Monday, November 4, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Nine "Marriage and Hunting"

Van Alden trudges through a sea of emasculating shit only to come out on the other side smelling of roses--virile roses. In the process, bodies hit the floor. Narcisse reprimands Daughter Maitland with his tears and fists. Chalky calls Narcisse out at the Onyx Club. Rothstein comes a-beggin'. Harrow and Julia take a trip to the courthouse together.

Old Man Duggan: Lots to love about this episode. I'd have loved it more had it been simultaneously titled "How Nelson Got His Groove Back," though it's hard to complain about from whence the title came. The episode starts in Chicago, so let's go there first. Van Alden-Mueller is getting it six ways from Sunday. The wife is nagging. Chester's bawling left and right. O'Banion and Capone are both abusing him, verbally and physically. That worthless fat fuck whose face he melted in the most excellent iron-to-face scene ever comes back to get his revenge. The symbolism in that opening scene where he's working on the pipes and can't get it to budge because the nut is stripped was beautiful. A trio of rotting corpses in a through-way, O'Banion filled with lead, and a pilfering of the petty cash on his way out the door later, and Nelson Van Alden is fucking back. With. A. Vengeance.

WG: Van Alden unhinged. By Cream of Wheat. I thoroughly enjoyed the aftermath back home when he turned the Sears & Roebuck lean-to into the set of an ersatz rap video by "making it rain" (who has a thousand dollars in his hand?), and then all but asking Sigrid to say his name (Who built this house? Who pays the bills?). Personally, I prefer a more nuanced power-sharing arrangement for household management, but evidently Van Alden thirsts for control. And frankly, he deserves it.

OMD: I don't know which part had me smiling more: the menace on his face when he was telling O'Banion about drowning Sesbo, or the look of surprise on O'Banion's? I do wish Van Alden--and I think he'd insist that we drop the Mueller noise--had pulled the trigger himself, but alas, it wasn't in the cards. Still, the fact that he got his masculine swagger back at a flower shop is a tasty morsel.

WG: Mueller noise is so last episode. How does Michael Shannon express approximately 117 different emotions in every scene? Rage. Anxiety. Fearlessness. Desire. Heartburn. Guile. Guilelessness. Weirdo. It's amazing to watch. How bad is it for Van Alden that he wasn't the man to wipe out O'Banion? Did Capone lose faith in Van Alden, or did he get too coked up to wait around any longer? He may think Van Alden is still on the Irish side. I'll be hurting if Van Alden and Chalky both get dirt-napped off the show. I expect one or the other but am hoping it's not both of them.

OMD: We'll see how that plays out. I will note that O'Banion died in November of 1924. It seems like Winter & Co. are playing a little loose with history again, as there were still leaves on the trees in Chicago and kids on the beach in Atlantic City. I guess it's not a huge development in the greater scheme of the show. I was just surprised to see O'Banion fall this soon, figuring that was something that would happen as the season reached its fever pitch in the final two episodes.

The irony of Nucky telling Chalky
...when I'm conducting business, I mind it. It, and only it. Not some piece of ass with a sugary voice. Not my pride. My business. 
was not lost on me. Nucky must have really left Billie Kent in the past, huh? To be fair, he does appear to be reformed, in the more literal sense of the word.

WG: Is Nucky trying to forward hard-earned wisdom from his escapades with sweet, silly Billie Kent? Or his he still in a fog about who he is? Either way, it was interesting to see Winter bringing the dimension of power and race back into the Nucky/Chalky relationship, it's been too much "Ebony and Ivory" and not enough "Fuck tha Police".

OMD: Having said that, Chalky needs to get his shit together. If he makes a run at Narcisse in haste, he'll not be long for the world. I'm a bit curious to find out where the Maybelle development goes, as Chalky's dalliance must surely blow up in his face on the homefront. Narcisse heading to see Joe Masseria will surely add a new wrinkle to the story arc, as Masseria will likely back Narcisse in his attempt to exact revenge on Nucky Thompson.

WG: Chalky has been painted in the corner all season. If the kitchen cold-front Mrs. Chalky was laying down before the pre-nup-planning get-together is any indication, it's pretty obvious that someone has dropped a dime on Chalky's wandering ways. He appears to be in several cross-hairs, with no support in sight.

OMD: While we're on the subject of Masseria and New York, it's interesting to see Rothstein so down on his luck. Such is the plight of the high-stakes gambler, I suppose. If Van Alden had been effectively neutered, Rothstein is in the present-tense. Because right now it looks like the Anaconda is wrapped firmly around him, both literally, in terms of the Land Trust that bilked him, and figuratively, with Masseria having squeezed Rothstein out of the heroin game. I hope he uses that sweet Mickey Doyle money--by the way, how fucking great was that scene?--to fuck Margaret's boss up right and proper. Maybe he needs to head to Chicago to find his testes in a flower shop like Van Alden.

WG: It is weird to see Rothstein so pale, neutered, and acting like a flat-footed mark. Up until the this season, he was the one guy who you could count on to dope out all the angles. For gamblers, the line between winning and losing is pretty damn thin. Supposedly, pros need to hit around 35% of their horse-racing bets and maybe 53% of sports bets to turn a consistent profit. Sounds like a low-bar, but if you've ever gambled much and been honest with yourself, it's nigh fucking impossible. Funny that he thought a life-insurance policy on Mickey Doyle would provide leverage. You're right, it was a fantastic scene. Would Nucky so gleefully give up Mickey if the brassy Ms. Wheet hadn't taken at least a little bit of a shine to his folksy charm? Maybe it was just the hat. Women with huge breasts love hats.

OMD: I don't really know where to squeeze this in, so this is as good a place as any, but for the first time, I feel like maybe I might have an idea as to what Ron Livingston's Roy Phillips is up to. He was on the phone with someone that sounded like his wife, against whom he claims to have filed divorce papers. Yet that person to whom he said, "Me too," presumably in response to something on the other end of the line akin to "I love you/I miss you," would have been totally fine with the switch to being called "sir" when Gillian entered the room. I think he's got ties to faux Jimmy, who last went missing in her care in the precise scenario that she laid out for how her son left her. His whole angle seems to be that he wants to be her confidant, and that seems to be the biggest unsettled matter in her past. If we've learned anything, it's that chickens always come home to roost on Boardwalk Empire.

WG: That phone call threw me. Was it the supposedly soon to be ex-wife? Was it some mysterious confederate? Something unsavory is going on. You are likely right suspecting a faux-Jimmy connection. What's the saying? If a character packs a hammer in his bag before the climb, you can be damn sure the hammer will come out before he gets to the top of the mountain? Unless it was a total head fake, faux-Jimmy's acquaintance who recognized Gillian at the cafe a few episodes back had to be a placeholder for something. It will be interesting to see who turns on the other one first, Gillian on Roy or vice-versa. I got a big kick out of Gillian's boardwalk confession. Bathed in the light, cleansed and reformed. Or so I naively thought. Delicious to see her in the courtroom minutes later, realizing that her Boardwalk schtick was nothing more than a dress-rehearsal for her testimony.

OMD: So for the first time since Harrow was in the woods ready to end things, we get a moment that brought me to tears. Julia sits down beside Harrow on the bench seat in the bay window and proposes to him. The bewilderment in his eyes, the tremble in his chin, the stunned silence, her imploring him to cut the awkward silence before his ultimate acceptance. Fucking beautiful. Maybe theirs will never be the typical marriage, as they're both so broken, but I do hope that the broken pieces that are Julia, Tommy, and Harrow can come together a form that makeshift family that can somehow make them all whole, or as whole as any of those three can become.

WG: Awesome scene. Awkward. Authentic. With Old Man Sagorsky saying fuck-all to what's left of his liver and rough-housing with Tommy in the yard? Thank god for serial dramas. You rarely find that kind of depth and character development in most movies. It's damn near like reading a book. And I'm old enough to mean that as a compliment.

OMD: And of course, the development that might yield the most righteous bloodshed--or at least the most bloodshed in support of Nucky Thompson, the de facto hero of the show--is Richard Harrow coming to the Albatross in search of work. Sadly, this probably signals the end of steady TV work for the inimitable Shea Whigham, as I worry now that he won't be able to get out from under the thumb of Agent Tolliver without spelling doom for himself.

WG: Of course. Harrow showing up right on time. He'll help tilt the chess-board towards Atlantic City when shit goes down.

OMD: I guess we'll find out next week how screwed Eli really is. Until then, let's just bask in the glory that is the happy union of Richard Harrow and Julia Sagorsky.

WG: I'll toast to that.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...