Boardwalk Empire, Season 5, Episode 5, “The Kind of Norway”
October 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m., HBO
We set up dominoes just to watch them fall, and that’s just what the writers have done this week. Boy, how they fall. The only man still standing, the man who’s alsoways standing, no matter what may come, is Nucky. More flashbacks, now of an older Nucky, a deputy, reveal more of his unabashed ambition. None of this was ever up for debate though. The series established from episode one the true nature of Enoch Thompson, and while the flashbacks have been great showcasing the talents of its two fine young actors portraying a younger Steve Buscemi, it all feels somewhat unnecessary.
I feel the subconscious theme, drifting subtly underneath this episode is the broken home. Eli cheated on June with Van Alden’s wife, young Nucky rises from the ashes of his broken home to become a powerful man. Daughter is living with her child in Narcisse’s brothel, Van Alden’s wife can’t stand the sight of him. Van Alden’s daughter whispers that her real mother is dead, and she was a ballerina. Maranzano, the father, the Don, is killed by one of his “sons”, Luciano. All the characters are fragmented, broken, plummeting faster straight for the ground.
June comes to visit Eli, as he wakes from a fever dream, filled with the drink and a blue he can’t quite remember. She’s seven months pregnant and he had no idea. He begs her to move to Chicago with him, and she declines swiftly, stating Nucky will take away their allowance if she leaves New York. Nucky it seems has been “helping” them in the only way Nucky knows how, by controlling the situation and helping himself. He owns Eli, he owns Eli’s family, and they know it. In what may be my favorite comedic moments of the season (updated from a few episodes ago), the Mueller household hosts the Thompson’s for dinner. Mueller is a terrible parent, who wants nothing to do with his children. His wife is over it all, her deadpan delivery and dead, vacant stares towards the man she’s supposed to have been devoted to, are the best kind of black comedy you can ask for. As Eli stares into the portrait of the man and remembers that while blitzed out of his mind, drunk, he had sex with Mueller’s wife, the plates crash to the ground. “You remember now” she says, devoid of any emotion. As the big reveal, she’s the only honest one in a room full of liars, in walks another liar, a fed, posing as one of Capone’s men to arrest them both. The show brilliantly using two fictional characters as the way to Capone’s ledgers. They are to retrieve them and “earn their badges as men of the law”, why? Because they’re expendable. Neither one of them wants to go through this plan, the ledgers are written in code. But the feds have the bookkeeper and he’s wiling to talk. Tied up in a closet with bugs crawling on his face. This is fictional…I think. I can’t find anything on internet that alludes to the IRS torturing him into cooperating.
In Nucky’s world big things are happening. Chalky and Nucky have a reunion that seems like the end of the road for one of the characters (my bet’s on Chalky). Nucky gets to absolve himself of his guilt for the past seven years, and his role in everything that went down with Narcisse. Chalky, in a heartbreaking moment is handed money from Nucky, as a friend. To me this entire sequence, shot beautifully, dark and ominous, was a last goodbye. Chalky heads off to Harlem to track down Narcisse, and when he enters a room, gun drawn, expecting the man he wants to destroy at any cost, he gets a massive surprise. There’s Daughter, with her child.
Margaret makes her first move as Nucky’s “partner in crime”, her boss completely astounded as to her ease in the criminal circle. Out of all the character growth and change in this series, Margaret has by far changed the most. From a meek helpless woman in a bad situation to the woman she is now, Kelly MacDonald deserves an award for her performance.
The most horrifying story line to date is Gillian’s. The woman, though unwell, is not going to get better in this place. The atmosphere alone is enough to drive a saner woman crazier. I was getting anxious just watching the woman running across the room, screaming at the corners. Gillian tries to sit in silence, smoking, and not paying attention, but it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to pay attention to the fellow patient, who has just had her uterus removed so the doctor can rape her and not worry about impregnating her. The wound on her stomach, wide, red, and angry. Gillian, desperate to escape what she fears will become her fate, seriously, I would chisel my way out of there no matter what it would take, tries to use her charms on Dr. Cotton. This is not a man who can be charmed by Gillian, a patient who he sees not even as a human, but as a broken object that he get to tamper with and try and fix.
Nucky, the man who’s so desperately trying to atone with those he wronged, and go legit, is drawn right back into the fray when Johnny Torio works with Luciano and Lansky to set Nucky up. He’s meeting with Maranzano, a meeting Torio set up, to try and warn him that Luciano was making moves. Luciano’s men open fire on them, and Maranzano doesn’t make it. This, in history ensures Luciano and Lansky’s place as two of the most notorious organized crime bosses in America. Nucky calls Torio, and as Torio, surprised Nucky is still alive listens, Nucky vows to kill all of them (which we know doesn’t happen). He also learns of Sally’s death this week, in a quick, and passing sad moment, offering up a blank cheque for the names of the men involved. He wants them to be called to account for their actions. But they won’t be. They have no names. No one goes quietly.
- “I will not be ruled by fear” “HUSBAND!” “Coming, dear.” – Michael Shannon, you should do more comedy.
- “That would sound better further away” – I would like Mueller to release a parenting book.
He wants them to be called to account for their actions. But they won't be. They have no names. No one goes quietly.