Episode 4 - Anastasia
6 March 2012
Things get a lot more violent and complicated here than they have before.
Margaret continues to show off her intelligence and convictions which have won Nucky's admiration. I assume Jillian (Jimmy's mother) is going to sleep with Lucky Luciano in part to protect Jimmy from someone she sees as a threat.
Nucky shows us the strain and stress he feels on a daily basis. When he spots lipstick on a cup or discovers his club is out of Pimms his anger flares up that his carefully constructed world isn't perfect. He has become so important and so powerful by delivering on his promises and getting things done. He seems to take it all in his stride and save his brow beating for his brother and man-servant but now we get a glimpse of those stresses flaring out elsewhere.
Meanwhile Jimmy moves quickly into the arms of another woman in Chicago and claims to be just passing through. But more than likely he will be sucked into Al Capone's world after that woman gets her face slashed as a result of Capone's impatient bullying. Jimmy still doesn't know what to do with himself and briefly considers thoughts of heading to California and starting some kind of new life. But now we can imagine him taking revenge and the escalating violence dragging him deeper into a crime gang which will doubtless come up against Nucky one day.
Both men's stories are interesting and well told. I wouldn't say I have much reason to like either of them though. I could almost call their characterisation too blatant. Jimmy of course looks like the model of restraint and kindness in the world he is in. He treats his prostitute like a girlfriend and not a piece of meat and Capone's brutality makes him look positively Ghandi-like in comparison. Meanwhile Nucky is the only rich white man who frowns on sexism and racism. I understand that his progressive attitudes are based far more on pragmatism than moral conviction but these seem to be the threads we are expected to cling onto to view these criminals as sympathetic figures.
I find Boardwalk Empire engaging and entertaining, no doubt. But I'm not sure it's as good as it wants to be. I liked the logical explanation for why Chalky was given such licence to negotiate and talk back to Nucky (he helps deliver the vast black electorate to the Republicans). However Chalky's torture scene with the local Klan leader was yet another gangster monologue that we have seen a hundred times. He delivered it well and the content was fine but the show is hardly breaking new ground.
My feeling about the show, which is I suppose that it's very good but the subject matter isn't something which appeals to me. It may be that like Mad Men I will become more engrossed the more time I spend in this world. I certainly have no desire to stop watching at this stage.
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