Sunday night’s episode of Boardwalk Empire was perfectly named- “Anastasia”. We’ve only gotten bits and pieces of development of Margaret Schroeder. This, despite the fact that she’s obviously going to play such a crucial role in the series, serving as the primary female protagonist. Her story in that episode was brilliantly written, starting with her reading about Anna Anderson. She describes it to her children as being “like a fairy tale princess”. No doubt, this is how Margaret views herself in the eyes of Nucky- as his fairy tale princess. After all, Nucky has taken quite the shine to this otherwise ordinary (albeit attractive) woman. But later on, there she is, witnessing her “prince” carousing with fat cats; serving alcohol illegally; and walking arm in arm with his prostitute girlfriend (an excellent foil to Margaret). And sure enough, later in the episode, we see Margaret walk past a newspaper proclaiming that the Anna Anderson story is a hoax. On the Atlantic City boardwalk in 1920, there are no fairy tale princesses. Just lost souls and thieves (and so she steals Madame Jeunet’s merchandise, having lost hope).
About those “fat cats”, here’s a little background on Senator Walter Edge. I find the truth behind all of this to be fascinating. I’m not sure how accurate it is but they obviously tried to give a damn about accuracy when creating this show:
He opposed Prohibition and voted against the Volstead Act. In 1924, he ran for reelection advocating the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment (which had been proposed and ratified while he was governor, but which was not approved by New Jersey until 1922, three years after its ratification). He proposed a number of bills that would relax prohibition, including legislation that would authorize alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 3%, and another bill that would legalize the sale of beer with alcohol content of 2.75%. At some point he supported practically every anti-prohibition movement in the Senate.
I’m really starting to enjoy Capone’s character, to the point that he’s my favorite character on the show (thus far). He’s like an overgrown, overly violent, fun-loving child. We got a great look at the dichotomy of his character throughout: first, we see him gleefully shooting Jimmy’s pillow and cackling at the chicanery; then we see him beating the tar out of a Greek guy who sells Johnny Torrio’s booze (in a scene that was pitch-perfect homage to an early scene in Public Enemy); later, he’s “negotiating” with Charlie Sheridan (I can’t find anything on who this was historically) and after arriving at an acceptable 25% cut for Torrio, Capone says “Let’s call it 50%”; and then lastly, he sits in his boxers at the tailor shop awaiting the right size pants and bemoans having to dress like a businessman. He’s the mobster for the everyman, it would appear.
The character development of Chalky White has been fantastic, as well. The scene in which he details his father’s woodworking story, shortly before hacking off the finger of the “Grand Cyclops” of the KKK, tells us so much about who he is and what he’s willing to do to maintain his power. Similarly, the devotion that Nucky gives to finding the murderer tells us that Nucky respects Chalky’s power.
We’re also starting to get a little bit more information about the goons working with Mickey (and who, it seems, will be stealing from Nucky down the line). One of them is better known as Vinnie from Doogie Howser (and Benny from The Sopranos). Some quick research shows that it’s the “Lanzetti Brothers”. Some more info can be found here.
Some other highlights: Nucky’s dealings with his goofy personal assistant Eddie (blasting him for an unclean glass that’s soiled by “some whore’s cock-smeared lip rouge”) are a weekly joy. There’s also a very odd relationship brewing with Jimmy Darmody’s mother and Lucky Luciano. If too much is spent on this, I’m going to be annoyed. Lastly, I’m really enjoying the music- so much so that I’ve posted some Youtube clips of some songs heard in the episode. The obligatory link to next week’s preview, and then here are the songs.
This one was performed, with lyrics, during Nucky’s birthday party. I can’t find a version with lyrics that’s accurate (I found an Edith Day version but it sounds nothing like what was on the show):