Boardwalk Empire: White Horse Pike – Corruption Endures
With the latest episode in what has been a rather focused and crisp season of Boardwalk Empire events were put into motion setting up the potential for quite the penultimate episode. With only two episodes to go, it appears things are just going to get bloodier and there will be plenty of knots to tie and endings that may not be so smooth going down. There’s plenty of items to cover in this most recent episode of a series that has gradually improved this year and has seemingly found a groove. Let’s get right into it with a character rundown.
Nucky is now involved more than ever as he’s starting to take control of the events for which he has been looming in the background, specifically the feud between Dr. Narcisse and Chalky (a feud that will certainly be covered later as well). Of course his concern doesn’t necessarily seem to be with whom he decides to side himself with, but in what situation would serve him best in business. On one side there is Chalky, an apparent friend and someone that is trusted in the African American community and someone who can bring the true support of his community to Nucky if needed.
On the other side is Valentin Narcisse, who brings something else to the mix; heroin, more specifically money from heroin and a possible partnership with Joe Masseria.
But that’s jumping ahead a little bit, as Narcisse’s involvement in the heroin is unknown to Nucky until near the end of this episode, and is a twist of sorts that makes Nucky’s loyalty to Chalky come into question. The discovery of the heroin business is what drives Nucky’s part of the story in this entry as Sally Wheet makes him aware of what is being included in his shipments of booze. Needless to say, Nucky is not happy when he not only discovers the extra risk, but especially for not being involved in the cut.
I’ve been rather pessimistic the past few weeks of the season and the character doesn’t give many reasons to change my perspective. When it comes down to it, Nucky is a ruthless villain that will really do anything to save his own skin. While the show is making an attempt to make it seem like Nucky actually does have some sort of sense of friendship and loyalty, in the end I feel confident that as long as he survives, he doesn’t really who cares who lives and who dies… with the one caveat, of course, that he continues to get in on the business he desires.
It would be surprising to this writer if Nucky actually ends up doing what the audience is meant to want from him (get rid of Narcisse and keep Chalky around). The history of the show suggests that if someone digs themselves into a hole as deep as Chalky, it’s not going to let them out of that hole unless their name is Nucky Thompson.
Margaret (Schroeder? Thompson? Rowan?)
I don’t know what to think of Peggy any more. Heck, I’m not even sure what to call her. If there’s one lesson that can be learned from her character though, it’s this: crime pays (Just kidding kids. By the way, I hope kids aren’t being allowed to watch this program. There’s some violence, among other things). Margaret is certainly a cautionary character and is a character that is coming to illustrate how difficult it is to leave a certain lifestyle after having had a taste.
In the beginning the audience was meant to feel for her character because she was somewhat forced out of necessity to go along with Nucky’s lifestyle after her husband was killed by Nucky. In the progression of the show, however, she has now become a character who is clearly making her own choices.
Now, judging by some of the comments throughout previous recaps of the series, there has been quite a bit of Margaret hate. However, this is an interesting turn the show has taken. There are a few females in the program that have the potential to be the strong woman the show so desperately needs, and I think Margaret has the most staying power of the three (the other two being Gillian Dormady, who has already surprised me at her character still being around, and Sally Wheet who I think will not be long on the show simply due to the actress playing the character. But who knows?).
The idea of Margaret doing a business deal with Arnold Rothstein without the feeling of it all being set up by Nucky is quite interesting. It’s the first time that I’ve truly felt we’ve seen Margaret as an independent female character and could lead to an interesting character arc.
Nelson Van Alden
New rule: if Van Alden makes an appearance, Van Alden gets mentioned in my recap. This week in the adventures of Van Alden, the former prohibition agent rescues Al Capone from an assassination attempt. While this may have been enough to keep audiences interested, what was fascinating about this character this week was that he now seems like “just one of the guys.” There’s no feeling of nervousness when murder is discussed. He’s at least smiling at jokes, and there’s a true sense of belonging with Michael Shannon’s character. While the Van Alden transformation wasn’t necessarily the smoothest of transitions in the history of the boardwalk, it was certainly entertaining. It feels like he’s going to be the eyes through which we see Al Capone rise to power.
Speaking of Mr. Capone… yes he was berated with surprise gunfire into his office in this episode, which he fortunately survived. The show hinted at the man behind the assassination attempt being none other than Al’s boss, Jonny Torrio, but Capone looks to be a man in denial. Torrio’s obvious frustration with Al’s power play fly’s right over Capone’s head as he is clearly dreaming of bigger and better things.
Capone’s tendency to goof around was put into question here, as his carelessness nearly brought his life to an end. If Van Alden hadn’t dropped him onto the floor, in the middle of prostitute provided fellatio nonetheless, the famous criminal would have been a goner. This is quite possibly a wake up call for the infamous gangster, and it’s about time for him to truly grow up.
It feels as though this guy is going off the deep end. Agent Knox once again goes above and beyond the call of duty in this effort and reestablishes himself as a really mean dude. The show is working double time to force the audience to absolutely despise a character who, in most circumstances, should be the good guy as he has become as violent and murderous as the criminals he’s supposed to be putting away. He continues to display his frustrations with J. Edgar Hoover and demonstrates his violent streak yet again in this episode, walking up to a random worker helping out with some bootlegging and shooting him in the face.
Knox is a character who is becoming uninteresting to this writer. I would personally like to have someone in the FBI or another agency that could provide a more interesting question of morality. Knox is simply vicious, jealous, and quite frankly the show has turned him into a monster. I would say the character with the closest comparison to Agent Knox is arguably Gyp Rosetti. It’s quite possible this is intentional and that the show will get rid of Knox and let Eli off the hook for his second betrayal of his brother, but something needs to happen with this character sooner rather than later.
Chalky White vs. Valentin Narcisse
The intense competition between Chalky and the Doctor became even more heated this week as Chalky returned the assassination attempt favor towards Narcisse with shooting in the middle of the street. This event gave the rivalry yet another violent shove towards a finale that the audience will probably be served in the upcoming penultimate episode.
The attempted assassination of Narcisse failed in more than just the one way for Chalky. For one, Chalky was the one who ended up with a bullet going through him. The shooting also brought on the revelation of Mayor Bader being under the Narcisse influence, which leads to a rather intense sequence involving Chalky, Daughter Maitland, and two police officers. The shooting also provided a scene in which Narcisse was paralleled with Chalky from the previous week, except Dr. Narcisse’s position (wanting Chalky killed) erupted from a position of strength instead of the desperate anger displayed by Chalky. The surviving character in this duel is going to have a huge impact on the direction of the show, and even more of an impact on the direction of Nucky Thompson.
Before getting to my last segment I can’t leave out Richard, who is most definitely a fan favorite on this show (and for good reason). The threat of Richard is always looming in the background and he may have a large impact on how everything goes down in the last episodes; possibly in a similar nature to his involvement in last years’ finale (although I highly doubt it).
The Final Shot
Alright. I know this isn’t a character but I thought the final shot of the episode was great, with Willie in the middle of his uncle Nucky and his father Eli as the camera slowly pulled away. It was a wonderful shot that depicted so many different aspects of the show at once and is the perfect shot to bring the audience into the final two episodes.
That’s all for this week. The final two episodes are looking promising.
What do you think? Leave a comment.