Violence seemed to be the order of the day on "Gimcrack & Bunkum." The gruesome and emotionally harrowing scenes occasionally made me cringe and cover my eyes in shock. But all that brutality made this episode just as entertaining and enthralling as last week's.
The tides have changed for Jimmy, as he faced some humiliating tests of his leadership ability. Nucky forced the unprepared Jimmy to make an impromptu speech at the World War I memorial dedication, and Mr. Parkhurst uses his cane to scold Jimmy with a knock to the head. Each man thinks Jimmy is just an impertinent and disobedient kid.
But Jimmy isn't a child, and boy did he prove it. After a pep talk from dear old mom, he took the first step towards reclaiming his manhood and his position as a vicious leader. Jimmy's silent confidence and steely resolve are the best parts of his character, but those traits can take him to some pretty dark places. Watching his cold execution of Parkhurst's scalping was equal parts terrifying and unnervingly satisfying for me.
This scene made me wonder, are we supposed to root for Jimmy? Jimmy clearly wanted to prove that he will do whatever it takes to stay on top. It was nice to see Jimmy regain his confidence after that thump on the head from Parkhurst, but I can't imagine Boardwalk Empire without Nucky Thompson in power.
However, I could definitely imagine the show without Eli, whose sniveling apology to Nucky was not only too late but also showcased how easy betrayal is for Eli. In the end, his groveling only served to add to his humiliation when Nucky callously rejected him, and it led to the inevitable violent confrontation between the two siblings. Another oddly gratifying moment of violence.
Less brutal, although just as disturbing, was Richard's trip to the woods. He seemed resolved to end his life, but the weird sequence of events that transpired (a random dog stealing his mask?) led him to cling to the only tie that matters: his friendship with Jimmy. Although not the most stable, Richard's character brings the most life to the series by reflecting how much a person can lose. His tragic circumstances add an extra layer of dramatic tension to the show and all of his scenes are electric with quiet tension. I'm glad he was saved out there in the woods.
Boardwalk Empire has really reached a high point in the season, leaving us with lots of questions for the upcoming episodes. To wit:
What about Horvitz? Jimmy may have put Parkhurst and the old boy's club in line, but Horvitz seems like a much more formidable opponent.
Eli's "accidental" killing of George could have serious consequences. What's going to happen to Eli, and who will be implicated in his crime?
Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that Nucky's deal with the new prosecutor won't go as smoothly as promised. Will Nucky really get off so easily?