I’m still trying to get a handle on Boardwalk Empire as a show, so forgive my limited knowledge of character names and specific plot points. I am still missing a lot of knowledge about the show but I’m really enjoying its flavor. I watched the entire 6 hour Ken Burns Prohibition documentary last week, so the Noble Experiment has really been on my mind lately. I’m enjoying the slow pace at which things are unfolding, and the 1920s atmosphere is just so attractive to me that even if the episode isn’t action packed, I just enjoy sitting and taking it in.
Early in this episode, Al Capone pays Nucky a visit to let him know that Johnny Torrio has decided that the Chicago gangs will no longer be buying liquor from Atlantic City. It’s a tense scene; Nucky’s losing contacts and friends, and he’s afraid his vulnerable position is becoming visible to others. Right before Capone leaves, he asks Capone how they deal with “competition” back in Chicago. “Kill them.” says Capone. A couple scenes later, Capone visits Jimmy, who explains to him the plan to depose Nucky and lock him up in prison. Capone can’t believe that Jimmy and the Commodore are going to so much trouble. Just shoot him, and he’ll be out of your way, he suggests.
While neither side of this Atlantic City cold war has devolved into open fighting just yet, you can feel the threat of violence looming like a thunderhead. I believe that both Jimmy and Nucky had a moment or two when they thought that a well placed bullet would solve all of their problems. Based on Nucky’s outburst in the restaurant, it seems like some open conflict between the two camps will start to break out sometime soon.
A few other thoughts:
* Agent Van Alden continues to creep me out. Last week, PBS ran repeated viewings of Prohibition, Ken Burns new documentary. The documentary repeated the theme that Prohibition pitted the white, conservative, rural, Protestant section of the country up against the big city ethnic masses. No where is this more clear than the contrast between Van Alden, (the repressed, uptight, creepily moralistic Christian who comes from a family so screwed up that they’ll cut off all contact with a family member for letting their kid see a Christmas pageant) and the gangsters (almost all of whom are Irish, Italian, or Jewish, and who seem to have few restrictions on any kind of behavior, as long as it makes them money). As much as I dislike him, I suppose it was a kind gesture for Nelson to send the Victrola to his pregnant (and bordering on crazy) girlfriend. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking as he stood, stone-faced, watching his mistress dance seductively to the music coming from the new record player. Was he happy? Disgusted? Both?
* The showdown at the restaurant between Nucky and Jimmy and the Commodore was great.
* I like Mr. Slater. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more headbutting and gun-brandishing from him in the near future.