Monday, October 21, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Seven "William Wilson"

Welcome once again as Wordy Ginters and I lead you through this week's episode of Boardwalk Empire. Gillian gets clean. Willie drops out. Margaret has a run-in with Arnold Rothstein. Knox gets Hoover's backing, though Hoover steals the credit for his work. O'Banion swindles Johnny Torrio out of half a million. Chalky is too busy getting some strange to notice that the walls are closing in around him. 

Old Man Duggan: As sad as it was for both of us, this episode was unfortunately not about the former Royals speedster, Willie Wilson. Moving past the inevitable disappointment that arose when conclusion of the Edgar Allan Poe short story which this episode bore for a name was read in Willie Thompson's English class, there was quite a bit of maneuvering going on in this episode.

Wordy Ginters: Correct. I too had high hopes that inside-the-park home run fetishist Willie Wilson would somehow inform the episode. But alas, nevermore. Regarding the maneuvering, Boardwalk Empire is almost radical in it's deliberate and languid pacing. When the slow sensuous groove begins to pick up the pace, as it did in tonight's episode, and the plot pay-offs begin to reveal themselves, the erotic anticipation is enough to make me think Sting was onto something with his joyful boasting about tantric sex.

OMD: Much of what was going on revolved around the man with the monogrammed handkerchief. JMT. Agent Tolliver. Agent Knox. The largest favor that Knox brought the audience this week was that we got some more Gaston Bullock Means, though the added bonus of having J. Edgar Hoover prohibit George Remus from speaking in the third person had its value. Means, ever the opportunist and always operating in his own best self-interest, hiding Knox's true identity was a surprise to me, though it certainly makes sense. I love that Knoxiver was drowning his sorrows at a speak, an irony that surely was intended. Do we really think that Means isn't going to see to it that Jim Tolliver doesn't meet an untimely end to get out from under his thumb?

WG: Lots of fucking tonight. Ron and Gillian. Chalky and Daughter. Presumably Willie and Tits McNietzsche. But no one got screwed harder than Knoxiver. Who knows which way Means will twist, but I read him as the "weak link" in the Nucky chain that Knoxiver was working on. You are likely there too, and yes, it's hard to see the an eager little toe-head like Knoxiver getting one over on a veteran operator like Means.

OMD: At the very least, Willie and Tits McNietzsche were petting quite heavily without that pesky clothing getting in the way.

So Margaret is working at what would appear to be a shady land deal place. Can't say I saw that as her future. I'm glad that it brought her face to face with Arnold Rothstein--er, Abe Redstone. A cursory internet search shows me that the is an Anaconda Realty in Anaconda, Montana. Moving right on past the fact that there is a town called Anaconda in Montana, which has to be at least 4,000 miles from the nearest spot in which anacondas are indigenous, you have to think Anaconda Realty is getting the most web traffic they've ever seen. Back to the land trust, what the fuck is Rothstein's game there? He needs her discretion? Is it just that he's using it to launder money and avoid the IRS, or is he up to something a bit trickier?

WG: I have no idea how the Margaret/Rothstein pieces are supposed to fit, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter that much. I'm glad Rothstein is still around. I assumed he would be pushed all the way off the margins after Meyer elbowed him off the Florida gravy train. Hopefully at some point we see Sally and Margaret dressed in white undies having a pillow fight while a drunk Nucky looks on drunk on bourbon and eating fried peanut butter and banana sammiches. Which, by the way, isn't quite as sexist as what passes for a women's rightful place in society at the Eli Thompson household.

OMD: Yeah, Nucky snickering while Eli looked incredulously at his daughter who wanted to *gasp* learn was a little jarring. I bet Margaret and Rothstein coming into contact with one another matters more than we would think initially.

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with Gillian and Roy (Ron Livingston). This show is far too dark for her to find a stand-up dude, even if he is divorcing his wife. Is "divorce" Prohibition era code for murder?

WG: Every time Ron kept winding the conversation around to "secrets," I was certain she would blurt out, "I had sex with my own child." Much like Means and Knoxiver, it's hard to imagine Ron coming out of that relationship with his limbs intact. I can't see a hint of darkness in that sweetly chubby face.

OMD: It sure seems like shit is about to hit the proverbial fan in Chalky's life. Daughter Maitland is setting him up. Dunn and Narcisse are lying in wait, well at least when Dunn isn't sticking a blade in deacons who are wise to his heroin trafficking.

WG: Narcisse's smooth moves at the church meeting reminded me of the "Hamsterdam" episode in The Wire. In Hamsterdam, the good people of the Western Precinct were pleading to the police about the many problems they had to deal with in their neighborhood. Bunny Colvin basically told them he couldn't do anything about it. In Boardwalk Empire's meeting however, Narcisse deftly twists the public outrcy to serve his interests. Unlike Bunny Colvin, who had no answers, Narcisse has all the answers. Not only will the neighborhood survive and thrive, but Deacon Cuffy (who looks a helluva lot like Bunny with a Red Sox play-off beard) is whacked, Purnsley grows stronger, and Narcisse sinks his fangs deep into Chalky White and Atlantic City.

OMD: That scene was the yin to "Hamsterdam's" yang.

Back to Daughter Maitland--her backstory--seeing who we later find out to be Narcisse murder her mother should have fucker her up a lot more. I wonder if maybe she isn't playing both sides of the fence hoping to get out from under the vampiric Dr. Valentin Narcisse.

WG: What a creepy scene to close the episode. She was praying not to God above, but to Narcisse. You may be onto something. Another thread that I'm looking forward to unspooling.

OMD: Unnerving to say the least. She's probably so Stockholm Syndromed that she doesn't have the urge to break free, but it could play out that way.

The Sieben Brewery Raid is essentially the final straw for Torrio. O'Banion takes him for $500,000 and sets Torrio up for the fall. It sure seems like O'Banion isn't long for this world. His Wikipedia page supports that assertion. I'm glad that storyline happens to line up pretty well with when this season should end.

WG: Capone is obviously stuck in the anger state of dealing with loss and grief. I love seeing him sniff, hiss, and spit like a bowed-up halloween cat. You're right, history tells us that O'Banion is soon headed for the great potting shed in the sky. The way Al has been bouncing off the walls with rage after Frank's death, I tremble for O'Banion. And he ain't even that likable. What are the chances Al finds out that Van Alden Mueller drew iron on his brother?

OMD: I don't know. I think maybe that's an out for Michael Shannon if he wants off the show, but it's possible that nothing comes of it past Van Alden Mueller coming to terms with who he is now. It does seem like there must be more in store for Van Alden Mueller than that, though, doesn't it?

I'd have loved to see Eli hit Willie with a closed fist. Would have been sweet. It definitely still feels like Willie is going to be Eddie Kessler II, though I'm not sure that I actually want to see that happen, as Willie isn't exactly interesting once you move past the similarities between he and Nucky.

WG: The only reason I like Willie is that it gives Terence Winter a window to playing around with 1920's college stereotypes.

OMD: Fair enough.

Is Dunn long for this world? The karmic balance almost needs to be struck, right? I'm guessing he falls in the attempted hit on Chalky that looks like it's about to go down per the preview for next week.

WG: Dunn has deserved the dirt nap for a long time. I'd love to see Chalky woo him back just to prove that Narcisse isn't supernatural.

Let's keep the real or imagine homage to Hitchcock alive. The show opened with a soon to be popped copper reading a newspaper headline about Leopold and Loeb, a famous Chicago homicide that involved two geniuses (literally) who attempted to carry out the perfect crime. Hitchcock's Rope was based on the real-life events of that case. I'm not as well-versed in Hitchcock as you are, but I've always loved Rope's creepy charm. The central conceit of the film, believing oneself too smart to be caught, a Nietzschean will to power, creative interpretations of morality, the idea of Ubermensch, and generally being King Shit of Fuck Mountain, pairs nicely with some of the egos in Boardwalk.

OMD: As long as I don't have to sit through Farley Granger "acting," I'm fine with Rope playing itself out on Boardwalk. It'll be a bit anti-climactic if a computer-animated Jimmy Stewart ends up putting away Nucky's interstate criminal network, but if that's the way Winter goes, I can't do anything to change it.

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