Boardwalk Empire Season 1, Episode 6: Family Limitation

Image copyright HBO

What’s flat beer and that Sheridan prick got in common?

No head.
-Al Capone

The highlight of many highlights of last night’s episode had to be Jimmy Darmody orchestrating a mass murder of Charlie Sheridan and his gang, as well as the ensuing rising tension between Darmody and Al Capone, both young, both rising stars in Johnny Torrio’s crew. Capone is now jealous of Darmody’s success; Darmody misses his family and is therefore jealous of Capone’s. It’s going to be very interesting to see where this goes over the next few weeks. Something tells me that the salt-cured steaks aren’t going to heal all wounds. But I sure as hell laughed at Capone’s joke about Sheridan.

Speaking of Darmody’s family, there was a huge sexual element to last night’s episode. It was on display as Darmody’s mother, Gillian, was shown mid-coitus with Lucky Luciano (who believed that he was with Darmody’s wife, not his mother). We got to see just how far Arnold Rothstein’s influence reaches, as he called mid-act to interrupt and let Luciano know that he was being watched. Of course, the humor here is that Gilliam (Gretchen Mol) now has gonorrhea.

Sexuality was also used to compare and contrast the other two major female characters- Lucy and Margaret Schroeder. In a very early scene, we see Lucy playfully (and foolishly) comparing herself to a “tiger cub” and “pouncing” on Nucky. She scratches Nucky, draws blood, and generally annoys the piss out of him. Later, we see Margaret gently kissing those same scratches on Nucky. Also, we had a fantastic scene in which Lucy entered Margaret’s place of business and demanded that she try on a piece of lingerie that she wanted to buy. Lucy prods and cajoles her, knowing full well that the two women were vying for the same man. She proudly placed her special lady parts on display, proclaiming that it was all she needed to hold Nucky’s attention. Margaret’s response? She told a story about a one trick pony (or one trick rooster, in this case) and mentioned that “Perhaps your cunny isn’t the draw you think it is”. Later, after Nucky had moved Margaret (and her family) into a stretch of houses that (apparently) houses “concubines”, bringing yet another round of inner conflict to Margaret.

Perhaps not the best advice.

There was a really interesting scene in which Margaret uses a Lysol douche as a form of birth control. She learned the handy dandy trick from a Margaret Sanger pamphlet that (I guess?) made the rounds at the time. It was called “Family Limitation”, ergo the name of the episode. Nucky even calls her on it. “What are you up to in there?”

The source of much humor thus far, Eddie Kessler, provided it to us again last night via a brilliant jump cut. After helping Margaret move into her new house, he says to Margaret “Mr. Thompson is a very nice man”. Half a second later, we’re in a new room with Nucky telling Luciano, “Are you trying to sass me, you greasy cocksucker?”. Hilarious.

In keeping with the sexuality theme, the episode ends with Van Alden and his looming lust for Margaret. After all, we need the boy scout’s take on sexuality. And what is it? It begins with a shot of Van Alden in the mirror, disrobing (we’re through the looking glass, seeing a bizarro Van Alden). He puts his wife’s picture face down in his hotel room to avoid her gaze; lays down a towel on his bed; continues to disrobe by pulling off his shirt; places a picture of Margaret in front of him; and peels the belt off of his luggage. “What sort of weird shit is he in to?”, I found myself thinking. At the time, it sure looked like he was about to masturbate. And then… out of nowhere, he knots the belt and commences to whip his own back, to the point of giant red welts. He’s a boy scout to the end, punishing himself for his impure thoughts. Wacky bastard.

Music in the episode included this piece (sang by a topless woman to Nucky towards the end of the episode), called “The Japanese Sandman”:

Last but not least, here’s your preview of next week’s episode.

1 Comment

Filed under Boardwalk Empire, TV Shows

One response to “Boardwalk Empire Season 1, Episode 6: Family Limitation

  1. Derek Pennycuff

    Totally off topic, but: Your review of Catfish on Netflix probably just saved me, uhm, however many minutes that movie would have wasted. I actually can’t find run time info anywhere. I felt I owed you a bit more than just a “helpful” rating on your review. 🙂

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