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“I could see into your soul (if you still had one).”- A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s “The Emerald City”

“Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, who has the Creepiest Stalker of them all?”

“Oh, Margaret, honey.  That is ALL YOU!”

There’s a bit of bad behavior in EVERY episode of Boardwalk Empire.  But this week’s hour seemed to have more than most . . .  When Al Capone and That Sniper Guy are the most well-behaved characters of the hour, you know you’re in for some SERIOUSLY NAUGHTY STUFF.  Santa would not approve . . .

Well . . . maybe THAT Santa would . . .

So, without further adieu, let’s return to “The Emerald City,” to find out who topped Bad Santa’s Naughty List, and who played “nice” . . .

Richard Harrow:  A Man with a Heart of Gold (and a Face that Scares the Sh*t out of the Kiddies)

Don’t you hate it, when you’re dreaming about that hooker you slept with, and some bratty kid wakes you up, by screaming and crying about how hideous you look?

“Hey kid!  Why are you looking at me like that?  Do I have something in my eye?” 

 Apparently, Nucky has found use for Jimmy’s new friend Richard Harrow.  He has decided to employ the expert sniper as a “bodyguard” for Margaret and her children, following the whole “shooting” incident.  This would be fine, except for the fact that Margaret’s kids can’t stand to look at Poor Richard’s face, without bursting into tears or hurling.  Fortunately, Margaret has an idea!

She invites Richard to hang out with her and the kiddies, while she is reading them The Wizard of Oz.

When they get to the part about the Tin Man, Richard pipes in and says that HE IS THE TINMAN!

Of course, the kids think this is really cool.  Because EVERYONE likes to hang out with a CELEBRITY, right?   Even celebrities who are missing an eyeball, and have really scary chewed-up looking faces . . . 

Now the kids are just in LOVE with their new friend, The Tin Man.  This means that Margaret has to apologize to Richard for being such a heinous b*tch about his appearance, when she first met him.  Richard, being the kickass stand-up guy, he is, says, “No problem!  I freak myself out, when I look in the mirror too!”

Awww, Tin Man!  How I heart you!

Speaking of celebrities I adore . . .

Al Capone – When Naughty Boys Grow into Naughtier Man

Before the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre . . .before he made history as one of the Most Cutthroat Criminals of ALL TIME, Capone was just a kid at heart.  This was a guy who got his jollies out of putting sparklers in his boss’ cigarettes,” beating up reporters, and shooting Jimmy in the ear.  But that all changed when Capone went to a Bar Mitzvah . . .

Stop laughing, I’m serious!

At the Bar Mitzvah that CHANGED EVERYTHING, a Cute Little Old Jewish Dude told Capone that Age 13 is more than old enough to take responsibility for one’s actions.  And, as we all know, Capone is quite a bit older than 13, and yet is still making fart jokes, and putting sparklers in people’s cigarettes.  Cute Little Old Jewish Dude also dissed on Capone’s clothing, telling him that he was a man wearing the hat of a little boy. 

If Cute Little Old Jewish Dude had met Capone a few years later, that remark would have earned him a cap in his ass! 

But Baby Capone took the advice to heart.  Later that evening, he visited Torrio, wearing a BIG BOY’S HAT . . .

With a new sense of purpose, Capone tells Torrio that he is ready to act like a man, and take on more responsibility within the organization.

And, all I can say, is it’s ABOUT DAMN TIME! 

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, Al Capone’s pal, Jimmy, is trying to get laid . . .

Jimmy Darmody = Bad to the Bone!

“Darmody family — You just beat the crap out of a sort-of innocent (but douchey) family photographer, what are you going to do now?  (Bear in mind that Disney Land hasn’t been built yet . . .)”

When we first check back in with the Darmody family, Angela is hard at work painting one of her signature Ugly Ass Pieces of Artwork.  Jimmy, who hasn’t been laid since that time last week — when he did it with Angela on the kitchen table — starts telling her how gorgeous it is, in hopes of getting back in her pants.  “When you are at war, it is easy to forget that things like art and beauty exist,” Jimmy waxes poetically. 

(In other words, “I fought for my country, dammit.  Doesn’t that merit at least one good f*ck from you?”)

Apparently, it does!

Did I mention, that before these two DID IT, they “played with paint,” in a way that TOTALLY reminded me of that Pottery Scene from Ghost, only not nearly as sexy?

“Oh Mr. Swayze!  Your POTTERY is so big, strong and hard.  I love to knead it with my fingers . . .”

Still smelling of sex, the Darmody family heads out for a short walk on the Boardwalk.  Little Tommy runs ahead to the Photographer’s shop.  There, he sees a picture of the Photographer and his wife in the window, and wisely tells Jimmy, “That’s Mommy’s Kissing Friend!”

OOPS!

Yes, boys and girls!  Angela Darmody is clearly a model of good parenting.  Not only does she paint pornographic pictures, and ask her son to evaluate them, she also apparently MAKES OUT WITH PEOPLE THAT AREN’T HER HUSBAND, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. 

As if Tommy D, wasn’t screwed up enough by his mother, his father has to go to THIS . . .

AND THIS . . .

 . . . to that Dweeby Photographer with the Pedophile Mustache who’s NOT ACTUALLY SCREWING HIS WIFE.  Of course, about 30 men and women, gather to watch “the show,” but NOT ONE comes to the poor guy’s rescue! 

(Poor Kitty Genovese from the Future nods sympathetically.)

Obviously, Jimmy assumed that it was the Photographer to whom his son was referring, and NOT the Photographer’s Wife.  (Otherwise, he probably would have started drooling, and asked to watch.  We all know how much guys love their lesbians!) 

Later, the Dull as Dishwater Angela (SERIOUSLY?  What the heck do all these people see in this BORING woman?) and the Photographer’s wife meet to commiserate, make out some more, and plan their Great Escape to Paris . . .

Yeah, it’s nice to dream and all.  But I’m pretty sure one of you is getting whacked, by the end of the season.  And I don’t mean in the “good and fun” way either . . .

Speaking of getting whacked . . .

Van Alden Grosses Me Out for the SECOND time this season . . .

Of course, Awful Lucy had to be involved .  . . Can they PLEASE just kill this character off already?  I’ll pay them!

When we first see Van Alden this week, he is getting his ass handed to him by his boss, over at the FBI .  . .

 . . . for letting his crooked runt of a minion conveniently kill the ONLY eyewitness to Darmody’s involvement in the Liquor Heist killings.  Nelson’s boss basically tells Nelson that he sucks at life, and I agree. 

To make himself feel better, Creepy Van Alden decides to visit Margaret at her new home, and show off his spot-on impersonation of Anthony Bates from Psycho

They do kind of look alike .  . .

Nelson hopes that doing this, will cause Margaret to fall madly in love with him.  And they can live Crazily Ever After . . .  (Thus, proving that Nelson isn’t just TOTALLY loony tunes, he’s also a moron .  . .)

At first, when Van Alden shows Margaret that Ellis Island picture of her that he’s been literally “whacking off too” all Season, she thinks that she’s about to get deported . . .

But that’s not it at all.  Instead, Van Alden has come to “save her soul from eternal hellfire and damnation.”  (Talk about an ambitious visit!)

“I can see into you’re soul, every night when I look at this picture,” Van Alden exclaims SUPER CREEPILY, grabbing Margaret’s hands, as if he’s about to propose.

“HELP!  Where’s my Scary Sniper Friend, when I need him?”

Nelson begins his pitch, You’re life doesn’t have to be like this rich, decadent, care free, work free, exciting, fun.  I can offer you SO MUCH MORE craziness, back slashings, poverty, self-righteous rantings and ravings, loveless letters about the plumbing, crippling boredom.”

“Hi, Margaret.  My name is Mrs. Van Alden.  I’d like to let you know, that I will gladly give you Nelson, if you really want him.”

Fortunately, Margaret has grown a backbone, since her days of getting regular Nookie with Nucky.  So, she kicks Crazy Town Van Alden’s ass out of the house!

So, Mr. Teetotaler Van Alden — intent on having Nucky’s Sloppy Seconds, if it kills him — heads to a bar, and, after having a few shots (but not nearly enough to make Lucy attractive), approaches Lady Dumb Slut, and takes her back to his ill-furnished apartment.  There, we are treated to a full frontal of Lucy, and four minutes of the LEAST HOT PORNO SCENE you could ever imagine!  (Seriously, I’ve seen puppets have more enjoyable sex than this . . .)

When it’s all over, Lucy is still giving off moans of  fake pleasure . . . probably because the sex was so dull, and she was so wasted, that she didn’t even realize the romp had ended . . .

Speaking of “Faking it” . . .

Margaret Builds a Better Future for Womankind Herself

When Margaret learns that women have finally won the right to vote, she is understandably thrilled.  She’s even excited enough to have a few drinks with Nucky, in celebration.  Margaret becomes less excited however, when Nucky asks her to speak at the League of Women Voters event, on behalf of Mayor Elect Mr. Bayer, despite the fact that he has no political experience whatsoever, and was basically nominated, jut so he could do Nucky’s bidding.

Personal reservations aside, Margaret actually gives a fairly rousing speech for the construction worker.  (Heck, that “building a future” metaphor was so impressive, I would probably vote for the guy!  And I KNOW what a lame-o he is!) 

Later, however, when Bayer gets up to give HIS speech, and Nucky’s too busy plotting his own politics to even pay attention to it, Margaret begins to wonder whether she did the right thing . . .

(Psst, Margaret.  You DIDN’T do the right thing!  But you and your kids are filthy rich now, and you never have to work again.  So WHO CARES?)

Speaking of doing the WRONG THING . . .

Note to Self:  Choking Someone is a VERY Inefficient Way of Killing Them.  (Guns are BETTER)

Hoping that by playing both sides, he can keep himself from getting killed, Sleazeball Mickey Doyle approaches Nucky to rat out the D’ellessio’s for (1) robbing his “tax collector,” (2) killing one of Chalky White’s associates, and (3) trying to kill Nucky on the Boardwalk.  He also exposes Rothstein’s alliance with the D’Alessio’s, and their plans to edge out Nucky for control of the Atlantic City liquor business. 

Nucky shows his gratitude to Mickey for offering up this information, by doing this . . .

However, upon coming to the conclusion that Mickey is worth more to him alive than dead (for now), Nucky ultimately lets him go, with a pat on the back, and a drink filled with Jimmy’s saliva (and we all KNOW where all that mouth has been!). 

Later, Nucky approaches Bootlegger Chalky White with a plan to screw over the D’allesio’s (and, by extension, Arnold Rothstein), and exact revenge.  As part of the set up, Nucky instructs Chalky to pretend his relations wth Nucky have soured, and that he would like to make a deal with Rothstein, instead.

Chalky agrees to go along with the plan.  However, when he actually meets with the D’Alessio’s and Lansky, he quickly figures out that THEY were behind the murder of his associate.  Let’s just say, he’s not happy about it . . .

Once Lansky and the two dumb D’Alessio’s, who’s first names I don’t know (Does it really matter?  They are all going to end up dead, anyway!) are incapacitated, Nucky and Jimmy are called to the scene . . .

The tall skinny funny looking D’Alessio is dumb enough to ask Jimmy if he’s going to shoot him, for mouthing off.  “Well, I wasn’t going to, but you kind of talked me into it,” Jimmy replies.

Dumb D’Alessio #1 is dead now.  And Dumb D’Alessio #2 is blubbering like a baby. 

“I think I just pissed my pants.”

Considering he’s unarmed, and just watched his Funny Looking Brother get his head blown off, you’d think the dude would have learned to be quiet.  But NO! The Dude really wants his SAG card starts threatening Chalky, telling him that his other, equally dumb, brothers are going to “string [Chalky] up, just like they did to his business associate.”

Chalky doesn’t like that very much, so he starts choking the guy.   And it takes a LOOOOOOOOOONG time.  So, long that Jimmy leaves to take a leak, and a bored Nucky starts cleaning the other D’Alessio off the floor.  Even Meyer Lansky is trying to look at his watch.  Unfortunately, his hands are tied behind his back.  So, he closes his eyes, and takes a nap . . .

FINALLY Dumb D’Alessio #2 is dead.   So, Nucky wanders over to a dozing Meyer Lansky to untie him.  “Tell Mr. Rothstein what you witnessed here,” Nucky informs his new personal messenger service.

Relieved to still be alive, historically, the guy lived to be 80, so we know his character isn’t dying anytime soon Meyer dashes off to deliver “Nucky’s message” to his boss . . .

“You’re telling me, he could have shot him, but he CHOKED HIM INSTEAD?  That must have taken FOREVER!  I bet you haven’t eaten in hours.  Come over to my place for some milk and cookies!”

At the end of the episode, Nucky comes back to Margaret’s bed smelling like Dead A’lessio’s.  He tells his lover how proud he is of her for being a Big Fat Liar, during that speech she gave earlier.  However,  a guilty-feeling Margaret just dejectedly crinkles her nose. 

“I’m totally judging you, right now.”

Note to Nucky:  If you plan on getting laid, after a night of doing EVIL, you might want to consider showering first . . .

[www.juliekushner.com]

 

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It’s Getting Hot in Here . . . – A Recap of Boardwalk Empire’s “Home”

Let me start by saying how much I’ve been enjoying Boardwalk Empire this season.  The characters are interesting.  The scripts are smart and witty.  The plot twists are unexpected.  However, I do have one small suggestion that would considerably improve my own personal appreciation of the show.  Nametags. 

I can’t tell you how many times, while watching this show, I’ve had to stop and check my notes, to ascertain WHO a particular person was, and HOW he or she related to the main characters of this story.  With a Nametag, all of that information would be right on your television screen!  Allow me to illustrate with some simple examples:

This is Chalky White:

(Nice jacket!)

And this is his Nametag:

This is Al Capone:

And this is his Nametag:

Finally, this is Lucy Danziger:

And this is her Nametag:

Can’t you see how something like this would be VERY helpful to viewers of Boardwalk Empire like you and me?

But enough about that.  Let’s get on with the recap, shall we?

Old Dirty Bastard

Hide your cats, kids!  Daddy’s home!

Boy, Nucky’s Dad sure ended up being an evil demented wackadoo, didn’t he?  But you know bothered me most about him?  It wasn’t that he told his own son, “You may think you’re king, but you aren’t worth a damn!”   

And it wasn’t that he scalded Nucky’s hand with a hot poker, for grabbing at a loaf of bread, when he was a boy.  It wasn’t even that he landed Nucky in the hospital for 11 days, by forcing him to pick a fight with boys four years older than he.  No . . . I hate Papa Thompson because he’s MEAN TO CATS!

“Only one of us has nine lives, Old Man.  And it’s DEFINITELY not you!”

When we first see him in this episode, Papa Thompson poking the poor felines residing in his home with sticks, and calling them nasty names.  At first, I thought the Old Coot was just talking to himself (as the interminably aged tend to do).  But when I found out he was berating the Purrrfect Ones, he got a big fat X in my book!  Can you really blame those cute little kitties for peeing all over his house?

I’m not going to lie, when the cats tripped Papa Thompson’s ass and he kerplunked on the floor, I cheered!

Remember that old commercial with the elderly lady and her walker?

“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”

This scene was kind of like that.  Except, the old lady in that commercial, to my knowledge, was never mean to cats.  So, I actually felt bad for laughing at her.

Anyway, Nucky takes time out of his busy schedule of screwing, and screwing people over, to collect his fallen Daddy from the floor of his childhood home.  With Nucky, is his loveable, but not too swift, younger brother, Eli.

The brothers agree that their father can no longer live alone in the house.  Nucky immediately suggests putting his father in an old age home, but Eli won’t hear of it.  “He can stay with me,” Eli offers gallantly.

Later, Nucky meets with an adorably sweet employee of his, who has a wife and tons of kids.  Nucky learns that the employee is saving up to buy a home for his family, but is not able to afford it.  In a rare moment of decency — one that doesn’t involve his own trying to get rich or get laid for change — Nucky generously offers to give his employee the home for free, provided the Family Man can repair it, and remove the cat piss smell from its walls.

The Family Man is overjoyed!

He quickly fixes up the house, using all of his family’s savings on repairs.  When Nucky comes to visit the place, it looks as good as new!  So, Nucky, after a few choice words from his dad, decides to burn it to the ground.

When the Poor Family Man arrives on site to find his Dream Home overtaken by flames, Nucky boredly hands him a large wad of bills.  “Here.  Find a nicer place to live,” he says, before getting in his car, and driving away.

Ouch!  It looks like the apple might not fall too far from the cat-abusing tree . . .

A Few Screws Loose

Over in Chicago, Jimmy’s war injury has been acting up.  So, he heads to a doctor that specializes in treating veterans.  Aside from making some lame jokes about Jimmy having a few “screws loose” in his leg, the doctor provides our antihero with little help.  However, he does suggest that Jimmy submit to some psychological testing for war veterans.

I was actually really surprised that Jimmy agreed to go to the testing center in the first place, because it seemed so out of character for him to willingly do something like that.

“This is what I do to people who ask me to talk about my feelings.”

However, had Jimmy not gone to the test center, he would not have met Richard Harrow, a fellow war veteran, and an expert sniper, with a penchant for shooting guys in the face.  Speaking of faces, did I mention that Richard only has half of one?  The other half must have blown off during the war.  So, Richard has to wear a cool Phantom of the Opera-type mask, which makes him closely resemble a character in a Dick Tracy comic.

As if all this didn’t make Richard awesome enough, he also has this deep raspy voice, like a Budweiser Frog . . .

 . . . and a complete lack of affect, which makes his line delivery sound like something out of the movie RainMan.

“Six minutes to Wapner.  Kmart Sucks.”

Jimmy, who is fast becoming the manager of Team Kickass Gangster, knows a good future hoodlum when he sees one.  So, he quickly strikes up a friendship with the Masked One.  The two play hooky together from Psychological Testing, and head off to Jimmy’s favorite Hangout, Johnny Torrio’s Brothel.  Having concluded that the Masked One has never “been with a woman,” Jimmy nips that problem in the bud, lickety split.  Now THAT’S a good friend!

Later, thanks to a tip from Al Capone (who I WISH was in this episode more), Jimmy arrives at a bar on Chicago’s northside, and confronts Liam — the guy who cut up Pearl’s face a few episodes back, and, ultimately brought about her suicide.

With an eerie nonchalance that would make Michael Corleone proud, Jimmy lulls Liam into a false sense of security, by recounting an old war tale of a German soldier who got caught amidst a tangle of barbed wire, and yet still retained the will to live.  “Sometimes living is far worse than dying,” Jimmy concludes.  “I don’t ever want to see you here again.”

As Jimmy leaves, we hear Liam take a loud sigh of relief.  Then, a pitcher of water across the room from him shatters.  The patrons of the bar look around in confusion.  Then they see it — a small bullet-sized hole in the window.  A hole that matches the one on Liam’s face, right below his eye. 

We cut to an apartment a few floors above the bar, where the Super Cool Richard Barrow is calmly packing his gun back inside a brief case.  It was BY FAR the best scene in this episode!  And the fact that it was accompanied by music from the Phantom of the Opera, and followed by a pivotal scene from the film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (“It was at this moment, that Dr. Jekyll was awakened to the baser sense of his nature.”), just made the whole thing ten times better!

Watching the Jekyll and Hyde film in question, is an increasingly agitated Lucy Dumb Slut, who is not taking her replacement by Margaret as Nucky’s favorite Sex Toy, particularly well.

Be afraid Margaret.  Be VERY AFRAID!

Van Alden’s Big Break

Back at the station, Nelsan Van Alden . . .

 . . . may not be any closer to convicting Nucky for any wrong doing.  However, he sure does seem to be developing a compelling case against Jimmy Darmody!  When one of Jimmy’s accomplices in that liquor raid featured in the pilot episode, is fingered on a bunch of unrelated charges, the Rat quickly drops a dime on Jimmy, in exchange for clemency.

(Ummmm .  . . you can stop hitting yourself now, Mr. Van Alden.  This is very good news for you . . .)

Girls who like Girls . . .

Speaking of Jimmy, remember when we all thought that his wife was banging that photographer, while he was away at war?  Well, it turns out, she wasn’t.  She was banging his wife.  Apparently, Angela is an artist of some sort, and her lover is trying to get her work shown in some swank New York gallery. 

During this scene, we also learn that Jimmy has been wisely putting Nucky’s name on the envelopes containing the money he sends his family monthly, so his rivals will not be able to locate him.  It sure makes him look like a prick to his family, though . . .

Speaking of Pricks . . .

. . . Margaret acts like a bit of one to Nucky, when he tries to tell her about his effed up relationship with his Dad.  “I’m no stranger to a man’s cruelty,” she says, dismissively.  “Sometimes it’s best to leave the past where it is.”

It seems Margaret has been getting some bad advice lately.  The first piece of it came last week from a pamphlet entitled “Family Limitation,” and involved a bottle of Lysol.

This week, one of her new whore friends instructs her not to allow Nucky to talk too much about his personal problems, because it will make him feel “weak.”  Margaret ultimately apologizes to Nucky for her insensitive behavior.  Nucky, to his credit, appears to take her faux pas in stride, eventually coming clean to Margaret about his father’s uncommon cruelty. 

To show there are no hard feelings, Nucky allows Margaret’s kids to call him “Daddy” “Uncle,” and even lets one of them come watch him burn his Dad’s house down. 

Awwwww . . . family bonding!  How sweet!

Meet Michael Lewis Meyer Lansky

While Nucky is huffing, and puffing, and blowing his Dad’s house down, Arnold Rothstein is trying to do the same thing to Nucky’s illegal liquor business.  When Chalky White is visited by a man who calls himself “Michael Lewis,” Nucky’s No-Nonsense Bootlegger becomes instantly suspicious.

“You may stay where the f*ck you standing,” he tells the young man, when the later politely requests admittance into Chalky’s “office.”

“Michael,” as it turns out, has a business proposition for Chalky.  It involves Chalky delivering liquor directly to Michael for $10,000 and cutting out Nucky as the Middle Man.  Though initially intrigued by the idea, Chalky smells a Rat.

“Tell Nucky it’s going to take more than 10 grand for me to f*ck him over,” scoffs Chalky.

“You can’t blame a guy for trying,” concedes “Michael,” as he exits stage left.

Later, we learn that “Michael” (who’s real name is Meyer Lansky) wasn’t working for Nucky at all.  Rather, he works for Arnold Rothstein.

You see, Arnold, Meyer, and Lucky Luciano are trying to get a foothold in the New Jersey liquor business.  But they need capital to do it.  And so, they contact the Philadelphia crime family, which is led by a guy named Mickey Doyle, and that dude from The Sopranos and Doogie Howser, M.D.

(Apparently, it was this Philly gang, and not Rothstein’s gang, who robbed Nucky’s “tax collector” at the beginning of last week’s episode.  See what I mean . . . about them all needing name tags!)

With the help of Lucky’s bravado . . .

“I’m a Captain in bed of Industry!”

 . . . and Meyer’s fast-talking salesmanship, the gangs of New York and Philly quickly form an EVVVVVILLL Alliance against Nucky Thompson.  Together, the two gangs plan to rob one of Nucky’s Atlantic City casinos, and use that cash to finance their own illegal liquor enterprise. 

(Don’t get me wrong, it’s a clever idea  .  . . but I think I liked it better when it was called Ocean’s Eleven . . .)

Arnold Rothstein is cute and all . . . but he’s NO George Clooney.

So, there you have it.  Though it was far from my favorite episode of the series (last week’s “Family Limitations probably still owns the crown on that title), “Home” did provide us with some illuminating insight into Nucky’s psyche.  It also introduced us to a couple of intriguing new characters: the enigmatic Richard Harrow and real-life criminal mastermind, Meyer Lansky.

Did I mention, there were cats in the episode?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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