Boardwalk Empire Review: Following Nucky's Yellow Brick Road...
Pay close attention to the man behind the curtain. Nucky is always content to pull the strings and slyly manipulate things from backstage, because as he not so truthfully says, “I don’t control anyone, Margaret. I’m an overseer.”
But Nucky is pulling the levers and creating a great show of his power and control, especially in "The Emerald City." This week, all the characters seemed to follow the yellow brick road to the season finale, and it was lots of fun to watch.
It seems like Mickey finally found his brain. He was way in over his head with the D’Alessios to start and things got even more dangerous when Rothstein got involved. The failed attempt on Nucky’s life has made their business relationship with Rothstein a little more tenuous, so Mickey jumps ship and spills everything he knows to Nucky.
This allows the Atlantic City treasurer to finally get the upper hand on Rothstein. Using Chalky, he lures in Rothstein’s “Mr. Lewis” and two of the D’Alessio brothers. After “overseeing” the brutal murders of the brothers, he sends Rothstein’s man back to New York with a message for his boss. Nucky is going to work really hard to make Rothstein “the richest corpse in New York.”
Nucky wouldn’t have accomplished his great coup against Rothstein without the help of Chalky and his new right hand man Jimmy. Jimmy is an exciting character to watch and he seems truly content to be at home with his family.
But I couldn’t help but wonder, does Jimmy have a heart? Although Richard calls himself the tin man, it’s easier to see how deeply affected the disfigured solider is by his transformation into a monster, both physically and metaphorically. With Jimmy, it’s not so clear that he is really troubled by his change. He compliments Angela’s work by saying, “Two weeks in the trench, you forget that there’s anything beautiful in the civilized world.”
Although his time in the war definitely altered his perception of the world, his time in Chicago probably affected him more negatively than anything else. Angela even says that he is not the man she knew. He disrupts his family’s idyllic day on the boardwalk by mercilessly beating Robert (assuming he finally had confirmation of his wife’s infidelity) and then callously shoots a D’Alessio brother for mouthing off.
He is incredibly dangerous, but it always seemed like he was doing these things to better his family’s situation. Now, I’m not so sure that he doesn’t really enjoy bringing pain and death to others, especially those who have wronged him.
Van Alden just needed some courage to confront Margaret. After having his entire case fall apart, he is frustrated, angry, and a little unhinged. Using his badge to gain access into Margaret’s home, his presence becomes very disconcerting when he pulls out her immigration photo.
Claiming to see hope in her eyes when he looks at it every night, he seems to not realize how incredibly insane he seems. When he caps off his creepy revelation by offering to save her from the fires of hell, we really can’t blame Margaret for asking him to leave. His double failure leads him to a speakeasy and the easy comfort of Lucy Danzinger. It was quite the shift for the character, but not entirely unexpected. He’s always been a little on edge, and his obsession with Margaret definitely pushed him off the deep end.
In this Emerald City, Margaret is definitely our Dorothy. Having found herself so far away from “home,” she can only stare at her reflection, unsure of the person she’s become. Used as an oratorical puppet for the men who control the city, Margaret will be of great service to Nucky based on her influence with women voters.
However, it seems like she might really be questioning her choices and the “business” decisions of her lover, especially those involving her dead husband. I look forward to the upcoming confrontation between the two as Margaret has really become much more confident over the past few weeks so it should make for a really fiery argument.