Last night’s episode of “Boardwalk Empire“ was a disappointing entry in a series that has been shaping up to be some of the finest entertainment on television. A lot of relationships came to a head last night; in theory, it should have been the most dramatic episode so far. Sadly, everything ended up falling a little too flat.
Read our review to see what we mean…
- Director: Allen Coulter
- Writer: Howard Korder
- Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Michael Pitt, Gretchen Mol, Shea Whigham, Aleksa Palladino, Jack Huston
Episode Title: “Paris Green”
Margaret finally confronts Nucky about the death of her husband. Van Alden suspects (correctly) that Agent Sebso murdered a key witness in their case although he claimed that he had been acting in self-defense. We learn that Jimmy’s father is the Commodore and that Gillian may be responsible for his declining health. Angela plans to finally run away to Paris with Mary.
- Baptism: In a series that has already featured its fair share of massacres and gangland executions, one of the most disturbing scenes of the first season came at the end of last night’s episode when Van Alden brings Agent Sebso to a public baptism in an attempt to save his soul. Unfortunately, Sebso won’t reject his Jewish heritage, and Van Alden holds his head under the water for just a little bit longer than he should have. Sure, you could argue that the scene is unrealistic, but Van Alden isn’t the most realistic character in general. We have to accept that he’s operating on a plane of religious devotion that is way beyond what most normal people are accustomed to.
- Margaret and Nucky: Margaret’s conscience got the better of her last night, resulting in an intense argument with Nucky. Fortunately, the writers didn’t take sides. Nucky may be overtly evil, but Margaret has been willing to look the other way in exchange for the economic stability he can provide. Both of them made good points in their disagreement, and it doesn’t seem like either one emerged as the victor.
- Jimmy’s dad: The revelation that the Commodore is Jimmy’s father ultimately doesn’t add up to all that much. It may have some repercussions next season (he confides in Jimmy that he thinks Nucky is the wrong person to run Atlantic City), but as far as emotional impact goes, this subplot falls flat. Even the realization that Gillian may be capable of murdering the father of her child results in little more than a shrug of the shoulders from Jimmy (and, for that matter, the audience).
- Angela and Mary: The resolution of this subplot was designed to come as a shocking blow, but we were never emotionally invested in it enough to care how this all turned out.
- Rothstein: A couple short moments at the beginning of the episode let us know that World Series concerns are still weighing heavily on Rothstein’s mind, but after that quick scene, he disappeared for the rest of the episode. If he was going to be featured in such a minimal role this week, it seems like his presence could have been cut out of the script entirely. Whatever the writers have planned for him (although a true crime book could probably reveal all the answers you’re looking for), it could have waited until next week.
- Eli’s fate: Nucky’s not exactly the most likeable character to begin with, but he isn’t doing himself any favors with the way he treated his brother last night. C’mon man, have a heart.
- Ponzi scheme: Harry loses his fortune in the original Ponzi scheme, but this little bit of information seems like a forced attempt to connect the story to modern events. It takes us out of the illusion and reminds us that we’re watching a TV show.
- “I’m what time and circumstance havde made me” This line, delivered by Jimmy to his father, is a little too much. We get it, you went to war and it made you evil, blah blah etc. We got enough of that in the first episode, so just give it a rest.
Take a look at those categories above you. “So-So” definitely has the most entries, and that is because last night’s episode was the worst all season. It’s a shame, because director Allen Coulter brings some impressive craftmanship to the proceedings. Sadly, he was given very little story to tell with his talents.
“Boardwalk Empire” airs every Sunday night on HBO!
What did you think of last night’s episode? With the first season winding down, will you tune in next season?