Monday, November 11, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Ten "White Horse Pike"

This week's episode saw Chalky make a run at Dr. Narcisse, Nucky find out that Masseria was using his trucks to smuggle heroin, and Chalky barely escaping the episode with his life after Bader turned on Nucky.

Wordy Ginters: Does anything portend turmoil more definitively than clouds in your coffee? With the opening shot of a half-bearded Eli, his creamy cup of coffee, and a not so subtle nod to Carly Simon, you knew shit was going to get stirred up in White Horse Pike.
You had me several years ago when I was still na├»ve / Well you said that we made such a pretty pair and that you would never leave / But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me / I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee / Clouds in my coffee… -Carly Simon
Fuck Warren Beatty. And his brother Ned. Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” will forever more serve as the coda for the Daughter Maitland and Dr. Narcisse in my mind.

Old Man Duggan: Indeed. That's at least two episodes this season that started on a close-up of a cup of coffee. I suppose this shot was intended to strike a chord about two disparate things mixing together. Different races working together. Men and women working together. Heroin and booze coming together more fully in the vice-peddling in organized crime. A lot of new political wrinkles getting worked in this week.

WG: The episode was primarily concerned with asymmetrical deal-making. Capone jamming a succession plan down Torrio’s throat. Knox with his hand up Eli’s ass (at the breakfast table! Is nothing sacred? Breakfast for fuck’s sake. The meal that projects the coziest Norman Rockwell vibe of all family feeding times). Rothstein using Margaret to get over on his Anaconda Realty investment. Nucky using the open grave gambit to claim a piece of the heroin pie via Lansky. But by far the most compelling storyline (other than the Harrow/Chalky hand-shake, which was nearly as iconic as seeing Armstrong walk on the moon) was the love triangle between Chalky, Nucky, and Narcisse. Did you think Chalky was going to get out of the episode alive?

OMD: For a second, I was worried, but then I realized there were two more episodes left, which leaves far too much time before the season's end to kill off a character as central to the show as Chalky. I'm not entirely sure how Nucky manages to extract Narcisse from the heroin dealings without infuriating Joe Masseria, however. I loved the alleyway handshake. I can't say I was expecting for Harrow's job to be dishwasher/wound-dresser. The scene I liked even more, though, was tea-time with Margaret and Rothstein. There was something sort of sweet about the whole thing. I, for one, was happy to see Margaret get a little bit of something for herself, and I loved that she saw her boss for the crook he is. Different shades of crooks, but it definitely seemed like there was a message about Wall Street hidden deftly between the lines there.

WG: How bad-ass was Chalky with a US flag for a sling?

OMD: Almost as bad-ass as him strangling that fucko deputy with it. Those shitbirds got what was coming to 'em. I loved that Chalky was concerned with whether or not using the red, white, and blue was gauche. Always concerned with social convention that Chalky.

WG: TV rarely gets more satisfying than the question Nucky levels at Narcisse: “There is something I’ve been meaning to ask you. Who the fuck do you think you are?” It was nice that Winter gave the audience a trail of bread crumbs--Willie with the nicely-timed info, telling Nucky that he saw Narcisse consorting with Bader--to reassure us that Nucky didn’t actually sell out Chalky like he appeared to in his deal with Masseria, Lansky, and Narcisse. Winter has allowed Nucky to be a stone-cold bastard before, namely by offing Jimmy Darmody at the end of Season Two. It would have been ballsy to allow Nucky to offload his relationship with Chalky for 1/3 of the heroin trade. Viewer anarchy. Other than Harrow, I’m not sure there is a more popular character.

OMD: Definitely. Unlike Darmody though, Chalky has always been loyal to Nucky, even if their relationship has been strained a few times. Darmody got too big for his britches and tried to make a move on Nucky. You come at the king, you best not miss. Given Jimmy's transgressions, he had to go. Chalky has had Nucky's back whenever he's needed it. I just hope Chalky doesn't think Nucky turned on him, something he could certainly ascertain from the deputies trying to off him. I'm just glad Chalky was paying attention to where they were going. Were he one of those passengers who simply sit in the car without paying how they're getting where they're going any mind, Chalky'd be taking a dirt nap right now.

WG: I admire Al Capone’s unconventional taste in prostitutes, Torrio set him up, right? I loved how Capone was trying to convince himself that Torrio’s timely exit was good luck rather than skeezy double-cross planning. Right? Right?

OMD: Yeah, I honestly don't know if that was Johnny Torrio's doing or if it was the Irish striking back. I guess given the presence of the Al's line about Torrio being lucky to have not been there, we must assume that the line has more significance than for Torrio to have not had anything to do with the HawthoRNe, sorry force of habit, Hawthorne getting lit up. I'm going to refrain from looking at Torrio's Wikipedia page so as to not spoil anything for myself. As for the prostitutes, different strokes, especially when it comes to Al Capone.

WG: The hotel that got shot to shit was the Hawthorne Inn. Capone’s home base is in Cicero. Cicero remains to this day the home of Hawthorne Park, the asshole of the Chicago horse racing circuit. As a degenerate horse racing fan, the only thing that would tickle me more than some horse racing angle on Boardwalk Empire is if Nucky asks Narcisse who the fuck he thinks he is one more time.

OMD: I know you still light your nightly prayer candle for Luck. I hope Nucky asks Narcisse who the fuck he is while he's capping him. Nucky doesn't get his hands dirty often, but he may make an exception for Narcisse. Speaking of Thompson's capping their aggravators, I wouldn't be surprised to see Eli putting a bullet in the back of Tolliver's head.

WG: Speaking of non-sequiturs, if the scenes from next week are to be believed, Lou Gossett Jr. makes an appearance as Chalkie’s old man. I hope it serves as a launching pad for you to wax poetic about Enemy Mine.

OMD: Now I'm not sure if you're yanking my chain or whether you knew that I had, in fact, written about Enemy Mine before. Sadly, I'm not sure how I can gracefully segue from this episode into a lengthy comparison between Enemy Mine and Brokeback Mountain.

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