Boardwalk Empire Season 3 “Two Imposters” Review – The Horatio Alger Hero

I really hope the two people pictured above are gone for good when this season of Boardwalk Empire comes to an end. *Fingers crossed*

On to this week’s episode . . .

Although I’ve struggled a bit as a viewer with this season of Boardwalk Empire there is no denying the show is finishing strong and that this week’s episode was one of the most exciting of the series.

After a failed ambush at the Four Seasons, Gyp sat at Nucky’s desk and pulled out a copy of Horatio Alger’s “Ragged Dick,” a keepsake from Nucky’s youth with a personal note from his mother. It was definitely no coincidence that the writers went with a book by Alger. The final episodes of this season have shown various approaches to becoming the Horatio Alger hero, one achieves success despite many obstacles by picking up the good ol’ bootstraps. Granted, Gyp may ask you to seduce him by placing the strap around his neck and might beat you to death with the boot but whether through force or relationships, success in the face of adversity is a common thread between many of the characters featured in this week’s episode.

This week’s episode was also very much about the invisible people, which is how I would describe the characters who have performed thankless tasks for people who can’t be bothered to know anything more about them than their name and their skill set. For example, Gillian took an interest in Richard’s life only to figure out what was distracting him from his role at the brothel as babysitter, bartender, handy man, etc. I knew Richard’s days at the brothel were numbered once Gillian saw the picture with Tommy and Julia. Gillian’s failure, however, to get to know more about Richard as a person and a soldier will have interesting repercussions for the Boardwalk madam as she has repeatedly mistaken his meek disposition for weakness. Perhaps she should have been taking note of his extensive gun stash as opposed to snooping through his pictures and making crude jokes about him being a half-person with a blind girlfriend.

Eddie would also be among the invisible. Things looked quite grim for him this week and the revelation that Nucky didn’t even know if the man had a family made the situation that much sadder. Leave it to another invisible person, Chalky, to expose Nucky’s mistreatment of the man who does everything for him from driving him around, caring for his family, answering the phone and taking a bullet without complaint. Although Chalky may have demanded more of Nucky’s attention than Eddie in the past, I do not think his loyalty was truly appreciated until last night. Sure, Chalky wants his Cotton Club but his decision to stand by Nucky was clearly more than personal ambition. Chalky might be the king of leveraging offers but he always lands with Nucky in the end.

In an episode full of great moments, my favorite was at the end as Nucky heard cars en route to what he thought was a private hiding place. He manned up, grabbed his gun and told his nephew to steer clear, fully expecting to go down fighting. At that moment, Nucky returned to being the character I rooted for in the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire. Luckily for Nucky, another Horatio Alger-like hero stepped in with some much needed help. The development of Al Capone as a character on this show has been amazing to watch over three seasons. Now we’ve got a real battle. A little food, rest and then off to Margate Sands for the final showdown. Based on next week’s previews, it looks like Rothstein will make one final effort to provide a little diplomatic help to his Atlantic City business partner. I’m sure that probably has something to do with Lucky getting jammed up by the police this week.

Random observations . . .

When Dunn Purnsley first appeared in the second season of Boardwalk Empire, I recall immediately disliking him for his thinly veiled antagonism towards Chalky and his family. I cheered when Purnsley received a well-deserved group beat down in prison and never wanted to see his face again. Much to my surprise, Chalky gave the man a job and in the few episodes in which he appeared, it was clear that Purnsley was quickly becoming part of the inner circle. Although I’ve enjoyed watching the two work together this season in their all too brief appearances, Purnsley worked his way to one of my favorite characters last night by proving that not only can he dish out a good beat down, he is loyal. I hope that Purnsley does not add to the ranks of collateral damage this season, as I think Chalky will need all the support he can get next season in his effort to bring the Cotton Club to the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Likewise, I’ve never been a fan of Eli Thompson since he first entered the screen with his very obvious resentment towards his brother. His dislike of Jimmy didn’t help matters nor did the fact that his life was spared, despite his very active involvement in the failed attempt to overthrow Nucky last season. I had all but written Eli off as a slightly more competent Fredo until this season. Thanks to Mickey Doyle’s incompetence and Owen being overextended in handling matters in Nucky’s personal and “professional” life, it was clear that Nucky needed help. The chip on Eli’s shoulder appeared to get a lot smaller while he was imprisoned and he’s proven himself to be an invaluable asset to his brother. I was genuinely shocked at how happy and relieved I was to see him arrive in the show’s closing minutes with Al Capone in tow.

“Two Imposters” was a great penultimate episode for the season. I look forward to the finale and hold out hope that we will not have too many more casualties among the fictional characters (aside from Gyp, of course). I don’t know what Richard has planned for Gillian’s brothel but he is of more use to Tommy alive than he would be dead. I also hope that we haven’t seen the last of George Mueller this season.

I don’t really care where Margaret and the kids are but it would be nice to know what Nucky intends to do once the dust has settled from his battle with Gyp. He may be reluctant to admit it but Nucky is not the kind of man who relishes being alone. With Margaret gone, Eddie’s life in the balance, Owen in a crate and Billie blown to smithereens, the future looks pretty lonely for Nucky.

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