BOARDWALK EMPIRE “The Emerald City” Review


BOARDWALK EMPIRE “The Emerald City” Season 1 Episode 10 – This week, women are allowed to vote. “You’ve caught up with Ireland at last!” Margaret comments, before Nucky has her thank him for getting the vote. Margaret, against her better judgement, gives a speech endorsing a corrupt man who will become Nucky’s puppet. She knows this: she’s no idiot, but she needs Nucky more than Nucky needs her, especially after a weird visit from Agent Van Alden.

The most original character is also the most tortured. Was there any scene as simultaneously sweet and pathetic as the Wizard of Oz reading, when Margaret told her children that Richard Harrow was the tin woodsman? Or when he tells Margaret that sometimes he forgets his deformed face until he passes a mirror? Jack Huston’s throaty portrayal of Harrow surely deserves an Emmy nomination.

Van Alden, at the end of his tether after his informant was shot, goes to Margaret and shows her the photograph of her sixteen year old self, confessing to looking at it at night. The scene was beautifully played by both Michael Shannon (how tall is he?)’s self-righteous Van Alden and Kelly Macdonald’s Margaret, who maintained some control by ordering him out of her home. She clutches for the mantle for balance, and he clutches a glass of whiskey and Lucy. What happened between Van Alden and Lucy was not shocking because it was unpredictable (we all know what Lucy’s like) but because of Van Alden’s shame after they finished having explicit sex. It was like one of his whipping punishments without the whip.

Michael Pitt has an almost bipolar quality as an actor. You either believe or disbelieve his performance. I for one would definitely fall into the former category. I was not particularly enthralled by his portrayal of Jimmy Darmody at first, but he is the character. The way he sits, during the meeting with Mickey Doyle, his relationship with Angela, his bonding with his son, they were all so sweet. The fact that he can turn from the romantic young man into a brutal thug with the line “Mommy’s kissing friend” (of course he doesn’t realize it’s Mrs Dittrich, not Mr) is impressive and, more importantly, wholly believable: five broken ribs, a nose, a fractured jaw. That, and he totally stole the hostage scene: “What are you gonna shoot me for mouthing off, tough guy?” “I wasn’t going to but you kinda talked by into it.” Bang. Bullet to the head.

You cannot help but feel for Angela and feel excited by the prospect that she might get out of the tempermental relationship with the unpredictably dangerous Jimmy as she and Mary initiate plans to escape their imprisoned, dominated lives and head to Paris. Will this happen? I’m not sure…happy endings aren’t exactly encouraged in Atlantic City.

Finally, Chalky made a welcome return to the scene and, under Nucky’s direction, he meets to talk about Meyer Lansky/Michael Lewis in order to get to the D’Alessios, who are working for Rothstein. Chalky kindly trusses all three up. After Jimmy shoots one of them in the head for mouthing off, Chalky chokes the other to death, payback for his man who was lynched. Nucky allows Lansky to flee, so long as he tells Rothstein what happened that night.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!

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