Boardwalk Empire: Havre de Grace – The End of the Road
It was on the surprising side what was done on the penultimate episode of Boardwalk Empire’s 4th season. While many other HBO programs tend to have the climax of a season happen in the second to last episode of the season, The Wire and The Sopranos included, the Steve Buscemi fronted prohibition series appears it will continue its trend of going all out in the finale. With only one of the many story lines truly appearing to have been wrapped up, there will be plenty to try to fit in during the last hour of the season. For now, let’s focus on the character run down for Havre de Grace.
Enoch is having a pretty difficult time in this episode coping with his sudden loss of power, among a few other things. He voices his frustration of having to answer to Dr. Narcisse towards his brother Eli, not knowing that his brother appears to be headed down the path of betrayal for a second time in order to protect Willie. But that’s not all. Nucky know in all likelihood that the events from the previous episode do not have him in a favorable light with Chalky in hiding. If that’s not enough, Nucky receives a call in the episode from Gaston Means (played by the always wonderful Stephen Root), informing Mr. Thompson of a “skunk” in his operation, referring to, more than likely, Agent Knox.
While I’ve been a champion of Nucky being a selfish character who only concerns himself with business, this episode was the most convincing in this season that there may be something more to his character, although it may just be his desperation to save his own skin is starting to come through. An important scene displays Nucky’s concern as he eats dinner with Eli and his family when Eli’s wife mentions the insurance salesman (agent Knox) who got under Eli’s skin. As one could imagine, especially after what happened in season 2 with Eli, Nucky was noticeably rattled by story when Eli tried to cover it up in such an untactful manner.
The question with Nucky in regards to this situation now is whether he will become the ruthless gangster again and get rid of his brother for good, or if he is going to turn the whole thing to his advantage (my money would be on the latter). The ending of the show suggests that Nucky is now aware of what is happening with Eli as the episode closes with Nucky calling Sally Wheet and telling her, “I want out.”
While Nucky is referring to the Florida business, this may also be a character who is fed up with the risk he is taking on and the people he is losing around him. It’s possible Nucky wants to be completely out of the business. In an early scene he hinted that the whole thing may have been meant to be handed over to Eli (although that is certainly in doubt now), and Willie seems to be growing up quickly. Eventually though, Nucky’s pride will lead to some sort of downfall (not death, but he’ll definitely hit some tough times, more than likely due to greed as well).
Eli is visibly in rough shape, both physically and mentally. He’s exhausted and his wife (and just about every scene) reveals he’s been drinking an awful lot. Poor Eli just never can catch a break and the divide between him and his brother has never been more pronounced. It seems as though they are even visually divided in most scenes. In one particular scene there’s even a giant column in between Eli and Nucky as they have a discussion on the porch. The bottom line with Eli is that he’s pretty much screwed.
This was the only story that appears to have come to an end, and it was a very strange and quick ending when Roy finally gets a confession out of Gillian about the boy she killed in order to inherit her house. After the confession, Roy has his own confession for Gillian. He was a private detective hired by Junior Soprano… I mean, Leander Whitlock (Dominic Chianese), and this was when Gillian was taken by Roy and his group, presumably to go to prison.
While it is arguable Gillian deserved her ending after what she did, this writer felt some sympathy towards her character. It was tragic. I do not believe I’ve ever seen a show turn such a hated character (she seduced her son for crying out loud), into a sympathetic character in such a short amount of time. I know I’ve probably already mentioned this, but Gillian wasn’t really given much of a chance to live her life after she was impregnated at age 13.
By the way, I feel like I should touch on Ron Livingston’s role this season. I would assume Roy is coming back, otherwise it may go down as one of the most unbalanced and odd extended roles ever, which could have been played by anybody.
Getting back to Gillian, I really think this was a strong season for Gretchen Mol and she’s turned into one of the more reliable regulars on the show. Although her story did seem tacked on a little bit this year, I’m glad she was around this year. She was really able to eat up a few scenes, especially I this episode with her sort of brutal moments with both Richard Harrow and Roy.
Much of this episode was comprised of going back and forth between Chalky and Nucky, with a few breaks in between provided by Gillian. With no Narcisse and no Chicago or New York, the audience is given ample screen time with Chalky and Daughter Maitland, who are hiding out in Havre de Grace (very appropriate for the circumstances since the two lovers could use a whole lot of grace at this point).
The hideout is the house of Oscar Boneau (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) an old blind man with whom Chalky shares some history. Throughout the episode the atmosphere is tense and the audience is given a look at some of Chalky’s past and possibly what his future could have been like. Oscar encourages Chalky to rid himself of Daughter Maitland during his stay at Casa de Boneau, however Daughter makes the decision easy as she flees and leaves Chalky to the (metaphorical) wolves. If not for a timely rifle interruption, Chalky would have certainly met his end here.
Alas, Chalky survived, albeit very likely with a broken heart and damaged ego. He’s likely to wreak havoc and continue with his recklessness he has so often displayed this year. It appears he’ll be making it through this season, however his propensity for rash decisions and angry retaliation certainly haven’t made things easier for him. He really needs a psychiatrist after this year.
That’s pretty much it for this week. It was an episode that focused very heavily on Nucky and Chalky, taking a page from Game of Thrones once again by leaving a bunch of characters out. It’s set up to be a jam packed season finale; one that may greatly influence the direction of the series as a whole.
What do you think? Leave a comment.