Boardwalk Empire Season 3 “Blue Bell Boy” Review – AmbitiousTeen Boys Need Not Apply

This week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire may not have been the most exciting hour of television in the series but it did provide further insight into some of the show’s central characters.

Al Capone

Much like Gyp Rossetti, I find myself holding my breath when someone pisses off Al Capone. However, unlike Gyp, we at least understand the cause of his frustrations. With Capone, I rarely see a middle ground with him once you’re on his bad side. Capone just seems to lack any ability to stop himself once he commences a beat down. The physical outpouring of his anger seems to always culminate in death.

Likewise, O’Banion and his men seem to always find themselves at the cross-hairs of Capone’s sensitivity about his son’s hearing impairment and anger towards their infringement upon his business ventures. Although they found themselves there unintentionally this week, it still proved to be fatal.

When we first see Capone, we find him at home with his family. Upon learning that his wife kept his son home for the day because a classmate was bullying him, Capone decided it was time for the boy to toughen up. His frustration with the situation was likely exacerbated by the fact that the bully in question was also another hearing impaired child. I’m sure that when he and his wife enrolled their son in a special school, they anticipated that he would enjoy a certain level of protection from the harshness one would expect in a mainstream classroom setting. Unfortunately, kids can be cruel – no matter what their personal circumstances are.

Did anyone else begin to cringe as Capone attempted to teach his son how to box? I felt so terrible for his son, who clearly couldn’t understand what his father was trying to get him to do but was keenly aware of his father’s frustration with him. I also felt for Capone, who so desperately wanted to help his son but couldn’t get through to him. Just as I was on the precipice of a tear, the boy broke down and Capone gave a heartfelt show of comfort and support.

Unable to take out his frustrations on a child, Capone redirected them to one of Dean O’Banion’s men. Although a gruesome overreaction that will likely come back to haunt him, it was a great juxtaposition to the gentle, loving father who returned home later to play music for his son. The song, “My Buddy” was a fitting end to the episode as Eli approached his brother on the boardwalk. Nucky obviously needs a buddy but it doesn’t look as though he’s capable of letting anyone get close to him again – with the exception of the showgirl who does not seem to relish such intimacy. Speaking of which . . .


Nucky has also proven to be unpredictable but for entirely different, less entertaining reasons. After seeing that his men look to Owen for direction, which is very likely due to Nucky’s hands off, I’d rather be boo’ed up with a showgirl approach to business, Nucky decided to reassert his authority. He chose to reinsert himself in the overdue closure of the theft initially discussed in the season premiere. With one of the thieves already dead at Nucky’s direction, there was just one loose end remaining – the driver, Rowland Smith. Manny was supposed to take care of Rowland but oh yeah, he got his head blown off by Richard Harrow before he could get around to that.

In a very strange turn of events, Nucky, Owen and Rowland wind up in the latter’s basement hiding from crooked federal agents who also intended to kill the boy and steal his spoils. After hiding out for an entire night and getting to know the boy, it appeared as though Nucky was going to cut him a break. Precocious and self-assured, Rowland’s ambition appeared to be winning Nucky over. Not so much. Nucky is still clearly haunted by the ghost of Jimmy and as such, young boys need not apply to his criminal enterprise.


We finally saw a little more of Owen tonight outside the confines of Nucky’s operation – unfortunately it was with Katey. Blech. By the episode’s end, Owen was much more attuned to Nucky’s internal conflicts and need to be regarded as the undisputed leader of his various businesses. Up until now, Owen had been happily running things without much oversight from his boss. Nucky’s of Rowland was as much as about his Jimmy-related inner demons as it was about sending a message to Owen. Message received – guard your poofles, Owen!

Eli appears to harbor no ill will for his brother now that he is a free man. For now, I would only say he appears that way because I don’t think I’ll every truly trust Eli. Regardless of his intentions, he appears to be one of the few people who has not taken Nucky’s hands off approach as an opportunity to slack off and delegate responsibilities (and the inherent dangers of them) to others. Given their problems with law enforcement and Gyp in Tabor Heights, it may be time for Eli to pick up his sheriff’s badge again.

I’m sure that during his discussion with his brother about the Tabor Heights ambush, Eli noted his numerous attempts to get Mickey to see that something was off. It will be interesting to see where our giggling gangster stands with Nucky after the Tabor Heights ambush. Someone will surely catch the wrath after Nucky gets an earful from Arnold Rothstein.

Final Thoughts

I’m not really interested in the opening of Margaret’s women’s health clinic, however I was amused by the analogy made between vaginas and brussel sprouts. Equally amusing was the nun’s disdain for sanitary napkins. Margaret also learned that her aviatrix muse crashed in her heroic effort to complete her transatlantic flight. It remains to be seen if this is foreshadowing or just a passing update from the first episode.

Although I’m fine with the occasional slow episode, I’m not okay with the absence of Richard Harrow, Chalky White and George Mueller (the man formerly known as Agent Van Alden). Here’s hoping we see more of them next week!

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

  • Adamjw63

    The Tabor Heights problem is becoming repetitive, Chip more caricature than character, Margaret more annoying than ever and Nucky’s strength all but undermined by his chanteuse’s indifference. Al’s get square was predictable, the NYC heroin deal – remote and seemingly disconnected and Eli doomed to never win any sympathy. The only highlight was the deception of Nucky’s treatment of the teenage thief….but even then, this borrowed heavily from scene two of episode 1. The most disappointing ep so far.