“Boardwalk Empire” Episode 4-5: Everything you love dies

Hold onto your hearts, folks. This is going to be depressing.

Gangsters Gone Wild

In Chicago at the Van Alden house. Sigrid is not pleased at the people driving around shouting into loudspeakers.

Van Alden points out to his wife that, perhaps, campaigning is an important part of a functioning democracy. Sigrid is not impressed. Apparently, she is not a fan of free speech during elections. “They should not make so much fuss, and do as they’re told.”

Democracy=Bad! Image from here.

Van Alden knows what’s good for him, and shuts up pretty quickly. Their baby is fussing and refusing to eat. Van Alden opines that the child is full. Sigrid responds “He does not know what he wants!” I believe, this along with her anti-free speech policies indicate Sigrid’s preference for a Totalitarian regime.


I mean, they’re practically the same person! Image from here.

Frank Capone pulls up in his shiny car to whisk Van Alden away from all of his domestic drudgery.

Sexy, sexy bromance.

Nelson/George, he’s come to take you away from all of this. Image from here.

Frank takes Van Alden to the Torrio/Capone headquarters in Cicero where Al is ingesting quite a lot of cocaine. They’re off to bully a bunch of factory workers into complying with the favorite choice of the Capones. Frank gives Van Alden good advice on how to reason with reluctant voters. Al prefers a different method.


Gif from here. 

At the factory, Van Alden does his best to follow Frank’s less mob-like advice. It doesn’t work well due to Van Alden’s lack of charm. His men are getting restless, and the factory workers don’t seem to be interested in Van Alden’s pitch that they should vote for his guy, um, well, because.

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One of the workers gets physically violent with Van Alden and all hell breaks loose! The numbers are not in the gangsters’ favor, and several factory workers rush Van Alden and Frank. Al immediately goes all shooty and violent. To make matters worse, a group of black clad police show up.

Van Alden has a super dramatic moment when he thinks about killing Al and ridding the world of this menace. (Sort like that thought experiment of “Would you kill Hitler as a baby, knowing what he would do if he was allowed to live?”) Frank sees Van Alden’s thoughts and reaches for his own weapon. Before either Van Alden or Frank can shoot, the black clad police brutally gun Frank down.

Poor Van Alden. He wasn’t killed by his only friend, but he did have to watch that friend be brutally gunned down.

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Gifs from Buzzfeed.

At the morgue, Al is grieving and swearing revenge. Apparently, the police came from Chicago, bypassing their control of the cops in Cicero. Van Alden tries to comfort Al. Sort of.

The Judge/Tommy/Berger’s Just Not That Into You

Gillian’s been waiting by the phone. Apparently, Roy (aka Berger) hasn’t been returning her calls. She is very sad. And dealing with withdrawal from heroin.

Later, we’re in chambers with Gillian and the judge who’s hearing the custody case over little Tommy.

The inferior Tommy

They wouldn’t be fighting so hard if this was the “Tommy” in question. 

(In an attorney-nerd moment, I was feeling pretty upset! I mean, the judge was having ex parte communications with a party appearing in a case before him discussing the subject matter of the case itself! I mean, really!) 

Anyway, the case is not going well for Gillian. She seems to think it will help if she puts her hand on the judge’s penis. It does not help.

He’s all like. . . Ewww!

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Gillian decides to deal with her faux pas by purchasing more heroin. Her dealer is the ever-menacing Dunn Purnsley! She goes to an all-black shoe shine shop to try to beg him for drugs.

It should be noted that both Dunn’s rise to the position of “Drug Lord” and Gillian’s decline into the position of “Junkie” happen very quickly. Dunn is dealing heroin in a shop full of witnesses, and Gillian’s already looks like she’s been working as a runway fashion model.

Heroin chic

Just like Kate Moss! Image from here.

Anyway, Dunn gives her the heroin at a discount rate. It’s unclear whether or not she used her body to make up the difference in the price, but you’d think Dunn would be more cautious after what happened the last time a pretty white lady came onto him. Well, kudos to Dunn for being open minded.

Gillian goes on a bender. It’s particularly embarrassing because she leaves Berger about 10 messages! 
In her altered state, Gillian thinks it’s the perfect time to surprise Tommy at school. She creepily stands in the hallwayand tries to give him an AbbaZabba. Because this is a school, and not Gillian’s creepy whorehouse, there are responsible adults around. Mainly, teachers and Julia. Julia yells at Gillian and takes Tommy home. Tommy, by the way, was pretty scared of Gillian and seemed pretty relieved when Julia takes him home.

The next time we see Gillian, she’s lying in her bed and Berger is sitting next to her. Apparently, he found her passed out in her bathroom and got her medical care to deal with her potential overdose. She very truthfully tells him what a bad person she is and how she’s done a lot of bad things.

Berger isn’t deterred by Gillian’s drug addiction or her very obvious mental health issues.

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This is either very romantic or a sign that he’s got his own secret shady shit going on. My bet’s on secret shady shit.
How to Train Your Nephew

When we last left Willie, his teenage prank ended with the gross death of Biff. Willie is now being held in jail. Naturally, he calls his uncle Nucky to help him out!

Nucky and Willie talk about the situation, and Nucky works to teach Willie how to lie and manipulate his way out of an ordinary arrest.

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Nucky then goes, expecting to meet with the District Attorney. What he gets instead is a rather shabby Assistant District Attorney.


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Nucky’s face.  

Apparently, Biff’s real name is Henry Gains, and his family gave the Pennsylvania Republican Party lots and lots of Money. So, Nucky’s gangster friend Waxy Gordon has less pull than the Gains without someone to blame for the murder.


What they need is a scapegoat! Image from here.

Nucky’s back with Willie, and he explains the problem. Between them, Willie figures out how to place the blame entirely on Screech, whose real name is Clayton.

Willie is let go, and Nucky gives him some uncle-y advice. To wit, don’t trust anyone who isn’t a blood relative.  Also, don’t worry too much about betraying your only friend because you can live with the guilt.
Back in his dorm room, Screech comes back to find Willie studying. Screech is panicking, but Willie is as cool as Antartica. Link. Screech is studying when the police come for him.

This plot ends with a tearful Dorris coming to Willie’s door. She is very upset by both the murder of Biff and Screech’s arrest. Willie gets the sociopathic look in his eyes and pulls Doris into an embrace.


The Saddest Thing in the Whole Wide World that Doesn’t Involve a Dead Puppy

It’s no secret that I was a bit overly invested in the relationship between Nucky and his valet turned money man Eddie Kessler. This episode hit me where it hurts for that very reason.

Last week’s episode ended with Eddie being arrested after his bender with Buttons Capone. This week’s Eddie plotline starts with him being in a creepy room with Knox and another agent.

Hot Fuzz

Not how playing “good cop/bad cop” was supposed to go. Image from here.

Knoxie and the other agent badger and question Eddie for hours. It’s pretty grueling, and my compliments to the actors and writers. They did a fabulous job keeping the tension going, showing Eddie’s humanity, and making Knox even a bit scarier.

During the course of the investigation, we learn that Knox was involved in “intelligence” during WWI and speaks perfect German. He also knows a very creepy poem/fairytale by Goethe,  Erlkonig, the title of this episode.

We also learn that sweet, faithful Eddie has a past. Back in Germany, he was working for a department store. He stole money from the store, abandoned his wife and two sons, and ran off with the lingerie salesgirl. His sons were so filled with shame that they changed their names.

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This fact is the one that finally breaks Eddie. He tells Knox one thing- that he met Buttons to give him $10,000. It’s enough for Knox to let him go. As a parting shot, Knox tells Eddie that he’ll see him again.

Back at home, Nucky tries to banter with Eddie, just to show that he misses/needs Eddie.  Upstairs, Eddie finishes writing a note in German. The camera pulls in on the image of his shaving equipment. Then, it pulls back. Eddie steps up to his window, and steps out of it, plummeting to his death.

I’m having a hard time bringing my usual snark and sarcasm to this part of the episode. This character was one of my favorites and it was a heartbreaking end for him. He finished broken, betraying Nucky, and being unable to live with that betrayal or contemplate further betrayal. I was genuinely touched by this story line.

Auf wiedersehen, Eddie. Image from hbo.com.

So, there it is. The demise of a beautiful relationship between Eddie and Nucky, and the death of a character who has been with us since the beginning. Eddie, it was sad to see you go, and many kudos to Anthony Laciura for giving your character the proper mix of humor and dignity.

And readers, I owe you something to cheer you up. Here it is. It’ll ease the pain. I promise.

Rating- A (Still no Margaret, but the writing and acting rise to prior levels of awesome. The show did a lot of what it does well; complicated machinations, touching on historical events and figures, deep betrayals, and an unexpected twist at the ending that changes everything!)
Gratuitous Violence- A ++ (Chicago alone would have gotten the A+, but once you add in the interrogation of Eddie and his suicide, the episode pushes the violence above and beyond.)
Gratuitous Nudity- F (No nudity! Two weeks in a row! It’s a good thing I possess my own pair of breasts or I might have forgotten what they look like!)
High Tragedy Rating- A+ (In addition to Eddie’s suicide, we’ve got Willie’s/MacBeth’s turn towards darkness and the brotherly grief of Al Capone.)

“Boardwalk Empire” airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.