Tag: Paul Sparks (Page 1 of 3)

Boardwalk Empire 1.10 – “That’s Mommy’s kissing friend!”

At last, the spotlight is placed back onto Richard Harrow…and, wow, how utterly depressing it must be for him to go from a dreamworld where he’s still the man he used to be back into a reality where his face frightens children. Nucky looked like he might’ve been as least slightly more sympathetic about the situation than Margaret was (which stands to reason, given that it was her daughter who had the bejeezus scared out of her), but he’s right: after his assassination attempt last week, they are already on edge. Hearing the shriek of her child no doubt stopped Margaret’s heart cold.

Sepso’s trying to look as utterly innocent as possible as he swears up and down that he had no choice but to kill Billy in self-defense, even going so far as to claim that the incident will haunt him for the rest of his days, but Van Alden’s expression when Sepso’s exonerated reveals that he doesn’t even remotely believe him, and he only gets more exasperated and infuriated as he’s accused of being a bungler. He’s got one more chance before his career comes crumbling down around him…and, boy, does he know it. The later scene with him flipping through his paperwork, trying desperately to find a way to bring down Nucky, is pitiful.

Angela’s painting a peaceful beach scene when Jimmy emerges from the bedroom for his first cigarette of the day and compliments her on her artwork. She seems mildly surprised that he’s even been paying attention. When he first started groping on her, I thought she was getting annoyed, but instead she found herself titillated to the point of letting her canvas clatter to the floor and allowing Jimmy to have his way with her. Clearly, their relationship is getting at least somewhat back on track.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.9 – The Road to Oz

Eli may still be stuck in bed, recovering from his gunshot wounds, but he’s doing well enough to finger the guys responsible for taking him down while robbing the casino: the D’Alessio brothers. Their reputation as a bunch of full-fledged thugs more than precedes them, and Eli wants them taken down before they do any more damage. (The Thompsons’ take on criminal activity is of a much higher class, you know.) Nucky, however, is concerned about a mayoral candidate named Derwood Fletcher who’s been talking about all the corruption in the city. Eli shrugs it off, but Nucky’s concerned about how it’s going to affect the election. Something tells me that Eli’s desire to get out there and perform a bit of spin control is only going to backfire. I don’t know if it’ll damage Nucky’s career or Eli’s health, but I just can’t imagine something’s not going to suffer as a result.

Meanwhile, on the boardwalk, Nan Britton – a.k.a. Warren Harding’s mistress – is musing to Margaret about how Warren’s love for her can’t compete for his love of America…not that she’s rationalizing her situation. They soon pop into Margaret’s former place of employment in order to get Nan a few new frocks, but Margaret also gets an earful from Madame Jeunet, who complains how much of her income goes straight into Nucky’s pocket. Oh, that woman: her complaints are valid, but the way she’s trying to play Margaret is despicable.

Hey, look, Jimmy’s back in Jersey! Once again, he confirms that his family isn’t his priority by conceding to Nucky that he came straight from the train station to his office. As I suspected last week, Richard Harrow is going to play a part, with Jimmy telling Nucky that he wants Richard to help him on the D’Alessio job. It’s interesting that Jimmy wants Nucky to admit outright that he wants him to kill the brothers, then makes a face when he gets confirmation that “the kid” has a death sentence as well. Criminals have the strangest take on ethics.

Speaking of the D’Alessios, they’re meeting with Rothstein, who clearly outclasses them by about 10:1, if not more. He knows it, too. First, he underlines the fact that he’s got a reputation to uphold, thereby indicating that he’s not sure they won’t embarrass him, then he discusses the methods of making money via bootlegging in such a way that he gives hem the opportunity to put their foot in their mouth with their stupidity. He wants to set up a scotch-importing business, and he’s hopeful that they might be able to assist him in bypassing Nucky in the equation, though he has them sign insurance policies to cover his bases. I had to laugh at Rothstein’s closing joke about the monkeys at the zoo, because he’s right: he and the D’Alessios are two completely different species of criminals.

I like how Nucky’s a fan of L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books. I don’t know if you’ve read anything beyond the original “Wizard of Oz,” but there’s some really great stuff to be found in Baum’s exploration of the land of Oz…but I digress. He and Margaret soon descend into a political discussion, where Nucky lays out his theory on politicians: “If we only elected good men, we’d never have leaders.” Is that an original quote? Somehow, it seems too profound for Nucky. The topic quickly shifts to Madame Jeunet and her business, causing Nucky to tense up at the unsuitable nature of the topic and leave abruptly. Whoops: power struggle in the Thompson house.

Angela looks horribly uncomfortable with a man’s arm around her, doesn’t she? Not so when she’s being kissed by another woman, though. Hello, menage a troi…? If so, it’s going to be a decidedly uneven affair. But, no, the proceedings are interrupted by the return of Jimmy, who’s acting pretty shitty for someone who’s been away from home and virtually incommunicado for as long as he has. Her friends make a hasty departure, leaving Jimmy and Angela to…interact? I don’t really know what you’d call it. It hardly starts off as consensual, but it appears to end up that way, unless she’s just resigned to her fate.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.8 – It’s A New World

As Eli sits behind Nucky’s desk, trying to make everything look just so, only one thought comes to mind: “This man could not possibly look less comfortable in a position of power.” Clearly, everyone knows it, too. When Nucky’s in town, there’s always a line of people to see him, but with Eli in charge…? The place is a ghost town. As soon as Eli started mouthing off to his right-hand man about how easy it’d be for him to do what Nucky does, I knew that a major screw-up was destined to go down before the end of the episode. The only question was what it would be, and it didn’t take long to figure out that it’d have some connection to Neary’s replacement missing his route for a day to be with his polio-stricken daughter.

Similarly, it was inevitable that Nucky would cross paths with Jimmy at some point while he was in Chicago, but until that happened, we got to see him try to pull rank with a hotel concierge. I actually thought he might fail, given that he wasn’t on his home turf, but never underestimate the power of a big wad of cash. Sitting down for dinner, he flips open his brochure for the Republican National Convention and finds an ad for Colosimo’s, thereby securing a visit to that particular establishment in the near future, but before he can make any specific plans, Senator Edge swings by the table to invite Nucky to attend Harry Daugherty’s shindig on his behalf. Obviously, it’s funny in retrospect to hear them disparaging Warren G. Harding, but looking back at the race for the Republican candidate in 1920, you can see why. Even with all the bootlegging going on in the wake of prohibition, Harding’s nomination may have been the biggest crime to be committed that year, and Harry Daugherty was the man behind it.

Margaret and her gal-pal Annabelle (a.k.a. Harry’s woman) are gossiping it up over tea when a harried Madam Regina approaches, unexpectedly asking for assistance with…Lucy? Oh, God, this is going to be bad. Lucy’s trying to get a few more things on Nucky’s dime, but when Margaret tries to politely sway her into leaving calmly, it descends into namecalling that, somewhat surprisingly, leads Margaret to slap Lucy. Ouch!

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Boardwalk Empire 1.7 – Daddy Issues

I feel like I have to start off this week’s write-up by noting that, as a result of having been watching the show via advance screeners that I received way back in August, this week is the first time that I’ve ever actually seen the opening credits of “Boardwalk Empire…and, hey, they’re pretty awesome! I particularly dug the shot of the ocean filled with bobbing bottles. And as far as the theme song goes, I was briefly convinced that I was hearing an instrumental portion from Donovan’s “Season of the Witch,” but, no, it’s The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Straight Up and Down.” Fair enough.

Things start out in Chicago, with a cop keeping close tabs on a gentleman indulging in a bit of corned beef hash and eggs. Bad news for him: turns out the cop is one of Capone’s informants. Worse news: I didn’t recognize him at first, but he’s the son of a bitch who slashed Pearl. How nice of Al to help Jimmy extract his revenge. I had no idea he was so sentimental. Now that they know where they can find the bastard, Jimmy heads over to the doctor to get his leg checked out (it’s the one that was wounded during WWI), since it’s been giving him trouble, describing the pain as “a dull ache inside.” A la the medical history lesson we got from Margaret’s pamphlet last week, this time we find out about Dr. Robert S. Woodworth and his so-called “Personal Inventory Test.” Jimmy agrees to take the test, though he’s clearly skeptical of its worth, but then he sees a guy who’s lost an eye and is wearing a colostomy bag. Surely he thinks the same thing we do: it could’ve been a hell of a lot better off.

Who’s the eccentric old codger in the bathrobe, wielding a fireplace poker? Shit, is that Nucky and Eli’s dad? Sure is. All the money Nucky’s got up his sleeve, and this is how his father lives…? Looks like the old man has a reason for preferring Eli…and not just because he was the first son to arrive on the scene after his accident. After Eli makes sure that his pops is in safe hands, he sets onto Nucky for seeing Margaret, reminding him between the lines that he was directly responsible for putting Margaret on the market by making her a widow. Nucky assures him it’s not an issue (though you know it will be one of these days), then shifts the subject back to their father, suggesting they put him in a home. Eli nixes the idea and, after Nucky dismisses any possibility of paying for a live-in nurse, suggests that he and his family can take him in, thereby underlining further why he’s Daddy’s favorite, but it’s the moment where an annoyed Nucky muses on how much the toaster cost ($9) and how it was never used that’s the more telling: Nucky wants to show off his wealth on his own terms, and he’s pissed when his gestures aren’t appreciated.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.6 – “I think you’d agree that Greektown belongs to us now.”

If I was supposed to recognize the gentleman who was strolling the boardwalk at the beginning of the episode, picking up “donations” from the various business owners, I must admit that I didn’t. (Did I mention how glad I am that this is my first Sunday night in many months where I haven’t had to blog two shows? My retention of faces just isn’t what it used to be.) It didn’t really matter, though: by virtue of his actions, it was evident that he was part of someone’s operation. That punk kid had a set of brass balls on him, spitting in the face of a big bastard like that one. Let’s hope the payday was worth it…especially since, as we soon found out, the big bastard in question turned out to be one of Nucky’s boys. As far as who the kid belongs to, that’s a mystery, but it’s one that Nucky wants solved sooner than later. All things being equal, though, it might’ve been better to put someone other than Eli on the case, given that he comes across as more ignorant and belligerent than usual this episode. Is Lucky really responsible?

I’m not going to pretend that I’m not disconcerted by Lucy’s insistence on calling Nucky “Daddy” – as the daughter of a 5-year-old, it really creeps me out – but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy any opportunity to see Paz de la Huerta’s naked body. Seriously, the woman is a full-fledged sex bomb. If Lucy isn’t aware that Nucky and Margaret have officially made the move from idle flirtation to full-fledged ugly bumping, she’s at least conscious that she’s got to work to hold Nucky’s interest, but while drawing blood definitely works as an attention-getter, Lucy’s on the wrong HBO series if she thinks she’s dating someone who gets off on bloodletting.

Margaret goes to visit Mrs. McGarry of the Women’s Temperance League, providing a very carefully phrased statement which indicates that Nucky has offered to take care of her and her children. In return, she gets a frown from Mrs. McGarry, along with a copy of Margaret Sanger’s now-famous “Family Limitation” pamphlet.

It’s a miracle! Charles Luciano is once again capable of getting lucky! And to think: all it took was to hop into the sack with Jimmy Darmody’s mom. Rothstein might’ve been pissed off for still not having a proper update on Jimmy’s whereabouts, but don’t tell me he didn’t chuckle to himself immediately after getting off the phone. The look on Lucky’s face was priceless.

Jimmy’s playing a round of Five Finger Filet, a probable sign that he’s still really depressed about Pearl’s suicide, when Al comes up and tells him that Johnny Torrio is in the house. As soon as Johnny sits down, though, it’s evident that he has little time for Al, dismissing him within moments as a poor businessman. Jimmy might have been pressing his lucky by calling Torrio by his first name, but he’s got a sensible delivery that lends him a great deal of credibility.

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