Boardwalk Empire Review: "Belle Femme"
Last week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire really delivered some memorable scenes and exciting action.
Building off of that momentum, “Belle Femme” continued making the show worth the long investment. Weeks of finely acted, but slow-moving episodes have provided viewers with a richly complex cast of characters and a realistic historical portrait of the period; however, it hasn’t always been easy to watch with any particular enthusiasm, especially when there’s sometimes very little movement to the plot.
Now, it seems the plot has thickened enough to make practically every scene indispensable, and the anticipation for the upcoming season finale is substantial.
Jimmy returns to Atlantic City (hooray!) and it might make things easier for Nucky, but it’s definitely complicating his life and his wife’s.
It has been a pleasure watching Michael Pitt slowly transform Jimmy from an anxious beginner to a seasoned gangster, and this was especially apparent when he displayed his newfound confidence to Nucky, making his new boss articulate exactly what he wanted instead of being “A politician to the last.”
At home, he interrupts the imminent threesome between Angie, Robert, and his wife Mary, and immediately reclaims his husbandly rights. The next morning, his suggestion that the two have another baby shows how much control he really has, and how trapped Angie really is.
After visiting Robert at his studio, it’s clear that the married man is no longer interested in supporting her or her art now that her husband is home.
Jimmy’s mother helps him nab Luciano, but his victory is short-lived when he is arrested by Agent Van Alden. Although Agent Sebso hid the intercepted the telegrams, Van Alden finds out about Jimmy’s return and intends to hold him on five counts of murder. Sebso says he is only concerned about their jobs since Supervisor Elliott thinks Van Alden is merely obsessed with the case.
But with Billy Winslow’s testimony, Nucky makes it clear that Jimmy won’t be getting any help from the legal system. However, in an interesting turn of events, Agent Sebso kills Billy on their way out of town, pretending the prisoner tried to escape. While the event is great news for Jimmy, it raises quite a few questions.
Jimmy suggests that Nucky call his father when he is stuck in prison. Who is Jimmy’s father? What kind of power does he have? Is Agent Sebso working for Nucky? Or Jimmy’s father? Based on his response to Van Alden’s news about Jimmy’s arrest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Supervisor Elliott turns out to be Jimmy’s father.
Margaret learns how to use her position with Nucky to her advantage, and to the advantage of those around her. Madame Jeunet begs her to use Nucky’s affection to get him to lower the payoff rates for her business.
Margaret is initially hesitant, but Jeunet tells her, “You have power you do not expect.” Her first attempt doesn’t work so well, but when Nucky compliments her oratorical skills and asks her to speak on behalf of the party, she finds a more agreeable way to ask for Nucky’s assistance with Jeunet. Her feminine wiles help her former employer, and she uses Jeunet’s gratitude to get an expensive dress. However conflicted she might feel about what she learned about Nucky’s business, Margaret isn’t above using his position and her own power to get what she wants.
Nucky’s concern for his brother is overshadowed by his anxiety over the upcoming elections.
The incumbent Republican mayor is losing ground to the new Democratic candidate, and Eli will be unable to campaign due to his injuries. In a shrewd business move, Nucky appoints Deputy Halloran acting sheriff and backs a new Republican for the mayoral nomination.
With Jimmy in town, he hopes to resolve his issues with the D’Alessio brothers, but he is unaware of how big his problem really is. Rothstein, after having the brothers sign million dollar life insurance policies, sends the men to get rid of the one person that stands in the way of his plan to smuggle in whiskey from Britain - Nucky. By the episode’s end, someone attempts to shoot Nucky. Luckily, Eddie intervenes and an innocent bystander is shot instead of his boss.
Things are getting even more dangerous for Nucky and for Margaret as well. It will be exciting to see how things develop over the next few weeks.