Boardwalk Empire Review: "The Ivory Tower"

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Opening with the funeral of Chicago crime lord Big Jim Colosimo, this week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire was all about the fallout.

Jimmy had to deal with the repercussions of his actions and the toll they were taking on Nucky. Nucky’s complacency with Jimmy’s crime had consequences for him in both the legal and criminal world. The only people not dealing with some of the effects of their crimes were the Chicago gangsters, but that probably will be changing very shortly.


Chicago reporters were buzzing around Torrio and his men, looking for any indication that the city’s rival mobster was somehow involved. In the most amusing/disturbing moment of "The Ivory Tower," a Chicago Tribune reporter unknowingly told one of Torrio’s men, Capone, that he plans to run with a story connecting his boss to the crime and asks for a statement.

While beating and kicking the reporter, Al proclaims, “I’m making a statement.” Al is definitely an unpredictable character, which should add some much needed action to the show. He is also not the most loyal of partners, but Jimmy should have known better than to ask any criminal for money.

It seems that Jimmy is way more naïve than he tried to make us believe last week. Claiming to have changed a lot in the war, Jimmy wanted to strike out on his own in the criminal world. After accomplishing this goal and remaining alive, he returns to work as Nucky’s driver?

After the stunt he pulled, he was lucky that Nucky didn’t turn him over to the cops. In a fatherly tough-love move, Nucky fires him and tells Jimmy that he still owes another $3,000, which is just the price of doing business in Nucky’s town. Having already spent the money on gifts for his family, Jimmy has take back the necklace he gave to his showgirl mother; or rather steal it back from her dressing room.

Once he repays his debt to Nucky, he has to watch his former boss blow the entire amount on the roulette table. It’s a tough lesson for the kid, but probably a necessary one since he has lived under Nucky’s protection all this time.

Nucky has his own problems because framing Hans Schroeder may have satisfied the papers and local police, but not Agent Van Alden. Focusing his attention more sharply on the city treasurer, he informs his superiors about Nucky’s complex operation of taking payoffs from all city officials while constantly maintaining enough popularity with the citizens to remain in office. He tries to get information from Mrs. Schroeder about her involvement with Nucky, but a visit from Elias keeps her from revealing much.

Van Alden is extremely moral and ordered, but there something very disquieting about his demeanor and his piercing gaze. Michael Shannon definitely has that calm, creepy quality that makes this character’s strange behavior, like stealing and sniffing Mrs. Schroeder’s blue ribbon, seem believable.

For her part, Mrs. Schroeder finally asks herself and Nucky the question that bothers us all: what does he want from her? She quotes George Sand, “Charity degrades those who receive it, and hardens those who dispense it” when she hands back his money. Nucky can only respond by asking for her soon-to-be recognized vote.

The episode may have been a little slow, but it definitely got me thinking about all the possible angles that could and probably will be explored over the next few episodes. There are so many reactions to last week’s events that haven’t yet been fully realized. Rothstein won’t be forgetting the theft, or the death of his nephew, and Van Alden won’t be going away any time soon.

This episode had a quiet level of imminent danger that rose sharply with the last scene. Jimmy claimed to have killed five men out in the woods, but only four were found. As George Baxter finally gets some action from a reluctant Claudia, we’re also rewarded for our patience when the fifth driver emerges, half-alive, from the woods.

The Ivory Tower Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (27 Votes)
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