As fans of Boardwalk Empire, we are often made to feel for characters despite their criminal and violent behavior. It is a testament to actors like Stephen Graham, who from scene to scene are able to go from pathological to paternal. They both entertain and endear us to their charges.
In the opening moments of "William Wilson" we saw Al Capone walk up and murder a Chicago Policeman in broad daylight. The next time we saw Al, he was hustling around to make Torrio comfortable. Instead of despising Al, we were moved by the pain in his voice, as he recounted to his boss how his brother had been killed.
You could feel the fire that burned inside his heart, which seemingly no amount of spilled blood could extinguish, but you wanted to at least see Torrio give Al the okay to try.
Dean O'Bannion most certainly was behind those cops showing up at the factory, but after Torrio handed down his decision to not take any action against the Irishman, the raid at the brewery had to be the cunning work of the remaining Capone brothers. With the arrest being Torrio's second for alcohol - and O'Banion's connections able to get him off - Al got what he wanted in the end as Torrio told him to kill the Irish instigator. Well played, boys.
Al's ability to lead and make shrewd moves like that gets overshadowed by his inability to control his temper at times. If he can get that in check there would be little keeping him from the top. Willie has gotten a taste of this life, the power, in seeing how his uncle Nucky lives. What he doesn't yet have is that ability to lock away certain emotions and prevent them from derailing you from your goals. Willie struggled to shoulder his guilt again at school.
Running out of class during a reading of Edgar Allen Poe is one thing, but cut Dorris some slack kid. She seemed pretty "swell" and from the sound of it, Temple University isn't exactly teeming with talent. Although come to think of it, the way Willie treated Dorris reminds me of some of the earliest episodes where we saw Nucky dismissing Lucy's attempts to comfort and console him. Maybe the two men aren't that dissimilar after all.
Of course, letting one's guard down and exposing your soft side is inherently dangerous for characters on this show, as we began to see with Chalky as he seemed to be falling rather hard for Daughter.
Daughter: Dr. Narcisse found me. Put his wings around me ever since.
Chalky: You and him ever?
Daughter: No, he's a decent man.
Chalky: So what that make me?
Daughter: That make you my man. | permalink
Narcisse, we learned, was the john who Daughter's mother burned, only to be strangled to death by him later. Daughter saw the whole thing and yet still is in the loyal employ of him. Narcisse is making a big move on Atlantic City, Chalky and Nucky. Chalky seemed ripe to be flipped and, with Dunn Purnsley no longer looking out for him, has landed himself in a precarious situation.
Gillian, on the other hand, may have just found what it is she was searching for. It remains to be seen if she can stay clean, but Roy seems to be just what she was missing in life and trying to fill with the drugs. But my inherent distrust for any new characters had me a bit skeptical of his story about beginning divorce proceedings the day after he met Gillian.
Knox is really James Tolliver, which explained the initials that had Eli so confused. What will have Nucky truly mystified is just how Knox got his hands around Means and turned him into an informant.
Hoover taking credit for his old friend's investigation was dirty pool for sure, but I couldn't help but love the scene where he made Remus finally stop referring to himself in the third person.
For awhile there Nucky seemed to be getting things back in order, shoring up the edges of his empire. This week, he and Eli even shared a little brotherly banter, as Eli teased him about his black eye from his run in with Sally. Eli was also smart to bring the news of the handkerchief to his brother. With their relationship on the mend, and the lines of communication open, they were showing just how well they could work together. The good feelings were short-lived, though. Eli broke out the bottle once again and started opening up old wounds about Nucky's family.
Chalk it up to whatever you want, but Nucky's defenses just took a hit this week, with the tension between him and his brother renewed.
Back in New York, Lucky got some lip about his tan, but also was instructed by Masseria to negotiate his way back into the Tampa deal. Arnold Rothstein we know is out after his card game with Nucky, but perhaps he has found another way to profit off the inside information he has been made privy to.
How interesting it was that he invested so heavily in the Anaconda Realty Fund. The investment that Margaret's boss seems to think is pretty much doomed to fail. Margaret's boss, of course, doesn't know what Arnold does about the potential land boom coming down South, though, does he?
A lot went down this week, but the overall quality and flow of the episode didn't suffer in the slightest. If this continues to be the case, we will be in for a wild ride to the end of this season for sure. What do you think?