I’ve hinted at this before in previous reviews, but to me Boardwalk Empire sometimes comes across as less of a cohesive series and more like a collection of beautiful, detail rich vignettes. This episode in particular felt very disjointed, as if there was no consistent, unifying theme throughout it. I know I watched the episode, but at the end of the hour, I could barely remember what happened, or even why any of it was important.
Margaret has the hots for Mr. Slater, Jimmy and the Jewish mobster from Philly have cut a deal with some of Nucky’s disgruntled underlings to hijack Nucky’s liquor shipments, and Nucky’s political connection with the Attorney General won’t be much help in his election-rigging case after all. All that happened, but I couldn’t bring myself to care too much. After a really interesting episode last week that spent some time poking at the edges of Richard Harrow’s wounded psyche, there just wasn’t as much interesting stuff happening this week (with one small exception, that I’ll get to in a minute) to keep me interested. Perhaps this episode suffered from a little too much setup; it is halfway through the season, and you can clearly see how some of the lines laid down in this episode will have some serious consequences later on, but this episode was the first one I’ve watched where the natural detail of the show just wasn’t enough to keep me interested for an hour. Enough planning; it’s time for a little action.
I will say that I found the end of Agent Van Alden’s story to be interesting. Lucy has given birth to the baby (on her own, by the way) and Van Alden’s wife has found out. Based on the way that she chomped down on his hand when he tried to restrain her, she’s feeling pretty betrayed. For Van Alden, the wall he built between his starched, proper Victorian life in the suburbs and his corrupting urban existence has collapsed. I’m really interested in seeing how he manages to reconcile (unlikely) or repress (likely) the two contradictory lives he’s been leading.