Boardwalk Empire Season 4 “All In” Review – You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

Full disclosure, I had a hard time transitioning from all the excitement in the ABQ on Breaking Bad to the rulers of gangster empires of yesteryear on Boardwalk Empire. I’m used to the slow build on Boardwalk Empire, which in past seasons has had a great payoff, but this season feels a bit slower than others. That aside, it hasn’t left viewers without moments to enjoy.

Boardwalk Empire is undoubtedly a show about prohibition-era gangsters, but this week’s episode took a closer look at the cultural origins of Meyer, Eddie and Dr. Narcisse. Knowing a bit about the real Meyer Lansky, I enjoyed the story he shared with Nucky about how he and Charlie Luciano came to be such close friends and business associates. As we’ve seen in other episodes of Boardwalk Empire, the Lansky/Luciano partnership has been called into question by others who couldn’t understand the partnership between a Jewish person and an Italian.

Uptown, we saw Dunn Purnsley get more insight into Dr. Narcisse’s cultural beliefs. I was hoping that Dunn was playing double agent, but it appears that he has indeed betrayed Chalky. Unfortunately for Dunn, his time with Chalky did not make him any wiser. He’s clearly being used by Dr. Narcisse, but Dunn’s frustrations with Chalky (and perhaps his own stupidity) are clouding his judgement. In past episodes, Dr. Narcisse talked of kings and how kings conduct themselves. Dunn was never the type of guy to be a “king,” but I think he was much less of a pawn while working with Chalky.

The most amusing cultural exploration in the episode featured Eddie and Bottles Capone. It was fun to watch Eddie unwind a bit and to actually have him interact with someone who took an interest in him as a person – not just an employee. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m disappointed that Nucky doesn’t appear to treat Eddie any better after the man took a bullet for him last season. Unfortunately for Eddie, the celebration of his promotion came to an unceremonious and abrupt ending, as the feds scooped him up. Based on the previews for next week’s episode, Eddie may be in for something that is actually more painful than a bullet. The moment Nucky “promoted” him, I worried that something bad would happen. Unfortunately for Eddie, he’s been identified as the weakest link. I personally believe that the feds are grossly underestimating the man’s resolve and loyalty.

Although Eddie and Bottles were the most entertaining pair, the most intriguing character insight came courtesy of Arnold Rothstein. In previous seasons, we’ve seen that the man enjoys gambling and lest we forget, he was also accused of rigging the World Series. Up until now, we’ve seen Rothstein as a patient, restrained, intelligent gangster who loves cake and milk. Last night, we saw the man come unhinged as he simply could not leave the poker table without winning. Being driven to win is not necessarily a bad thing, but in the words of Kenny Rogers – “you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” Rothstein had no intention nor the will power to fold and walk away, which cost him a potentially lucrative business deal with Nucky. I wasn’t surprised to see Meyer offer his partnership to Nucky, but I was surprised to learn just how successful he and Lucky have been.

I generally enjoy any scenes with Al Capone and Mueller/Van Alden. On paper, the two of them together sounds like a really entertaining episode. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the misadventures of Mr. Mueller and the Capone brothers, but at times it felt like it went on a little too long. I also understand why Sigrid was so set on decorating their home. Did you see the outside of their house? Tragic.

I’m still not sold on whatever the writers are attempting to do with Will Thompson. I’m not invested in him as a character and something about the kid just screams red shirt. I’m sure that Willie will call upon Uncle Nucky to bail him out of his precarious situation and I don’t think Eli will be happy about this recent turn of events with the alcohol that was only supposed to cause explosive diarrhea – not death. What in the world did they put in that liquor? Was anyone else thinking that Will could use a Walter White in his life? It’s all about the science, Will.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire? Do you think Van Alden is on his way to becoming a full fledged gangster? Is Dr. Narcisse the most terrifying Boardwalk Empire villain in 4 seasons? What’s the deal with Chalky and Daughter Maitland? Do we really care about whatever Will Thompson is up to? What will become of Eddie? Do you think he’ll crack? Sound off below!