Blue Bell Boy.
All this leads up to an A, for sheer ambiguity, Nucky's possible return to form, and a few actual smiles, but ten points off to Mr. Thompson for leaving Mickey in charge back home. Does Mickey have an incriminating daguerrotype of Nucky from college? How does he keep moving up in this world?
I think we learned a lot of important tips from Owen's storyline this week:
- when your boss calls, sit up and tell your girlfriend to go tidy her doll collection, rather than allow her to go down on you while Atlantic City's de facto owner tells you to get your ass to work
- Nucky Thompson is not your friend
- Roland Smith is not Nucky Thompson's friend
- charming smiles = death
Charlie Cox (I <3 you Stardust!) is great in this role. You see Owen go from overly cocky, to realizing he's overly cocky, to appeasing his boss in the span of a day. When he tells Nucky he knows who's in charge, he means it. He also means it when he says it's because he's paid. God help Owen if Nucky finds out about him and Margaret.
It was a Very Special Episode for Al Capone, who learned – and dispensed! – some valuable life lessons about bullying. Did you know it's National Anti-Bullying Month? I didn't think HBO participated in integrated PSAs, but there you go. Al's absolutely adorable son comes home with a bruise and the overweight local brothel owner gets the shit kicked out of him. But it's not the probable concussion and split skull that send Capone to a land without off buttons: it's that the guy was a bully. Fat Brothel Guy isn't even halfway into his sob story before Al's off to the bar to beat the guy to death.
I liked these scenes, but why do we need them? Aside from Van Alden and his fledgling career selling household sundries, this series has little linking it to Chicago. In Boardwalk's pilot, I loved it as much as anyone when Jimmy made a new friend and the friend turned out to be Al Capone, but was that one moment of audience pandering worth the series-long commitment to random Chicago cutaways and arcs that have nothing to do with the rest of the plot? Once Jimmy left Chicago, we should have, too. Al Capone is a seminal figure in history, and shoving his story into a B plot makes it feel simplified and thin.
Eli's said it, I've said it, and we all think it: how the fuck is Mickey Doyle still alive?
"Allowing you to simply go to jail is the last gift I'll ever give you."
Nucky isn't over the whole attempted fratricide thing and won't listen to Eli's warnings about the impending Tabor Heights disaster. Oops. Eli and his hollow face investigate anyway, and gets chilling audio of the ambush for the trouble. While he couldn't stop the bloodbath, it seems that his attempts will get him back in the fold.
After some yelling at Benny about his heroin cutting method - you only use one part laxative, dummy! - Lucky heads off for a meet with the local godfather. Is it racist that I can't see Italians sitting at a table without wondering if anyone's taped a gun up in the bathroom? Heaven help me if I ever visit Rome.
Lucky and Masseria come to an understanding, although not before the elder makes many an anti-Semitic comment and grumbles on about respect. "I don't even know your name anymore,” Mr. Masseria says. It used to be Salvatore; now it's Lucky. Let's compromise and call him "Buona Fortuna,” how's that? Just not in front of Gyp; that might not go so well.
A light episode for Gyp, whose presence was felt mainly offscreen. With the Tabor Heights sheriff's department fully in his pocket, he raids Mickey's liquor delivery to Mr. Rothstein and is now in possession of quite the mountain of booze. In a separate scene, he flirts with the local diner waitress in a manner I found upsetting but she seemed to like, and later declared that he'll "fuck the redhead." We know he likes strawberry-blonde Gillian, so points for consistency.
Was Mama Rosetti a ginger as well? Was her hair going up in flames the last thing he saw after accidentally setting their familial cave on fire? I am really dying to know his presumably horrible backstory.
Margaret and Dr. Affair-Waiting-to-Happen are having some issues getting their clinic off the ground - the term "pregnant" is apparently verboten and maxi pads a moral issue, but she's pressing on. As you were.
"Blue Bell Boy"
A disjointed episode, but a good one. We could excise Lucky et al's heroin operation from the show and never even notice, but a peek at New York in the twenties is never a bad thing. Nucky did something besides making snarky comments, although perhaps next time shoot someone to send a message in front of Mickey?
- Owen and Katie's bedroom scene might be the first truly fun, consensual, doin'-it-for-fun-and-not-for-money sex we've seen on the show. Mr. Poofles? Hello.
- On a similar note, Fat Brothel Owner's brothel looks way less sanitary and a lot more fun than Gillian Darmody's House of Physical and Ephemeral Pleasures.
- Minus eight thousand points for the Follies flashbacks I get every time Danny Burstein (Al Capone) comes onscreen. I brought my in-laws to this production last year, and have yet to stop apologizing.
- No Richard Harrow, no Chalky. Boo.