Boardwalk Empire Season 4 “Erlkonig” Review

Oh, Eddie. I had a feeling that this would be his last season on Boardwalk Empire. I was so happy to see him survive being shot last season, but when he pushed Nucky for a promotion I suspected things would not end well. It wasn’t only that Eddie died, but it was how he died that made the situation difficult to watch. In just two episodes, Eddie went from top of the world to out of a window. Geesh.

Despite being one of the few people who remained loyal to Nucky over the last three seasons of Boardwalk Empire, that loyalty did not earn him a friend in Nucky. In fact, not only was Eddie alone here in the states, he was also holding on to a secret shame that cost him his family. The ominous feeling I had about Eddie at the time of his promotion was fully confirmed last night as we finally got some long overdue character development. Boardwalk Empire fans will recall that right before we lost Jimmy, we got a disturbing glimpse into his college days and the series of incestuous events that compelled him to join the military. This is now becoming a bit of a pet peeve with the show. Getting into a character’s back story should not be a sign of death!

I digress . . .

After the FBI agents failed to crack the so-called weakest link in Nucky’s operation, they decided to up the ante by reminding Eddie of his past. It was revealed that Eddie left a department store with a ton of money and a lady friend from the makeup counter. The shame of Eddie’s actions provoked his son to change his last name in an effort to distance himself from his father. Quite fitting in an episode that was all about familial relationships.

The weight of Eddie’s past disloyal act and giving information to the agents proved to be too much. Was anyone else at home thinking that Eddie really didn’t give the agents anything that they wouldn’t be able to figure out if they took a peek at Van Alden’s old files? In fact, where are his files? I’m pretty sure he gave them to Esther Randolph – surely they can’t be hard to access. Any number of people in Atlantic City would know that Nucky and Al Capone (as well as his associates) are familiar with each other. That little nugget of information about Bottle Capone was hardly a smoking gun.

What made Eddie’s suicide even sadder was his own revelation, thanks to the agents, that Nucky would not reciprocate the loyalty Eddie has demonstrated. The writers gave us a nice little demonstration of that last night as Nucky forced Will to implicate his roommate in a murder in order to stay out of jail. Further, Eddie stealing some money and running away with a woman pales in comparison to the very long list of violent, heinous crimes committed on Boardwalk Empire by criminals and so-called “good guys” alike.

I’m saddened by Eddie’s despair and will truly miss him on the show. Might this be the set of circumstances that bring Margaret and the kids back to town? I could see her coming back to Atlantic City to pay her respects to Eddie. Margaret hasn’t been my favorite character in previous seasons, but I must admit that I miss her. I’ve had enough of the trials and tribulations of Will Thompson.

Eddie wasn’t the only Boardwalk Empire character having a rough go on last night’s episode. I hate Gillian, have wished for her death since season 1, but I cannot deny that Gretchen Mol did a good job at being down and out. Gillian’s addiction to “lovely” heroin seems to be getting the best of her, as she uses it to cope with the loneliness and emptiness of her life.

This isn’t just about losing Tommy, there’s a blow to Gillian’s vanity as well. Other than Jimmy, I don’t think she’s had a man disappear and not return her calls. I’m sure she’s also used to sleeping her way out of tough situations. I can’t say I felt bad for Gillian, I actually got a bit giddy at the idea that after Tommy’s rejection she’d just take a huge dose of “lovely” heroin and make a permanent departure from the show.

Mr. Piggly Wiggly finally returned and now he knows Gillian’s drug addiction. I’m not really in favor of anyone that would give Gillian a lifeline, but I would like to know what Piggly Wiggly’s deal is. I have a hard time believing he is who he says he is. If the takeaway point of last night’s episode is that you can only trust family, I think it’s safe to say that Piggly Wiggly does not have the best intentions when it comes to Gillian.

So what does one do when your family is taken away from you? If you’re Al Capone, you create a makeshift family and repay those who took your loved ones with blood and violence. Yes, Al still has Bottles, but Bottles didn’t sound too enthusiastic about being pulled into a violent war. Sounds like he was perfectly happy in Brooklyn. Having watched a few documentaries, I was pretty sure Frank would die this season, but I wish we got a little more of him. I quite liked him and his rapport with Al and Van Alden.

I keep thinking that at any moment, Van Alden is going to turn over information to the feds or grab the family and leave town but it hasn’t happened yet. Is it time to accept Van Alden as the reluctant gangster? Another question – do you think Dean has noticed Van Alden’s absence yet?

Good news next week, Boardwalk Empire fans – Richard is back in Atlantic City! Finally! What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off below!