This week’s episode of Boardwalk Empire finally picked up the pace.
With two weeks of exposition out of the way, the characters spent more time acting (and reacting) than talking. It was a nice change of pace to see the characters really live up to the brutality (Van Alden’s cringe-worthy interrogation technique), vulgarity (Chalky’s apparent inaugural use of “motherfucker”), and brashness (Eli smothering the witness with another patient in the room) of the gangster genre, but hopefully future episodes won’t lack the brooding tension that is created by some of the lengthy exchanges between characters.
Nucky was remarkably silent throughout "Broadway Limited." Instead of his usual conversation with the Commodore or extended business discussions with his various associates, Nucky spent more time merely responding to the events and people around him.He barely fights Chalky’s demand for a 15% increase in payment over Mickey. He leaves the exchange with only one thought, “What’s a motherfucker?” With Lucy, he is withdrawn from their conversation and even during sex. Not even his meeting with Gillian can snap him out of his deep contemplation. The consequences of finding a survivor in the woods weigh heavily on Nucky, and he finally confronts them when he has to tell Jimmy to leave town.
Agent Van Alden knows it was Jimmy from his tortuous questioning of the survivor. It won’t be long before Jimmy can be connected back to Nucky. In his longest speech of the night, he really exposes how much he cares for Jimmy and what affect this loss will have on him.
Van Alden’s determination has served him well. He was able to force information out of a suspect by shooting him full of cocaine and mercilessly pushing on his infected gunshot wound. Although ready to arrest Jimmy right away, Van Alden is stalled by his superior who claims they will need more time to talk to the right people and get the correct paperwork. It seems like Nucky’s influences might be able to keep this issue from getting too out of hand. Or perhaps Van Alden’s boss wants the credit for the arrest.
Regardless, Van Alden’s big moment is undercut when he returns home for a somber dinner with his wife.
It appears circumstances have finally made continuing life in Atlantic City impossible for Jimmy Darmody. In reality, Jimmy hasn’t been very comfortable at home since his return from Paris. He’s a stranger to his own child and his fiancée, a fact the episode explores with the family photo album. Jimmy’s suspicions about his wife’s possible involvement with Robert the photographer are genuine, but they are really just a distraction from the real issue. He and Angela haven’t really connected for longer than they would like to admit.
She claims, “Just as I get used to living without you, you show up out of nowhere... What did you expect?” Even before the war, they didn’t know each very well. Jimmy needed an excuse to leave, one that didn’t make him feel too guilty for leaving his child and girlfriend. As he catches the Broadway Unlimited to Chicago, he appears much more determined to follow his dream of making money. It will be exciting to watch him reconnect with Capone and, to be sure, they two will cause a lot more trouble in the future.
Jimmy’s departure is not the only significant event that will shape the coming episodes. Obviously, Rothstein will create problems for Jimmy and Nucky. He sent Luciano to kill Jimmy, which will have consequences for other characters when Luciano finds out that Jimmy has skipped town.
Nucky’s new arrangement with Chalky has caused issues for Mickey who owes some Italian mobsters a lot of money. In addition, a mysterious someone scratched “liquor kills” into Chalky’s car and hanged one of his men. The racist implications of that act leave Nucky’s town on the brink of an all out race war. Although he is able to forestall the inevitable fallout, Nucky won’t be able to control Chalky as easily as he did Mickey.
It’s clear that Chalky is a proud man, but he is also a smart business man and takes another 15% increase on his take.