“I’ve come to bury Nucky, not to praise him.” – A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s “Ourselves Alone”

“All by my selllllllf.  Don’t wanna be, all by my selllllllf, anymorrrrre!” 

Poor Nucky!  I never thought I would ever begin a recap with those two words.   After all, wasn’t the entire theme of season one how blessed Nucky was in every way except in the looks department, of course, and how much power he wielded in his pants Atlantic City?

My, have the tables turned quickly . . . well, actually not so quickly, considering Season 1 aired a year ago!  Now, everyone’s out to screw Nucky over.  And District Attorney’s are touching his personal items in ways that Eddie finds personally offensive!

“I’m so upset over what is going on here that I am going to eat this phone.”

You know who else started out as a guy, who had it all, and ended up with crap?  THIS GUY . . .

Source

. . . well, him too.  But I was thinking more along the lines of THIS GUY . . .

The obvious comparisons between Nucky’s current situation and Julius Caesar’s are so striking, that I can’t imagine they weren’t intended by the writers of this show.  I mean, think about it, we’ve got the young up-and-comer, who used to be part of Nucky’s ranks, being groomed to usurp his throne.

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We’ve got the not-so-whispered words of mutiny amongst the senators alderman.  And, perhaps, most importantly, we have Nucky experiencing the ultimate betrayal at the hands of the person he trusted most . . . his own brother . . . his Brutus.

(Take that High School English Teacher that only gave me a B+ on my Julius Caesar paper!  You know who you are.)

And yet, while it would seem as though this episode revolved around the Downfall of Nucky Thompson, arguably, the real stars of “Ourselves Alone” were his supporting cast . . . the surprisingly sly, and cunning courage of Margaret Schroeder . . . the quiet, yet extremely dangerous, ferocity of Chalky White . . . the stone cold ambition of Jimmy Darmody . . . the bat-sh*t craziness of Nelson Van Alden . . .

Well, actually, he wasn’t in this episode.  But I think you catch my drift . . .

So, settle down with a good book, pop open a new can of shoe polish, or take a dip in the Temperance Fountain, because it’s time for another Boardwalk recap . . .

(By the way, special thanks to ladymanson.com, for the kickass screencaps you see here!)

“Nucky’s in the Slammer.  Who wants pancakes?”

“Do you think they are whispering about me, because I’m not wearing any underwear?”

The episode begins with Margaret tiptoeing down the mansion steps in her nightie, to the sight of her apprehensive all-female staff, regarding her, as one would regard a terminally ill cancer patient.

“I can’t believe NONE of us were cast in the movie The Help.  It’s NOT FAIR!” 

Too bad Margaret doesn’t live in Modern Times.  Otherwise @randomnewsreporter could have totally tweeted her the news that her not-so-hubby was very much arrested the night before.

Doh!

Instead, the new Woman of the Thompson Household is forced to learn of her lover’s arrest in the local paper.

Margaret, who has obviously adapted rather quickly to the unspoken responsibilities of being an expensive sex toy the wife of a powerful public figure, is remarkably stoic, in the face of this obviously surprising and disturbing news.  Rather than bursting into hysterics, or rushing out the door to the nearest jail like a mad woman, as the old Margaret might have done, Nu-Margaret merely takes a deep breath, and returns to her regularly scheduled  tasks, i.e. bossing around of the staff.

It is not until a bit, later, when we see Margaret on the phone with Nucky’s driver, Eddie, that cracks in her marble facade begin to show.

“So, what exactly ARE conjugal visits?  I don’t think we had those back in Ireland.” 

“I’d be more than happy to SHOW you.”

Poor Margie can barely keep herself from crying, when Eddie tells her that he can’t pick her up and drive her to the jail.  (As it turns out, the District Attorney and his cronies have been inappropriately fondling the items in Nucky’s office.  And Eddie is afraid to leave them alone.)

When the house maid is found lurking near the doorway, Margaret asks her what kind of coat she owns?

Huh?

Well, THAT’S a strange thing to ask.  Is Margie hoping the maid will drive her to the jail to see Nucky?  Is she worried about her favorite housekeeper catching pneumonia during those cold A.C. winters?  Is she secretly writing an expose on the dressing habits of maids for the local paper?  Or is something more sinister afoot?  (Well, obviously, you already know the answer.  But let’s pretend everythings all scary and intriguing, for a little while longer, OK?)

Meanwhile, down at the Pokey . . .

“Gee, sorry I had you arrested, and am now sharing a jail cell with you . . . AWKWARD!”

“I never really believed all those silly rumors about ‘dropping the soap,’ did you?” 

How convenient odd is it that a large, purportedly crime-infested, place like Atlantic City, only seems to have two cells in its town jail?  Now, if that’s not a good reason NOT to screw over your friends, I don’t know what is.

Just last week, Nucky had his liquor and political compadre Chalky White arrested “for his own safety,” after a “nice, friendly” meeting with some SHEET HEADS KKK members went horribly awry.

SHEET!

Now, Nucky finds himself trapped ALONE in a jail cell with Nucky.

(Apparently, Chalky’s political clout has gained him enough social standing to earn a spot in the “more elite” jail cell, apart from the rest of the assorted riff-raff.  Umm . . . yay?)

Silly, Nucky!  He was apparently having sex sleeping during his Jail Cell Etiquette Class.  Rule #1 of Surviving Prison:  Don’t accuse your cell mate, who YOU are responsible of throwing in jail, of betraying YOU.  And yet, that’s exactly what Nucky does, by asking Chalky a few VERY pointed questions about whether his “people” had anything to do with the “anonymous witnesses” whose testimony got Nucky thrown in jail for election fraud.

“Vote on THIS, b*tch!” 

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.  Were it not for Chalky, there is a good chance that Nucky’s cronie, Anthony Bader, would have NEVER been elected Mayor.    Not to mention the fact that Nucky is DEFINITELY no longer in the position to be choosy about who he gets to call his “friend.”

Things get even MORE awkward between Nucky and Chalky (I’m sorry, but are those not the WEIRDEST NAMES EVER? My fingers get twisted on my keyboard everytime I have to type them both together), when Nucky’s lawyer comes to post his bail, while Chalky is made to rot in the slammer.  Oops!

“See ya, Sucka . . . er . . . I mean . . . sorry, Big Guy!” 

So, Nucky exits the jail a Free Man (for now), and successfully engages in a battle of wits with the local journalists, looking to prove he’s a criminal to the “Good People of AC.”

(He calls them all alcoholics.  BURN!  What a NOVEL insult about journalists!  You have to wake up pretty early in the morning or whatever time Jimmy, the Commodore, and Eli wake up to pull one over on Nucky Thompson.  What a FIRE CRACKER!)

Meanwhile, Chalky is forced to deal with insults of a much more personal nature . . .

David Copperfield (err  . . . I mean “Tom Sawyer”) must be a REALLY GOOD BOOK!

“I have flipped through a 100 pages of this book, and I haven’t seen a single BOOB.  And they call this a classic!” 

It starts off innocent, enough. Chalky’s wife has come to visit him in jail.  They have a fairly banal conversation, during which Chalky’s wife tells Chalky that his son wanted to come visit him, but she thought it would be best if he stayed home.  Remember Chalky’s son?  The adorable prepster piano player from last week?  Yeah, not exactly someone you picture in a jail cell.

“I may look sweet and innocent, but  .  . . yeah, I’m sweet and innocent.” 

Mini-Chalky sent a gift to his dad, in his absence, however.  It’s a book, David Copperfield, to be exact.  (Was I the only one hoping there would be some sort of file, key, or weapon hidden in that book, that would help Chalky to plan his escape?  Well, there wasn’t . . . It was just a book.  Crime Boss’ son FAIL!)

Hidden mechanism for escape or not, Chalky seems touched by his son’s gift.  “That’s a good one,” he says, with a proud smile, as he takes the book from his wife’s hands.  As Mrs. Chalky leaves one of the Chalky’s “cell-mates” from across the way makes some comments that a man should NEVER make about another man’s wife.

“What’s that you say?  That I’m going to be dead in five minutes?  You’re LYIN’!” 

Chalky accepts the passive aggressive taunting of his cell mate, which is thinly disguised as good natured banter, with a surprising amount of dignity and grace, though its obvious he REALLY wants to put a cap in this guy’s ass.  The guy’s name is Dunn Purnsley, which is a really stupid name, if you ask me.    (No offense to all you Dunn Purnsley’s out there.)  And the fact that Chalky currently has a “fancy” cell to himself REALLY seems to dust Dunn’s doileys, as does the fact that Chalky dresses expensively, and has an attractive, comparatively light-skinned, wife.

You’ve got to admit, they do make a cute couple.

When another white prisoner is brought into the jail, Chalky is switched into the cell with Dunn, and the rest of the prisoners (all African American).  According to the guard, this is to prevent the mixing of races, which is strange considering that Nucky and Chalky shared a cell just hours earlier.  Weird .  . .

You would think that Chalky’s relocation into Dunn’s cell would placate the latter’s ire.  Unfortunately, it only seems to rile him up more.  Now Dunn is making increasingly inciteful and offensive comments about the color of Chalky’s skin, and referring to him in derrogatory terms, that, I suspect were generally reserved for the pre-Civil War era.

(OK, now I’m REALLY hoping Chalky kicks this Dunn guy’s butt!  He’s TOTALLY asking for it now.  If he doesn’t do it.  I may just jump into the television screen and do it for him.)

What follows are what are, in my opinion two of the most intriguing scenes in the entire episode.  The first arises when Dunn asks Chalky – who has been silently “reading” David Copperfield this whole time, what he is reading.  When Chalky first announced the book as Tom Sawyer, I thought he might just be messing with the guy.  After all, Mark Twain was an author who was pretty well known for having some fairly strong opinions about race relations, as evidenced in his follow-up book to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn.

“Once upon a time, there was a man named Dunn, who’s life was almost finished.  Get it . . . done . . . finished?  Oh well, I guess you had to be there.” 

But then, when Dunn asks Chalky to describe what he is reading, he does so by making up a story about a picture that happens to appear in the center of the David Copperfield book.  Fans will undoubtedly recall that this is the method most of us used as children to PRETEND we knew how to read, before we had learned to do so.  The fact that Chalky probably does not know how to read, and has obviously hidden this fact from his wife, and Harvard-bound son, is both shocking and a little bit sad.

But now is not the time for sad stories.   Now is the time for ASS KICKING!  That’s right, boys and girls, Dunn is stupid enough to put up his fists and threaten Chalky.  He even has the audacity to RIP David Copperfield out of his hand, tearing out the picture Chalky used to describe what was happening in the book.

SERIOUSLY!  THE NERVE OF THIS GUY!

This next part is pretty cool.  Chalky doesn’t lift a FINGER!  Instead, he quietly addresses each of the men with whom he is sharing a cell.   He knows them all by name, and ALL of them, owe him SOME sort of debt.  It becomes apparent in this scene, that Chalky is the Nucky of the African American community in Atlantic City.  The only difference is that, unlike his political counterpart, Chalky’s power is still in full force.

Dunn rises to throw the first punch.  BAD MOVE!  Now, all of Chalky’s cell mates have been given their unspoken instructions.  They BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF HIM . . . LITERALLY, as in . . . HE DIES!  Then, one of them casually gives Chalky back his book.

“And they all lived happily ever after . . . well . . . almost everyone.” 

So, Chalky decides its a great time for a bedtime story.   (Why not?)  He asks the group, which of them know their letters, reaffirming the fact that he, himself, cannot read.  One of the cell mates obliges, and begins to read the remaining living cell mates David Copperfield proper, as the victorious, but not, necessarily triumphant Chalky, stares blankly at the torn out page of the book.  The fact that its incredibly depressing words are meaningless to him do not mean that they don’t hold meaning for him .  . .

When Season 2 Margaret Meets Season 1 Margaret . . . (How META!)

“So that’s me from the future .  . . I was kind of hoping my boobs would get bigger.”

So, earlier in this recap, I teased at Margaret’s inquiry to her maid about what kind of coat she wore.  In this scene, we get to see what exactly she did with that lovely coat.  In a scene that ironically mimics that of the poor, beaten, and pregnant, Margaret Schroeder’s first fateful visit to Nucky Thompson, Margaret arrives at Nucky’s office to see it being swarmed by lawyers and investigators.

Having had a lot of experience playing this particular part, Margaret is flawless (if a bit exaggerated)  in the role of her old pre-f*&king Nucky self.  She feigns ignorance to Nucky’s arrest, claims to have wanted to see him in order to get some cash, and asks to be shown to the nearest rest room.  Feeling pity on this helpless biddy, the District Attorney personally directs her to the toilet, and then, most likely forgets her existence.  This, of course, gives her free reign around the rest of Nucky’s office.

We’ll find out what she does with that “free reign” at the end of the episode . . .

Elsewhere, specifically,  at La Casa de Commodore . . .

The Oldest Man Ever to Suffer from a Mid-life Crisis . . .

“This is my very subtle way of telling you I have a large weiner.” 

For the Triumverate of Evil — Commodore, Eli, and Jimmy’s winky (Don’t worry, Jimmy, I still love you, even though you’ve turned to the dark side.  You are just too hot to hate.), getting all of Nucky’s cronies, specifically, the aldermans of each of the five wards over which Nucky is city treasurer, was surprisingly easy.  All they had to do, was convince these greedy poopyheads that Nucky’s ship had sailed.  And if they wanted to continue fattening their pockets, and living in the manner to which they had grown accustomed, they had to support the “New Guard.”

Having already got these doofuses under their thumb, except one (more on him later), Commodore invites them all to his Dead Animal Zoo study to talk “business.”  Concerned that the aldermans will discount him due to his age, Commodore decides to dress up as a fat Charlie Chaplin, and amaze them with his remarkable ability to lift elephant tusks in the air.  (Because you KNOW that’s going to come in handy on the road to World Domination!)

“When you come face-to-face with destiny, do you want to be the bear, or do you want to be the one holding the shotgun?”  Commodore asks his ambivalent admiring associates.

Actually, I’d prefer to be Dick Cheney.  But that’s neither here nor there, is it?

Meanwhile, Nucky is also trying to rally the troops for his cause . . .

When the guy who’s house you burned down is your only ally, you know you have problems . . .

Exhiled from his swanky Ritz Carlton office, Nucky is forced to (gasp) actually work in the dingy work space provided for him by the government.  It comes complete with a secretary, who has probably spent the past, lord knows how many years, sitting on her fanny from 9 to 5, reading magazines and painting her nails.  (Now THAT’s a living.)

“You REALLY want me to work today?  But my radio soap opera is on in five minutes?”

Nucky has his not-so-new assistant call all of the aldermans, the mayor, and his brother for an impromptu meeting.

Only two of them actually show, both RIDICULOUSLY LATE.  The first is the Mayor, because . . . well, duh . . . Nucky’s election fraud GOT him his job.  And if Nucky goes down, so does HE.

“Honestly, I was just looking for a little more screen time . . .” 

The second “loyalist” is alderman Damian Fleming.

Remember him?  Nucky offered him his father’s home.  And then he BURNED IT DOWN!

This takes the term “working fireplace” to a whole new level .  . . 

But he gave him another one.  So . . . let bygones be bygones.  I guess . . .  Except, Damian isn’t really coming to Nucky to tell him he’s on his side.  He’s coming to tell him that he’s SORRY that he can’t be, and to warn him that everyone is against him now . . . everyone, including . . . nu-Fredo his brother . . .

It’s pretty darn heartbreaking to see Nucky, with tears in his eyes, alone in a rundown office, taking a call from his brother, who, at this point, he KNOWS has betrayed him.  And yet Nucky is STILL offering him a chance to return to the fold.  It’s all very “Et tu Brute?”

“That’s really too bad, Eli.  Because I was planning to celebrate your coming back to my team, by getting you a hooker?”

“If you want to get out of this, I can help you?”  Nucky offers.  “I’m prepared to hear your side.   Because in a minute it’s going to be too late.”

But Eli isn’t interested in second chances.  He’s interested in Power . . . and wearing Big Boy Pants . . . and sitting at the grown-ups table.  And so he gives Nucky a speech that I’m sure he practiced in front of his mirror for three hours, even though he always knew he was going to deliver it over the phone.  “How does it feel .  . . sitting by yourself?”  He asks cruelly, before continuing his Pee on Nucky Parade.  “Nobody takes power. Someone has to give it to them . . . What have YOU got?”

“What a poopy head!” 

Then he hangs up on Nucky, and I find myself in the rare situation of wanting to reach through the television screen and give Steve Buscemi a hug.  What are you DOING to me, Boardwalk Empire?

While Nucky is busy learning the One truly IS the Loneliest Number, Jimmy is across town, trying to get SOMEONE to give HIM some power . . .

Oh, Arnie, how we missed you! (And your milk!)

“Milk . . . it does a gangster GOOD!” 

Jimmy pays a visit to Arnold Rothstein (and his “pet” Lucky ;)).  He wishes to present him with a proposition . . . one that involves screwing over Nucky (SURPRISE!), and entering into the liquor business together.  Arnold seems a mixture of amused, impressed, and curious.  Arnold is no dummy.  He knows Jimmy used to be Nucky’s fair-haired boy.  He also knows that Nucky was recently arrested.

As he listens to the young up-and-comer kiss his butt and beg for his business, you can see he wheels turning in his head, regarding the possibilities this might present, and the inevitable risks.  Is this kid for real?  Arnold isn’t quite sure.  And so he politely bids Jimmy adieu, without offering an answer one way or the other.

“Well, if you are not going to go into business with me, could you at least take a drink.  I’ve always wanted to see the biggest crime boss on the East Coast with a Milk Mustache . . .” .

So, remember when Lucky f*&ked Jimmy’s winky kissing mom?

Source

Well, bygones, because now he wants to do business with him.  “You know that thing you asked for?  I would have said yes to that,” Lucky offers cheerily.

“Yes, but I asked Arnold.  Not the guy who carries his water.”  (Ummm . . . it was MILK, Jimmy!  MILK!  Get it right!)

Ohhh, yeah and . . .

Apparently, Arnold’s other pet, Meyer, he of the baby face and Cheshire Cat smile, instructed Lucky to invite Jimmy to their weekly poker night so the three could “talk.”

Oooh, I smell a Next Generation Rebellion!  Yay Twenty-somethings!

Meyer Lansky says, “Say YES to heroin.  (And NO to Temperance Fountain.)”

“So, before I got this part, I was cast in my college production of Batman . . .  I was the Joker.  I hope that explains the smile.” 

At their meeting Meyer tells Jimmy he has BIG PLANS for the two of them and Lucky.  “We’ve learned a great deal [from Nucky and Arnold],” he begins.  “But no one wants to be in school forever.”

Except all these people . . . 

Then, Lucky and Jimmy start exchanging Yo Mama jokes (well, actually, it’s just Jimmy’s mama), and beating the crap out of eachother.  So, Meyer has to stop them, so that he can tell them his BIG PLAN.

“Calm down.  You’re both pretty.” 

It involves Meyer and Lucky buying liquor from Jimmy, if Jimmy and HIS people buy HEROIN from them.

Ummm . . . HOORAY for HEROIN . . . I guess .  . .

(Something tells me school teachers Arnie and Nucky would most certainly NOT approve.)

At the poker game, Jimmy wipes the floor with some of Meyer’s friends, while Meyer has an uncomfortable meeting with two goons who apparently represent the “Lower East Side.”  Later that night, Jimmy is walking home from the poker game, when those same two goons try to steal his lunch money poker winnings.

“I know you really want to ask me out on a date, but this is a bit too agressive, don’t you think?  There is something to be said for playing a little hard to get.” 

So, Jimmy . . .. ummm KILLS THEM, and leaves them lying in the ironically named Temperance Fountain with their mouths gaping grotesquely, and their necks spurting out blood.

I’m not going to lie.  It’s kind of awesome.

Speaking of awesome  . . .

Hi, New Cute Irish Guy!  (Yeah, that’s basically all I got from this plotline.)

“SOMEONE has to make sure Steve Buscemi doesn’t get all the chicks.” 

While Margaret waits for Nucky to come home, she’s got her OWN problems to cope with.  Nucky is apparently having a very stuffy Irish gentleman to visit.  He wants guns . . . or something.  He also doesn’t eat anything that walks on clove or hoof, and HATES AMERICANS.  Sounds like a real Life of the Party Type, right?

PARTY ANIMAL! 

He does have one thing going for him though, his help is HOT.  His name is Owen Sleater.  He has a cute Irish accent, can helps straighten rugs, and puts his foot in his mouth, like it’s his JOB.  He arrives to try and get into Margie’s pantsmake sure the Thompson house is SAFE for his boss.  Within minutes, he proceeds to mistake Margaret for he MAID, and the MAID for Margaret’s DAUGHTER, despite the fact that the two look to be only about five years apart at most.

“I’m deeply offended, and furious with you.  Yet, I have this strange urge to bone you, right here on this floor.”

Yet, there’s something charming about him.   He has a bit of sexual chemistry going on with Margaret (and the maid).   And, most importantly, he’s STICKING AROUND!

Woohoo!  Look out Jimmy Darmody and Al Capone.  It seems you have some competition for my heart  . . .

Speaking of hearts . . .

Margaret Schroeder = A Modern Day (Likeable) Lady Macbeth (Who knew?)

“Just don’t start talking about ‘damn spots,’ or I am SOOOO out of here.” 

We’ve been waiting for it all week, and it finally happens at the end of the episode.  Margaret confronts Nucky about his arrest, and everything that has been going on with him, these past two episodes.  Calmly and firmly, she gets her lover to admit everything to her, including, most painfully, his brother’s betrayal.  “I keep people satisfied.  It’s what I do,” says Nucky dejectedly, unable to comprehend how far he has fallen.

“They will never satisfied.  You know that already,” she replies, not entirely unkindly.  (Now, we know who the REAL brains of this operation is!)

Then Nucky tells Margaret, what he has TRULY been avoiding telling her all along.  The District Attorney has evidence against him, hard evidence.  It appears the officers searching his office have taken his ridiculously crime ridden business ledger, as well as $20,000 in cash.  Or HAVE they?

Like a BOSS, Margaret, skips to the other side of the room, and pulls BOTH incriminating items out of a nearby drawer.  Ahhhh!  So, that’s what she was doing at the Ritz in the Poor Girl Costume!  It all makes sense now!

Margaret decisively tosses the ledger in the fire, making Nucky promise to commit his shady dealings to memory from NOW ON!  You tell  him sister!

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with a female television character as I am with Margaret Schroeder right now.  Margaret, I take back every mean and snarky thing I ever said about you in season 1 and at the beginning of this rccap.

In the final moments of the episode, Margaret kisses and emotionally and physically exhausted Nucky on the forehead, and tells him to come to bed, where there will certainly be some EPIC lovemaking . . . I’d prefer not to picture it, though . . .

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

2 Comments

Filed under Boardwalk Empire

2 responses to ““I’ve come to bury Nucky, not to praise him.” – A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s “Ourselves Alone”

  1. East Coast Captain

    Period Dramas are so epic in a way. I´m definitely Team Chalky. Just started tuning in.

    • That’s great news, East Coast Captain! I’m so glad you decided to watch! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! (Psst! I’m Team Chalky too! He’s awesome)

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