I must admit to finding the 7 year jump from season-4 to season-5 somewhat disconcerting. That’s a lot of plot water under the bridge. My understanding is that HBO and the producers of Boardwalk Empire agreed to wrap it up after 5 seasons. So it goes. It has made for a bit of extra exposition but what’s a little exposure among friends. It was obviously best to end a series about bootleggers with the repeal of the dread Volstead Act. That’s where we find ourselves. Cheers, bottoms up.
What Jesus Said focuses primarily on some of the core, original characters, which is always a good thing. I did, however, miss Al Capone’s demonic laugh and the weird glint in the artist formerly known as Agent Van Weirdo’s eyes. My random, discursive and sporadically amusing comments will commence after the break.
Margaret Gets Redstoned: The ghost of Arnold Rothstein hangs heavily over the proceedings. It looks as if Margaret’s bald-n-bland boss is ready to make her the patsy over missing money from Mr. Redstone/Rothstein’s account. A cool hundred G’s. Mrs. Rothstein wants to be paid and she knows who our Margaret really is and expects her to get the dough from Nucky. The episode ends with Margaret paying Nucky a visit in Atlantic City. We’ll get to that later.
There was a lot of foreshadowing of a possible Nucky/Margaret reunion: from a letter from someone who *may* be her daughter to Joe Kennedy’s obsession with family and legacy. More on old Joe in a few minutes. I’m glad they’ve given Kelly MacDonald something to do this season. I’ve missed the spunky Scots lass doing an Irish accent. It made me nostalgic for the #indyref. The good news for y’all is that I’m out of Salmond fish puns for now.
Chalky’s Desperate Hours: Mr. White’s new sidekick takes Chalky to a home he recalled from his days as a free man. It has a safe, they must be rich. Buck the dumb fuck hasn’t accounted for the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. People who used to be rich are just scraping by and the spunky mother-daughter tandem they hold hostage are among them. You could cut the tension with a knife during these scenes. At least Buck didn’t slit their throats.
The hostages are calm and *almost* in control of the situation. They quickly realize that Chalky is a classier burglar than Buck the dumb fuck, perhaps because the latter totes a milk bottle during much of the scene. Milk? Really, dude? Yuck. Chalk also had a kid Fern’s age who was not named after flora, or even fauna for that matter, although Maybelle sounds a like a name best bestowed on a creature of the bovine persuasion.
Before things spun out of control, Chalky hit Buck the dumb fuck upside the head twice with an ax and killed him dead. I halfway expected Ted Allen to appear and tell Buck why he’d been chopped. It was for being a milk drinking dumb fuck…
The main purpose behind this sub-plot was to show that even after 7 years in prison, Chalky White is a gangster with boundaries. He doesn’t believe in killing civilians or in fondling young ladies named after vegetation. Playing such characters has been Michael K Williams’ lot in HBO life: Chalky meet Omar. Omar meet Chalky. I have a hunch that Chalky will be paying Dr. Narcisse a call rather soon. Chalky comin’
The Curious Case of the Harlem Villain Summit: Speaking of Dr. Narcisse, we see the silky voiced villain for the first time this season. He seems to have prospered since he survived the Nucky/Chalky/Richard murder attempt at the end of season 4.
Charlie Lucky and Benny Siegel pay the good doctor a visit. I always call Siegel that because I’m afraid he’ll come back from the grave and pistol whip me for calling him Bugsy. He did not care for that, especially when portrayed by Warren Beatty. I would never argue with Beatty: he might go Bulworth on my ass as well.
Dr. Narcisse is not amused by Charlie Lucky and Benny’s attempt to sell him “protection.” He rejects their overtures politely but firmly, and without singing the Tim Finn song Protected as I sort of hoped he would. I know it would have been anachronistic but I like musicals. In fact, their attempt at Persusion was an abject failure. No More Tim Finn jokes, I promise.
Luciano and Siegel are nothing if not direct. They visit one of the doctor’s Harlem bordellos claiming they want some “dark meat,” but instead blast away, slaughtering the head pimp and every hooker in sight This is reminiscent of an attack on one of Chalky’s joints by Narcisse-ian henchmen in season-4. Nothing is new in the gangster world, y’all.
I wonder if Narcisse will turn for help to FBI director, J Edgar Hee Haw, with whom he cut a deal back in 1924. It might be wise, not only are the New York wise guys after him, Chalky comin’
19th Century Boy: We see our future anti-hero Nucky thriving as an errand boy for the Commodore. A hotel guest befriends the young Nuckster and tips him to deliver fresh flowers to his lady friend every doggone day. Then the doggonedest thing happened: the guest murdered said girlfriend and Nucky learned a valuable lesson in how to keep his mouth shut. It comes in handy for the rest of his life. Well, I’ll be doggone…
When Joe Kennedy Met Nucky Thompson: Nucky has always been an expert at reading men. He finds his fellow Irishman, Joe Kennedy, a tough nut to crack. The Nuckster assumes that anyone in the booze business enjoys imbibing so he offers Joe a glass of “Dago Red.” Kennedy declines; he’s a teatotaler because he’s out to shatter the stereotype of the Irish as hard drinking louts, not because of the slur on Charlie Lucky’s people. Where the hell is Gyp Rosetti when you need him?
Nucky finds himself unnerved by Joe’s constant chatter about family and legacy. Nucky is in it for the money, pure and simple. Joe always has an eye on the future and his children are his future. This certainly rings true as does Boardwalk Empire’s depiction of Joe Kennedy as a man who walks a tightrope between the legal and illegal. Btw, the bun in Mrs. K’s oven is Teddy who happens to share a name with Margaret’s kiddo.
Nucky takes Joe to Chalky’s old club, which has gone from swanky night club to burlesque joint. It’s now run by the dread Mickey Doyle, the guy with the derby and annoying laugh. Nucky really should do viewers a public service by having Doyle whacked. Maybe Chalky will take him out when he sees what they’ve done to his once classy joint. As long as Doyle doesn’t have the last annoying laugh…
Nucky finally learns Joe’s vice, which involves girls, girls, girls. (There used to be a row of sleazy strip clubs catering to sailors on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. All of them had girls, girls, girls on their signs.) Eagle-eyed Kennedy spots a guy in the club who was being a malaka in public. Bad boy, there are brothels for that in Atlantic City.
It’s unclear if Kennedy and Nucky will go into business together, BUT Joe’s focus on family gets Nucky thinking about the family he once had and lost. Then, Margaret shows up and rouses a sodden Nucky. The reunion, such as it is, doesn’t get off to the best start when he calls her Mabel, who was his first wife and may be the wee lassie who urged young Nuckster to kiss that horse.
Stay tuned. Chalky comin’