Monday, October 28, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Eight "The Old Ship of Zion"

Shit, well, shit hits the fan this week as Chalky addresses the influx of heroin to the community by way of Dunn Purnsley and Dr. Valentin Narcisse sans subtlety. Narcisse counters the public airing of dirty laundry with an attempted hit on Chalky. Tolliver/Knox moves his attentions to Eli. Nucky gets his first shipment of rum from Florida with Sally Wheet sitting shotgun when the trucks pull in.

Old Man Duggan: Normally I'd work up to this, but let's get down to brass tacks. Much as I surmised last week, Dunn wasn't long for this world. Of course, Daughter Maitland's lapside rendition of "The Old Ship of Zion" sure had me doubting myself for at least a minute or two--especially given the revelation of Chalky's relationship to the song--so bully for Cristine Chambers, Howard Korder, Timothy Van Patten, and Terence Winter for the misdirect.

Wordy Ginters: Some sweet and sour tension in that scene. Powerful. Did Daughter know that Chalky knew he was being double-crossed? Shit was complex. Chalky thinking about his own family, his father's funeral, his children, his infidelity, his problems. Daughter maybe actually loving Chalky and torn at the thought of aiding his demise. Who knows what was behind the pooling tears in those beautiful soulful eyes? Was Chalky able to put the puzzle together by the way she sang the song? I loved his line about Daughter's singing, "...that sound like you tying up a secret."

OMD: Also as predicted Daughter Maitland chose Chalky over her keeper, though the scene played out much better than I could have hoped. I loved the framing and the distance between Dunn and Chalky, pitted against each other in rooms opposite each other. As the distance between the two closed, the tension mounted spectacularly. It would have been anticlimactic for Chalky to go down this early in the season, especially at the hand of Dunn, not Narcisse, but when Dunn was choking the life out of Chalky, my heart was in my fucking throat. Luckily for Chalky, Daughter Maitland chose the potential for freedom that was behind Door Number Two and plunged that knife square into the middle of Purnsley's back. Something about his trying to reach to the knife that was just out of his grasp was humanizing in his last fateful moments. It was really quite a turn for Erik LaRay Harvey, who got to stretch his legs quite a bit more this season. In that final moment, the hope draining from his eyes was palpable.

WG: One of two centerpiece scenes in the episode. I really didn't have any idea which way it would break. For a moment, I thought Chalky was so depressed at the realization that he had been thoroughly undone by Narcisse's scheming that he preferred to let Daughter kill him softly with her song, so to speak. So satisfying to see Chalky fight back. Stabbed him in the mouth with a piece of splintered wood. Sweet revenge for Purnsley being a dick about Chalky's illiteracy way back when. He's been a shadow of his former bad-assed self for most of the season. White patrons patting him on the head. Narcisse making him look like a rube. His daughter's fiance's family thinks he's gauche. He's got everything he always wanted in the Onyx Club, but appears to have less clout than ever. With Purnsley out of the way, things get tight as a drum. What happens to Daughter?

OMD: I can't imagine she doesn't end up being collateral damage. Narcisse will likely see through her when she tries to lie about Dunn's demise.

While we'll likely have to wait until the finale before Narcisse actually dirties his own hands on Chalky White, it's safe to say at least part of him feels like maybe a re-evaluation is in order. It ultimately came down to Chalky's bond with Daughter Maitland, but he still came out on the other side, and all this while punking Narcisse out in front of his incredibly dull play. I can tell you this much: I enjoyed Harlem By Torchlight a whole helluva lot more than Ominira.

WG: I'm with you on that one. Loved watching Narcisse mouth his own dialogue with such sincere pride. "Its symbolism was beyond them." The failed playwright's lament.

OMD: By the way, the Harlem By Torchlight was standoff was fantastic. It really did a nice job of ratcheting the tension up, with Chalky's sneer driving me to maniacal laughter. It felt so good to have him one-up the Doctor.

WG: For me, the trash can lid heroin bonfire represented the best of what Boardwalk Empire can offer. TVP is the go-to guy when it comes to directing episodes that need to reel in plot pay-off. Chalky riffing on The Warriors "come out and play" bottle clinking by banging on the trash can, and then recouping his rep and tarnishing Narcisse in one monologue and a pile of burning smack was magic.

OMD: Moving to the other side of town, wouldn't you like to know what kind of arrangement Eli and Tolliver/Knox came to? Obviously Eli is pissed at Nucky for stepping over the line from uncle to father, but would Winter & Co. really go down the fraternal betrayal road again? I doubt it. My guess is Eli decided to play along with Tolliver/Knox to get a hold on what his angle is. We'll find out soon enough, and if Eli is, in fact, choosing to screw his brother over again, at least this time it will have been in an attempt to protect his son. Something tells me that maybe Tolliver/Knox ends up wrestling with the gators, coming out, well not coming out at all.

WG: It appears that Eli has chosen saving his son over protecting the family biz, but it most definitely could be a holding ploy. Maybe it does boil back down to the sibling rivalry thing. In retrospect, it's like a boil that has never been lanced.

OMD: I loved the look on Shea Whigham's face when Tolliver's compatriot tried to shove him in. Can we give him the Emmy for that? Hell, that whole scene, the intensity on his face followed by his non-verbal sussing out of his options? Fucking great. And the look on his face as Nucky and he come together, Nucky reassuring him--we're to assume that he's turned on Nucky given this expression, though again I wouldn't jump to that conclusion quite yet--and then watching his family have fun while only he knows what's to come, that look is brilliant.

WG: The acting on the show is fantastic. Buscemi may be the weak link, but he's not required to do much other than to look askance at the morons he's forced to tolerate. Shea Whigham is nails. Fucking Knox.

OMD: Perhaps the most shocking turn of events in the episode was the fact that somehow I felt bad for Mickey Doyle, if only for a moment. When Nucky cracked him in the forehead with Kessler's cane, I sort of felt bad for him. What the hell is going on here?

WG: Seeing Nucky get physical is like watching Billy Butler steal a base. Hard to believe on any level. I thought Mickey was pretty solid in the episode. Loved the mindless yammering anecdote about the twins (which may have been allegory about the prohee's, and the difference between Knox and his predecessor), and the stereotypical numbskull math that equates spending money on dates with sexual favors. His awkward reaction to literally getting caned by Nucky was pretty brilliant, too. I thought Sally Wheet was chatting up Mickey just to get Nucky jealous, but her brazen cleavage is as unpredictable as it is independent. Another great character. She was most definitely on top in that scene where the noisy sex woke up young Willie, right? Winter was involved with The Sopranos, so when I heard the heat and the clatter, I imagined Sally treating Nucky the same way Janice treated Ralph Cifaretto, i.e., femdom assplay.

OMD: Oh yeah. She was definitely in control.

We've now got three different times in which Ragged Dick has come up, if I'm not mistaken. Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches story was first used way back in Season One, when Nucky was saying that Jimmy Darmody once reminded him of Ragged Dick. Last season, Gyp took Nucky's copy of Ragged Dick from his desk after he'd run Nucky from the Ritz Carlton. Now [presumably] that same copy returns, this time with Nucky giving the book to his younger self, Willie, as Willie packs up to return home.

WG: Ooh, that's good. I had totally forgotten about the Darmody occurrence. I definitely remember when Gyp lifted it from his desk. I've never read Horatio Alger, but obviously Winter is trying to tell us something.

OMD: Lifting oneself up by the bootstraps. The American Dream (and perhaps a Pynchonian take on it). Roughly half a century after it was published, and the people trying to actualize the rags-to-riches fairy tale are dropping like flies because they're doing so on the wrong side of the law, the concern for the means by which it is achieved being less than an afterthought.

So the theme tying this episode together would certainly seem to have been betrayal by one's right hand. Dunn ends up dying on account of his attempted power play. Eli, painted into a corner by his brother and son, would seem to have been forced (again, not an entirely safe assumption, as a second betrayal would all but guarantee his death) to turn on the man whose side he has served at. Is the bond of blood thicker than the resentment that symbolic servitude breeds? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

WG: Way to put a bow on that mofo. How about some Lou Reed?

OMD: Picture that shit burning atop a garbage can for Sweet Lou.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Man on Film: Zero Dark Thirty

So I started this entry right after I saw the film last January. The next two paragraphs are what I had started way back then.

Coming off the phenomenally suspenseful 2009 Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow had some pretty lofty expectations to meet with her next film. Zero Dark Thirty exceeded any of those expectations.

While the two films dealt with the War on Terror, The Hurt Locker just takes place in Iraq and is an agnostic character study of a soldier who has no place in the world but where he is. Zero Dark Thirty is strangely also a very personal story, tracking a single lead for the most part, but its scope is much larger. Thankfully (and as usual), I do not need to delve too much into the plot. We all know where it was going.

Back to the present-day, this film has begun making the rounds on the premium cable movie networks, so that should give you an idea as to how long ago this should have been completed. Rather than extrapolate further on a film that's been out so long, I'll simply say that I remember quite liking the film, and I found the primary point of contention regarding the film doubling as torture-porn care of some mild detractors to be largely unfounded. It may have been rough at times, but at this point aren't most action films? Give me a visceral, graphically violent action film any day of the week, especially when it's as compelling and well-directed as Zero Dark Thirty.

Oh yeah, Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke were both particularly fantastic.

And this concludes your Friday night Man on Film entry dump.

Here's the Italian trailer:

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.

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."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Five "Erlkonig"

Agent Knox takes Eddie Kessler to an abandoned chair-stacking center, while Gillian tries to get her fix, and Nucky is fixing Willie's boner.

Wordy Ginters: Boardwalk Empire borrows from Goethe for the episode title and for key dialogue that serves as the fulcrum upon which Knox breaks Eddie. What other series has the nards to trade in this kind of dusty English major territory?

Old Man Duggan: I wish that I could say that my degree in that field of study did me good here, but I did not study Goethe in college. I do love when literature rears its formidable but oft-ugly head in my programs.

WG: Goethe's "Erlkoning" is about a father who fails to believe and protect his son from a supernatural monster. Who are the fathers and who are the sons in this episode?

OMD: Well, it seems that Eddie was a father and a son. A father who strayed from his family, who then supplanted his family with a relationship that alternated between being the father and the son with Nucky. Obviously, he tended to Nucky as his valet and chauffeur--the nature of the care provided perhaps skewing a bit more towards the maternal than the paternal but still intrinsically parental--but when looking at the emotional elements of their relationship, Eddie yearns, or rather yearned, for the approval of Nucky--who was the provider of his security of a more pecuniary nature--and it isn't as though Nucky is simply his employer, as he was actually putting a roof over Mr. Kessler's head. Really, though, isn't Nucky everyone's father? At least everyone living on the Monopoly board. And while Nucky is off tending to another in his flock, the one who cared for him the most came into harm's way while he was absent, unable to protect him because another son (and the odds-on favorite to replace Kessler) got himself into trouble.

WG: Is Capone being a coke fiend historically accurate? Van Alden Mueller's face after the toot from Capone's spoon was almost too good. It was so funny it almost ruined everything. Too discordant for the character and the setting.

OMD: So apparently there is an Al Capone biography, Capone: The Man and the Era, by Laurence Bergreen, that asserts that Capone was a long-time cocaine abuser, an assertion that requires a level of speculation that causes some to bristle and one that has no eyewitness accounts to back up the corroborate it, though it is consistent with the perforated nasal septum and his erratic behavior. As for Nelson-George, the look on Michael Shannon's face was amazing. Most interesting actor out there. While funny, I do think it fit because we have seen the beast that lives deep within him. Even if it didn't tap the beast directly, there is an intensity to Van Alden that runs in the veins.

WG: Speaking of obscure references, did you catch Frank refer to Al as "Garibaldi?" If wikipedia is to be believed, and I can't think of a single reason why it shouldn't be, then Garibaldi was an Italian General and politician who kicked much ass, literally around the globe, back in the late 1800s. So yeah, the reference works. As long as we're at it, I'm pretty sure Gillian was name checking Captain Beefheart with her "Abba-Zaba" schtick, and not the taffy candy bar with the peanut butter center. What horrors did she have to commit to acquire that candy bar?

OMD: I caught the Garibaldi reference but had no idea who he was. Surely, they are talking of their fellow countryman. As for the Abba-Zaba, not only did it look like she'd been doing untoward things to that wrapper, but one has to think that Tommy will never be able to eat a candy bar for fear that he'll become a junky like his dear old Mima.

WG: Nice touch placing a rumpled flag in the background of Willie's dorm room as Nucky calmly explained that blood and family power trumps everything, and not to worry too much about a few innocent folks getting steamrolled along the way. It's ugly to see, but all too true. Apple pie and all that. Clayton Campbell, All-American rube. Welcome to the 99%.

OMD: So Clayton Campbell has to be related to Pete Campbell, right? Disgraced uncle? Father perhaps? Can we assume that Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire exist in the same world of historical fiction given Weiner and Winter's connection on The Sopranos? I'm going to go ahead and answer my rhetorical question in the affirmative. 99% indeed.

WG: Was there a male character in this episode that Gillian didn't offer herself too? Waiting for the man is such a bitch. I thought there was a chance she was going to hit up Tommy with a sexual offer in return for his milk monies. Considering her history, not out of the question. She has to be the most vile and least sympathetic character in the series. I'm curious to see how twisted Ron must be to display such understanding towards her at the end of the episode.

OMD: If she lives to see the day, I'm sure she'll throw herself at her grandson. She's so wretched. I hope that Livingston's character is a sadist, and she gets her just deserts.

WG: How bad-ass did Purnsley look getting his shoes shined? The man can convey some cool, evil menace. He's the black Lawrence Tierney. Is his kingly perch meant to convey his growing influence and power via the heroin trade, or does it show weakness that Gillian can so easily find him in the masculine holiness of the barbershop?

OMD: I would assume that King Sweetback, a man who doesn't even need a name to be recognized, is enjoying his newfound clout. I'm guessing he doesn't feel like he's vulnerable having been found by Gillian in what we presume are his new junk-slinging digs, but if Gillian can find him this easily, it can't be good in the long run. One has to assume that Dunn and Chalky's relationship is about to get strained.

WG: Lots of flashy cinematic camera work. The whole episode was shot in shadows or awash in a pale blue-grey patina. From Frank's epic death (shades of Miller's Crossing), to the newspaper rustling in the windows right before Eddie broke, like his last gasp, or the empty window after he jumped, Boardwalk Empire once again matches it's literary pretension with stunning visuals.

OMD: I'm glad I didn't do my due diligence on Frank Capone because, if I had, I'd have known he was about to get pumped full of lead. Regardless, your boy Van Patten brought it again. Hell, even the scene in the hallway in the school and all of the gauzy scenes while Gillian in a heroin-induced haze looked great. I liked the framing in the scenes with Knox interrogating Kessler. Knox occupies the left side of the screen in medium-close one-shots, while Kessler occupies the right in alternating medium-close one-shots, suggesting an oppositional relationship, one forcing against the other. When Kessler breaks and accepts his cane back from his BI captors, he sits on the left side of the frame, having flipped. I don't think it's insignificant that in the Eddie's final moments, he looks into the mirror, which is framed again on the right side of the screen, sees a reflection of himself back home on the other side of the fight, and knows that he has only one path he can take given his transgression. The shot of Kessler going out the window isn't one I'll soon forget. You'll be missed, Eddie.

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