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Boardwalk Empire – Premiere Recap: Factotum Alphonse Caponi

Boardwalk Empire launched Season 4 tonight with a premiere episode that quickly snuffed out last season’s drama in favor of some new brands of crazy. Richard Harrow opened the premiere by whacking two goons. We’re off to a great start!

Season 4 Episode 1 of Boardwalk Empire, “New York Sour,” introduced a few new faces. Finally, some youth has filled the void left by Jimmy Darmody. Nope, still not over it on this couch. Meanwhile, our seasoned veterans seem to have settled into their ways by now. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) for one seemed to have had enough of the drama between the bootlegging bigwigs. In fact, has Nucky had enough of the New Jersey scene all together? No Margaret or Van Alden this episode, by the way. The characters seem to be spread a bit far apart at this point. Meaning, we can expect to have a few sit the bench on a weekly basis. Of course, I’m content as long as Al Capone Alfonse Caponi (Stephen Graham) is in fine form. Here is the Recap and Review of tonight’s Boardwalk Empire premiere, Season 4 Episode 1, “New York Sour”!

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Is Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) off the straight and narrow? Well, there really is no straight and narrow path on Boardwalk Empire. You can’t be half a gangster! Then again, Richard Harrow has always been seemingly selfless in his endeavors. Harrow, as stated prior, kicked off the premiere tonight by jumping two crooked goons outside of their car. A slit throat and a bullet to the brain to launch Season 4, Harrow? Thanks for that. After collecting some cash, mysterious dirty money we’d been previously clued in on, Harrow headed out into the snow. Midway through the episode, Harrow paid another man a visit. This time, a bullet shot through the man’s cheek in his office chair allowed him just enough time to ask what we’d all been wondering. Why, Richard? What’s going on here? Episode 1 of Season 4 closed with Harrow as well, and I was fairly certain it would by the way his two scenes prior seemed to act as short but sweet act markers among the rest of the action. Harrow hid his gun on the porch of an unknown home before knocking. From behind, Harrow’s sister, Emma, pointed a shotgun in her own protection before recognizing the man behind the mask. Richard Harrow has come home!

While I was glad to see that Richard had wandered back home for the first time in years, I was a bit peeved for Julia (Wrenn Schmidt), who was stuck back in the A.C. area dueling with that loony Gillian (Gretchen Mol). The two appeared in court to fight for custody of Tommy, who’d spent the several months prior to a rescuing by Richard making due with life in a whorehouse. Neither party’s claims made much sense at all, considering the fact that no one involved could truly speak of the events that had transpired during last season’s finale.

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Gillian, meanwhile, has found even more ways to embrace her insanity. While attempting to sell her dream home, the classy cathouse, we were clued in to the fact that Gillian’s been skating by by turning tricks. (Thirty bucks plus ten if she needs to put anything in her mouth.) To make matters worse (Better, for us.), that massive dose of heroin she’d barely survived through during the closing moments of Season 3 has led to a drug addiction. Gillian on hard drugs; welcome to Season 4! I love this already. We were also briefly introduced to a much-hyped new addition to the cast through Gillian. Ron Livingston’s Roy Phillips made his debut as a potential buyer of Gillian’s home. Though, the chemistry between the two of them, topped off by his invitation to Gillian to act as his own personal tour guide, led us to believe that there will be more to this duo than a quick buyer/ seller relationship. Plus, the man must have money if he runs a chain of supermarkets. Gillian certainly lives for the finer things in life. Wouldn’t it be nice if during Season 4 she could actually experience some luxury as opposed to vividly imagining cotillions in her drug soaked brain?

Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) wasted no time dropping Nucky’s first string of problems in his lap this week. Remember, Nucky had promised Chalky the club space formerly known as Babbette’s in return for his loyal help when Nucky needed him most. The Onyx Club spent the beginning portion of this episode shaping up in time for Chalky’s big debut. A talent agent, Dicky Foster, rolled into town with his flirtatious wife by his side, offering up mediocre talent with the finesse of a car salesmen. Chalky smelled the slime from the get-go, but his right-hand man, Dunn (Erik LaRay Harvey), would be the one to land the pair in hot water.

Having been slipped a note for a quick romp in the sack from Dicky’s wife, Dunn snuck the woman off to his part of town with a mere forty minutes to spare. The two got down to business right away, only said romp would end up spiraling from risky to raunchy to ridiculously racist somewhat quickly. From the corner, the woman’s husband made his presence known. Pressing a gun to Dunn’s head as his wife cried rape, Dicky forced the man to say some downright awful and degrading racist comments about himself before motioning for him to continue screwing his wife. Dunn, at first, seemed puzzled. Of course, once the woman revealed that the entire nature of the setup was some sort of twisted planned perversion, forcing a black man to degrade himself for their personal pleasure as a couple, things changed. Dunn, smashing the man’s face with a whiskey bottle, stunned his attacker before repeatedly jamming the jagged glass into his head. Unfortunately, Dicky’s wife hightailed out of the hotel window before he could finish the job.

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Chalky was, needless to say, furious with Dunn for his impulsiveness, brutally murdering a club connection that would require Nucky’s assistance to dispose of. My favorite moment this week was probably the scene where Chalky barked some hilarious comments at Dunn from the warmth of his car while his second-in-command buried the man’s body in the snow.

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Nucky had previously kicked off his arc for Season 4 by attempting to issue in a new era of peace among gangsters. A meeting with Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), whom everyone else seems very comfortable calling “A.R.” this season, much to my surprise, would seem to nip the tension in the bud; a bag full of a few thousand dollars offered to buy the lives of the fifteen men Nucky had whacked along with Gyp Rosetti. Just like that, Joe? It seemed to me like all of the incredibly dark tension, violence, and rage that fueled Season 3 was squashed pretty damn quickly. It made me wonder how everything went so off the rails to begin with! Of course, this scene was also important because it highlighted the awkward situation between Charlie (Vincent Piazza), Meyer (Anatol Yusef), and Rothstein following Luciano’s decision to jump ship in favor of his Italian brethren. It seems, at least thus far, like Meyer and Lucky still have a strained friendship. In the end, nobody wants to get shot in the back of the head while shopping or dining in one another’s cities, so the simple deal was struck. Enjoy the Jersey Shore, folks!

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

The man formerly known as Al Capone starred in my favorite story are during this week’s premiere. Episode 1 featured the introduction of Capone’s bond with his two brothers, who now seem to be closer to the action working for Torrio (Greg Antonacci). Much of their relationship centers on the two much bigger brothers busting Capone’s chops while Al struggles to assert himself as the successful gangster that he’s become. Of course, his brothers loved the fact that a revealing press article on Torrio’s criminal ways, an article highlighting the Democrats’ decision to combat the Republicans’ ties to bootlegging and prostitution, for example, referred to Al as “factotum Alfonse Caponi”! Al, not at all one to let such a slight go, paid the twenty-two-year-old journalist a visit, busting into his office to aggressively correct the “truth-teller’s” error. That scene highlighted exactly why we love Al. We expect these people to maim and kill at this point, but Al wasn’t about to seriously hurt the young man for doing his job. My favorite part, of course, was Al’s quick slap to the back of his head. It was the kind of harmless hit a guy gives to his obnoxious little brother for, well, not knowing better. Still, as much as I enjoyed that scene for being light and humorous, it’s good to know that Al’s arc might involve more interaction with the press the season. That could be interesting to watch as he constantly juggles pleasure and power.

Stan Dies "Boardwalk Empire"

While Chalky’s confidant Dunn might have tossed Nucky his first problem, Eli’s (Shea Whigham) arc during the premiere highlighted what will most likely unfold into part of Season 4’s central dramatic arc. At the distillery, Eli and Mickey (Paul Sparks) met with crooked Prohibition agent Stan (Joseph Aniska) and newbie Warren Knox to discuss the future of their deal. Knox initially seemed entirely naïve and slightly inept, driving Stan to repeatedly scold him like a child. Of course, by the close of Episode 1, things would drastically changed. After learning of a booby-trapped warehouse loaded with thousands of gallons of booze, the increasingly creepy Knox devised a scheme to lure Stan straight into the line of fire of a rigged shotgun mechanism. Stan, I thought we would be getting more of you judging by the start of this premiere! Well, everybody, solid Stan went out with a bang this week, and Knox stood emotionlessly over his bleeding body as he slowly headed to corpse-dom. The owner of the stash would quickly end up dead as well, leaving Knox to the entire stash of booze. Now, how will Eli and Nucky protect their own distillery from government interference without having to get tied up with a man who’s obviously not quite well in the head? Introduce him to Gillian! Is this one of the main antagonists of Season 4, or has that figure yet to be revealed? Knox could also very well end up as yet another common Atlantic City nut-job who inadvertently causes trouble for Nucky and the gang.

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Also, it’s important to note that Eli’s son, Willie (Ben Rosenfield), is aching to get in on the action this season. Home from college on a break, Eli’s critical ways have pushed him closer to Uncle Nucky, who was hesitant to even bring up the family business. Willie is young blood, and I think Boardwalk Empire needs that right now. Here’s to hoping he can finagle his way in somehow. At this point, Eli won’t even allow him to sneak a cigarette!

I almost think it might have been better if we never really knew Billie Kent. The edited flashbacks of her serve just fine to remind us of Nucky’s deep feelings for his dearly departed flame (Too soon?), but I can’t help but remember the fact that I’d never actually realized just how deep their relationship was last season until she was gone. We got some tiny moments of likability and vulnerability from her just before she was killed in the club explosion, but none of that is really as powerful as the constant flashbacks to her very final gorgeous moment in the glow of the fiery blast. Still, Nucky loved her, clearly, and that is what matters now. Another one of Cantor’s blonde bimbos nearly had Nucky there, until she managed to completely destroy her odds of being Nucky’s Season 4 bag by criticizing Billie’s acting. It would be Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura) who’d show her the door. By the way, I’m deeply enjoying the fact that Nucky is being so caring to Eddie post-shooting. It’s like he has a newfound appreciation for Eddie after nearly losing him.

HBO "Boardwalk Empire"

HBO “Boardwalk Empire”

Nucky closed out Episode 1 of Season 4 by flipping through a pretty convincing brochure of the potential “business” down in Florida. Is Nucky Thompson heading south?

What did you think of the Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Premiere, Episode 1, “New York Sour”? What do you think Harrow’s deal is? Will Gillian win back Tommy from Julia? Is Knox a worthy opponent (Probably not.) or just a thorn in the side? Did you miss Margaret or Van Alden? Are you ready for more of the Capone family? What will become of Nucky’s relationship with Rothstein and Masseria? Where does Nucky go from here?

Thanks for reading my Recap and Review of the Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Premiere, Episode 1, “New York Sour”!

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