Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Boardwalk Empire: Resolution

'Cause ain't no such things as halfway crooks - Mobb Deep

The theme of the promos for season 3 is “You can’t be half a gangster.” My first reaction was, “who thinks Nucky is anything but ALL gangster?” Then I thought about it some more and realized that he was just a SUPER unethical business man. Until he shot his everything-but-by-blood son.  That’s all I consider him to be now. Just a dirty gangster, married to a trampy shrew.   

I’m a little wary going into the season. Jimmy was the heart of the show for me. His wife was the only woman with depth, especially after Margaret became so brittle. Harrow is all that’s left for me. The only character left that I would hug.  And I’m not a fan of Bobby Cannavale except in Will & Grace and Thomas McCarthy movies. He’s good when he’s goofy and weird. Well, let’s get the show started . . .

Whoa. Goofy, weird, and unhinged is good, too. Welcome to the Boardwalk, Mr. Rosetti. His eyes are great at going from friendly to crazed and twitchy. He’s definitely the twitchiest man in all of the land. He’s also a breath of fresh air. All of these gangsters have forgotten who they are. How dirty they are and what they really do. Rosetti is keeping it real. Mostly really crazy, but still real.  

We meet Nucky in a dirty, abandoned tenement with two psychopaths and a feeb interrogating a liquor thief and ordering his death. There’s no question about what portion of a gangster he is. His outfit is pushing him into pimp territory, too.  The whole scene made me look forward to winter.

Nucky moves with ease from gangster grim reaper to political donor. However, Nucky is slipping if he can get zinged by a political nut tickler. Then he gets zinged by Manny who quickly works out a deal in his favor.

Margaret has really blossomed into a rich man’s wife, gracefully and powerfully walking into a room bustling with servants preparing the house for a party. I love the little insertions of history into the show. Something as small as a radio news bulletin about an aviatrix flying cross country seems to upend everything.  The novelty of a female pilot. The novelty of someone flying from coast to coast. It’s something that wouldn’t impress many now, but the show is able to convey how impressive it once was. The social reactions to it, especially by men, still irritates me. Yeah, shut the fuck up, Phillip. The lady of the house told you to polish the spoons, not flap your gums. The aviatrix situation does seem to be reawakening the steely, independent side of Margaret. I’d love to see that side of her again.

The Artemis Club is a pretty classy name for a whorehouse. “If it weren’t for married men, we’d be out of business.” – Gillian. If she didn’t have such a cruel streak, she would probably be the greatest Madam of all time. I do understand her crazy. Repeatedly raped as a child. A single mother in a time when that was one of the lowest things a woman could be. Her son murdered after he murdered his father and her rapist. Wanting to forget the past and move forward is probably the sanest inclination she’s ever had.

O’Bannion! Capone! In the same room! Love!!! I like when gangsters use words like “encroachment” and do the legal ear hustle. It sounds so playful and threatening at the same time. Unfortunately, it also causes them to forget who they are and, more importantly, who the guy across from them is.  An Irish gangster insults an Italian gangster’s child? O’Bannion is a dead man.  

Every time I think a show can’t make me recoil in sad disgust, I get blindsided. What the hell was wrong with that woman at the hospital? Oh, a miscarriage. Since when has Margaret every asked anyone what was expected of her or what she could do? She got spoiled fast. And I don’t understand her weirdness with the Nucky’s bodyguard. I still don’t understand why they slept together.

There’s no way that Agent Van Alden will last as a door to door salesman. The stress and indignity will make him lose whatever little control he has left. That little Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey moment does not assuage my fears, but his luck with stepping into O’Bannion’s flower market might just save him. I was hoping Van Alden would fully embrace the dark side and become a full on gangster, too. Oh, well. At least he didn’t kill his boss over the misunderstanding. Maybe the deep thoughts exercise works. Try it yourself: http://www.deepthoughtsbyjackhandey.com/today.asp

Harrow feels so out of place in this episode. I feel like I’m watching flashbacks whenever he’s in a scene. All of the other characters have are so one note and unsympathetic. The moments with him and little Darmody break my heart.  I hope Harrow kills Gillian.* Even his killing the Butcher to avenge Angela’s death feels odd. She’s been so forgotten by everyone else, even her own son, that it took me a few moments to figure out why he shot Horvitz. I love the character, but he hasn’t moved on like the other characters and I’m worried the writers won’t figure out a seamless way to keep him in the show.

Now, THAT’s a New Year’s Eve party! Art Deco with an Egyptian theme . . . Swoon! Except for the gauche ending. Too obvious. Yes, it was a greedy time. I can glean that bit of social commentary from people being murdered over bottles of booze.  Until the end of the party, I hadn’t noticed the lack of scenes between Margaret and Nucky. Is the quickest way to kill romance marriage? It seems so. Margaret seems to be headed for change. I can’t tell if it will be a change on her own or if she’s going to try to make her marriage better, too. Maybe changing herself will get Nucky interested again. What originally attracted him to her was her independent spirit and strong will. And that her husband beat her and indirectly caused her baby to die. I’m hoping it was more about the spirit and the will. We’ll see . . .  
They should just call this show, “The Psychopath Variety Hour” and this should be the theme song:

*I think HBO holds the record for most television characters I wish were dead. 

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