Boardwalk Empire “Spaghetti & Coffee” Review

The third season of Boardwalk Empire continued this week with the release of Eli Thompson from jail. It was pretty clear that things would not be the same for Nucky’s brother when Mickey Doyle, of all people, was given the task to pick Eli up. Doyle is definitely an acquired taste for many on the show but I love when he gets screen time so that I can enjoy that goofy, infectious laugh.

Eli asked the question that many Boardwalk Empire viewers have had since season one – how is it that Mickey is still alive? We learned that Nucky has been laying low after Richard Harrow shot Manny’s face off, as Mickey so aptly put it. As such, he could not be bothered with picking up his brother from jail, which I think was as much about his safety as it was about sending Eli a very clear message about his placement in Nucky’s criminal enterprise. Eli was officially under the supervision of Mickey.

It still feels to strange to think of Margaret by her first name instead of the widow Schroeder. She really must try not to be so obviously uncomfortable around Owen. Is anyone else suspicious that snooty Phillip will eventually be more of a headache than a help? His behavior is so off putting. There must be more for this character than constant undermining of his employer. As expected, Margaret moved forward with her effort to improve prenatal care for women at the hospital. Ugh, that back and forth with her and the doctor – just get a room already!

Nucky continued to solidify his place as one of the most unlikeable characters on Boardwalk Empire. Worse yet, we’re being subjected to another Nucky/showgirl plot. Granted, Lillian is unquestionably an improvement from Lucy. It does not, however, make this storyline anymore interesting or watchable.

Speaking of storylines I’d prefer not to repeat, Chalky White finally returned to the fray. Unfortunately, he returned with more family drama. In a show where many of the characters find themselves at a tenuous intersection between conflicting worlds, Chalky’s is the most painful to watch. Admittedly, Chalky’s home life is a realistic reflection of the conflict one faces when they are born into low socioeconomic status and trying to advance their family into more affluent circles. It is just difficult to watch someone so powerful in most circles struggle so much at home, a place that should be a sanctuary from bootlegging, bullets and beatings.

It is ironic to watch Michael K. Williams give such a powerful performance on the night of the Emmys, where we often watch the same shows and the same actors/actresses get nominated year after year. This is now the second role in which Williams has shamefully been overlooked, as he was also masterful in his portrayal of Omar Little on The Wire.

Chalky’s family continued to be a thorn in his side, despite his best intentions. This time, it was his daughter Maybelle who was intent upon marrying an “interesting” man like her father, rather than the good doctor. Poor Samuel, the look on his face when that guy slashed him was crushing. Oh Maybelle. You may want to take note of the kindness and compassion Samuel demonstrated when he insisted upon helping the man who so callously cut him for simply daring to ask him not to bump into their table. Was that interesting enough for you Maybelle? The only upshot to these tedious family squabbles is that they keep Chalky alive for one more episode.

Speaking of underrated actors, what a pleasant surprise to see Stephen Root join the Boardwalk Empire cast! Viewers may recognize Root from his brief stint on the first season of True Blood and as the voice of Bill Dauterive on the long-running Fox animated series, King of the Hill. Root joined the show this week as Gaston Means – middleman for Harry Daugherty. Like many of the characters on Boardwalk Empire, Means is a real life figure. He was a professional con man who was one of the many swindlers that tried cashing in on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

As expected, Gyp was still lurking about in New Jersey with Nucky’s insults still fresh on his mind. I now find myself holding my breath during Gyp’s scenes. Between what appears to be his language disconnect and his hot temper, anyone trying to explain something to the gangster must tread carefully. Interestingly, I think the only reason the gas attendant survived his conversation with Gyp was because he had some useful information.

Tonight’s episode reminded me of the song played during last year’s promotional videos for Boardwalk Empire, “After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It.” Nucky got the woman he thought he wanted by his side and now he’s cooking one skillet meals for another showgirl, openly wanting to spend forever with her and ignoring Owen’s calls. He wanted to reclaim his empire after being challenged by Jimmy and the Commodore. He kills Jimmy and reclaims his place, only to then decide he wants to be hands off.

Alas, the more things change the more they stay the same. Being half a gangster will not suffice, Nucky.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off below!