Boardwalk Empire Season 4 “Acres of Diamonds” Review

In this week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire, Nucky may have physically been in Tampa but it would appear his mind and heart are elsewhere. Nucky was in the sunshine state at the behest of Bill McCoy. Boardwalk Empire fans may recall McCoy as one of the first characters we met in the series premiere. McCoy is a ship captain and major bootlegger that supplied Nucky’s stash in season one. His “catch of the day” in Atlantic City came in bottled form.

Aside from Eddie and Chalky, there are few characters that have been more loyal to Nucky than McCoy. In Boardwalk Empire‘s second season, McCoy refused to aid Jimmy and the Commodore in their botched attempt to usurp Nucky’s bootlegging by refusing to do business with them. When Nucky sought to strengthen his position when faced with the Darmondy failed uprising, it was McCoy that was in the room with him, Rothstein, Sleater, Luciano, White and Gordon.

Nucky continued to rely upon McCoy in the third season as he tried to get a handle on Gyp Rosetti. Despite his dislike of Italian people, McCoy agreed to work with Gyp at Nucky’s behest so that he could gather information on Gyp’s dealings. McCoy, now in Tampa, invited Nucky to join in on a real estate deal that would further their bootlegging enterprise.

Initially unknown to Nucky, McCoy was desperate to make the deal because he was trying to pay off a large debt owed to Tucker. Upon learning that the land was to be developed for legitimate businesses, Nucky declined. After all, bootlegging is much better suited for isolated locations with minimal activity. Nucky eventually came around, but that was after McCoy killed Tucker. This could be yet another mess in which Nucky finds himself later this season.

The most interesting part of the Tampa trip was Nucky’s interactions with bar owner Sally, portrayed by Patricia Arquette. His conversation with Sally finally allowed the normally tight-lipped Nucky to open up. Despite being the unofficial king of the Boardwalk Empire, Nucky finds himself very lonely. Margaret and the kids may be in Brooklyn, but they still remain close to Nucky’s heart. Well – at least the kids do. I’m sure the kids miss Nucky too. This Margaret-free time has been refreshing and when she returns, I’ll actually look forward to it. I never thought I’d feel like that about her character. I’m also guessing that Sally will make a trip to the Boardwalk soon or perhaps Nucky will find himself back in Tampa again. These two aren’t done yet.

Richard’s story arc so far has been as dreary as the weather in his hometown. Emma appears to have a new suitor in her brother-in-law, who insisted upon calling Richard “Rick.” As evidenced in last week’s episode, Richard’s head is not in the game. The realization that his sister’s taxes were not overdue should have made him suspcious. His serene moment in the barn was interrupted by his disgruntled boss, Carl Billings, who wanted to know why Richard didn’t fulfill the terms of their murder-for-hire deal. Again, I must ask, exactly how does one hire a hitman on a train?

Although it was disturbing to see Richard nearly get killed, I was happy to see that he was actually fighting for his life. The pensive Richard that we’ve witnessed in the last two episodes does not appear to have a death wish. Thank goodness. How badass is Emma? She puts down dying dogs and takes out evil henchmen. It’s nice to get a few strong women on Boardwalk Empire. With Margaret in Brooklyn, the only other well-established character is Gillian. Ugh.

Speaking of Gillian, the woman is an expert at keeping herself relevant. Roy, who I will now refer to as Piggly Wiggly, asks her to pose as his wife at a meeting with a big wig at the A&P. Posing as a fake wife made great use of Gillian’s ability to lie. She’s also no stranger to making up stories about her family life – just ask Tommy, who was convinced that Gillian was his mother, not his grandmother.

Just as things were going smoothly for Gillian and Piggly Wiggly, the fake couple’s evening was interrupted by one of faux-Jimmy’s friends. You remember faux-Jimmy, right? The young drifter and Jimmy doppelganger that Gillian took home, slept with and then killed with the aid of some “lovely” heroin. Piggly Wiggly intervened, but Gillian was clearly shaken. With the aid of some “lovely” heroin, Gillian calmed her nerves. The woman is spiraling. I wonder how long it will take for Piggly Wiggly to figure out Gillian’s “lovely” secret?

Gillian isn’t the only Boardwalk Empire character dabbling in some “lovely” heroin. Dr. Narcisse returned to the Boardwalk this week and revealed himself to be a man of what appears to be deeply conflicting interests. In one scene, Narcisse is lecturing “Libyan” men about the benefits of education. In another scene, he’s meeting with Rothstein to set up a heroin trade in which his clientele will be limited to African Americans/Libyans.

We then saw Narcisse the stage dad, who is allowing his daughter Maitland to perform at Chalky’s Onyx Club. Despite it being very well-established that Chalky is a married man, there was no mistaking his attraction to Maitland. Chalky has not been shown to be an adulterer, so it will be interesting to see if anything develops with Maitland. Maybe Chalky is a cheater and we just haven’t seen it yet. He spends a lot of time at clubs surrounded by beautiful women and his wife is a bit of a prude who wouldn’t fix the man some hoppin’ john.

Of course, Narcisse was up to more on the Boardwalk than providing talent for the Onyx Club. He offered Dunn Purnsley a chance to join his heroin operation. It wasn’t hard to catch Dunn’s attention, as things have been strained with he and Chalky. That was further exacerbated last night when Chalky demoted Dunn to busboy duties. So is Dunn really turning on Chalky? Or is this some plan to keep a watchful eye on Narcisse? Dunn has been steadfastly loyal to Chalky, but the discord created by the sweetback situation appears genuine. I’m still holding out for a future in which Chalky and Narcisse can work together. They don’t have to be best friends, but they can certainly make money together.

Dunn might want to check out Narcisse’s views on interracial dating before he cozies up to him too much. I don’t think Narcisse has any respect for Dunn and would gladly use him as a pawn in this chess match with Chalky.

I’m not going to devote much time to the Will Thompson side story. Watching him last night was a bittersweet reminder of Jimmy’s college days. I’m sure that Will is on a collision course with the “family business,” which may prove interesting. Until then, I’m not that interested in this character. Give me more time in Chicago or New York instead.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire? Has Dunn really turned on Chalky? And if so, how long before “Purnsley be done?” Does all the time Gillian is spending with Piggly Wiggly mean she lost the custody battle? Sound off below!