“Boardwalk Empire” Season 4, Episode 8- Odd Couples

This episode only covered three of our usual plotlines.  (Instead of the usual 6-10).  They also intermingled a bit more than usual.  Which is to say, they actually intermingled.  However, I’m going to keep my usual structure in recapping and put it together piece by piece.


Just Say No to dealing drugs

In the opening of the episode, Dunn walks up to a house.  A little old lady answers.  Of course, this is a front for his heroin business.  About 8 stoned people hang out in the living room.

Heroin house. Much nicer than this crack house. Image from here.


In the back room, Dunn meets with the head guy.  Apparently, heroin is in demand.  Dunn advises him to cut the heroin with corn starch.  The head guy has a large firearm.  (These drug dealers!  Always, whipping out their firearms!)  Dunn hands the head guy a pamphlet.  Apparently, Dr. Narcisse wrote a play!


23 Moments Theater-Lovers (And Performers) Know All Too Well

Gif from Buzzfeed.

We cut to Daughter Maitland singing gospel!  The woman has range!  It’s the funeral of the Deacon.  Various people in the congregation are giving Chalkie the stink eye, including his wife.  Perhaps, because he is enjoying the music too much.

Can’t blame him.  It’s pretty good!

(I tried to find a you tube version of it, but no luck.  Sorry.)

As a pleasant surprise, Mayor Bader and his wife are in the congregation.  They’re the only white people there.  It’s a nice touch.

Later, Dunn comes to the barber shop of heroin deals.  Chalkie is getting his shoes shined, which clearly surprises Dunn.  They have “business” to take care of. . .

It’s business time!

They pull up in a car to the heroin house, and Chalkie’s men quickly start beating up the addicts.  Dunn, realizing that the head guy could blow his cover, rushes to the back and shoots him.  Several times.

Chalkie’s pissed off.  No, not at the waste of human life, but because he wanted to interrogate him.  Dunn claims self-defense.  Chalkie’s not one to give up easily.  On the dead body, he finds the advertisement to Dr. Narcisse’s play.

We cut to the Onyx where Daughter Maitland is singing a great blues number.  Chalkie, per usual, is creepily watching her from the shadows.  Nucky knocks on the door to visit.  Chalkie lets him in, but he’s clearly annoyed to have his stalking interrupted.

Nucky, having heard rumors, came by to have a chat with Chalkie.  He wants to make sure everything is fine.  Chalkie resists at first, but then admits that he doesn’t know who or why the Deacon was killed.  Nucky imparts a few words of wisdom, “Don’t let your life get out of hand.”

Then, we the audience get a very special treat.  We get to see a portion of Dr. Narcisse’s play!

22 Signs You Were A Theatre Major

It is as hilariously bad as anyone could have hoped for.  It uses overly verbose language and so much, yuck, symbolism.  It appears to involve a black woman who gives the child to a man (clearly a stand-in for Dr. Narcisse and educated, refined black men), then she stabs herself because she is “corrupted”.  The man then takes the child back to Africa.  You’d think a character like Dr. Narcisse who takes himself so seriously would have a bit more dignity and self-awareness, but apparently he does not.  It’s awesome!


23 Moments Theater-Lovers (And Performers) Know All Too Well


The audience reaction is less delighted.  Most of them look incredibly bored.  Fortunately, for them, there is an interruption.



Gif from here.

Chalkie and a group of his men are in the street, banging on a trash bin lid.  Chalkie, being the badass he is, confronts Dr. Narcisse with the two packets of heroin.  Which he lights on fire!!!!


Gif from here.

Dr. Narcisse, early in the morning, creeps into Daughter Maitland’s apartment.  She is understandably not so into having visitors and wants to sleep.


Gif from here.

He admonishes her for the sin of “melancholy”.  Eh.  I didn’t see it so much.  She’s not put off by the claim.  She, rather generously in my opinion, asks him how the play went.  Dr. Narcisse is clearly upset that the audience didn’t hail him as the next Oscar Wilde, but says “the symbolism was beyond them.”  That’s right, Dr. Narcisse, blame the audience for your sappy, terrible, boring play.

More importantly, he also blames Chalkie’s “disruption”.  He informs Daughter Maitland that after Chalkie visits her, she’ll have another visitor.  She’s not particularly keen on this, but keeps her mouth shut like a good Stockholm Syndrome victim.

Chalkie does come to her that night.  He’s getting ready to go, but she’s trying to delay him, per her instructions.  They talk about how his wife doesn’t understand him, and how his son can actually play piano.

Chalkie reminisces about the hymn she sang, “The Ship of Zion”.  They sang it at his father’s grave.  He asks her to sing it to him.  It was at this point in the episode that I was pretty sure one or the other of these two was not going to make it out of the episode alive.  She sings, and it’s clear that she’s nervous due to a tremor in her usually crystal voice.

A knock at the door.  It’s Dunn.  Chalkie and Dunn posture.  Chalkie pretends that he doesn’t know that Dunn has been working for Dr. Narcisse.

Finally, they start to fight.  And it goes on.  A while.  It’s pretty gruesome, and Daughter Maitland’s apartment is totally trashed.  Just when it looks like Dunn is about to kill Chalkie, Daughter Maitland gets involved and stabs him in the back with a kitchen knife.

The poor girl seems a bit traumatized, but she does run to Chalkie and hold him while quoting bible verses.  Chalkie, for his part, wears an expression that says, “Great!  I hooked up with a crazy woman!”


Gif from here.

Fun with the FBI

Knox/Tolliver is heading a meeting of agents.  (Okay, so I know, after last week that his real name is Jim Tolliver.  However, I’ve gotten used to calling him “Knox” or “Knoxie”, so that’s what he’s called in these recaps!)

The agents are essentially a group of gossiping school girls, and they are super impressed by Rothstein’s gambling and cheesecake habits.


Gif from here.

This greatly annoys Knox and he loses his temper. One of the agents reveals the info about Willie’s murder of Biff.  The agent snarkily smacks down Knox and leaves.


22 Signs You Were A Theatre Major


Knox takes a trip to the jail in Philadelphia.  He is sitting across from Screech.  Bribing him with cigarettes, he begins the interview.

Eli is sitting at a diner when he’s approached by Knox.  Suddenly, a second agent slides in next to Eli.  They threaten him vaguely for a bit, until they get to the real threat.  They got Screech’s story, and are considering getting involved in Willie’s life. . .


The Orange Blossom Special is more than just a Johnny Cash song.  It’s rum.  Lots of it.

Willie wakes up at Nucky’s hotel and tries to put together a breakfast.  Apparently, no one has been around to do the shopping. Poor Nucky has to leave without a real breakfast, but he gives Willie  the assignment to think about what he wants to do with his life.

Nucky is at the warehouse with Eli and Mickey Doyle.  Doyle is telling a really annoying story, which he seems to find amusing.  Nucky and Eli are not amused.


Gif from here.

Nucky is pissed that Doyle has Eddie’s cane.  They send Doyle out, while the grownups argue about family things.  Eli is sulking, and Nucky is rationalizing Willie’s behavior.  It’s a return to their old relationship.  Fortunately, the booze shows up.

Along with the booze, Sally (aka Patricia Arquette) came along with the delivery!  She’s chatting up Doyle, and inexplicably, she finds him amusing.  Nucky is less than pleased that she showed up unannounced.

Nucky, how could you be sad to see this face?

Nucky, how could you be sad to see this face?

They squabble, and Sally is funny.  Nucky offers to find a hotel for Sally and buy her dinner, but she refuses.  Her feelings were a bit hurt by his less than warm welcome.

Back at Nucky’s hotel, Mayor Bader is waiting to see Nucky.   Willie is the only one home, and they engage in some networking.  Kid would have done well in an MBA program.

When Nucky arrives, Willie is sent away, despite his clear desire to hang out.  Mayor Bader is worried about Chalkie’s ability to actually turn out the vote from the black part of town.

At the club, after chatting with Chalkie, Nucky comes across Sally and Doyle flirting.  Nucky has the same reaction the audience does. “Really?  This guy?”

Twelve Times Scott Walker Was Terrible


Gif from Buzzfeed.

Sally  indicates that Nucky might have been “slumming” in Tampa.  Sally suggests that she and Doyle meet up elsewhere.  As they leave, Nucky yanks Eddie’s cane away from Doyle and clocks him on the head with it.




Doyle finally seems to figure out that the dangerous and violent man who is also his boss is into Sally, so he needs to go away and stop cock blocking Nucky.  Sally and Nucky argue a bit, and then cut to. . . .

Willie’s room where he can hear absolutely everything that Sally and Nucky are doing in Nucky’s room.  Let me tell you, Patricia Arquette makes some impressive sounds during fake sex.  It left little to the imagination!

Next morning, Willie’s attempting to make breakfast, and failing miserably.

Breakfast fail. Image from here.

Enter Sally to the rescue!  She makes a Southern style breakfast and gives Willie a bit of mothering.  Nucky joins them, and he actually starts to enjoy himself.

Back at the warehouse, Doyle is sitting apart, sulking a little bit.  Nucky and Sally are framing the trucks as she gets ready to depart.  They chat sweetly until she reveals that the real reason she came up to the AC was to keep an eye on the truckers to make sure they didn’t steal.  After brief haggling, Nucky gives Sally $1,500 for her trouble.

Nucky gets Willie ready to go home.  Apparently, Willie will be working for Mayor Bader.  This is all part of Willie’s grand plan to  regain the family fame and direct lines of power.

He’s gonna live for-ever. He’s gonna learn how to fly. High! 

Image from here.

Back at the Eli Thompson household, there is a raucous good time.  Complete with a Ukulele.

Dance, Jess, dance harder!

Move over, Zoe Deschanel! Willie Thompson is the new Manic Pixie Dream Girl!


Willie apologizes to Eli, and everyone seems to have made up.



Gif from here.

Except for that whole thing where Eli totally sold Nucky out to the FBI.  Oops.


Rating-C- (While the plots actually were related to one another this time, it messed with my recapping style, so I’m a bit miffed.  Moreover, by focusing more on three plotlines, we were able to see more of the flaws in the writing.  I’m feeling more or less over Willie Thompson’s rebellion.  It’s just not that compelling.  Moreover, I’m really bummed that the writers brought back the whole “Eli betrays Nucky” plotline.  We’ve been there and done that.  Over and over again.)

Gratuitous Violence- A (Primarily, for the drawn out fight between Chalkie and Dunn and the bust up of the heroin house.)

Gratuitous Nudity- C (Almost an F, but Patricia Arquette’s sex noises were pretty impressive. Not a visual, but pretty impressive.)

Theater Review- F  (Dr. Narcisse’s play is both  full of itself and lacking in actual substance!  Hilarious for the audience, but clearly Dr. Narcisse’s broadway aspirations are not to be.  Maybe off, off, off, off-Broadway?)


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