Kibbitzing about TV: Boardwalk Empire, “Bone For Tuna” (S3E3)

Old friend (and Jews Clues co-author) C.J. Kaplan recently penned this wonderful analysis of the latest episode of one of our favorite shows, ‘Boardwalk Empire’. I convinced C.J. to allow me to post an unexpurgated version and added a few thoughts of my own at the end. Maybe we’ll keep doing this for the rest of the season. Maybe not (we’re lazy.)

First of all, Richard you are one cold-blooded motherfucker!

“Jimmy was a soldier. He fought and lost. You have nothing to fear.”

I mean, shit, that is straight-up tough. If Richard, Chalky and Owen Slater ever decide to team up, they will flat-out own Atlantic City. Those are three men with tunnel vision when it comes to achieving their goals. Nothing stops them—not women, booze, money or, least of all, fear.

I wish the same could be said for Nucky. Facing up to Richard was the one manly thing he did in this episode. Otherwise, you may as well have set him up with a cosmopolitan and a pair of Jimmy Choos.

When did Nucky become Lady MacBeth? Out, out damn…bacon grease? He’s mooning around after Billie. He’s seeing visions of young Jimmy. And he’s letting Margaret (fucking Margaret!) drain his wallet. And he’s not even getting sex from her anymore. (“Perhaps some warm milk will do.”) Hey Maggie, Remember when Nucky had your abusive husband reconstituted into fish food? Remember that?!?

Nucky, my man, when your biggest problem is Gyp Rosetti who, in the immortal words of Gordie LeChance, is nothing but a two-bit dime store hood, you are sitting pretty. Bone for tuna, indeed.

I’m re-characterizing Gyp now. He’s like a souped-up version of Joe Piscopo in Johnny Dangerously. “My father put me in a closet once. Once!” That said, all Nucky had to do was show up and see him off with his shipment of hooch and all would have been swell. Instead, he pissed off Gyp so much that he went and charbroiled a fat cop. (Note to fat cop: If a guy is pointing a gas hose at you, back up a few paces. The hose only goes so far.)

Just not a good episode for Nucky. “Do you keep seeing the people you killed?” he asks Richard. “I think you know the answer to that,” replies Richard.

Nucky, didn’t you see the tagline this season: You can’t be half a gangster.

Briefly, in other parts of the Empire, Gillian is so creepy and twisted now that she taking on Norman-Bates-as-his-mother type qualities. You know it’s getting weird when Nelson Van Alden looks normal by comparison.

Speaking of NVA, it’s nice to see him getting some tail. You know, without all the self-flagellation and stuff.

But, back to the main story. Nucky has just got to pull it together or he’s going to become Atlantic City’s biggest doormat.

Until next week,

 -C.J.

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Speaking of self-flagellation, it appears that the Boardwalk universe requires at least one character who borders on caricature. In the first season it was the aforementioned Agent Van Alden, he of the public baptism-murder. This year we have thorny Gyp who takes offense at every kind word and callously fries pigs (while Nucky dreams of frying bacon). I’m predicting that Gillian and Lucky will have a falling out (foreshadowed in the argument over the leaking roof) which will lead to the formation of the 1923 all-crazy team co-captained by Gillian and Gyp. Hopefully they cleared the Commodore’s spear collection out of the mansion.

Then again, Boardwalk also has a knack for redeeming seemingly hopeless characters. They managed to turn Jimmy from the stupidest gun in the East into a sympathetic victim of incest, and they’ve done the same with poor iron salesman George Mueller. Margaret could take a few lessons from Bjork Bjork about how to make your man feel better after a tough day at the office.

On Margaret: it was good to finally see the return of clever Margaret, who’s been hiding under a veil of sanctimony since saving Nucky’s diary in the beginning of season 2. Note to Margaret: acting superior and giving away Nucky’s blood money doesn’t make you a good person; it makes you a hypocrite. You’re still living in a fancy mansion paid for by the same bootlegging and murder.

But the table is now set for open conflict: AR is going to be pissed at Nucky for missing his delivery date. Lucky, Meyer and Bugsy are about to go to the mattresses against Joe Masseria over the heroin trade, and George is getting angry in Cicero. Gyp, as mentioned, is always ready to rumble.

And while I’m not buying Nucky’s hopeless devotion to Billie (at least she doesn’t call him “Daddy”) I am glad to see his remorse over killing Jimmy. Sure, Jimmy was an idiot, but he was Nucky’s idiot.

Finally, let us celebrate – with a creepy giggle – the continuing survival of Mickey Doyle, Kama Sutra aficionado. I suspect that keeping Mickey alive against all odds is a running joke among the writers. It’s a good one.

Until next time,

Mitch

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