Boardwalk Empire: Marriage and Hunting – Throwing Caution to the Wind


Another week of Boardwalk Empire is now in the books, and in this 9th episode of the season there were some life-altering events within the empire’s world. Acts of violence were not in short supply and confrontation was common. There were also a couple revelations about characters that have not had much screen time. With just three episodes left in the season, let’s get to the character run-down in this crazy episode.

Nucky Thompson

Nucky is taken away from the events of last week and was distracted by what is happening in Chalky’s world. His relationship with Chalky is the focus for his character in this episode as he is evidently starting to lose control of Chalky, even though he’s not supposed to have any real control in the first place. At one point in the episode, Nucky admits a “connection” to Chalky, but it quickly becomes clear that the connection was simply for monetary reasons as Nucky turns his decisions towards being based solely on business.

He is clearly a character that has lost any sense of what it is to actually care about anything other than his own desires and angles. The interesting part about this is that it is also becoming a weakness of his in regards to the situation with Eli. He has a conversation with his brother in which he discusses the situation between Narcisse and Chalky. While he seems to find Eli’s last question somewhat bothersome, there is some sense that Nucky is glancing over the odd behavior of his brother due to his own narcissism.

Nucky also has a way of lecturing, in this case Chalky, about relationships while he himself succumbs to his own temptations. Thompson has a very real obsession with Sally Wheet, who clearly has some intentions of her own. In her only onscreen appearance in the episode the audience is exposed to her holding a shotgun after getting off the phone with Nucky. I’m not sure if this is for protection or if it is another signifier that this woman is dangerous, but I would lean more towards the latter.

While Nucky may preach that family is important and loyalty is something he believes in, he certainly has a difficult time walking the walk as he is devoid of trust, loyalty, or a real sense of family values. Nucky Thompson is solely focused on what is best for Nucky Thompson, no matter what means he has to put to use.

Nelson Van Alden

I thought I might save Van Alden for the end but it was just too difficult to get to this guy any later. Now… I’m a huge fan of Michael Shannon (I feel like this is something readers should know in case I come off a bit biased here), and I love it when the guy is let loose, and boy did they let him off the hook in this outing. Directly responsible for three of the four deaths in the program (and indirectly responsible for the other one), George Mueller came out of his shell and finally became Van Alden again, only crazier and more willing to break the law.

Boardwalk Empire

I believe earlier in the year I mentioned Van Alden was going through his own miniature version of Breaking Bad, and he broke bad ferociously in this episode. Three of his former co-workers when he was a salesman tracked him down and were about to give him a beating. They didn’t have much time to regret their decision, as all three of them ended up with bullets to the head, courtesy of the former Agent Van Alden. He also was certainly involved in the death of Dean O’Banion, which was foreseeable, especially when he admitted to Dean he used to be a prohibition agent.

This turn, while disturbing, is refreshing in a way as it’s something the show really hasn’t done very often with a character. It feels as though this was certainly coming with Van Alden, but the pace of his evolution into the criminal world was always on the slow side; so much so that his change of heart in this episode seemed to come out of nowhere (him not appearing in the last episode admittedly could have played a part in my reaction). With the way the show has dealt with character screen time this year, this may be the last the audience sees of Van Alden for this year after he reveals his true identity to his fake wife.

Arnold Rothstein

It wasn’t a very lengthy appearance for Rothstein this week, and when he was onscreen it was mostly a display of the character’s vulnerability. Rothstein is having money issues at the moment and it appears allows Nucky to take advantage of a poor investment. In one of the more humorous discussions about an assassination, Rothstein sells Nucky the life insurance contract for Mickey Doyle (who I think most people would like to see off the show at this point so the Peter Griffin laugh doesn’t have to be heard anymore). Based on history Rothstein only has a few years left to live, so the events right now could be what gets the ball rolling towards the end for AR.

Richard Harrow

Boardwalk Empire

The best original character on the show returned this week to be involved in an awkward marriage proposal. While the audience is sure to be happy about Julia and Richard tying the knot, it certainly comes with a price, as Richard seeks out Nucky to gain employment. As this writer has made clear, nothing ever good comes from being under the wing of Nucky Thompson.

Gillian Dormady

This was quite possibly the most sincere and honest we will ever see Gillian Dormady as she shares a confession with Roy about her past, and the confession is about as detailed as she can get without being in legal trouble. The show has done a very nice job of turning Gillian from a crazy woman to a somewhat sympathetic character throughout this season. It’s easy to forget sometimes that she really has had a very terrible life when she makes some of the decision she makes.

Boardwalk Empire

The fact that it was finally revealed that Roy may not be exactly what he seems, makes Gillian’s recovery set up to become even more tragic. I’m not sure if Roy is good or bad, but he’s certainly not involved with Piggly Wiggly. An agent of some sort is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment, or maybe a con man.

Valentin Narcisse vs. Chalky White

The feud between Chalky and Narcisse has quite clearly become the focal point of the show at its current point and while it was elevated to a pretty high level in the previous episode with the attempt on Chalky’s life, this week it was apparent now that Dunn Purnsley is out as the buffer, there’s no turning back. Narcisse was able to push the envelop a little farther by beating Daughter Maitland to the point of being unrecognizable. As one may imagine, the beating of Daughter did not sit well with Chalky.

Before Maitland was turned into a swollen mess by the hands of a man that has now been revealed as being familiar with this sort of treatment, Chalky was waiting for Nucky to make a decision; that decision being whether he would allow Chalky to get rid of Narcisse. Of course, the aforementioned decision made by Nucky was of the negative nature towards Chalky’s desires. Naturally, Chalky interfered with Nucky’s business after the Daughter Maitland beating.

Nucky didn’t see Chalky’s threatening actions towards Narcisse as a man standing up for a woman. He saw Chalky’s actions as a threat to business and a reason to get rid of Chalky instead of Narcisse. Thompson views Chalky as having an obsession with Daughter Maitland and is convinced Chalky is being irrational. I can very much see how this may indeed be the end of Omar… er … Michael K. Williams’ character.

Boardwalk Empire

That’s all for this week. With only three episodes left, the season is winding down in an exciting fashion.

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. Mashoor

    In my opinion each season is better than the last. This season has been outstanding. It has adifferent tone to it. and certain characters have gotten some great screen time.

  2. Teresa K.

    While I think shows like Mad Men, Justified and Game of Thrones are superior shows, this is the most distinct season of Boardwalk so far. I think the tone and pace, and even the characters have changed significantly, but I’m loving it. I’m happy to take a break from Nucky and Margaret. The ancillary characters have always been the most compelling on this show, and I’m glad we get to spend a little more time with them.

  3. I think Roy has something to do with the guy she picked up and killed in the bathtub… The way he changed conversation when she got in the room makes me think he will make a move on her soon…

  4. Good review! My fav part was:

    “I am calm.”

    (BLAM – BLAM – BLAM)

  5. S. Andre

    Throughout the years, I have noticed some criticizing over the casting of Steve B. as Nucky.

    I personally think Nucky’s casting is genius. I’ve always felt that Nucky was the least compelling of all the characters in the show, and it bothers me to an extent, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s probably intentional.

    As we know, the most dominating people in that era are all of the more compelling ancillary characters in this show. Unfortunately, what you get with following any of those characters is too small a lens. Their network was much more closed and their personalities too bright for us to be able to focus on anybody else. When you make them supporting characters around a guy who is fairly oatmeal, what you get is a broader lens and a more fluid story. These characters float in and out, and we have energy to focus on them BECAUSE of Buscemi’s casting. He’s not the most important or the most compelling historical figure, and because of that, we can really get a feel for the era and the other characters who made up this underworld. He’s a great lens into other people’s lives. I think that was the point in casting him.

    I have to say I thoroughly enjoy this show and I don’t miss it. It and Mad Men are the best shows on television right now, in my opinion I love slow-burning, thought-provoking, metaphorical stuff.

    • Kevin Licht

      I’ve never agreed with the issues mentioned with Buscemi. I think he’s absolutely tremendous in this role and agree with you. He’s still the focal point of the show but the fact that he doesn’t have any particularly catchy characteristics may be the reason the guy will survive throughout the entire series, while everyone else around him gets burned.

  6. I think in the finale the Dr. gets killed, probably by Deadeye.

    Gillian will tell Roy how she killed that boy and Roy will turn out to be a PI hired by the kid’s father. She then overdoses.

    Sally may die for involving Nucky in her dope shipments.

    Giggles will live. (for comic relief)

    Van Alden will live so we can follow the Capone story.

  7. Patrick Baker

    Is Van Alden just becoming needlessly brutal for unnecessary reasons or what lol

    • Kevin Licht

      It’s quite possible, but I still love it when Michael Shannon is playing crazy (which could admittedly be always).

  8. Chapper

    Regarding Roy, I guessing against detective, father, or any other secret agenda type story line. I could be wrong, and usually am, but that seems a bit hokey. I believe it was just his wife on the phone and it is that simple. If you think about the Piggly Wiggly meeting with the guy and his wife at the Onyx back at the beginning of the season, there is no reason to think he would have to go through with such an elaborate ruse. Who knows, but I think we are about to see the rug pulled out from Gillian by yet another in the long list of men in her life who dissapoint/damage/use her. Moll plays wicked well and this sympathetic Gillian will probably give way to her villainous soon. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. My prediction. When all is said and done, she finds out about his wife and that she was lied to and kills him in a rage.

  9. “He is clearly a character that has lost any sense of what it is to actually care about anything other than his own desires and angles.”

    Criminal enterprises like this have this propensity.

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