“Boardwalk Empire” Season 4, Episode 10- Heroines and Heroin
Besides the ongoing feud between Narcisse and Chalkie, this episode focused on heroin. A lot of heroin. Also, Sally and Margaret manage to get ahead using their wiles! It was nice to see women in this show do more than have sex, get beaten, and fight over custody of Tommy Darmody.
A Crime Syndicate of One’s Own
Margaret is using work time for personal business. She is checking out apartments for herself and the children. She’s interrupted speaking to a potential landlord by Rothstein.Rothstein does some quick math, and points out that she’s looking a bit out of her pricerange.
Rothstein gives her one of his cards and offers to find her a better place. Margaret, being the clever woman she is, knows that he wants something in return. She’s correct!
Rothstein purchased Anaconda Real Estate stock. Margaret’s boss is driving down the price of that stock. They will be buying it back soon. Rothstein wants Margaret to keep him informed. She’s considering it. Insider trading seems far more secure than bootlegging.
At her current home, Margaret lies awake. A neighbor baby is screaming, and it’s annoying. She’s sharing a bed with her children. Yep. Insider trading definitely seems like a good option.
The next day at work, her boss gives her valuable information. He also makes anti-Semitic remarks, so that the audience doesn’t feel badly about him getting screwed over.
Gif from here.
Margaret smiles and plots her revenge/decorates her dream apartment in her mind.
Margaret entertains Rothstein in her crappy apartment. They have a brief misunderstanding about their various intents. Margaret makes it clear that sex isn’t on the table, and Rothstein agrees a little too readily.
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Margaret goes on to discuss the relative morality and legality of all the parties involved. The upshot is that she will provide Rothstein with information in exchange for a nice, not opulent, rent-free apartment for five years.
Rothstein reflects that this is his first time doing business with a woman. So far, he likes it!
Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangsta
Nelson is reviewing his new job duties with Al and Ralph Capone. Torrio walks in, and he’s feeling a bit left out, especially when Al makes it clear that he’s promoting people.
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Al, relying on Torrio’s previous statements about being tired and wanting to hang out and drink some nice wine in Italy, reasonably assumes that Torrio is thinking of retiring. Torrio, who must be feeling like an old man, doesn’t take well to that suggestion. He bristles and leaves the headquarters.
Al and Ralph Capone are telling jokes to a bunch of topless prostitutes.
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Everyone seems to be having a good time. Torrio walks by and is clearly disgusted, so he leaves. Al goes into the other room to answer the phone. A mysterious voice calls to say “good bye”.
Fortunately for Al, Nelson was nearby. Nelson saw the gunmen in the building across the street and tackles Al to the ground, saving his life. Al points out that it’s good that Torrio just left.
Gif from feministing.com.
That just leaves a whole slew of traumatized prostitutes.
Federally Funded Betrayal
Eli is meeting with the feds in a coffee shop. He gives them the name Balanchuck, one of Torrio’s higher ups. He lies and states that this guy is Torrio’s second. Eli sees a sailor and gets reminiscent about his father. Knox tries to give him a pep talk. Eli shoots him a dirty look.
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We get to Patricia Arquette’s contractually obligated appearance early. Sally is overseeing the loading of the trucks. McCoy is more interested in drinking with some rednecks than getting trucks on the road. Sally smacks them down.
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Nucky really did well considering he put her in charge on a whim based on good, violent sex. She sees Lansky, Luciano, and Petrocelli hiding heroin in the liquor crates, and she doesn’t get caught by them. To her credit, she keeps her own secrets while she reveals the betrayal to Nucky. McCoy is the only who knows besides Sally and Nucky.
At Eli’s home, he comes to the breakfast table to find Knox posing as an insurance salesman and drinking coffee with June and Willie. Knox uses Balanchuck’s name and mentions that he transferred from Chicago. June and Willie leave. Knox discloses that Balanchuck died several months ago, and that Eli better come up with better information or Willie gets to go to jail for murder.
Nucky informs Eli and Doyle of the heroin plot. He instructs them to bust the transport and find the heroin. Nucky suggests Knox get involved, too, which is convenient for Eli.
Waiting for the shipment, Knox is discussing his inspiration for joining the FBI. It’s some stupid detective story. Eli is not impressed. Knox tries to butter up Eli again. And he fails. Again.
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The convoy stops. Lansky grumps to Eli about being behind schedule. One driver offers some resistence. Knox offers to handle it. The driver gives him some guff, so Knox shoots him in the head. Lansky, then, backs down and denies any personal knowledge of the heroin.
In a field, Lansky is being interrogated by Nucky and his men. Apparently, he felt the need to help out Luciano when Masseria demanded he transport heroin. Nucky flexes some muscle and makes sure Lansky knows he’s dangerous. Lansky indicates that he kind of figured that out, since he’s been on the show for several seasons, but he was in a no-win situation. Nucky’s not going to kill Lansky. Instead, he’s using him to arrange a meeting with Masseria.
Nucky meets with Masseria. He’s brought his “partner”, Dr. Narcisse. Masseria seems to enjoy the surprise, which seems to indicate that the only reason he’s working with Narcisse is to piss off Nucky. They posture and threaten each other a bit, then they agree on terms. Narcisse wants the North Side of the AC, and he wants to kill Chalkie. Nucky wants 1/3 of the heroin profit both past and present. They agree.
Meanwhile, on the Northside. . .
Chalkie is making big plans with his men in the alley behind the Onyx. The guys are ragging on the new hire Nucky put in the kitchen as a dishwasher.
Turns out it’s Richard Harrow. Chalkie, in an effort to remind the audience that we like him, greets Harrow with genuine respect and affection. Harrow, to remind the audience that he may be a sociopathic killer, but he’s a good person, greats Chalkie with humility.
Way to be subtle with character development, guys.
Chalkie and his men start shooting up Dr. Narcisse’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. They manage to get a pretty high body count, but Narcisse survives, and returns fire. He manages to hit Chalkie in the shoulder.
Dr. Narcisse interrupts Nucky’s brooding in the offices at the Onyx. He wants blood. Nucky is feeling pretty nonchalant about it all, but as Narcisse gets pushier, Nucky gets angrier. With no more than the henchmen facing off, Narcisse backs down.
In a garage, Harrow is bandaging up Chalkie’s injury, creating a sling out of an American flag.
Actually, before I start a controversy, I don’t think it’s a real flag. More like red, white, and blue bunting. The blue isn’t particularly prominent, though.
Daughter Maitland and her accompanist join them in the garage. Daughter expresses concerns that Narcisse will come after them. Chalkie doesn’t take it seriously, until she points out that he really isn’t in the greatest shape to fight Narcisse.
Nucky visits Chalkie and Daughter in the garage. They wax philosophical, and Nucky reluctantly agrees to help him out. This all happens prior to Nucky’s meeting with Masseria.
Mayor Bader, meanwhile, is holding a press conference on the North Side in conjunction with Dr. Narcisse. Willie is by his side.
Nucky instructs Mayor Bader to send the sheriff deputies to smuggle Chalkie out of town.
Chalkie and Daughter are getting ready to go. Planning on going to Philly.
Willie finally does something besides fuck up, and gives Nucky valuable information from the mayor’s office. Bader met with Dr. Narcisse, and he’s been in meetings all day. Nucky immediately gets on the phone.
In the car, Chalkie senses that something is wrong while Daughter sings a spiritual. Chalkie complains about his shoulder and pretends to sleep. In reality, he rearranges his sling. When one of the deputies tries to pull a gun on him, Chalkie wrests the gun from the deputy and uses it to blow his brains all over the windshield. He uses his sling to strangle the other deputy. Daughter steers the car until it comes to a safe stop.
Meanwhile, Chalkie’s children are going out on the town! Maybelle and her brother go to the Onyx after hours. Maybelle’s a little less into it. Her brother hops up to the piano. The music’s pretty great.
She wanders into the back rooms to find Dr. Narcisse. They have a rather poetic conversation about unhappiness and the jazz age. Eventually, Narcisse figures out who Maybelle is. He introduces himself as Richard Pastor.
Maybelle paints the picture at home. Chalkie’s missing. Mrs. White is depressed. Her fiance’s parents broke off the engagement. She’s actually feeling okay about all that.
Narcisse gives her a creepy pep talk and calls her and himself “people who dare to stand free”. She starts feeling things and cries a bit, and he sends her on her way. Super creepy, but also kind of sweet.
Nucky and Willie update Eli on the situation. Two dead deputies. Willie acknowledges his commitment to the family business, and Eli appears to have a change of heart regarding protecting Willie from the FBI.
Institutionalized Racism is more exciting than Bootlegging
At the FBI office, J Edgar Hoover showing a video reel of Marcus Garvey’s activism in Harlem. “3,000 Negroes with ideas in their heads! That’s a threat worth worrying about!”
Knox tries to interject that he’s found a way to bust the bootlegging business, and he’s very excited about it. However, J Edgar is not interested. He focuses on their inside man with Garvey.
Rating-B- (This was definitely an episode that was focused on building to the finale. It was less interesting in terms of character development, but you do get the sense that the writers are putting the chess pieces in place.)
Gratuitous Violence- A++ (Lots of violence! Mostly, in the form of massacres!)
Gratuitous Nudity- B (Al Capone’s prostitute friends shared their breasts with America.)
Sneakiness on the part of Nucky’s love interests-A+ (While Gillian and Julia didn’t appear in this episode, Margaret and Sally both managed to be super sneaky and work it to their advantages! Sisters are doing it for themselves!)
“Boardwalk Empire” airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.