My kids, I make sure they always start the day with a hot meal.
Nucky Thompson, December 31st, 1922
The narrative gap between the last episode of season two and the first episode of Season Three of Boardwalk Empire is pretty tiny. On the surface anyway. In Atantic City, Nucky and his capo Sleater are still in business with Micky Doyle for the production and distribution of certified hooch. The product is still being shipped to the South Side of Chicago, where Torrio is still reigning with the help of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, to Philadelphia where Remus still refers to Remus in the third person, and to New York where Rothstein is still the slickest man on earth.
Margaret is still a proto-suffragette is full form, Gillian Darmody is still the best creepy madame in town, and Nelson Van Alden is still laying low in Cicerone, OH. But as one guest at his New Year’s Eve party describes Egypt “a worthless desert” covering “untold treasures”, Nucky acquiesces that things are never quite all they seem.
Of course, that’s Nucky Thompson speaking, the man who just got out of a federal trial scott-free, the man who just killed his former right-hand man in cold blood, the now full-time philanthropist. He is turning over all his alcohol smuggling activities to Arnold Rothstein, ostensibly to be able to focus on politics (you know that’s where the money is). It makes Gyp Rossetti unhappy, but as the opening sequence showed us, Rossetti is not the patient type, let alone the understanding type – yet with an uncanny talent for caricature. Add “Sicilians” to the character pallette of Boardwalk Empire. Nucky’s unfazed though, he’s got the best party going on (all thanks to Margaret) where he’s giving the guests actual gold pieces and jewels as take-away gifts and he’s got midgets throwing confetti. Plus Eddie Cantor and Billie Kent for the musical accompaniement. Just Billie Kent for Nuck’s nighttime accompaniement please. Because behind the curtain, he’s strapped, he’s spitting in Margaret’s face and living in a “glasshouse” as his soon to be deposed attorney general put it.
This episode is called “Resolution,” obviously because it is New Year’s and it’s the right time to make those, but also because it ties up some leftover loose ends. Say goodbye to Manny Horvitz, who is ready to bounce back after his brush with death last season to have his own still, but gets a taste of Richard Harrow’s snub nose. Yay Richard’s still there! Looks like he holds a mean grudge though. He is sunlighting (the opposite of moonlighting) as a “caretaker” for the Darmody kid, trying to keep the memory of Jimmy and Angela alive while Gillian treats him like shit. I am VERY excited by this arc. Mostly because everyone loves Richard Harrow, but also because I hope for a lot more character development coming from him after a lot of second-fiddling. He will probably end up going against Nucky (which, wow) but with the Darmody Kid the new apple of his eye (mmm) he will probably have to remain two-faced (mmmmmm) for a while.
Van Alden, another fan favorite, is now George Mueler: a law-abiding door-to-door salesman inner strength is tested daily (although he’s getting help, watch him repeat the oldest trick in the book of therapists as he stares in a mirror) – also his first customer of the day just so happens to be making booze in his bathtub, sad). Of course, God wasn’t going to let his favorite servant hangout like that: in his last-ditch effort to make a sale, he walks in on a confrontation between Capone and Dean O’Banion that was about to pop off- when the latter (clearly the quick-thinker in the room) pretended that Mueler was his homie with a “nice poker face” and that his suitcase contained a weapon, fending Capone off and rewarding Mueler with a big sale and a recommendation.
There’s some thunder brewing between the hotheads of North and Southside Chicago, as Torrio is on his way out (is it worth a war?” he asks Capone) And so it seems that Nelson Van Alden will fully embrace the dark side this season. There’s a whole lot of self-flagellation up in that pipeline and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it. And finally there’s Margaret, still the annoying dreamer but still more likeable than the macho comments thrown in her face all day as she idolizes aviatrix Carrie Duncan (who clearly didn’t leave much of a mark in history) and tries to fight for what’s just in this world (i.e., not e.coli or the mob). Not banking too much on her to make a difference this season, but hell has not fury like blah blah blah so we’ll see. I don’t know about you guys but I am glad Boardwalk is back.- Gnou