Boardwalk Empire 5.03: “What Jesus Said” Review

For Enoch Walked With God

A Television Review by Akash Singh


What did Jesus truly say? It’s a tricky question by all accounts and every being will have a different answer, if they even care to have one in the first place. “Jesus said there’s always forgiveness,” young Fern quips to Chalky in a quiet appeal to the better aspects of his nature. “Baby girl, Jesus was wrong,” comes Chalky’s cold response. In the world of Boardwalk Empire and in many ways our own there is no guarantee of forgiveness. There’s the beginning, the middle, and then the end. No one knows what happens after that curtain falls at the end of a lifetime. You’re born, you live, and then you die. To some the question of what they leave behind is irrelevant, because everything is open to judgment at the very end and forgiveness will be attained. What you leave behind is conversely the most important aspect of an individual’s existence.  It is the only thing arguably that truly remains behind. What do you become when you’re no longer there?

Chalky is back this week and I only wish that he had come back with a much stronger storyline because his bits this week were a slog that ended in completely predictable fashion. Him and Buck break into a house where the owner had previously trolled Buck for a payment on the work that he had done for him. The scene is superbly acted, but throughout the bits we get with them there’s a frustrating sense that this storyline will probably end up with Chalky killing Buck to save Fern and that’s exactly what he does, stabbing his short-lived companion in the neck with an axe. The wealthy white family has nothing but $9 and government bonds that are now practically worthless. “Does she know who you are?” Fern asks about his daughter Maybelle. “She knew what I was,” Chalky saunters quietly. He has nothing left and he knows there is no forgiveness for him ahead. And if by some miracle there is, that forgiveness wont transcend down to the earth towards whatever he has left of his family.

That’s what Enoch wants, to leave something behind. His confession to Joe Kennedy is like a small child telling his father what he wants from life. Joe Kennedy knows his legacy is secure with his family and the reality of him always operating to break the law while remaining firmly within it. Nucky doesn’t have anything to leave behind to anyone, the lack of pictures telling. He wants all or nothing, which can become easily a fairly dangerous to live and quickly at that. The flashbacks to his childhood reveal him falling in love with Mabel and seeing his first murder within a single week (talk about childhood trauma). As a young, wealthy Mabel approaches him as he handles the carriage horse, she quips “And Enoch walked with God”. God takes Enoch, and then what? The adult Enoch is envious of Joe Kennedy, down to the point where he replaces his whiskey with a spritzer as to preserve the image Joe emulates. Kennedy represents a dynasty that is respected despot whatever the internal truths and treachery may lie together because he’s built something within the boundaries of societal decorum. What has Enoch built?

Dr. Narcisse comes back, even though we only see him for a single scene with Luciano & Co. He’s built a lofty life for himself that’s now under thinly veiled threats, which he immediately recognizes and responds with a quiet “It’s a shame that you came up so far for nothing.” “That’s what I love about New York,” Luciano quips immediately. “Everything’s so close by.” Vincent Piazza’s really nailed the threats disguised as pleasant commentary. And then the threats are made real. The shootout of Dr. Narcisse’s brothel was breathlessly directed and credit to Ed Bianchi for the overhead framing where the buildings overwhelm the tiny humans. Even that framing device suggests that the buildings are the things that remain whilst the humans inside so often become dispensable.

The way the writers tie in Margaret into the main story is fantastic. Her dealings with Rothstein (a spinoff I am still actively rooting for, HBO) have come back to bite her in the back after Mr. Bennet’s suicide. She meets Carolyn, Arnold’s widow and the scene is fantastic. Carolyn notes that she hates milk before laying it on Margaret. She knows very well who she is and she’s going to personally sue the hell out of her to get her money back with some sense of dignity. Margaret sighs with resignation. Nucky wakes up from a dream with a soft “Mabel?” The lights gleam as he sees Margaret rise out of the shadows. The two share a soft smile. Perhaps there is something that Nucky can leave behind after all.



Title: What Jesus Said

Written By: Cristine Chambers and Howard Korder

Directed By: Ed Bianchi

Image Courtesy: Renegade Cinema


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