Patricia Arquette needs to punch Buscemi in the face to make that happen, so be it.

WG: Arquette landed a blow for the viewership. Nucky was whinging up a storm during his first visit. I was glad to see Sally knock the self-pity out of his head. I'm generally not a fan of punching between humans unless it's sanctioned by the World Boxing Association or other similar organizations, but I'm definitely a fan of standing-and-fucking. It screams of a desire that shan't be delayed. Just when I think Boardwalk Empire has exhausted the world of sexual fetishes, they go and find another dark corner to exploit. And of course, standing-and-fucking is exactly the kind of sexual fetish that led Lynyrd Skynrd to pen "Gimme Three Steps."


Austin Bike Tours and Rentals said...

Mickey Doyle with Eddie's walking stick was awesome. I'm glad they've kept him around this long, and I hope he gets to womp some rats before his end.

Josh Duggan said...

Yeah, I hope Mickey Doyle gets to whomp a certain Prohee rat.

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