This week's antepenultimate episode penned by Howard Korder and directed by Jeremy Podeswa features a couple of conclusions to character arcs in a very Boardwalk Empire kind of way.
Old Man Duggan: Anyone wondering how so many storylines were going to get wrapped up in just six episodes got some answers tonight. And all this happened while Nucky was playing hooky and Chalky moved all of maybe four feet.
Wordy Ginters: It began on the gallop with Chalky at the Harlem Cathouse. Kind of unusual for Boardwalk to get rolling so quickly. I made a mental note that fucking around was apparently not going to be tolerated.
OMD: We pick back up with Daughter Maitland, Chalky, and Althea, right where last week left off. Clearly Althea is Chalky's. It must have been a rough seven years for Daughter, as her gift went without professional implementation thanks to being blackballed by Narcisse.
WG: Hey, I get the pushback against those who fetishize vinyl culture. The sound is warm. The cover art was integral to the experience. You have to listen to the whole damn album. I know, I know. But I'll be damned if Daughter's voice didn't sound fantastic coming out of that vintage turntable. Even better was seeing it saw Chalky in half.
In the flashback, we have perhaps the first inkling that Mabel may be a bit moody, as she's up in the middle of the night making pies. She seemed to have just a slight undercurrent of emotional fragility that she'd then underplay by speaking in that faux Southern accent.
WG: Homage to Crispin Glover in Wild at Heart. "I'm making sandwiches!"
OMD: While we're in pre-WWI Atlantic City, we may as well talk about Sheriff Lindsay delivering young girls to the Commodore with their mother's in reluctant tow. The look on that mother's face. What the fuck was she thinking? And how the hell does Sheriff Lindsay sleep at night?
WG: On piles of memory-numbing cash. You can't be a cog in the cynical wonderland that is Atlantic City without viewing those not in on the take as less than human.
OMD: As for Gillian, apparently she was always a fucking handful. Around the World in 72 Days. This is where Nellie Bly comes into Nucky and Gillian's story. Funny since she also did that expose on the treatment of the patients at the Women's Lunatics Asylum on Blackwell's Island.
WG: Nothing happens without a reason on this show. The details are on point.
OMD: I guess the Depression made hard, crass broads with a knack for rolling Missourians in the alley with the draw of dirty, back-alley threesomes. Those women also apparently enjoy making men recite Longfellow. I have to wonder if Irene, the near-King Neptune's consort, was one of the Commodore's pedophiliac casualties.
OMD: That old piece of shit should've apologized to the nice--er, breathing--ladies.
WG: Hey, Nucky may be a piney from the sticks, but he's no mouthbreather. A little respect for the ladies shouldn't be too much to ask.
OMD: Man, Van Alden and Eli's plan that was foisted upon them was a shit one. Ralph is boning in the count room. Agent D'Angelo is asked to take care of them only to have Al come back with Paul Muni and George Raft with him. Timing went wrong in nearly every possible way. "We're having trouble at home." "I can vouch for that." Even when their lives hang in the balance, Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham deliver the funny.
WG: Those two were magic when they found themselves in the same scenes. Too bad it didn't happen earlier and oftener.
OMD: In his final moments at least Van Alden got to be himself again. Crazy, invoking Jesus, insisting wrath would reign down on the man he was strangling.
WG: It was interesting for no other reason than I've always kind of wondered how Van Alden could stray so far from his extreme straight-edge religious vibe. Did he cotton to the dark side, or just get swept along in the tumult that was his story arc? I don't remember if it was this week, or last, but I was glad to see a pre-episode " previously on Boardwalk Empire" clip of Van Alden drowning the crooked prohee from way back in Season One. That batshit brutal baptism/drowning revealed to me how fucking awesome this show is. Shannon was fantastic in this series, it was good to see him going out in a blaze of biblical righteousness.
OMD: Yeah, if he's got to go out, it was nice to see him revisit his roots en route.
Eli says it's Ness gunning for him, and Al unwittingly hands the damning evidence to D'Angelo. Eli is released to return east, presumably to eventually help Nucky.
WG: A little too tidy. But what the hell. Sets up some interesting possibilities for the last two episodes. Shea Whigham was awesome as per usual. Right after Van Alden got popped, and Eli thought he was next, he began nervously mumbling and apologizing over and over to his wife? That was powerful.
OMD: I guess Narcisse's being neutered at least made him amenable to releasing Daughter Maitland. Chalky clearly knew what his fate would be, but he got to hear her voice again, and that was all that mattered. As he stepped into the light of day, he knew what fate awaited him. He still got to do right by his daughter and Daughter, who Althea confirmed did love her father.
WG: Chalky went out with some dignity. It was cool that he knew what was up. What a great character. I don't think that Winter quite new what to do with him. Tough episode when you have popular series icons like Chalky and Van Alden both get whacked.
OMD: "You think I don't know who you are?" I'm really starting to think that there has to be more to Joe Harper's story. If he is Tommy Darmody, though, I've got no idea what his endgame is, as revenge could have been taken in the alley.
WG: It's either a head feint to keep us guessing, or something is up with that dude. Towards the end of the episode there was a split second cut where they flashed to Joe Harper's face. Struck me as odd for a rando extra type guy. He's undoubtedly set up for a bigger role down the stretch.
OMD: Regardless, it looks like Nucky is getting his army ready for a war. Unfortunately his legion of allies seems to be dwindling. I can't imagine how he gets out from under this.
WG: With Mickey Doyle serving as his right-hand man? He's screwed.