CITY CLERK Marriage & Hunting LICENSES 8 am to 6 pm

The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire has been fantastic. The same way each additional year of The Wire was retroactively identified by their respective setting or conflict ( 'The Docks,' 'Hamsterdam,' 'The School' and 'The Newspaper'), Season 4 of HBO's new illegal drug drama will be known for bringing Harlem into the battle. And the show as a result, as I said, has been both narratively compelling and thematically rich. As the title suggests, the theme this week was marriage (and hunting) as the episode explored several couples in different stages of their vows while also picking up and advancing a bunch of loose threads. Last week's "The Old Ship of Zion" was an especially focused installment meaning that a lot of Boardwalk's main characters didn't see any screen time and, for the most part, "Marriage and Hunting" touched base with those that were missed. Like Richard and Julia, the couple that the title references most directly...

"It's just a hunting license, isn't it?"

The trial for custody of Tommy is still ongoing and Richard's appearance in the middle of Gillian's statement seemed to rattle the paternal grandmother a little bit. Mrs. Darmody was able to finish stating her case before Julia talked some sense to the court. Of course, the Judge was quick to point out that not only was it common for the children to wind up back with blood relations but also that Ms. Sagorski was not married. At the mention of blood, my mind went to Richard getting rid of Gillian to ensure Tommy's safety. He's a do-what-it-takes kind of guy and, despite his recent spiritual journey that saw him shy away from violence, he did wind up at Nucky's doorstep looking for work. I may mixed feelings about that because I love the idea of him being Nuck's new right hand man (now that Eddie's gone and Eli's... well, more on that soon) but that is also sure to lead to conflict between him and his new bride. Speaking of ideas I love, I was so happy to see Richard and Julia get hitched, especially since she was the one to propose. A Sagorski, a Darmody and a Harrow. Quite the family.

"I know... You too... won't be much longer. Yes. That'll be fine, sir. I will take care of that immediately."

The next thread may not seem to have anything to do with marriage unless my suspicions about Roy Phillips are confirmed in the coming weeks. I mean, does anybody think that he actually went through with the divorce proceedings with his wife? I'm sure that was her on the phone, if not his wife then surely another woman, and whatever their grift is, it has specifically to do with Gillian. It can't be a coincidence that he showed up at her place that day, we'll just have to wait at least another week to find out what he's planning. In the meantime, Roy is doing a significant amount of good for the former heroin addict, getting Gillian off drugs which also keeps her from having to deal with all the other accompanying seedy elements. Boardwalk and Gretchen Mol continue to do the unthinkable this season by making me feel even more sympathy for a character I have always despised. Will Roy use some of those secrets to his advantage? Is this somehow connected to Jimmy's doppelgänger? She kept a few things to herself at least.

"Cause I don't have the stomach for it."

Even the story lines that had seemingly nothing to do with marriage threw in a nod to the institution, like Arnold Rothstein asking his valet whether or not Mrs. Rothstein had retired for the evening. He seems almost as lonely as Nucky so it's not surprising for the two to strike up what looks like a warm (at the moment) partnership over talk of offing Mickey Doyle. When Nuck offered a plug nickel to save the imbecile he'd be glad to get rid of's life I laughed out loud. Once again though, the weasel has seemingly survived to snicker another day. I also loved the rhythmic opening of the scene created by him endlessly chalking up his pool cue. The talk also raises an important question for everyone on Boardwalk: when will your luck run out? We saw Eli's run out (again) in an instant last week and judging by the brief encounter with Nucky during "M&H," he took the deal as offered. Willy is okay. With the focus on marriage, I'm surprised June didn't make an appearance, especially given Eli's new circumstances but the series probably wants to let that 'mystery' stew. Oh, and Sally and Nuck are still feeling each other out, the former as enigmatic as ever. That's a big gun.

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