The Comings and Goings of Comeuppance
A Television Review By Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!
Boardwalk Empire returns with its best episode yet this season, in which a steady tumble downwards for the majority of its characters is steadily on the horizon. And the horizon’s approaching rapidly. King of Norway marks the beginning of the final half of the show, characters coming to terms with the events from the past and waiting the confrontations and comeuppance that await them at every turn. It is no mistake that as the show approaches its final triad of episodes, this hour ends with a furious, trembling Nucky picking up the phone and calling Toro, hissing “I will not rest until I see you in your graves.” Reckoning is coming and who you are will not protect you, regardless of the wealth and prestige you may have. Crowns do not prevent your head from being blown off by bullets.
The flashbacks continue, although this time it’s a young Enoch Thompson working with the sherriff’s office and coming into contact with the seedier elements of “law” in Atlantic City. He’s called by an old woman who resents the sheriff’s only helping her at the time of the election. She feels that there is something like a body that terrifies her. At first he finds nothing but a dead pig, getting the woman’s deadpan “You don’t know what’s going on.” And at the end he finds himself looking at a dead body buried somewhere else amongst the grass he had looked earlier. Within the flashbacks we find his beginning with Mabel. She’s a rebellions sort, her father forlornly noting “I suppose you don’t know what you are,” when he looks at Nucky. “I suppose we’ll find out.” And I suppose we as the audience will ultimately find out as well. After Nucky renounced his façade of being a Kennedy-esque politician, he embraced his reality of being a gangster. What will it be by the final scene of the series?
The centerpiece of the episode is the dinner June and Eli go to at Nelson and Sigrid’s home. It immediately reminded me of the awkward dinner that Michael and Jan hosted in The Office, but this is one was just pure ice, pure frigidity. Michael Shannon does get the line “Chester, that would sound much better farther away” as his son is playing music. Only he can say that line with so much droll that it ultimately hilarious. They’re both whispering to each other about the Capone business, with Van Alden giving the best line of the evening: “I, for one, refused to be ruled by fear.” It’s a powerful sentiment, even though it slightly falls flat when the two men find themselves before federal agents, being turned against Capone because they, as Van Alden notes dryly, are the expendable ones. The feds grabbing Capone on a tax charge is ironically fitting. Before that sequence, however, is the dinner itself. Sigrid’s fury of years of being married to Van Alden has sharpened her to a degree where her coldness has enveloped her completely. And as everyone rises, she blurts out the truth. She ****** Eli. He broke the vow he had been carrying since he and June first met as teenagers. It’s ironic and telling in so many ways, especially when June herself had said earlier “Not everyone gets a chance to start over.”
Margaret gets her great little scene with Carolyn Rothstein with her wearing red once again. She’s cold and calculating, getting Carolyn’s weakness and signing off on the 25% offer Nucky had advised her last week. “You’re right where you belong, aren’t you?” Carolyn asks coldly. “Yes, perhaps I am,” Margaret replies with a clever smile. Nucky meanwhile tries to turn more tables on Luciano, surviving another assassination attempt in the process. He has a sweet little scene with Chalky, where his optimism plays sharply against Chalky’s pragmatism. “We’re not schoolboys,” Chalky notes. “We’re not dead yet, either,” says Nucky wryly. Yet is the key word, I’m assuming. He does acknowledge their friendship in a rather touching scene, though. Chalky, as the episode comes to a close, finds Daughter Maitland and presumably their daughter in a brothel owned by Dr. Narcisse. How some things come full circle.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Nucky on Mickey: “His personality suits the operation.”
+Apparently the Bacardi deal is still in play? It seemed pretty done last week with Sally’s death
+Nucky being referred to as Malta
+The thunder in the background when the doctor asks Gillian if she’s cured
+The feds torturing one of Capone’s men with insects crawling all over him was a powerful message of how far they were willing to go to grab him
+Gillian’s situation looks more terrible than ever and Gretchen Mol sells every second
+Eli: “My life is a shipwreck”; Van Alden: “Land ho” —> HBO, make this a buddy comedy/drama stat
+“Who will be called into account?”; “No one, I’m afraid”
+ Margaret being involved with shorting stock of the Mayflower Grain Corp.
-There is a notable lack of subtlety with some dialogue, like “How do you know what you are?” and “Are you cured?” are delivered well but are too on-the-nose
Title: King of Norway
Written By: Steve Kornacki
Directed By: Ed Bianchi
Image Courtesy: Hitfix