Nucky goes to Central Florida and has a crummy time

This week . . . Nucky went to Florida; Dr. Narcisse gets into heroin; and Gillian goes on a date! Not your typical episode.

Harrow on the Range

Despite the general awesomeness of Richard Harrow, his story this week was one of the duller ones.

The Harrow siblings are entertaining Emma’s dead husband’s brother (the DHB) who won’t stop talking about gravel. The DHB hints that he’s got more than rocks on the brain as he offers to help Emma with her chores. Emma makes it clear that Richard can handle them.

After he leaves, Richard comes the closest I’ve ever seen to him making fun of another person. Finally, someone Richard gets to condescend towards!

Richard, it’s a fine line until you turn into this. 

Gif from here. 

Richard also tries to give Emma money to pay the tax bill. She refuses and explains that she’s already paid. While Richard is piecing together the thought that the “tax assessor” call might have been an elaborate ruse, Emma starts getting her ire up that they assessor’s office is trying to charge her twice.


Image from here.

Later, Richard is cleaning out the barn. He touches a lot of his belongings and has a moment with a slot of sunshine. It has nothing to do with the plot, and I suspect it was merely an excuse to let Jack Huston showoff his half-face acting skills. Last week’s incident with the dog did this more effectively.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Middle-of-the-day-time.   Image from

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Middle-of-the-day-time.
Image from

Richard’s acting sequence is interrupted by the guy who paid him to murder the people he’s murdered this season. He also has a henchman with him. They argue. Richard makes it clear that he hasn’t spent the money he took yet, which just seems to infuriate the man more.
The henchman goes after Richard, who defends himself by gutting the henchman like a fish. Richard and the boss both reach for the gun.

The man gets to it first and stomps on Richard’s hand. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger on Richard, we hear a shot. Once again, Emma and her shotgun show everyone that you do not fuck with Midwestern pregnant ladies!

You’d be surprised how hard it was to find this image! This Amrika, for God’s sake! Image from here.

Later, DHB is at the driveway with a truck. Richard is leaving. He promises to send Emma an address when he’s settled, and she whispers cryptically in his ear, “You need to call yourself to account”. So long Emma. I’m sure we’ll see you again at some point in the future.

Willie Thompson is National Lampoon’s Van Wilder

Two plotlines in this episode felt out of place. One was Gillian’s romance with Berger, which we’ll get to later. The other involved Willie Thompson, Eli’s newly rebellious son!

The face of the cute, nerdy boy who just needs one great party to make himself big man on campus!   Image from Boardwalk Empire Wiki.

The face of the cute, nerdy boy who just needs one great party to make himself big man on campus!
Image from Boardwalk Empire Wiki.

Willie is attending an audio lecture with a number of other students. According to the Vulture recap, the lecture is by one of Temple University’s founders, and the speech gives the episode its title. It’s not really relevant, but the speech boils down to “Go Capitalism Go!”

Mittens seems to like the speech!   Image from the raw story.

Mittens seems to like the speech!
Image from the raw story.

The students seem to like this speech about as much as you’d expect college students to like it.

They are not into it. Image from ivygate.

One student (who shall be referred to as “Biff” from here on out) exchanges smokes and belittles Willie’s nerdy friend (who shall be referred to as “Screech”).


Image from here.

Image from here.








Image from here.

Image from here.









(Because all my stereotypes come from 80’s pop culture references.) 

Turns out Willie, despite all his talk of bronies a few episodes back, is not as much of a Big Man on Campus as he tried to convince his family he was. Biff tries to hit on a girl named Doris who puts him off because this other guy she knows has booze, which she calls “giggle juice”.
Willie sees his opportunity and lets everyone know that he can find them some alcohol for the party in the basement. After some skeptical looks, Biff and Doris shrug and plan to party with Willie and Screech.
Willie and Screech decide that their link to booze is the incompetent Mickey Doyle. Mickey tells them “no”, so Willie decides to try to “steal” a case. After slapping Willie around a bit, Mickey relents (probably realizing that slapping his boss’s nephew isn’t a great plan, either). He also lets Willie and Screech have the case under the theory that college kids have a right to get supremely trashed every once in a while.

Gif from here. 

Despite the lack of beer pong, glow sticks, or copious amounts of ecstasy, the party seems to be raging, and the kids are having a good time. Willie is king of campus!


This is what I assume the kids are into nowadays. Image from deviantart.

This is what I assume the kids are into nowadays.
Image from deviantart.

Biff gets a little handsy with Doris, and, boosted by his success as the Man Who Give College Students Alcohol, Willie intervenes. Doris asks him to “walk her home”. This actually means, “Let’s go to the library and get to second base.”

Gif from here. 

They are rudely interrupted by Biff and the rest of the partiers. Instead of puking or making out with someone themselves, the partiers are singing and entering the library to watch Willie and Doris.

Parties were different in the 1920s.   Image from wikipedia.

Parties were different in the 1920s.
Image from wikipedia.

Biff decides to mock Willie for making out with the girl who rejected him? I’m not really sure why this is supposed to embarrass Willie, but it seems to work. He jumps up, ready to engage in fisticuffs over Doris’ honor. Biff points out that Willie has an erection, and Willie runs off in tears.

All in all, kind of tame for this show. We didn’t see Doris’ breasts, and Willie’s rage didn’t result in anyone getting bloodied.

Sex (well, romance) in the City

Gillian returns after an absence last week to show Berger real estate. Nothing is really suitable, and he discloses that he’s rather indecisive when it comes to his personal life.

Indecision is only sexy when it involves Harrison Ford! 

Gif from here. 

During their real estate tour, Berger discloses that, for totally not unbelievable and contrived by the writers reasons, he needs Gillian to pretend to be his wife during a big dinner meeting with an executive from AM/PM and his wife because the executive is “very conservative” and might not approve of Berger’s divorced status. This kind of feels like a plot out of an out-dated sitcom.

"Boardwalk Empire" writers, you're better than this.   Image from Amazon.

“Boardwalk Empire” writers, you’re better than this.
Image from Amazon.

Because HBO is committed to getting its money’s worth out of their fancy new set, Berger and Gillian take the “conservative” executive and his wife to the Onyx Club. I take issue with this. Throughout season 3, the concept of a club run by African-Americans on the boardwalk was treated as extremely controversial. Even this season, the Onyx Club (and the Cotton Club) seem to be on the cutting edge of entertainment, and not for the stuffy, middle-aged types. I mean, really? Aside from featuring black performers in skimpy costumes, the club also serves alcohol, which is illegal. These people are offended at the idea of divorce, they’re not likely to be hip to the interracial booze joint. It’d be the modern equivalent of taking your “conservative” colleague to a burlesque show when you’re on a business trip to Portland.  I just don’t believe it, HBO.

Anyway, despite the fact that it’s unbelievable that the Onyx would go over well with the executive, the dinner seems to be a success. Gillian has a few weird moments (joking about how Berger wanted to marry her before she came of age, shooting the executive’s wife a dirty glance when she wants to go to the restroom with Gillian, etc), but overall she presents herself well.

Later, Gillian and Berger are celebrating their success over ice cream at a diner. While they’re making googly eyes at each other, they are interrupted by a young man. The young man recognizes Gillian from the boardwalk last year when their friend Roger went missing. . .

You remember Roger? The Jimmy Darmody lokk-alike who Gillian seduced then murdered? Gillian certainly doesn’t remember! After a few more tries, Gillian tells Berger the young man is making her “uncomfortable”, and Berger sends him away.

Gillian recovers from the incident by shooting up heroin in the restroom, although she breaks into tears to find that when she gets back her ice cream has melted.

(The melted icecream just reminds me of the transitory nature of life. Like that transient I killed.)

Gif from here. 

Despite the heroin, tears, and reminder of the kinky murder, it’s probably one of the nicest dates Gillian has ever had. I know her thing with Berger is likely doomed due to her various traumas, crimes, and addiction, but I can’t help but root for these crazy kids!
Jazzing things up- with heroin!

Now, let’s turn our attention to our special guest stars, starting with Dr. Narcisse!

Dr. Narcisse, you handsome devil, you! Image from Boardwalk Empire Wiki.

Dr. Narcisse, you handsome devil, you!
Image from Boardwalk Empire Wiki.

Dr. Narcisse is giving a lecture to a group of young, well-dressed, African-American men about lifting up “the race”. This character has some interesting elements. He seems to embrace bits of W.E.B. Dubois, bits of Marcus Garvey, and bits of the 1960s Black Power movement. Much of these three philosophies contradict one another. The character himself was based on the historical figure Casper Holstein.

Anyway, Dr. Narcisse finishes his lecture to have a meeting with two white guys, a Mr. Madden and our favorite cold-hearted intellectual A.R. Rothstein. Dr. Narcisse is looking to start dealing some of Rothstein’s heroin. He seems to want to sell to black people, so this kind of undercuts his general “improving the race” diatribes.
(Obviously, what communities facing institutional poverty, disenfranchisement, and racism need!)

This is a short scene, and many parts of the internet seem to think that Dr. Narcisse is demonstrating some hidden anti-Semitism towards Rothstein. For myself, I didn’t pick up on it. Despite really liking both these characters, I found the scene kind of dull. Maybe, it’s what comes of having two cold, calculating characters facing off against each other. It’s about as interesting as watching competitive chess. Without the rash hotheads (Luciano, Capone, Jimmy Darmody), the level-headed characters calm doesn’t seem nearly as menacing.

Anyway, after Rothstein leaves, Dr. Narcisse gives Mr. Madden instructions to move “Daughter Maitland” from Harlem to the AC. Who is this Daughter Maitland, you ask?

They like to dress her in shiny things.   Image from NY Daily News.

They like to dress her in shiny things.
Image from NY Daily News.

She’s the singer Dr. Narcisse informs Chalkie will be performing at the club, and she makes a smashing entrance to the Onyx wearing a fabulous fur-trimmed, floor-length coat over a gold dress. She’s seriously stunning! Dr. Narcisse smooths over Chalkie’s objections by noting that she’s been on recordings with King Oliver.

The actress playing this character is Margot Bingham, an up-and-comer in the hiphop and r&b. If you’re curious, her website has some of her music streaming.

Meanwhile, Dr. Narcisse comments on Chalkie’s continued use of menial tasks to punish Dunn Purnsley for causing so much trouble. Purnsley is shooting Chalkie looks to indicate that he’s had about enough punishment.

Daughter Maitland’s performance goes over well, and you can see the love light beginning to shine in Chalkie’s eyes.Up until now, Chalkie and Eli Thompson have been amongst the minority of characters who seem to be faithful to their wives. This spells some trouble for the White’s marriage. Of course, Chalkie tries to cover things up by stating to Dr. Narcisse, “The white folks seem to like her.”

With a condescending smirk, Dr. Narcisse calls Chalkie a sell-out by saying, “Yesssss. That would be very important. . . to you.”

We’ll have to leave Chalkie’s romantic problems for another episode. We finish this plotline after hours at the Onyx when Dr. Narcisse and Dunn Purnsley have a chat. Well, less of a chat and more of an obvious manipulation of a less clever fellow by Dr. Narcisse. He fans the flames of resentment towards Chalkie and convinces Dunn to start selling his heroin in the AC.

This plot moved at a bit of a crawl this week, but we did get a good musical number out of it!

(I couldn’t find the clip from the episode, but here’s a more modern rendition by Ella Fitzgerald!

Nucky schleps all the way to Florida and he doesn’t even get to go to Disneyworld!

Before we get to our final guest star, I have a confession.

Dear readers, I hate central Florida. I find it a boring, humid place where people go to die. Tampa isn’t the place I’d have picked to go “on location” for this show.

Nucky seems to agree with me. He’s having cocktails with McCoy, an old associate who’s trying to sell Nucky on a real estate deal and Florida in general. It seems that this tract of land might be a good spot to unload booze to the Florida markets. Nucky’s skeptical. And he doesn’t like sunshine.

It's a cute, little, grumpy Nucky!   Image from here.

It’s a cute, little, grumpy Nucky!
Image from here.

At least, Nucky can enjoy the hotel’s bar.

Along with Disneyworld, this consolation prize for being stuck in central Florida on business! Image from here.

Along with Disneyworld, this consolation prize for being stuck in central Florida on business!
Image from here.

At the bar, he overhears a youngster in tennis whites talking up a real estate deal of his own to a middle-aged provincial fellow. When the fellow leaves, Nucky questions the youngster about the real estate deal. It seems land in Tampa is getting developed at a rapid pace. The deal Nucky’s been contemplating seems even worse in light of the brand new real estate bubble.

McCoy meets Nucky at a bar called Sally’s, run by Patricia Arquette aka Sally. McCoy introduces Nucky to August Tucker. Nucky offers to call him “Gus”, which August defers in favor of “Augie”. This is a worse nickname for a man, and it reminds me of my childhood friends’ terrier of the same name.

“Augie” good name for a puppy. Embarrassing name for a grown man. Image from here.

“Augie” good name for a puppy. Embarrassing name for a grown man.
Image from here.

Nucky rejects the deal and tells off both McCoy and Augie for trying to con him into something. Later, McCoy drunkenly reveals that the reason he was trying to sell Nucky on this deal was that he was massively in debt to Augies. Nucky reasonably points out that he doesn’t like being tricked, and that he’d be more receptive if McCoy had simply asked for a favor. McCoy didn’t ask because, um, well, manly pride or something.

Proud. Like a lion. Image from here.

Later, when McCoy is alone, Augie comes to his door in a murderous rage. Apparently, he feels rejected by Nucky’s rejection.

Gif from here.


Nucky is feeling a bit existential at the tail end of his business trip, so he goes to Sally’s by himself. He tries to play the “poor little rich man” pity card, but Sally is having none of it.

(Gif from here.) 

They chat for a bit, and Nucky talks about Teddy, whose birthday is tomorrow. He contemplates whether or not Teddy would be best if he just left him (and by extension Margaret) alone. Sally points out that this is extremely lazy and requires the least bit of effort on the part of Nucky, the deadbeat dad.

Eventually, they get down to business. Sally compares Augie to the stuffed crocodile above her bar, likes to kill, but ultimately not too smart. Nucky wonders how he took over Tampa, and Sally explains that it’s just easier to do things like that in Florida. I assume because the residents are much like the weather: damp and in the 80s.

This is Florida. Image from here.

Patricia Arquette does a great job with this scene, and I’m particularly happy that the writers added a new female character with some actual substance! A much better love interest than Billie Kent!

NOT the face of a simpering idiot!   Image from

NOT the face of a simpering idiot!
Image from


The next day, Nucky receives a box from Sally with a miniature crocodile as a birthday present for Teddy.(I’m not sure if it’s plastic or taxidermied, but if it’s the latter- GROSS!!!)   This thoughtful gift, along with the words about how Florida is easy pickings, make Nucky change his mind about the land deal. He calls McCoy with the good news. McCoy’s less enthusiastic as the camera pans back to reveal that he has inconveniently murdered Augie.

Gif from here. 

This could put a damper on the future of Nucky’s Florida plans.

Rating- B (While the Willie and Gillian plotlines felt a bit out-of-place, Patricia Arquette helped this episode a lot! Plus, I’m hoping the reference to Teddy’s birthday heralds the reappearance of Margaret. Finally, the great musical number and the introduction of Daughter Maitland promise to “jazz” things up a bit. See what I did there? Huh? “Jazz”? Get it?)
Gratuitous Violence- D (Only 3 murders this episode, 2/3rds of which the Harrows are responsible for.)
Gratuitous Nudity- F (Two weeks without any gratuitous nudity in a row! I’m starting to think this show is on ABC Family.)
Teenage Angst- B+ (Willie as the underdog turned “big man on campus” turned embarrassingly visible possessor of a penis led to a lot of angst. However, his teenage angst still seems more like “harmless fun” than the “murderous rage” I expect from this show. Again, I suspect we’re watching the ABC Family version of this show rather than the HBO version.)


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