Monday, September 22, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Five, Episode Three "What Jesus Said"

This week's episode was penned by Cristine Chambers (who wrote last season's "The Old Ship of Zion") and Terence Winter's right hand Howard Korder. It was directed by the steady hand of Ed Bianchi. This week, we're back to Chalky's escape, the heat coming down on Margaret, the Young Turks go to Dr. Narcisse as representatives for Maranzano, and Nucky trying to make inroads with Joe Kennedy.

Old Man Duggan: In the Young Nuck in the A.C. flashbacks, we are introduced to Nucky's future wife, Mabel. Nucky finds himself thinking back to the innocent woman who first received his love. Chalky in the meantime is forced to think back to his Mabel, Maybelle, the daughter that he lost. I would wager a guess that these two tortured souls--whose journeys simultaneously bring a flood of memories of the deceased treasures of their lives--both lost their Mabels/Maybelles on account of the lives they chose to lead. The symmetry here is clearly not coincidental.

Wordy Ginters: With friend and foe alike coldly cast aside over the course of Boardwalk Empire's impressive run, one way to look at what we're left with is the parallel stories of two anti-heroes, Chalky and Nucky. They've got a lot in common. Overcoming poverty. Trying to maintain some semblance of family life despite the occupational hazards of making a living a la Wise Guy. I can only assume they both like to drink their eggs the same way: neat.

OMD: Looks like her dealings with Arnold Rothstein are going to get Margaret in a heap of trouble. The Widow Rothstein seemed to have little patience for Margaret's protestations and explanations. At least it gets her back in the room with Nucky. "Mabel?"

WG: I hope the Margaret thread gets woven back in more interestingly than we've seen so far, Its unclear to me how she still fits. The connection via Rothstein is strained. As far as reunion tours go, I'm much more inclined to firm up over Nucky and Chalkie taking on Narcisse, although it appears that Luciano is attempting to solve that one himself.

OMD: There's very little truth being spoken in the bottle episode within the episode. Or at least if there is truth being told, it's hard to tell from whom it's originating. The daughter, Fern, seems a particularly adept fabricator. Of course, it damn near gets her got, but such is life when you're living on the edge. Chambers and Korder's play on whether or not Milton's remembrance of the past can be trusted is nice, as we the audience are essentially put in Chalky's shoes left to suss out who is actually telling the truth and never really getting a great answer to that question, though that was hardly the point for the greater purpose of the story.

WG: Those scenes crackled because of the uncertainty. I was fairly sure Chalky was going to waste sweet, silly, Milton, but I damn sure didn't have any idea what carnage Milton was going to unleash prior to that. I still don't have any idea what most of the head feints (why did the dress make Mom crack?) and half truths meant, and like you've astutely pointed out, it's irrelevant on the surface. Underneath the exterior, perhaps it serves as a crude mirror of Nucky trying to work with Joe Kennedy, or the statement made by one of the Colonel's cronies (a young Leander?) in an A.C. flashback post murdered white rose aficianado, which in so many words was the idea that you never really know what another person is thinking.

OMD: As far as the dress making Mom crack, I'm pretty sure she saw the dark path that this whole ordeal was heading down with her daughter stripping down to try on her party dress at Milton's behest and had to remove Fern from harm's way at all costs.

Lucky and Bugsy head to Dr. Narcisse as emissaries for Maranzano. Or at least that's the story they're selling Dr. Narcisse. Given their long play on the Mustache Petes, I'm guessing all is not as it seems. Something tells me they're likely stirring shit up trying to get Maranzano off-guard for when they take him down. Whether or not Narcisse is a casualty of this play remains to be seen, though I'd imagine that the piece of unfinished business between Chalky and Narcisse plays itself out.

WG: Agreed. It would be a shame if we don't get some Narcisse vs. Chalky resolution. Terence Winter doesn't get off on denying viewer expectations as much as his Soprano's partner David Chase, so I hope to see them squared up rather than battle by proxy. I'm not asking for a Deadwood Dan vs The Captain street brawl, but something similarly epic would be fitting.

OMD: In the early years, Nucky was looking to the Commodore to see how the game is played. In 1931, he looks to Joe Kennedy, who claims to have made his fortune without breaking any laws. This is, of course, what Nucky aspires to be in a post-Volstead age.

WG: I'm not familiar enough with history to know if they did cross paths, or if it merely a genius plot twist to tangle Nucky up with the American Royal Family, but either way I dig it. I hope it's not over before the writers have a chance to weave more historical fiction goodness. Nucky is so enthralled by the fat cats that he would literally kiss a pony for a dime. Knowing this, I was surprised he more or less told Joe P. to get bent when Kennedy couldn't see his own hypocrisy. I was also surprised Joe P didn't ask Nucky to kiss a pony. As a horseplayer, I can honestly say I would have kissed several ponies given the opportunity and a green light from said pony. No means No, Josh. At the track, on the beach, wherever. Respect.

OMD: Respect indeed.

Milton, that crazy fucker, I was damn near certain--and it sure seems like Marie was, too--that shit was going to get rapey. Dude was no good. Guess that's why he got a hammer driven into his fucking skull. Nothing says Boardwalk Empire like a crude implement being driven deep into some dumbfuck's skull. Still, Chalky's answer to Fern's question regarding whether Maybelle knows what he is is the key here. "She knew what I was." She and Mabel both, I would presume.

WG: Milton fits nicely in the Boardwalk Empire batshit crazy bad guy Hall of Fame. I know he had a short run, but he deserves a plaque. I thought he was too religious to get all up in that. He chastely closed his eyes during the run up to the big fashion show. If you told me that the character of Milton walked right off the set of Being There, I wouldn't quite understand what you were trying to say, but then again I would.

OMD: The first proper introduction to the future Mrs. Mabel Thompson is a nice one. "'Enoch walked with God and he was no more.' . . . It means he didn't die." Somehow I wonder if that line mightn't be foreshadowing for how the season/series plays out. Regardless, it was a cute scene. Young love, the beach, and a horse. That has the makings of a much more lurid tale.

WG: Pony kissin! History tell us that Nuck does indeed live, It wouldn't bug me to see him get whacked, but that might be a little stretchy. I definitely got a kick out of young Nuck's sharp take on Mabel's lightweight bible verse interpretation. "It's going in circles". If he wasn't a bootlegger, he'd have a future as a Philosophy professor. Young Nuck looked like he was just sweeping sand off the porch and generally steppin' lively, but his mind was running game on paradoxical thinking.

OMD: Before the cart is placed ahead of the horse, Winter has said that Nucky won't necessarily make it out of this season. That Enoch Johnson and Enoch Thompson's fates aren't necessarily intertwined.

Back to the lurid, that GM tool who couldn't help from j-ing off under the table at a burlesque show, what do you think came of him? As for Kitty, that's one missile-twister with a special set of skills. I'm guessing she rescues teenage girls from sex trafficking rings in Europe on the side.

WG: I was ashamed for mankind. Men are animals. Ultimately, it's Mickey Doyle's fault. What the fuck happened to the respectable joint Chalky used to run? And why hasn't he had some blunt instrument planted in his head yet?

OMD: "I want to leave something behind." An answer which leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

WG: You can't buy happiness Nuck. However, according to David Lee Roth, you can park your yacht right next to it.

OMD: The Kid. He's gonna give Mickey half his pay? I'm assuming it's a young Paul Ryan and that's why he became such an advocate of objectivism. There's no way that kid doesn't suffer a horrible fate. He's got red shirt written all over him--unless, of course, he offs Mickey, granting me my wish.

WG: Our wish.


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