‘Boardwalk Empire’ S3 / E5 – ‘You’d Be Surprised’

By David Pergolini on Oct 16, 2012 to Boardwalk Empire

“You think I entered into this arrangement because I value your companionship?”

Season 3 is in full swing and conflict continues to grow on the shoulders of Nucky Thompson and the rest of the ‘Boardwalk’ cast. After last week’s climactic finale of Act 1 I half expected the pace of the series to mellow out, rather we’re granted even more character revealing, plot twisting brilliance. From the opening seconds of ‘You’d Be Surprised’ we knew we were in for one hell a ride, though perhaps no one was expecting Gyp’s asphyxiation ride were you? All of the loose ends created by the first four episodes appear to be coming together resulting in a steadily mounting avalanche of conflict and an even greater insight into the minds of our characters. That’s the beauty of ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ we think we know our characters but every episode provides us with an even greater and more compelling understanding of who they are and who they’re becoming. Let’s begin:

Why, Margaret, why? Why must you keep boring us with the same routine? For the past four episodes we’ve watched Margaret fight valiantly to get the St. Theresa’s Women’s Health Clinic up and running, and now with classes in session we see her continue to play a huge role in its development. Sweet. I don’t care. All of this seems to be a cover for her eventual affair with Dr. Mason, I just hope it comes along soon so we no longer have to sit and watch the same thing episode after episode. Her confrontation with Nucky and Billie on the other hand, re-surged a relationship that is just as distant to the audience as it is to the married couple in the show. Watching the two go back and forth with such an in-depth knowledge of one another is truly the highlight of Margaret’s screen time. The cracks begin to show and it looks like Margaret will need to ask herself some tough yet “practical” questions.

The United States Department of Justice makes a rare yet intriguing appearance in episode 5 showcasing the government’s attempts to rid the system of both “gross incompetence” and “widespread corruption.” Our favorite middle-man, Mr. Means takes a special interest in the incitement of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon and his testimony in regard to U.S. Attorney General, Harry Daugherty. Nothing is solved but for the first time this season we begin to see the floodgates of political backlash slowly begin to creep open.

Speaking of creep, Nelson Van Alden makes his way into the thick of things through a series of bizarre antics and unfortunate events. Time and time again throughout the season we’re led to believe that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has caught up with Nelson, but time and time again we realize that it’s an unrelated coincidence. The same holds true for episode 5, only this time Van Alden’s wife, Sigrid takes matters into her own hands – cracking the skull of a disgruntled prohib. Looking to make good on Dean O’Banian’s promise in episode 1, Van Alden returns to the florist for help – making his way back into the bootlegging business alongside Al Capone’s North-side rival. This should get interesting.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Arnold Rothstein lose his temper going as far back as season 1 with the World Series scandal but in light of recent events he finds it necessary to voice his disapproval to Nucky. The unpleasant exchange is followed by a round table discussion in Tabor Heights with newly revealed nymphomaniac, Gyp Rosetti. The shipments have been simplified and it would appear that the two have come to an agreement, but if ‘Boardwalk Empire’ has taught us anything – loyalty can be deceiving. Episode 5 climaxes with a shootout in Tabor Heights at the hand of young up’n comer and Rothstein employee, Benny killing four of Rosetti’s men (including the redhead). The damage is done but its obvious now that Nucky’s failed assassination will have serious repercussions in the coming episodes.

Every week we see Nucky Thompson drift a little further, fall a little steeper and hold true to the notion that you can’t be “half a gangster.” This week we dive even deeper into Nucky’s addiction with Broadway mistress, Billie Kent along with his diluting marriage with Margaret. For the first time this season we see glimpses of compassion and understanding with Margaret only to quickly return to their growing resentment of one another.  Now that Nucky and Billie’s relationship has been exposed we can rest assure that the marriage will continue to disintegrate. These issues seem relatively mild when compared to the vengeance of Gyp Rosetti. Nucky’s life is once again in the balance and it looks like he’ll need to call on Chalky White and Dunn Pearnsly for more than just intimidation.

How will Rosetti reap  his revenge? How will other characters make their way into the thick of this war? We’re approaching the midway point of Season 3 which means we now have to keep an eye out for the midpoint plot twist; another catalyst event to set the dark tone for the second half of the season. Now that Gyp has a taste for blood I think that someone very close to Nucky is nearing an end. Perhaps it’s his lovely mistress. Perhaps it’s one of his close companions. Don’t forget about the questionable loyalties. Who will be the first to turn their back on our troubled protagonist? Watch ‘Boardwalk Empire’ next Sunday, 10/27 and join the conversation.

  • baters

    I predict Gillian will be in the mix on Gyp’s eventual demise. The asphyxiation bit introduced this week, his love of red heads (and Gillian) is foreshadowing an encounter where Gillian will eventually off him. She’ll either do it on her own or for Nucky, in exchange for money to fix up her brothel. I’d say we’re still a good 4 episodes before that happens though.

    • I’v never really thought of that, perhaps your right. Though, it would seem more in line with Gillian to partner with Rosetti in order to get back at Nucky. Although she’s gone a little nuts and thinks Jimmy’s alive, her resentment of Nucky hasn’t changed.

      But I like how you’ve played off her greed and her hunger for power. Maybe Nucky’s monetary incentives is all she really wants, she certainly wouldn’t be the only one.

    • I’v never really thought of it that way, though it would seem more likely that Gillian would align with Rosettit so that she may get back at Nucky. She’s gone a bit nuts and thinks that Jimmy is alive, but her resentment for Nucky still lingers.

      I like what you’ve done here – playing off Gillian’s greed and lust for power. Perhaps Nucky’s monetary incentives will be all she needs, she won’t be the only one.

      • baters

        Gillian is a wildcard, hard to predict what she’ll do but maintaining her brothel is high on her list. It’s pure speculation on my part, but once they used the asphyxiation scene this week, my head went straight to Gillian. She may not do it for Nucky directly, it might be via Luciano.

        At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing how the war they just started with Rosetti plays out over the next few episodes.

  • Eleonora Iafano

    As a female with Italian heritage, I have to politely say that I liked seeing Gyp Rosetti. Well, not his firecracker persona but as a woman, let’s just say that this episode was enlightening. I think that Nucky is acting like a petulant child – and he accused Gyp of acting like that. I am starting to think that Nucky is suffering from PTSD or a heavy dose of guilt. I am kind of hoping to see Gyp Rosetti and Gillian have some sort of arrangement. It would also be nice to see how Gyp goes about exacting his revenge. As for Richard Harrow, I’d like to see more of him. I wonder where his loyalties will lie? I’m glad that Arnold scolded Nucky – especially about Billie Kent. As for Eddie Cantor being coerced into doing the show, I’m glad he said what he said to Billie. Nucky is becoming a ruthless jerk. I guess power tends to corrupt people!

    • You make some good points, Eleonora. Both Gyp and Nucky are conducting business with an overwhelming amount of emotional decisions. But hey, I guess thats what makes them gangsters and makes the bootlegging industry so deadly.

      We’ve seen only glimpses from important, past characters. It will be interesting to see them make their way into the heart of the story. Richard, Gillian and any other strands of Jimmy will surly make a mark in the coming episodes. I think we know who Gillian will side with, but Richard is a whole different story. Should be fun to watch.

  • Gyp is insane. All his men are dead, right? Not sure what he can do now other than take a run at Nucky. AND WHERE THE HECK IS RICHARD HARROW?!

    • Prediction: Gyp has Nucky by the balls and is about the execute him when Richard enters the room and blasts him (Gyp) into oblivion. That’s why he’s been off screen for 3 episodes?.. Still looking for some more Nucky development honestly. He’s done some shady shit lately. Maybe Jimmy kept him sane.

      • A bold prediction, Jacob. Bold but possible.

        In my opinion, I think things will start to heat up in New York. Lets remember it was Rothstein’s man who pulled the trigger. What will happen with his shaky truce with Joe Masseria? Will Lucky stay true to his Italian roots? Or will they all turn on Nucky?

        I agree that Richard Harrow needs to play a more intricate role. From a look at the next episode preview, Richard’s story is just heating up.

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