This week’s episode of “Boardwalk Empire” hit the nail on the head in regards to what makes the show appealing to me- rich character-based drama draped in super interesting historical events. The episode also benefited from narrowing it’s focus some, choosing to feature barely half of it’s cast and plot lines for the sake of giving those featured more time to shine.
Ah, but let’s not go any further before we give some dap to our dearly departed man servant to the stars, Eddie Kessler. Boardwalk had just started to build him up before they tore him down. And tear him down they did, or more specifically, Agent Knox did. It had always been a mystery as to how Eddie ended up in Atlantic City and ended up organizing Nucky’s socks and now we know. He didn’t leave Germany on the best of terms. So bad were those terms that the thought of returning was too much for him.
Such a shame. Boardwalk really has a knack for killing off some of it’s best characters.
But moving on to this week’s power rankings, accompanied by some questions about where some of these plot lines might be headed as we approach season four’s halfway point.
Giddy Up America’s Boardwalk Empire Plot Line Power Rankings: Week Five
1. The One About Al Capone, The Artist Formerly Known as Agent Van Alden, and the Cicero and/or Chicago Follies
Another week and another top spot secured by happenings in Cicero, Illinois. So it turns out, Capone and company are in Cicero because Chicago had a newly elected mayor who wasn’t too keen on gangsters running amok in his city. As a result, Johnny Torrio sent Capone out to the leafy ‘burbs of Cicero to set up shop. The only hiccup in this plan was a Democratic party on the rise and threatening to unseat the Republicans, who were loyal to Torrio and Capone. The Capone brothers set out to squash this uprising, which is what we’ve been seeing this season. Van Alden (should we just refer to him as George Mueller now?) has proven to be a convenient way for the show’s producers to make this story relevant, as Van Alden is now splitting his time between gangsters in between home improvements. Al Capone continues to be one of Boardwalk’s most entertaining characters and it’s reassuring to know that we have history on our side when it comes to him sticking around for a while. Sadly the same can’t be said for his brother, Frank, who was becoming an entertaining character in his own right, a ying to Al’s yang. Frank really died that way, in a hail of bullets outside the Western Electric plant. I looked it up. I also learned he was the more violent brother, which didn’t always seem that way on Boardwalk. Regardless, Frank’s dead. Al seems pissed. Van Alden seems trapped. I seem very interested in this plot line. Still.
The mid-season question: How will all of this tie in to what Nucky is doing?
2. The One About Eli’s Son Possibly Becoming the Next Jimmy (this week featuring Uncle Nucky)
First off, can we all admit that Willie pinning everything on his roommate was super not cool? That little dude is going to get eaten alive in prison. He doesn’t stand a chance.
I was all for Nucky’s intervention here, though, and especially liked this pep talk, even if was a little Don Draperish:
I promise you can live with it. You worry about what other people might say. None of that matters. … [The] only thing you can count on is blood. The people who discount you, they don’t know how you are. The rage you feel — listen to me carefully. It’s a gift. Use it. But don’t let anyone see it. Know that I’m watching over you. Show me the person you intend to be.
And I liked how Willie came around and developed a stone face halfway through the episode and Nucky was everything you’d want from an uncle in this position. But come on, poor Clayton, man. Good luck in prison, buddy. And Willie…well, that leads us to…
The mid-season question: Is Willie breaking bad going to be a thing this season or is he going to become a good guy, possibly the one who might bring Nucky down in the future?
3. The One About That Shady Agent Knox and the Dangers of Poorly Planned Interrogations
Dude, you want to flip a guy. Make him sing about his boss? Well then you probably shouldn’t break his spirit to such an extent that he takes a dive out of his window after you let him go. Bush league, Agent Knox. Very bush league. And now? Now you’re kind of screwed because you don’t have schnitzel. What do you have? Well you’re going to have some questions about a witness of yours swan-diving to his death. Maybe next time, you take it a little easier. Maybe next time, you only mention how one son changed his name. Maybe next time, you threaten deportation after the second interview.
Agent Knox, you might be a promising young FBI agent, but you sir, are no Agent Nelson Van Alden.
The mid-season question: Where does Knox go now and how much of a problem is he going to be for Nucky this season?
4. The One About Gillian
Losing Her Way and the Dude from Office Space
I don’t have kids and I’ve never had to go through the process of getting custody of a kid. But if I did, I’d have to imagine doing either of the following wouldn’t be the best move…
In the midst of heroin withdrawal, making sexual advances on my attorney.
In the midst of a heroin high, visiting the child in question at school and attempting to take him home.
Get your act together, Gillian.
Oh and can we talk about how quickly Mr. Dunn Purnsley has set himself up? It seemed like only yesterday he was talking to Dr. Narcisse about slinging dope and now he’s got himself a base of operations and is known around town as someone to talk to when it comes to drugs. You have to think Chalky either already knows about this or will soon.
The mid-season question about Gillian: Can this end soon?
The mid-season question about Purnsley: How is Chalky going to handle this dude once he finds out?