Blood is Thicker Than Water – A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s Season 1 Finale “A Return to Normalcy”

“Now, son, you be a good boy, and wash your hands, before dessert.  That Dead D’Alessio’s neck blood under your fingers is probably covered with germs!  Who knows where that guy’s been?”

R.I.P. Guy who used to be on Doogie Howser.  Better luck next lifetime . . .

 Well, Season 1 of Boardwalk Empire quite literally went out with a BANG didn’t it?  The Body Count was HIGH, a President and Mayor were elected, couples were reunited, someone got knocked up, and someone else got a REALLY crappy haircut . . .

Yes, Angela, you keep that hat ON!  Remember what happened to Felicity when she cut HER hair too short on HER show?

*facepalm*

So, without further adieu, I proudly present to you a recap of “A Return to Normalcy” . . .

Halloween Just Got a Whole Lot Scarier . . .

Awww, it’s got its mother’s eyes (and its father’s teeth)!

When the episode opens, Van Alden is giving a self-righteous and incredibly lame rousing speech to prospective new FBI recruits.

We learn that one of the men to whom Van Alden is preaching, could end up serving as his replacement.  You see, after the unfortunate death of his partner, Agent Sebso, due to Van Alden holding his head underwater until he drowned while 30-someodd supposedly religious people watched and did NOTHING heart attack, Van Alden has become disillusioned with SINFUL Atlantic City, and the work he is doing there as Prohibition Agent.  Therefore, he would like to leave the FBI and find work elsewhere . . .

“What?  You couldn’t have decided that last week BEFORE you killed me?”

While Van Alden is warning the new recruits against temptation, a smart-mouthed rookie cop, who looks kind of like a Poor Man’s Matt Damon, jokes that Van Alden should “bring on the dancing girls!”

BIG MISTAKE, NotMattDamon! 

Van Alden rewards the celebrity look-alike’s humor, by PUNCHING HIM IN THE FACE (therby, forever dashing the poor man’s hopes of ever getting cast in Good Will Hunting 2: Electric Boogaloo . . . )

Back at home, Mrs. Van Alden is clearly disappointed to learn that her husband wants to leave the bureau, and become a farmer . . .

“Now, I’m NEVER going to get to meet Al Capone.  He’s SO DREAMY! *sigh*”

You were doing the Lord’s work,” Wifey argues . . .

= Lord’s Work

Oh, that Mrs. Van Alden!  She’s such a kidder!

Speaking of folks that Holy Man Van Alden may or may not be schtupping, the Grand Poobah of Hypocrisy gets a very frightening visit at his office, toward the end of the episode . . .

*sings*  “I know all there is to know about The Crying Game . . .”

It was so nice of the show’s writers to give us a reprieve from having to see Lucy Dumb Slut on our television screens, last week.  I guess asking for two in a row, was just too much to ask . . .  The good news is that Lucy only stuck around long enough to tell Creepy Van Alden, that she was carrying his Creepy Van Spawn.  Apparently, having a barren wife, has caused Mr. Back Slappy’s sperm to become a bit restless . . .

Mrs. Van Alden’s Hostile Uterus resents that remark . . . and argues that it has dodged a MAJOR bullet here.

Karma’s a b*tch, Mr. Van A.  And, you just got yourself screwed!

“The D’Alessio Brothers Sleep With the Fishes”

Al Capone shoots people in the face, WHILE smoking cigarettes.  Could he BE any cooler?

For most of the season, Arnold Rothstein has plotted to bring down Nucky Thompson, and take over his Boardwalk Empire.  And yet, with the Feds breathing down his back, and an indictment for fixing the World Series looming over his head, the New York crime boss finds himself in the new-to-him situation of being up “sh*t’s creek without a paddle.”  So, Arnold, being the rational guy he is, decides make temporary peace with his enemy, even if it means eating a little crow, along the way . . .

Tastes like chicken!

So, in a scene mimicking a similar one that took place during the pilot episode, Rothstein and his New York crew (including Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky), meet with Torrio, Capone, of the Chicago crew, as well as Nucky and Jimmy (from their own crew), on a deserted beach in Atlantic City . . .

“Never underestimate the Power of the Bow Tie.”

A deal is struck.  Nucky will make sure that Rothstein is cleared of all criminal charges, in return for $1 million and the known whereabouts of all those pesky D’Alessio brothers.  (I’m guessing Rothstein is MIGHTY happy about those Life Insurance policies he took out on all of them now, isn’t he?)

Then, in a scene that was a clearly a homage to the last 5 minutes of ALL THREE Godfather movies, as well as just about every mob movie I’ve ever seen, we watch Nucky give some dull political speech about ridding Atlantic City of violence.  The speech, of course, is intercut with gory peeks at the violent deaths of all the remaining living D’Alessio brothers, at the hands of Capone, Lucky Luciano, Richard Harrow, and Jimmy.  They even killed that poor little runty kid!

 

Trick or Treat!

Now that’s just wrong!

While most of the D’Alessio’s met their untimely demise by gunshots to the head, the most gruesome death of all came to Max Casella a.k.a. Vinny Delpino from Doogie Howser (one of the few D’Alessios who actually had LINES on the show).  Jimmy whacked him in the barber shop, by slicing his throat open with a knife.

Sweeney Todd would be so proud!

Speaking of BAD haircuts . . .

Splitting Hairs . . .

“When I told you I wanted to find common ground with you, us having the exact same haircut, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind . . .”

After a nice leisurely afternoon of neck slicing, Jimmy arrives home to a wife he doesn’t want to talk to, and a kid who doesn’t want to talk to him.  When confronted about her son’s “disrespectful” behavior, Dull as Dirt Angela admits that everyone in the house is frightened of Jimmy, because he has PTSD attacks in the middle of the night, and starts grabbing Angela and screaming at her.

To his credit, Jimmy seems horrified by the prospect of hurting his wife or his son. 

He much prefers beating up and killing grown men, to women and children!  (It pays better!)  Hugging Dull as Dirt Angela, Jimmy tells her that, now that he is home from the war, he wants to really start fresh at being a “family man” to her and Little Tommy.  “Were you in love with her?’  Jimmy plaintively asks Angela, in reference to her “Kissing Friend” Mary, who “left for Paris” last week.

Although Angela initially assures Jimmy of her love for him, the expression on her face when she receives a postcard, supposedly from Mary, with a cheesy picture of the Eiffel Tower on it, and the even cheesier line (“Forgive me, but don’t forget me.”) written across its back, says differently.  Oh, and lets not forget that AWFULLY butch Little Dutch Boy haircut Angela was sporting at the end of the episode! 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of it online.  However, I can tell you that it looked a little something like this . . .

“Don’t look directly at it, Son.  You might go blind.”

It was the Maid . . . in the Kitchen . . . with the Cookies . . .

Meanwhile, a much healthier looking Commodore is accusing his maid of poisoning him, his dog, Jimmy, and Cookie Monster, with her arsenic-flavored cookies . . .

“Still tastes DELICIOUS . . . nom . . . nom . . . nom.”

The Maid admits to poisoning her boss so quickly, and easily, that it really got me wondering whether she was taking the fall for somebody else. 

“Moi?”

Nucky’s reaction of refusing to arrest the Maid, and paying her to get out of town, seemed only to confirm my suspicions.

“And another one down, and another one down . . . another one bites the dust.”

“I certainly understand why you’d want to, but you can’t go around poisoning people you have to get others to do it for you,” Nucky lectures the Maid, before giving her a fond farewell.

Now, like Nucky, I’m not exactly mad at the Maid for trying to off Commodore Pedophile, either.  But she ABSOLUTELY deserves to go to jail for killing the POOR DOG!

“B*tch is going DOWN!”

“I tell you my sorrows . . . you pretend to be sympathetic .  . . we wind up in bed.”

“Well, geez, Nucky!  Now you’ve gone and spoiled all of Season 2!”

Having abandoned La Casa de Nucky, Margaret is now shacking up with that TOTAL MORON, Nan Britton, who is STILL convinced that Warren Harding is going to leave his wife for her, as soon as he becomes President.  While the pair are out frolicking through a cemetery, in honor of, Halloween, Margaret conveniently comes across the grave of Nucky’s son, who died, after having lived only six days.

Nucky’s SUPER harsh reaction to her daily “Lysol Baths” suddenly making a lot more sense to her, Margaret rushes to see Nucky, just as he is preparing to attend a Halloween party.  Nucky’s “costume” looks kind of like THIS . . .

 . . . only about 500 times LESS SEXY!

When Margaret arrives, Nucky goes to remove his mask, but she tells him to keep it on.  “It suits you,” she says flirtatiously.

And so does THIS . . .

When Margaret asks Nucky about his lost son, the Atlantic County Treasurer at first does not want to talk about it.  “I tell you my sorrows . . . you pretend to be sympathetic . . . we end up in bed,” whines Nucky, as if nookie with Margaret is the WORST thing that could possibly happen to him.

“Oh, please no!  Don’t have orgasmic, mindblowing, sex with me!  Anything but that!”

Eventually, Nucky tells Margaret about how he was always afraid to hold his frail newborn boy.  Therefore, he busied himself with work, during its first days home from the hospital.  After a few days, Nucky finally gets the courage to hold his son.  But when he goes to take the child from his wife, he sees that it has been dead for many days.  His wife just refused to believe this was so.  She suffered from serious depression, as a result.  One month after the baby was buried, she slit her wrists and died.

“The times with you and the children in the house . . . I have never been happier or more terrified in my life .  . . And now you know more about me than anybody here,” Nucky admits.

A tearful Margaret is touched by Nucky’s story.  Much of his behavior toward her makes sense now.  After all, she too lost a baby.  Margaret then tells Nucky that she is planning on leaving Atlantic City, for good.  Nucky offers to give her money, but she declines.  “There is a kindness in you,” Margaret insists.  “How can you do what you do?”

“We all have to decide how much sin, we can live with,” Nucky says sadly.

“Mr. Thompson, I am pleased to have finally made your acquaintance and I would really like to f*ck you now,” says Margaret, before bidding Nucky adieu.

“She’ll be back.  They always come back.  I mean, who can resist this Hot Hunk of Man Cheese?”

The Thrill of Victory, and The Sweetness of Revenge

Halloween is over and election day is here.  That means Nucky and his friends are going to have to ramp up the corruption and campaign rigging to a whole new level, if they want to get those Republicans in office!  Bribes exchange hands.  People vote multiple times in multiple districts.  The dead are registered to vote . . .

 . . . as are the undead.

Shortly before election day, Chalky White approaches Nucky, reminding him of his ability to control the African American vote, a contingent that is much coveted on both sides of the political divide.

“I RULE!”

So, Chalky’s going to need a few favors from Nucky, before he can offer his services.  He asks for cash, a car, and an invitation to the inaugural ball.  Nucky seems fine with the first two, but the last request concerns him a bit.  This is 1920, after all . . .

On Election Day, Nucky is shaking babies and kissing hands (or whatever the heck that old expression is supposed to say) . . .

 . . . when he locks eyes with Margaret, on the voting line.  They eye f*ck eachother for a bit, but say nothing.

Ultimately, Nucky’s stool pidgeon, Mayor Bader, wins his election.  (Ummmm, yay, I guess?)  Everyone seems to be happy with the results, except Eli, who, understandably, is still pissed about being passed over as Sheriff in favor of Opportunistic Prick . . .

Nucky doesn’t understand what Eli is getting so cranky about.  (Little Bro must be on the rag.)  “I gave you a cut of Rothstein’s money,” argues Nucky.

Eli is not impressed.  But I would be.  Do you have any idea how much $1 million was back in 1920.  That’s A LOT of salad!  “What you say affects people,” Eli lectures.  “There are consequences to what you say, and what you do.”

Nucky continues to try and plead his case, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but you have to trust me.  Blood is thicker than water.”

“And tastier too!”

“But why does it have to be MY blood?”  Eli whines.

As if on cue, Mayor Bader announces to the party that his first act as Mayor will be to fire Opportunistic Prick Halloran, and reinstate Eli as Sheriff.  Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like there is a New / Old Sheriff in Town.

HAHA!  Sayonara, SUCKA!

So, it would appear that Nucky was looking out for his little brother, after all!  He just needed the Little Guy to lay low, until elections were over, so, as not to bring about any bad publicity related to Eli’s “Casino Scandal” to the Republican party.  The problem is that Eli doesn’t seem to see it that way . . .

Jimmy doesn’t really see it that way, either.  And when he drunkenly starts asking people at the Mayor’s party whether Nucky  “pimped their mothers out too,” (which is REALLY inappropriate, but kind of hilarious), Eli realizes he may have just located an unlikely ally . . .

Later, a pretty wasted Jimmy arrives at his Pedophile Dad’s house — still stewing over Big Pimp Nucky, and his wife’s Little Dutch Boy haircut.

Jimmy spikes Commodore’s milk with arsenic whiskey, and the Commodore rewards his son, by sharing with him a little bedtime stor,y about the time that Commodore took the fall for Nucky’s rigging of an earlier presidential election.  While Commodore stewed in jail, Nucky quickly rose to power, thereby terminating any chance Commodore would ever have of running Atlantic City again.

Commodore warns Jimmy, that Nucky is doing the same thing to him, using Jimmy’s talents for his own personal gain, and forcing him to do what Nucky himself doesn’t have the stomach for.  Commodore then reveals to Jimmy the big plans he has for his future.  “You are my flesh and blood.  You are going to take Atlantic City back for both of us.”

Then, who should enter the room?  But Nucky’s very own brother Eli . . . and he has . . . you guessed it . . . a plan.

Careful, Eli!  Remember what happened to that OTHER BROTHER who thought he could screw over his smarter, more powerful sibling and get away with it?

My advice to Eli?   Try not to go fishing anytime soon . . .

Margaret and Nucky — Together Forever For Now

While Pedophile, NotFredo, and Henry from Dawson’s Creek are plotting revenge against Nucky, Margaret is busy tarting herself up in a surprisingly low-cut flapper dress, in hopes of winning the Man Cheese back! “But what has made her change her mind, so suddenly?”  You ask . . .

Well, it all started when Margaret found a piece of rag in her cake . . .

Oh, don’t worry!  She baked it in there, on purpose!

You see, apparently, the Irish have something called a “Barnstack Cake,” into which you bake a rag, a coin, and a wedding ring.  (Sounds to me like a lawsuit waiting to happen . . .)  Then, when you eat the cake, if you get the piece with the wedding ring in it, you will get married.  If you get the piece with the coin in it, you will be rich.  And, if you get the piece with the rag in it, you are destined to be poor and destitute, FOREVER. 

Moron Nan got the wedding ring piece, thus proving Margaret’s Barnstack Cake must be TOTALLY broken!

But when Margaret got the rag piece, she got a little freaked out.  And so, off she ran to Nucky’s Party of the Week, Dressed to Screw.  At the party, just like in every romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, Nucky’s and Margaret’s eyes meet from across the room.  (I kept waiting for that song from Pretty in Pink to start playing in the background.) 

“I touch you once.  I touch you twice.  I won’t let go at any price . . .”

The pair come togther.  They drink champagne.  (Temperance Barbie, Margaret, is TOTALLY going to become an alchy!  I can just feel it!)  Margaret even calls him Uncle Nucky.  (Because EVERYBODY screws their uncles!)  

Then, it is announced that the Worst President in History, Warren G. Harding, has just been elected.  In his inaugural speech, he advocates a Return to Sh*t Normalcy.  Everybody claps, even THIS GUY . . .

Chalky is such a sex stallion, that he impregnated the ENTIRE ballroom, just by looking at them (even the old men!)

The episode ends with a slightly tipsy Margaret and Nucky leaving the party at dawn, strolling out toward the Boardwalk, and staring contentedly at the sunrise . . .

The whole thing was cheesy as heck, and yet, an oddly appropriate end to the show’s first season.  Except . . . was I the only one who expected someone to pop out from behind, and shoot Nucky in the head, at the last second?

Yeah . . . I definitely watch too many Gangster Movies . . .

See ya next year, folks!

[www.juliekushner.com]

5 Comments

Filed under Boardwalk Empire

5 responses to “Blood is Thicker Than Water – A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s Season 1 Finale “A Return to Normalcy”

  1. Amazon Annie

    Great recap KJewls, as always. I really thought this was an excellent final episode of this show. I’m sometimes so disappointed with finale episodes, but this one left me excited for next season.
    One of the great things about this show is that all the characters are so well drawn. Almost no one is one dimensional, they all have their good sides and bad sides and reasons for both….except for Jimmy’s boring wife and dumb and a box of rocks Lucy.
    One thing did come to mind during this episode and his name is TOM CRUISE. I hope Mr. Christian Scientist was watching the episode. Nucky was talking about his poor wife who fell into such complete and utter post partem depression after losing her baby that she slit her wrists. All I could picture was Tom Cruise telling Matt Lauer that he was “so glib”and that basically there is no such thing as PPD and Brook Sheilds and Nucky’s wife were faking it for the meds.
    I too enjoyed the “Godfather” sequence….baptism for Carlo’s son and death to Corleone’s enemies. In this case, high sounding political speeches and death to Nucky’s enemies. Hey…there seems to be a common thread here. Baptisms are mighty dangerous rites in gangster films….people always end up dead!
    Anyway, thanks for your enciteful and clever comments. Keep up the good work. Glad you recap other shows I love.

    • Thanks, Amazon Annie! I too really enjoyed Boardwalk Empire’s Season Finale. This show really hit its stride during the second half of its first season. And, if this episode is any indication, I predict great things for Season 2.

      I’m also in agreement with you about Dull Angela and Dumb Lucy. Those two girls need to get whacked. Seriously! They mar an otherwise perfect cast.

      You bring up a good point about Nucky’s wife’s post partum depression. It’s too bad there weren’t anti-depressants back then. Though, you have to wonder, whether Nucky would have the foresight to get his wife help, even if such treatment existed. Such a tragic story. It really painted Nucky’s behavior throughout the season in a whole new light.

      And thanks to your comment, I may never look at baptisms the same way again! 🙂

      It’s always great talking Tube with you, Amazon Annie. See you around the blogosphere! 😉

  2. The thing that intrigues me most about this show (like most gangster stories) is how each character has a distinct sense of their their own perverted justice and morals; in fact ethical codes are often more iron clad for morally grey characters than many supposedly “good characters” I’ve viewed in shows, who can be wildly inconsistent in their approach to situations. I always like trying to determine the fundamental decency or piece of humanity that keeps these people from being complete and utter murderous monsters. One example is Henry from Dawson’s Creek’s desire to be a better father and partner despite his coldbloodness in his professional life.

    The shooting while smoking scene reminds me of another cool killing scene – Angelus feeding on a woman who is mid-smoke and expelling the contents of her lungs in one badass whoosh. Easily me fave David Boreanaz acting moment.

    Oh, and the appearance of sexy masked Salvatores and Scrappy Doo always make me smiley, BTW 🙂

    • You can always count on me to make everything about TVD (or Dawson’s Creek) in any way that I possibly can, no matter how tenuous the connection. That’s just how I roll. 😉

      I agree with you about mobsters and their unique take on morality. Unlike most of us, whose moral codes are rather flexible and loosey goosey (well, at least mine is ;)), the mafia (and I suspect other criminal organizations, though they may have different names for it) live and die by a very strict moral code, “Omerta.” Like Damon on TVD (see, there I go again!), these are individuals who value family above all else, and will stop at nothing to protect those they love.

      Oooh that Angelus scene you described sounds super creepy. I love it! 🙂

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