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

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

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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.

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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.

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