Boardwalk Empire spiraled into the pits of darkness this season, but in my opinion, season three has upped the intensity in ways the first two seasons never did. We are used to this show pushing us as viewers and we’ve come to anticipate shocking moments. “A Man, a Plan…” left me unnerved and uncomfortable in the best ways possible. This has become a new kind of drama, and I’m enjoying it tremendously!
The episode opened on an incredibly light note, funny enough.
Look at Richard Harrow double-fisting his Dairy Queen:
Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) and his new lady friend are getting along swimmingly. They spent the day at the beach with little Tommy, enjoying what I’m assuming was a show to kick off summertime. When liquor bottles started washing up on shore in droves, I found myself echoing Tommy’s sentiments regarding the party chaos that ensued.
Tommy: “Why is everyone yelling?”
My thoughts exactly, Tommy. Had I discovered a ton of whiskey bottles washing up on the beach, my first thought would be to hoard as much as I could before news broke minutes later. Whoever decided to scream out to the crowd, inviting them to insanely scavenge the sand for liquid gold, was a moron.
Back at Julia’s father’s home a little later, things got heated as they often do around the old drunk. After witnessing Julia and Richard holding hands, her father started spewing some nasties toward Harrow and more importantly, towards Julia. Richard heard “bitch” and “sideshow freak” and he lost it. You don’t toss shade at Richard’s lady friend or his super cool mask. He managed to literally strangle an apology out of the man.
Richard unmasked: “Would you pay a dime to see this?”
Richard Harrow is the equivalent of a superhero on this show. He’s the only character from the main cast who remains universally likable.
The whiskey that washed up on the beach was, of course, sloppy Gyp Rosetti’s (Bobby Cannavale). I like Rosetti as a character. I get a kick out of him, but as he grows in power, I find myself less forgiving of his loose cannon demeanor. The new guy on the crew, a fisherman’s son, blamed “rogue waves.” This is what I refer to as Boardwalk Empire season 3’s “I killed Kenny” motif. For those of you who have been living under a boardwalk for the past decade and a half, that’s a South Park reference. Google it. I’m sure there are plenty of YouTube mash-ups by now. Every time we deal with Rosetti, we know he’s going to have that “will he explode or will he laugh” moment. It seemed like he gave the naïve new guy a shot. We’d learn later, he wasn’t so fortunate.
Van Alden (Michael Shannon) returned this week, hitting the ground runnin’ with his vodka business. It appears as though he’s literally been going door-to-door from bar to bar selling his booze to Norwegians. His wife is so talented! Doesn’t he know the rules of this game by now? You always kick up to someone, “George”! Eventually, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) caught wind of Van Alden’s mom n’ pop- type distillery. How could Van Alden pay his dues? By feeding information surrounding his time spent with Dean O’Banion to Torrio’s team. I was a little disappointed in Al, mainly because it seemed as though he had matured as a gangster (As if that could ever actually happen to anyone. Gangsters are like little boys who never grew up, but I digress) in making amends with Dean-O a few episodes prior.
Owen (Charlie Cox) spent the majority of the episode caught between his two dames. We first found him waking up with Katy, and she ended up on the receiving end of a half-assed marriage proposal after questioning his relationship with Margaret (Kelly Macdonald). After parting with Katy, Owen ended up with Margaret, of course, under the guise of needing a woman to help him find a birthday gift for Katy. Margaret was still under the impression that she and Owen would run away together as soon as possible. Owen suggested Margaret leave town shortly before him in order to throw off Nucky (Steve Buscemi). Meet me in St. Louis? I was thinking Owen wasn’t planning on ever meeting up. I just never found him to be a very winning character. Whoops! I should have said, “find,” for the time being, at least…
After getting absolutely shafted by his former gangster buddies last episode, Nucky focused his attention on the issues in Washington. News had broken that Remus was arrested. With Jess Smith (Ed Jewett) likely in hysterics and ready to crack at any given moment, Mr. Means (Stephen Root) suggested “silencing” the poor fool. For a price, Means would get the job done with “finesse.” Means talked to Smith and made the entire ordeal seem pretty simple, if you ask me. Apparently, Smith had a few thousand dollars from Remus tying him to the whole ordeal. Means suggested burning it in the yard to clear his name, but also informed Harry Daugherty (Christopher MacDonald) of the act just prior. From the window, the two gawked as Jess Smith burned dollar bills like a lunatic and contemplated his fate as either a future nutcase or a new corpse. Means could help Daugherty… for a price! I get serious “Lord Varys from Game of Thrones” vibes from Means. He’s seemingly all knowing and untouchable. It’s that voice!
By the episode’s end, Means was sneaking into Jess Smith’s bedroom with a loaded gun. Harry Daugherty had fed Jess some bull story shortly beforehand about retirement and reminiscing about tornadoes on an old front porch. In other words, Harry foolishly alerted him to the massive target tattooed across his face! It appeared the tables had turned for a moment, though, as Smith appeared from the bathroom, surprising Means with his own loaded weapon. I had thought a monkey wrench was thrown into Nucky’s plan, at this point. Then Jess blew his own brains out, and Means walked out seemingly baffled. That was a first!
In New York, Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) turned down new offers from Meyer (Anatol Yusef) and Lucky (Vincent Piazza) surrounding their budding heroin business. “Deals wait, but fools rush in,” reasoned Rothstein. Charlie and Meyer were tired of waiting for either Nucky or Masseria to make a move to put an end to the war that hadn’t even truly begun yet, so they ran to Masseria over Rothstein’s head. At first, Joe wasn’t too keen on the idea with working with Meyer, a Jew, but he was sold after Charlie offered information on Nucky’s alleged incoming hit. Boys, Rothstein is always right. I’m pretty sure the first deal he made was with Lucifer himself, so your heroin business is looking pretty shoddy. Could this be an opening for Rothstein to ally himself with Nucky again?
Margaret’s educational program at the hospital inevitably came to an end this episode. Eh, I had already forgotten about it .The bishop decided to end funding permanently. On the bright side, “the critical nun,” as we’ve come to know her, gave Margaret props on what she felt was a slight success. Job well done? One final scene with the doctor, and Margaret was on her way. I’m pretty sure this scene, in which the doctor offered her another shot at this program elsewhere, was intended to show a contrast to her relationship with Owen; a relationship that revolved around escaping and running versus one that revolves around fighting the good fight. She got her diaphragm, though! A contraceptive consolation prize, indeed.
Nucky began separating his men this week; sending Eli (Shea Whigham) to Chicago to negotiate with that incredible Mr. Torrio, Mickey to start working on Melon’s distillery, and Owen to kill Masseria while he chilled out at some Turkish bath. Nucky also sent one of his trusted men to Tabor Heights in an attempt to scope out Rosetti’s crew. Nucky wanted every bit of information he could find. When Rosetti met McCoy, we learned that he’s actually planning on ordering a lot more whiskey than Nucky. He’s cocky, so we know it’s probably not a great idea. Rosetti is very concerned with showing his power and puffing up his chest. He nearly lost it when the fisherman’s son, the one who blamed “rogue waves,” mentioned that the path to them isn’t so steady. Rosetti blamed a drunk Sinbad knockoff. This man would not get a third strike. Once the new shipment came in perfectly intact, Rosetti reasoned that he was right and the man was wrong. What punishment made perfect sense? How about burying the man up to his neck in the sand and slamming off his head with a shovel? Now that we know Gyp Rosetti, I’m going to say that made perfect sense.
Chalkie White (Michael Kenneth Williams) made a brief appearance. I swear, I could hear the universal sigh of “finally” among the nation’s viewers when he walked into Nucky’s office. They totally wasted this character this season. Hopefully, he plays a bigger part in weeks to come, especially because his idea to remake Babette’s as a new kind of club from Harlem sounded spectacular! Nucky fired it down immediately because he’s lost all sense of fun and likes being a grouch. In actuality, he’s not too keen on an interracial club… yet. I feel like that could change by the finale.
Richard Harrow seems to have sealed the deal! After a campfire on the beach and conversation about how they both lost their former relationships as a side effect of the war, kissing happened! Smooching and canoodling under the boardwalk happened, to be exact. Now, I’m scared for Richard. This is too perfect of a storyline to work out in his favor, correct? I hope I’m wrong.
The episode closed with one of the most intense scenes the series has produced. I think we all saw this coming in a sense, maybe not so soon, but the visual effect and the music got to me, nonetheless. A crate arrived to the Thompson suite around four in the morning, waking Margaret and Nucky in the process of the delivery. Okay, who else knew what was in the crate before they opened it? How could Nucky not know what to expect after three seasons of these shenanigans?
This was in the crate:
Margaret flailed into hysterics, finally snapping under all of the pressure. In that moment, we knew that Nucky knew all. All of his promises of fixing things and getting Margaret’s life back to normal seem so idiotic in retrospect. The episode ended with Margaret remembering her conversation with Owen from earlier… but with a twist! An extended ending revealed that Margaret is pregnant and Owen was, allegedly, on board. So much for that diaphragm, right?
Are you all pleased with the way the season is shaping up? Are you as nervous for Richard Harrow as I am? What will become of Margaret? How will Nucky get out of this mess? Are you sad to see Owen go? Assuming you expected this, did you expect Nucky to be the one to off his apprentice? Who’s going to be the one to topple Rosetti’s house of cards?