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Boardwalk Empire Review: "Nights in Ballygran"

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Despite the promising premise of St. Patrick’s Day in the era of Prohibition, "Nights in Ballygran" fell a little flat.

The momentum of the past few weeks was put on hold for a mostly uneventful episode. While some might argue that two of the night’s biggest developments, both involving Margaret, made for an exciting conclusion, I found them predictable and uninspiring.

Nights in Ballygran Scene

Although not a big fan of the holiday (“I love being Irish, what I hate is the yearly display of crying, arguing, and public drunkenness that goes with it”), Nucky is responsible for making St. Patrick’s Day enjoyable in Atlantic City. Nucky’s plans for the Celtic Dinner and St. Patrick’s Day keep getting complicated by everyone from the hired “leprechauns” to his brother Eli.

The least of worries, at the start of the episode, is Margaret, who continually makes her presence known.

He does his best to ignore her, simply stating, “My life’s complicated enough.”  He allows Eli his brief speech at the Celtic  Dinner, which almost incites a riot between the recent Irish immigrants and those who were born in the U.S. But, as usual, Nucky is able to quell the storm of angry Irishmen. The smaller issues were no problem for Nucky, but Margaret definitely adds more complications to his life.

As excited as I was for the development of Margaret’s character last week, I have to say that I’m very disappointed with the turn she took this week. The sight of her “neighbor” Mr. Neary unloading barrels of beer into his storage warehouse causes her some anxiety, but she ignores it and makes a soda cake for Nucky. When her offering is rebuffed, she tries again by holding a meeting with Nucky about the beer.

Her actions early on suggest that she feels somewhat connected to Nucky after their brief moments together during his birthday party, and she expects to have some influence over him as well.

However, the unloading of more barrels concerns her and she waits patiently to meet with him again, while wearing the pilfered negligee under her new dress. However, he ignores her and this is finally the last straw for Margaret. As she tears up the stolen underwear, you can almost hear Glenn Close’s Fatal Attraction line, “I’m not gonna be ignored.” Like a petulant child desperate for attention, she visits Van Alden. She becomes a caricature of a woman scorned, hell-bent on revenge.

After reporting Mr. Neary’s actions, Margaret joins the Women’s Temperance League in a protest outside the assembly hall because this is the only way that Nucky will see her and realize her involvement in the raid. It might seem like her conscious and her concern for her children moved her to speak with Agent Van Alden, and that may be part of it, but it’s clear that she really wanted to express her own sense of empowerment. She tells Van Alden that she’s already had too many lectures from men who speak boldly, but do nothing.

Men treat her like she’s invisible and she’s had enough of it. By ruining Nucky’s night and impinging on his business, she will make herself visible to him again. And her little ploy works because Nucky immediately comes to her that evening. Why? Maybe it was just time to kill the sexual tension between the two. Or perhaps, contrary to his earlier statement, Nucky enjoys complications.

He seems to invite enough of them into his life, especially lately. He lets Jimmy leave town, after letting him get away with a crime that complicated his business, threatens Rothstein, and gets too personal with a woman whose husband he had framed and murdered. Regardless, it was inevitable that Van Alden would catch up with Nucky and his cohorts, just as it was assured that Nucky and Margaret would end up in a passionate embrace.

The other night’s developments seemed predictable, too. Of course Pearl killed herself. She was a prostitute who had lost the ability to attract men. Naturally, Angie was meeting her photographer “friend.” Things are getting a little stale in Chicago and Atlantic City, but perhaps the increased attention of Van Alden will add some excitement to future events.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (33 Votes)
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Nucky has obviously had feelings for her since the beginning, how he looked out for her and things, and she knew that she was doing it in his best interest.

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What? With all the crap that's on TV right now, I can't believe there would be a single complaint about Boardwalk Empire! Even at it's worst it's better than 3/4 the shows on TV. Sure, Mad Men is better but not much else beats it.

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I think Nucky knew that Margarent was a smart women, but last night she proved that she could play the same games he did... he loved it.

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Nucky is not a badass gangster (like Capone); he is just a corrupt politician who wants to please everyone in his realm while getting rich. He admires Margaret because of her intelligence and resolve, so it makes sense that he wants to get in bed with her after her display of power. While Nucky is not violent by nature, the show is interesting in the way it shows how guys like Nucky get drawn into the gangster world due to prohibition.

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Isn't Margaret the female lead of the show? I'm sure she will be around in season 2. The problem with the show is that the women-not-being-taken-seriously thing is already being done on Mad Men in a much better way and with actually convincing actors. Nucky and Margaret are simply not good enough. After the pilot aired I thought this show is gonna get rained with awards but I really don't think these actors are serious competitors for the Emmy Awards. We're almost halfway through the season and there was barely any substance in the show, I'm quite disappointed.

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Maybe he figures he has to shut her up.

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If Nucky was really a badass gangster, wouldn't he have punished Margaret instead of hopping to bed with her? It didn't make sense, unless we see her lying dead at the start of next weeks episode.