We’re now three episodes deep into Boardwalk Empire and the one thing that I’m starting to enjoy as much as anything is the humor. We got a taste of it right away in the most recent episode.
Nucky: What’s motherfucker mean?
Eddie (Nucky’s personal assistant): Must be a schwarze word.
And then later, in a recall of the moment last week when Jimmy Darmody is asking his fiancé to have sex “the French way”, Margaret is talking to her neighbor and mentions getting a job in a French clothing store. “Oh”, she says. “Those French. I’ve read about them.” Hilarious.
This week, a new character was introduced- Chalky White (played by Michael K. Williams, who most people will recognize as Omar from The Wire). It doesn’t take long for Chalky to start playing a pivotal role. Nucky has dumped Mickey Doyle as his bootlegger after Doyle was arrested and replaced him with White. We learn right away that Chalky White is a man who drives a hard bargain. And later we learn that he’s a man who won’t sell out his community… unless there’s a price. 50% is that price.
I’m really enjoying the pairing of Rothstein and Lucky Luciano. They make such great foils for one another. Rothstein is ruthless, cold, calculating, but also borders on finicky. And then there’s Luciano, who is best described as a bull in a china cabinet. He’s reckless, he’s short-tempered, and he (apparently) has gonorrhea. And also apparently, medicine in 1920 featured the most excruciating cure for gonorrhea possible; we saw it administered to Luciano this week. All I know is that it involved a big metal rod shoved into the tip of his wang, and it involved a substance called zinc sulphate. I’m not sure I’ve ever grimaced quite as much while watching a TV show.
Along those same lines, there was also a really interesting clip of a dentist using cocaine as an anesthetic on the pseudo-zombie from the end of episode 2, “The Ivory Tower”. Only through the use of the cocaine could our favorite agent Nelson Van Alden revive the Zombie long enough to get information out of him. That information? How to say “Fuck your grandmother with your faggot penis” in Hebrew. And so Van Alden shoved his arm into a giant gaping open wound in a shocking-but-brilliant display of brute force to get our zombie to admit that “Jimmy” was involved, thus setting the entire season onto what should be quite a ride. Later we find out that Rothstein has this information as well, and all three of the main parties involved- Rothstein/Luciano, Nucky/Jimmy, the feds- have enough tension to last the rest of this season.
The baby incubators and the fortune teller from episode one made their triumphant return. The scene with Gretchen Mol at the fortune teller was excellent. Just as the seer tells of a “dangerous man” in her future, Nucky opens the door and approaches. You’ve gotta love transitions like that. Here, we learn a little bit more information- that Gillian (Mol) long ago asked Nucky to look after her little Jimmy Darmody, and that he’s failed her in this regard.
By the end of the episode, the metaphorical storm on the horizon has arrived. In a torrential downpour, Jimmy leaves town to escape the feds (not realizing that he’s also being chased by Luciano); Chalky’s personal assistant is hanged, upping the price he’ll charge Nucky and potentially putting Nucky’s reputation in peril in the African-American community; and Van Alden… enjoys a roast with his wife. It was such a great juxtaposition- the criminal underbelly rattles like a snake while miles away, the devout Nelson Van Alden is eating a roast in a quiet dining room with his wife.
Here’s your obligatory trailer for the next episode.