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Boardwalk Empire Watch: Season 4, Episode 2 - Resignation
"Only kings understand each other."
Even if it didn't have time to visit all our favorite characters, "New York Sour" was a bloody good welcome back to the Boardwalk. The Season 4 premiere of HBO's bootlegging drama did a nice job tying up a lot of loose ends from last year (or at least furthering the mystery) as well as introducing new characters and conflicts for this season. Boardwalk Empire had its work cut out for it trying to replace Emmy nominated Bobby Canavale as the show's 'big bad' (or Charlie Cox for that matter) but, of course, they themselves were brought in to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Michael Pitt. That's the beauty of the series, its ability to constantly recruit the best to ensure that the quality remains consistent even if (when) they kill off major characters. Just like another beloved HBO drama (GoT), anyone can die. Kill and recruit, the key to Boardwalk Empire's success. Speaking of recruits (and success), my expectations for Episode 2 immediate rose when Dennis Lehane, author (of books that became Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood movies) as well as writer on The Wire (the best TV show of all time), appeared in the opening titles of "Resignation."
"Oh, they paid as well."
One of the favorite characters that we didn't get to see during last week's premiere was Michael Shannon's former Agent Nelson Van Alden. And since the show continues to call him by both of his names, Nelson at home and George Mueller at work, I will do the same. The opening close up on his face was a nice way to start, putting the audience in the shoes of the poor suckers who answer the door and find his mug staring back at them. Hopefully he's bringing you flowers and not fists. The return of Mueller also means the return of Dean O'Banion and renewed interest in the Irish versus Italian mob struggle over Chicago. O'Banion sends George to work as muscle for the Capones because moving them to Cicero leaves more of Chicago to call his own. But it only takes one second for Al to recognize Nelson from the time the former stuck his fork in the latter's face and spared him so he could keep tabs on his Irish rival. Where the hell has he been? Shannon is amazing to watch. Sometimes he's large and intimidating, others he shrinks under his overcoat and huge hat. How different is this Nelson van Alden than the Bible thumping, sexual deviant, murderer from Seasons 1 and 2? I guess all it takes is a life on the run and a feisty Norwegian wife. Who wants to decorate his home for him. I took great pleasure in him taking a chair to the head not long after he had mentioned them to Sigrid.
"I don't want anymore of it."
Since we're talking weird families, might as well catch up with Richard and his journey to reconnect with his sister. And kill some dudes. We finally figured out why he was on a killing spree last week, I mean, more than just to give the fans what they want. Everyone loves a good Richard rampage but it looks like those days might be over. Or just getting started. Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Sorry, back to the beginning of the greyest of grey sequences. The Harrow siblings bond over their dying family dog and a discussion about their dad's incorrectly dated tombstone. Did we notice that she was pregnant last week? And by we, I mean you, cause I don't remember seeing the belly until this week. Another fatherless child for Richard to look after. I am kind of saddened that he would leave Tommy in the first place but I guess he thought the boy was safe with Julia. There's been no verdict on whether that thing (Gillian) regained custody. We were spared her presence but still had to witness Emma euthanize Samson. Why Emma? Cause Richard doesn't have it anymore. He didn't pull the trigger at the veteran's bureau (which may have been my favorite scene) and same goes for the dog. Something tells me that Emma's 'don't come back' ultimatum is going to come into play once our half-faced hero is forced to deal with the gentleman on the other end of the phone.
"Mr. Thompson is part of everything. He's in the sky and sea. He's in the dreams of children at night. He is all that there is, forever."
I don't know if I even addressed it during the recap of "New York Sour" but the dynamic between Nucky and Eddie had clearly changed since the latter got shot in the line of duty. The boss was no longer taking every opportunity to criticize and belittle his man servant and that had me worried because it was always good for a laugh in the middle of a tense episode. Fortunately, even with Nucky treating Eddie nicely, the writers still managed to find a lot of comedy in their relationship. After a disappointing and existential breakfast, the pair took trip out to see Mayor Bader and inquire as to why Mr. Thompson was not receiving his cut since he's, you know, Freddy Krueger or whatever. It's okay though, they settle the situation before there are any headaches. In fact, the whole episode was rather headache free but the light touch worked to keep Boarkwalk entertaining while it's still setting up the new season. I was also wondering who the titular 'resignation' would be coming from and was not expecting Eddie, however, his power move worked and he'll no longer be bringing Nucky his eggs. Just when things looked sunny side up (sorry, egg puns), it looks like Mayor Bader might have a bit of trouble making payments with the recent development on his development.
"A servant pretending to be a king."
I mean the dead woman. To be fair, Mrs. Dickey was perhaps even worse than Gillian. We really need Margaret back (or Esther Randolph) to have a female character who isn't gross. Emma seems cool though. And Julia. More Julia! Back to the dead woman and how she got dead. It's interesting that Chalky's thread opens with him showing his daughter's fiancÚ's family around the Onyx because you get to see the educated African American family before Jeffrey's Wright's Dr. Valentin Narcisse makes his ominous entrance. I'm sure he did work hard to get his doctorate but he's not of the same ilk as Samuel and the Crawfords. Dunn interrupts the tour to share that there's no news on the missing girl but she soon turns up in the care of Narcisse. The shot of him looking down on Chalky while his head was being rubbed was quite an effective introduction for the character who clearly sees himself as above the likes of the Whites. Chalky sends him packing but its tuns out that the good doctor has a hand in all the Onyx entertainer's pockets and they can't perform without his say so. So, it's time for another meeting, this one between kings. Nucky hears everyone out and decides that avoiding any potential trouble is worth a ten percent cut in the club. I don't think that's going to stop the trouble.
"Why can't they just admit they're guilty?"
I also knew she was going to get the rope. Narcisse didn't seem like the kind of guy to put up with her and her husband's 'game.' Her dead body is probably not just going to cause problems for Bader's development but also Nucky, since it's only going to give Knox and the newly formed Bureau of Investigation another reason to be snooping around Atlantic City. That Knox, I told you he was trouble. But in a good way. He's great at playing the hayseed card and that story is even confirmed by the ever reliable Gaston Means (Stephen Root returns!) when Nucky calls to check on Knox after their awkward first encounter. Nucky might be the only one to see something behind the facade. The curtain drops when J. Edgar Hoover (Eric Laden) reveals to the treasury officer whose in bed with Nucky that the, uh, B.I. has recently placed an undercover agent in their midst. Jim and Edgar, sounds like a sitcom.Boardwalk Empire returns with Episode 3, "Acres of Diamonds," next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Created by Terence Winter, the series stars Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Vincent Piazza, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
"Cash you out, right now."
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