If it's crap ... We'll tell you
"I run a tight ship"
This season of Boardwalk Empire starts off at a pensive tactful pace. Things have settled down in Atlantic city in the wake of last season’s putsch, spearheaded by Jimmy Darmordy Nucky’s apprentice and Eli Thompson Nucky’s brother. It was certainly the mother of all family feuds and at times threatened Nucky’s whole regime. Crisis averted Nucky survived but not without things coming to a heart in mouth climax. While Nucky (Steve Buscemi) strove to keep to his convictions Jimmy (Michael Pitt ) was resigned to his fate in an altercation that weighed more on the mind of the person holding the trigger than on the one facing the bullet end of the barrel.
There is so far a perpetual uncertainty principle in nature regarding the precise moment in which a storm will occur. Intelligent predictions and approximation are made but we still lack the capability to pinpoint their occurrence beforehand. This uncertainty holds much in the same way in Atlanta city where a year after Jimmy’s death in the collective story arches running through Boardwalk all seems calm and without incident until the ingredients for another storm begin to manifest themselves naturally in much the same way as they do deep in the pacific. Serenity certainly doesn't last and although Nucky may have that delusion his operation may be more thinly veiled than he imagines. While Nucky claims he runs a “tight ship” Harry Daugherty who possibly sees through the sesames describes Nucky’s booze operation as an “open air bazaar”.
Despite the 1st half of this seasons premiere showcasing Atlantic City’s gentler water’s its Gyp Rossetti, played here by actor Bobby Cannavale, who opens it up in a fashion diametrically opposed to the episodes early vibes. No doubt a tessellating tornado on the horizon, his a large man with a cavernous chip on his shoulder demonstrated by his murder of an elderly good samaritan by way of consecutive lashes of a tire iron to the skull, for no more than an unconsciously correcting Rossetti; definitely a Joe pesci-esque moment.
Rossetti’s radioactivity is typified by his second appearance in the episode where his facial contortions show he perceives a mere chummy cheek pull by Nucky as some sort of affront and throws a tantrum later when the crime bosses slither from the party to a more appropriate setting in the basement. Nucky divulges some bad news which is met by measured dismay from all present apart from Rossetti who inexplicably loses all gentlemanly restraint. It’s a thrill to see him rattle the apple cart calling Nucky a “breadstick in a suit” and Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) a lame dentist almost like Achilles standing before a procession of Greek kings aware that authority and power is there’s but threatening through sheer physical might to lay waste to all of them. Fortunately for Achilles the Greeks didn’t possess fire arms and although Rossetti boasts the frame of a titan he is no demi god.
Irrespectively he is a welcomed addition to the cast (think Richie Aprile or Ralph Cifaretto) especially as previously touched on everyone else seems to be simply going through the motions. Nucky combines old world diplomacy and rationality with his new viciousness as he casually orders the execution of a thief after assuring said thief that he wasn't to blame. Nucky is now well into married life, but it’s not the scene of nuptial bliss he envisioned it’s really more procedural while innate discontentment exists under the surface between both parties.
Sexual tension seems to be bubbling over the surface between Margaret and Eddie Kessler while Nucky naturally bored seeks the enchanting Meg Chambers who plays Billie Kent a stirring broadway starlet. Its inspired casting and one wonders how taken Nucky is by her, could she be a potential replacement in Nucky’s psyche for Jimmy? The changes in Nucky's disposition aren't limited to his lack of mercy, when asked about the lady flier he says “she should spread her legs and leave spreading the wings to her husband” an answer which is probably a by-product of the mis-directed resentment for Margaret, a woman he sees as also unable to keep her own feet on the ground. However this kind of misogynistic outburst is decidedly uncharacteristic from Nucky who taught Jimmy to view people equally one wonders if the student’s death has eroded the resonance of those teaching in the master’s mind. Will this set a new precedent for Nucky’s relationships? How will Nucky’s colder outlook affect his relationship with Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) and the black contingent he oversees?
The way the show builds again from relative inertness into spiralling surges of life is best demonstrated through Jack Huston who played the indelibly maimed war veteran with such composure and poignancy over the last two seasons. Darmody’s former precision marksman and right hand man, is trying to find life worth as Jimmy’s son’s patriarchal guardian. Jimmy had fully embraced his fate and Richard made no call for vengeance but as he tries to cling to some semblance of his old life by telling young Darmody about his parents he is shot down. This blockade of his attempts to attain some sense of closure leads him to shooting Manny Horowitz who was himself on route to a wheel greasing assassination. Suddenly faint waves ripple over the episodes early feigned tranquillity.
Starts slow then through measured growth sows some interesting seeds for the season. 4/5