This week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire may not have been the most thrilling, but it was definitely the most unsettling.
Following the business-centered episode of last week, “Paris Green” focused more on the personal relationships and the simmering tensions between family members and lovers. It was great to finally see some climaxes to the arguments that have been building all season long.
Most important was the fight between Margaret and Nucky. After Annabel loses all her money when Harry steals it from her floorboards (so funny to hear him bemoan the loss of his money in the original Ponzi scheme!), she naturally comes to Nucky for help.
He gives what he can and she offers to “thank” him in the only she knows how. Although he declines, he seems keen to keep the offer in mind; and that is when Margaret makes her presence known. She tells Annabel, “Mr. Thompson’s gift is to never forget who owes him what.” Later on, he tries to explain, but she cannot hold her silence any longer.She confronts him with all her doubts since meeting with Van Alden. A big fight ensues in which both of their secrets are exposed: his involvement in her husband’s death and her secret douching to avoid having a baby. Nucky listens to her accusations, but has one of his own to make: “You make a little noise now and then to remind me what a good person you are. But a good person wouldn’t be here right now.”
He leaves angrily, and when he returns she has already left the apartment. It was a short fight, but not one lacking in devastation or cruelty.
Following this fight, Nucky has another confrontation with his brother. Eli is convinced that his sibling has put everyone at risk by exposing too much to Margaret. Nucky responds with a cutting remark about Houdini’s brother that really hits at his brother’s insecurity: “If he wasn’t Houdini’s brother, nobody would give a fuck.”
Afterwards, Nucky makes the decision we all knew he would and replaces Eli with Deputy Halloran for the office of Sheriff. This may have some serious repercussions for Nucky in the future, but it was definitely a long time coming.
Jimmy gets a call about his dying father, the Commodore (not Supervisor Elliott, as I had previously suspected). Although he visits the man, he still holds a grudge for the terrible situation his mother was put in by the Commodore, and apparently by Nucky. And it seems like Gillian does, too.
When she was just thirteen, the Commodore was impressed by her performance and had Nucky procure her. She was left thirteen and pregnant with only Nucky to help her out. She started to communicate and meet up with the Commodore in his old age, but only to slip him arsenic to speed up his demise. Jimmy finds out about it when he gets very sick after eating a cookie and then has the Commodore’s hair tested.
He’s a very quick young man and immediately confronts his mother. Surely, he won’t get her into any trouble, but what was most interesting about this whole encounter was the focus on Nucky. The Commodore tells him that the wrong man is running the town, and after talking to his mother, I’m inclined to think Jimmy might agree. He’s had his doubts about Nucky recently, and he might decide that the elder Treasurer might not be cut out for his job. But this probably won’t come out until next season.
Quite possibly the most disturbing moment of the night was between Agents Sebso and Van Alden. After his disappointment with the ruling last week, Van Alden has continued to question his partner.
Despite his best efforts, and a random trip to a baptismal service by the river, Sebso cannot win back his partner’s trust and decides to transfer. In a last ditch effort to gain some ground with Van Alden, he returns to the baptismal site. When Van Alden offers to baptize him, he cautiously accepts.
However, Van Alden repeatedly dunks him in the water, frantically demanding that he confess his sins. Eventually, Sebso drowns and Van Alden emerges from the water holding his gun and badge to the sky. Creepy, scary, and exactly what we’ve come to expect from Van Alden.
In other news this week, Angie’s attempt to flee the country with Mary is thwarted. She leaves a note for Jimmy, but is surprised to find the photography studio empty when she reaches the boardwalk. She returns home to find that her husband knows exactly what she’s been up to. Also, Rothstein is advised by his lawyer to visit Chicago, site of the World Series investigation, and look for a little assistance.
Will he meet up with Torrio’s gang while in town?