“Boardwalk Empire” got off to a slow start, but this show has been picking up the pace very quickly over the past few weeks, and last night’s episode was just another reason to keep watching. A mix of impressive work both in front of and behind the camera added up to a very satisfying episode.
Check out the review to see what we thought…
- Writers: Timothy Van Patten and Paul Simms
- Director: Allen Coulter
- Cast: Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth Williams, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Jack Huston, Paz de la Huerta
Episode Title: “Home”
Jimmy develops a friendship with a disfigured veteran and leverages a violent favor out of his new companion. Nucky gives his childhood home to an associate in need of a house, but his motivation may not be as generous as it seems. Chalky turns down a seemingly lucrative business deal that he is suspicious of. The relationship between Nucky and Margaret grows more substantial when she allows him to display some vulnerability.
- Nucky opens up: Steve Buscemi is a terrific actor, so it seemed a little strange that he was playing the role of a wealthy and over-sexed politician with all the energy of a manic depressive corpse. This week gave us a peek into Nucky’s soul and shed some light on why he is the way he is. Thankfully, we aren’t treated to an unrealistic emotional breakdown, but we do get enough information about Nucky’s strained relationship with his father and the abusive environment in which he was raised to make Buscemi’s acting choices finally feel right.
- Director’s vision: In general, the fast schedule and low budget make it difficult for a director to express a strong, personal voice in the television format. Hell, even the pilot episode of “Boardwalk Empire,” directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, seemed lacking in a unique vision. That makes last night’s episode all the more impressive. Director Allen Coulter didn’t exactly establish himself as the next Francis Ford Coppola, but he took a few key scenes that could have been routine and added enough flair to make them memorable. His use of the main theme from Phantom of the Opera towards the end of the episode is sublime.
- Jimmy: It was tough to be intrigued by Jimmy at first. The “veteran who saw too much” excuse suggested that he would just be a stock character. Luckily, he’s showing some very gripping sides to himself lately, most notably his calculating demeanor. Every single thing he does in this episode leads to a pay-off that should have been obvious miles away, but wasn’t, thanks to a combination of skilled writing and acting. Kudos to Michael Pitt, who delivers a truly disturbing monologue when confronting the man who cut Pearl’s face. A lot of actors can scare us with violence. It takes real talent to scare us with nothing but words.
- Characters in the background: Margaret, Van Alden and Chalky all show up in this week’s episode, but their respective stories don’t go very far. It’s tough to balance out all these different sub-plots, and when they’re not handled perfectly, it can make the focus of the episode seem vague.
- Getting started: The second half of “Home” is far superior to its beginning, which was tedious and forgettable. It felt like the writers scripted thirty pages worth of scenes featuring each and every character in the show, then decided which ones they wanted to follow up on.
Last night’s episode looked like it could have been pointless, but enough happened in the last twenty minutes to knock this one out of the park. Learning more about Nucky answered questions that needed addressing, and Jimmy is quite simply becoming an iconic character in a short period of time. One of the season’s best.
“Boardwalk Empire” airs on HBO every Sunday night!
Was last night’s episode as good as we thought it was, or do you have a different take on it? Let us know in the comments!