“Boardwalk Empire” has been looking for its rhythm, and this week, the show just about found it. Each major character was dealing with enough drama to keep us interested, and there were a number of memorable moments. Check out the review to see what we thought…
- Writer: Howard Korder
- Director: Timothy Van Patten
- Cast: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Graham, Gretchen Mol, Paz de la Huerta, Vincent Piazza
Episode Title: “Family Limitation”
Jimmy rises in the ranks when he plans a successful hit against rival thugs. Margaret, knowing that her children need someone to provide for them, embraces her role as Nucky’s lover; in turn, he secures a nearby house for her. Lucky Luciano’s search for Jimmy is sidetracked by a relationship with Jimmy’s mother.
- Jimmy’s revenge: Jimmy’s not the kind of person to let Pearl’s fate go unavenged. The justice he delivers is swift, shocking, and a satisfying realization of everything that’s been brewing in his character from day one. The pilot already showed us that he was capable of spontaneous violence; here, we see that he’s also a cunning force to be reckoned with.
- Balanced storytelling: “Boardwalk Empire” is advertised as Steve Buscemi’s show, but he’s just one of many personalities in an ensemble that is quickly growing into one of the best on television. Although Chalky remains missing in action and Van Alden isn’t granted much screentime this week, writer Howard Korder makes sure that the characters he does focus on-Margaret, Jimmy, Nucky-all have something to do.
- Margaret vs. Lucy: Lucy knows something is up between Nucky and Margaret, but her cheap insults aren’t too much for the widow Schroeder to handle. It’s not exactly a cat fight, but it’s some kind of fight, and Margaret wins.
- Stephen Graham: It’s tough to judge what Stephen Graham does as Al Capone here. On the one hand, he shows a remarkably subtle acting skill. When Jimmy is showered with praise, we get the briefest glimpse of Capone’s half-smile, but it’s all we need to know that he’s jealous. As he tells Jimmy that his son is deaf, tears threaten to make an appearance, but he keeps it together. That’s very good acting. Still, we know that Capone went on to become one of the most feared and successful gangsters of all time. In this show, he is depicted as little more than a dumb oaf of a criminal; there’s no hint at the man he will become. True, it’s supposed to be a younger Capone, but this guy can barely manage his own kitchen, let alone a major criminal organization.
- Van Alden gets strange: Van Alden has seemed a little unhinged right from the start, but the last scene of this episode shows him engaging in a bizarre form of self-flagellation while staring at an old photo of Margaret. It’s not necessary.
- Lucy: In what may be the best episode all season, there’s not much to complain about, but it’s time that something was said about Lucy. She’s too grating for us to like and her character isn’t developed enough for us to care. It was nice to see Margaret give her some of her own medicine, but Lucy never stood a chance anyway.
The stories were balanced this week, and it was worth it all for that beautifully shot scene when Jimmy shows us what he’s made of. The characters are all firmly established, the tension is turning on, and it looks like “Boardwalk Empire” is turning into everything it promised to be.
“Boardwalk Empire” airs every Sunday night on HBO at 9 PM!
Were you as impressed by last night’s episode as we were? Tell us in the comments section!