‘Boardwalk Empire’ S3 / E7 – ‘Sunday Best’

By David Pergolini on Oct 30, 2012 to Boardwalk Empire

“Just because you don’t believe in something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

Another week passes and still we’re left with an ever-increasing ensemble of unanswered questions. ‘Sunday Best’ was anything but a climactic turnaround, focusing more on character relationships and tension building for the latter half of the season. Much like last week’s episode, ‘Ging Gang Goolie,’ we find ourselves asking more questions. We’re still in the process of tying up loose ends that led to a climactic Act I finale in Tabor Heights, but it’s clear that things across the bootlegging world are slowly heating up – Gyp answers to his superior, Gillian is still nuts, Richard continues to evade the main plot and Nucky and Eli come to a mutual understanding. Lets go:

Margaret’s family troubles continue to weigh down on her conscience in an almost tortuous fashion. Throughout the season Margaret has been captivated by the luxury of hope, going as far back as episode one with Carrie Duncan’s transcontinental voyage, only to see it fade away as no more than an unattainable desire. The true holds same in ‘Sunday Best’ as the picturesque family reunion between Nucky and Eli is overshadowed by a notion of unfamiliarity. Margaret feels the same about her dissolving marriage; even the briefest glimpses of hope and understanding are unmade by a simple truth – “It’s too late.”

Margaret has been all over the board this season and its becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint exactly what she’ll be up to next. Perhaps she’ll be more involved with the woman’s health clinic. Perhaps she’ll bang Owen Slaeter again. Perhaps she’ll have a go at Dr. Mason. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that Margaret’s involvement in the main plot circulates around Nucky. The two have been teetering on the edge of love and hate for the past few episodes and I’m beginning to lose patience as to where this relationship is heading.

Richard Harrow continues to play an independent role as we take another dive into his personal life with new love interest, Julia Sagorsky. Easter dinner at the Sagorsky house brought about flashes of Harrow’s murderous capabilities, threatening to kill Julia’s father, Paul for punishing Tommy. I continue to grow more and more frustrated with Harrow’s lack of involvement in the first half of the season but its certainly refreshing to see him acting like a badass once again. Hopefully Richard will play a more intricate role as season 3 continues.

Gillian Darmody’s story grows more and more twisted each time she appears on screen. After divulging in an all day sex-a-thon with Jimmy lookalike, Roger, Gillian’s true psychotic nature comes to fruition – injecting Roger with a lethal dose of heroin and eventually drowning him in her medieval bathtub. Wow, didn’t see that coming. For the first time this season I took an open interest in Gillian’s story. I want to see what she does next, what she’s thinking and how she goes about fulfilling her demented schemes. I’m not exactly sure how she plans to pass Roger off as our departed protagonist, Jimmy but I am sure that her decision will produce an aftershock of conflict and consequence throughout the ‘Boardwalk.’

Gyp Rosetti returns to the screen in an unfamiliar limelight, taking a backseat to his newly revealed family life and bargaining for his life under Joe ‘The Boss’ Masseria. This is the first time we’ve seen Rosettit mute his infamous temper, showcasing his Italian family values and fearful respect of Masseria’s authority. We’ve always seen Rosetti in control of the situation but now we take a steep dive into what fuels his passionate ambition – he’s a middle man, nothing more. Not quite what we were expecting out of our clean-cut antagonist, but it certainly gives way to a much broader course of conflict for Nucky and the rest of the ‘Boardwalk’ cast.

I can’t put a beat on Nucky Thompson. Its been more than two years since he reacquainted himself with Eli’s family, a reunion which set the tone for the rest of the episode. His actions and behaviors in a family setting reflect that of the old Nucky Thompson, a man we may have recognized in season 1 or 2 but has been ultimately changed by his decision to kill Jimmy. The first half of the season featured how far Nucky had fallen, perhaps his decision to renew trust in Eli will bring about a series of more redemptive qualities. One thing remains certain, war is coming and Nucky will need all the help he can get – look for Eli and Chalky to come out shooting as the season continues.

Season 3 continues to spiral out of control. It’ll be interesting to see how these issues are resolved in the coming episodes but it makes me wonder whether the slow pace is a direct cause of Jimmy’s absence. Jimmy was one of the most compelling characters on the ‘Boardwalk,’ a character, like Nucky, that was featured in every episode before his eventual demise. Now that he’s gone, Winter has to fill screen time with a host of characters, both old and new – perhaps Jimmy’s death has left a void that simply can’t be filled.

‘Sunday Best’ is another precursor for the inevitable war amongst the bootlegging “kings.” With such a slow buildup of tension and conflict I begin to wonder if this crisis can be solved in one season. I may be speaking too soon but I think it’s certainly possible for this war to extend all the way into season 4. The coming episodes will decide – tune in to ‘Boardwalk Empire’ this Sunday, 11/4 and join the conversation.

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