Boardwalk Empire: Aces of Diamonds – Making the Broad Even Broader

**Warning: Possible Spoilers**

I’m going to be very careful this year when looking at singular episodes of Boardwalk Empire because of episodes like “Aces of Diamonds”, which aired next to the penultimate episode of the soon to be legendary Breaking Bad (this may have had quite an effect on my Boardwalk viewing experience). The third episode of this 4th season of “that prohibition show” is one that was underwhelming and overwhelming at the same time.

The show has covered many different locations in the previous 3 years; Atlantic City, New York, & Chicago being the most prevalent. In this episode, Nucky Thompson travels to Florida, a location in which the audience is again introduced to even more new characters (including an aged Patricia Arquette as Sally Wheet an owner of a speakeasy in which Nucky angers a prospective business partner).


This writer was worried about what may be brought into the mix by traveling south to the Sunshine State and so far my fears are coming true. While Florida may very well become something important in the entirety of the narrative, this episode truly exacerbated the sprawling nature of the show. The addition of Florida also magnified the rather odd nature of Richard Harrow’s section, as it’s becoming more and more difficult to connect the character to anything that currently matters within the Boardwalk Empire universe, other than the fact that he was in the previous seasons. While Mr. Harrow may very well be the most interesting character on the show, it’s difficult to identify his relevance at this point.

The most important development in the show involved Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Narcisse and really came as no surprise as the ever-apparent feud between Narcisse and Chalky took another step in the doctor’s favor. Narcisse added an attractive new act to Chalky’s club (a woman who seems to have caught Chalky’s attention) and managed to gain a new recruit, or so it appears, in Dunn Purnsley. The Narcisse character has intentions that are becoming more clear as he gains more screen time and is clearly in favor of keeping races pure as he infers the opinions of white people does not matter to him within the episode.

Narcisse, unlike Chalky, does not seem to truly desire to work with other races, but views it as a necessity. Even after he works out a deal with Arnold Rothstein he takes out his handkerchief to clean his hand after shaking Rothsteins’. He is a character who wants to dominate. He’s power hungry and he is very intelligent, and if this episode does anything, it certainly further establishes the doctor as a worthy villain for the season, using people as he sees fit, and disposing of them once he obtains what he desires.

A few other thoughts before I go:

* The audience gets to visit college with Eli Thompson’s son Willie, who uses his “connections” to throw a party. This will no doubt play a later more important part in the series, and I fear may lead to tragedy.

* Still no Kelly Macdonald in this one. It is indicated Margaret is in Brooklyn though so she should come around soon.

* If they were going to add all these new characters I think it may have been best to leave Gillian Dormady out of the series. I know this would take away Ron Livingston’s role, but the heroin addiction plotline feels a lot like the Richard Harrow narrative and is really taking the audience away from the more important aspects of the show. Again it’s difficult to judge by single episodes so I may very well be proven wrong about both the Harrow/Dormady storylines.


* I realize this recap seems a little on the negative side, however the production and performances of the show remain top-notch and there’s no reason to stop watching.

That’s all I have for this week.


What do you think? Leave a comment.

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I'm Kevin Licht, a graduate from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor emphasis in Film Studies. When I'm not working I watch and write

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  1. Don’t you think its odd that Dr. Narcisse is advocating Black Nationalism yet at the same time he acts, speaks and dresses like an upper class white man.

    • Kevin Licht

      It’s an interesting take, however the question I would pose is what characteristics is he showing that makes him act like a “white” upper class man instead of simply an upper class man? In what ways does one need to speak and dress to not act “white”?

      I personally think this would be a difficult argument to make based on the way Narcisse has treated people so far during his short tenure.

  2. Narcisse wiping his hands after the handshake was the moment for me. Definitely anti-Semitic, although, Narcisse probably hates non-Jewish whites equally. And it’s more than just a stock hatred; he probably specifically thinks that Jews and whites are filthy, unclean, and disease ridden.

    • Kevin Licht

      Good observation about the anti-Semitism. I can’t believe that didn’t cross my mind. I might have still been gathering myself from the Breaking Bad experience I had before tuning into this.

  3. Denver Streets

    There was a rumor that someone would die that would affect Nucky, people were saying it was Pernsley but it’s clear now that Chalkie will go.

  4. “… which aired next to the penultimate episode of the soon to be legendary Breaking Bad…”

    This sentence clause so far has aged rather well. Nice assessment!

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