Boardwalk Empire 208 – Two Boats and a Lifeguard

“My brother. He’s smarter than you are. And a lot more dangerous.” (Eli)

What an episode. What an episode! Sure, it was all set-up for the season’s final five episodes, but what a set-up it was! This was Boardwalk Empire as we’ve never seen it: small, emotional, and very, very sad.

It all started with a dream sequence. Everything about it – Nucky’s glove, the fight, the bleeding hand, daddy eats first, the rifle – was loaded with emotions somehow. Everything we knew about Nucky and his father Ethan’s rocky relationship passed the review. What happened afterwards was a slow unwrapping of Nucky’s characters, stripping him back down to the basics. “You’re an onion”, the state attorney’s assistent said, and we nodded our heads and knew it was true – be it in entirely different ways.

But is he looking for closure? Or were Eli’s wise words at the end of the episode right? Surely, Nucky’s always a step ahead, but maybe he really does want out. His arguments were compelling and there was nothing faked about his emotional state at his father’s viewing. It’s hard to predict a show like Boardwalk Empire, partially because of character is a fully fleshed out human being, but also partially because the writers sometimes tend to over- or underplay: certain things are less or more important than they seem. At any rate: a stellar performance by Steve Buscemi, who has now officially shown us every side of Nucky Thompson.

And then there’s Jimmy. The speech he gave at Babette’s was so cringeworthy I could hardly listen to it. The words “Prince James” were the cherry on the cake, the one that shows us the writers know where they’re going with this. I can’t say I was surprised by Mickey being thrown off the balcony – I just hope he’s not dead and we can continue listening to his weasel laugh for years to come. If anything Mickey should go down laughing like a retard.

Thoughts and things

  • Twenties-award of the week: we’re making an IRA-related visit to Belfast!
  • I’m seriously looking forward to seeing more of Owen next week. Owen and Nucky have a strange relationship I’d like to see explored further.
  • Van Alden pulled the “emotionally distant unpredictable man” card again. Only it wasn’t surprising. I wonder if the episode really needed that scene?
  • Angela’s back. The scene with Jimmy was nice, and she shares some nice chemistry with her newest lover. With all the mafia stuff going on, I hope to see more of that world she descended in.

In all…

We just took a turn towards the season’s final moments. If this season is about old versus young, then this episode revolved around fatherhood. The theme was brilliantly handled – it is truly at these moments that Boardwalk Empire shines the most: when it creates a dense, geographically closed-off world in which its well-rounded characters do things that are expected, but not predictable.