Boardwalk Empire: White Horse Pike – Corruption Endures

***SPOILER ALERT***

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 Thompson

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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.

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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.

Al Capone

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.

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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.

Agent Knox

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.

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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.

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Richard Harrow

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.

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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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8 Comments

  1. Rosemarie
    0

    Isn’t it great to see Sally doing such a great job in Tampa. I once compared her to Ma Barker, and that comparison seemed even more apt after seeing her keeping the boys in line. I sincerely hope she doesn’t turn out to be the type of dame that will be more fatale than femme, because at the moment she’s just what Nucky could use in his life. Business, love, friendship or otherwise.

  2. Ralph Booy
    0

    Have you given any thought to ‘Will Thompson’ may be responsible for killing his father come the end of the series/season, or possible during the next. I personally think it would be more apt to now refer to him as ‘Nucky’s nephew’ rather than ‘Eli’s son’. Eli has certainly found himself in a difficult position, and things will surely get interesting when Nucky inevitably finds out about his brothers ‘chats’ with the feds.

    • MegaManV
      0

      As far as Eli’s concerned (and this maybe out of a misguided sense of loyalty towards him after his turnabout last season), I feel he can still redeem himself in the Knoxiver situation. After all, he hasn’t actually said anything incriminating thus far. He’s only fed Knox with some phoney, dead guy’s name and some other scraps of useless information. He’s actually done the best thing he could do in a situation like this. And that’s, string Knox along, continue to use him, as he did in the heroin situation, and bide his time until the appropriate opportunity arises on which to act upon. What that action will eventually be is something Eli is clearly thinking a lot about. The only thing Eli’s guilty of at the moment is not telling Nucky about it. And even can be rectified with the ol’ ‘I didn’t feel it was necessary to tell you as I had it all under control’ line.

  3. caldwell
    0

    Richard looks like he was trying to steer clear of being involved in any more criminal dealings (after visiting his sister). But going through Nucky for a “honest 9-5 gig” and housing/protecting Chalky just drew him back into the mix again.

  4. Ollie Hogan
    0

    Great to see VA put his previous dislike of Capone behind him, and save the little sh-t’s life. He was probably thinking of all the loot, Swedish massages and whose your (Tarzan) daddy sex he has to look forward to. And no, I don’t think Capone will be stupid enough to blame Torrio. Although it may plant a seed or two of doubt between them.

  5. hellraiza
    0

    Was I the only one that found it odd that after chalky and his men shot up narcisse’s meeting, they just casually walked away like it was over? Didn’t cover their backs or anything to make sure there wasn’t anybody moving. They just shoot the place up, strut back to the car like “yeeeah we showed them mother*c!<ers". Gives Narcisee enough to time to get up, straighten his back out and pull his gun out and blow away at least about 2 or 3 of chalky's men and still manage to get one last shot that hit chalky.

  6. nucky arranged for chalky’s ride out of town. that’s all chalky knows as of right now. so he has no reason to think nucky didnt betray him. should we expect a showdown between them? 😀

  7. I think it would be awesome if Chalky’s daughter Maybelle is the one to eventually kill Dr. Narcisse. He obviously has plans to try and corrupt her to get back at Chalky (and possibly substitute her in his life for Daughter Maitland, who he has lost forever) but I think Maybelle is much smarter than Narcisse realizes and despite her disappointment in Chalky she loves her father. I don’t think their story is finished yet.

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