With its second season almost wrapped up, “Boardwalk Empire” is kicking it up a notch, delivering not only the solid performances and filmmaking that we’ve come to expect, but also a hefty dose of character-based drama and shocking twists which made last night’s episode one to talk about. It reminded us that all gangster epics are tragedies, in which the ones we love often pay for our sins.
- Director: Jeremy Podeswa
- Writer: David Flebotte
- Cast: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Shannon, Aleksa Palladino, Shea Whigham
Episode Title: “Georgia Peaches”
Nucky’s business deal in Ireland brings in a large shipment of Irish whiskey, threatening the less-appealing medicinal alcohol business that Jimmy has been developing. He struggles to assert his power, but his inability to effectively deal with the striking workers reflects poorly on his leadership qualities. Margaret returns to her faith with renewed conviction, hoping that she may restore Emily’s health if she displays true devotion to God, and perhaps slightly suspecting that her own sinful behavior is the cause of Emily’s illness in the first place. Manny Horvitz, having survived the attempt on his life, is determined to have his revenge. Agent Van Alden struggles to do his duty as a law enforcement officer while facing his own personal crisis.
- Margaret: The first season of “Boardwalk Empire” allowed Margaret to be a dynamic character, but ever since she shacked up with Nucky, she’s lost her redeeming qualities, behaving less like a humble, desperate woman and more like a spoiled character from “Real Housewives of the Prohibition Era.” Emily’s illness brings her back to a dramatic human crisis, and it lets the audience enjoy her character once more, as she struggles with the realization that Nucky’s money cannot protect her children from all hardships.
- The cost of crime: This week’s episode ended in a death which we did not see coming. It underlined the moral that should be at the heart of any great gangster drama: a life of crime will, in one way or another, rob you of that which you truly value and love.
- Chalky: He doesn’t do much in this episode, but when he’s on screen, he’s more confident and decisive than he has ever been. For the most part, his character has done little more than seethe and obey Nucky. Given the right to finally help the people who turn to him for protection, he relishes the opportunity, making no concessions.
- Teddy: Usually relegated to the role of the cute, quiet kid, Teddy shows us another side to himself this episode. He cruelly tricks his mother into giving him the attention he craves, and we are reminded of the source of his pyromania. It’s an interesting development, sure, but with no real indication as to where this particular plotline will eventually go, we’re stuck wondering what the point of it all is.
- Van Alden: Van Alden is clearly putting up with some major changes in his life, but he didn’t get enough time on screen this week for us to truly appreciate the drama. We’re sure that when all is said and done, his character arc will have been one of the more memorable elements of this series, but with such a large ensemble, it’s sometimes difficult for the writers to make major progress with a character in individual episodes.
As you can see, we’ve strayed a little bit from our usual review format this week, leaving out a section for “The Bad.” That’s because, although perfection doesn’t exist, the qualms we had with last night’s episode were so minor that there was no real negative element for us to point out. The season will soon be coming to a close, and as such, the melodrama is kicking in. Thankfully, unlike a soap opera, there’s always a purpose to the twists and turns of this show.
“Boardwalk Empire” airs ever Sunday night on HBO!
What did you think of last night’s episode? Tell us in the comments!