Bone for Tuna.
Boardwalk EmpireI need his luck?! What the fuck is life if it's not personal?!"
Comparing Boardwalk to The Sopranos generally ends badly. Sopranos takes the prize on best acting, writing, symbolism, and creative murder scenarios, while Boardwalk wins on... I don't know, opulence in set dressing? Use of women's costumes to reflect the passing of time? But this week was a heart-gladdening reminder of the weirdness these series share: we got a freaky dream sequence, women manipulating the system to get what they want, and a man charming us for fifty minutes before burning a policeman alive.
The writers apparently felt confident enough in the Sopranos parallels to bring up the freaking "Pine Barrens", a Sopranos episode that is one of the best 60 minutes of television produced in the history of electrically-powered entertainment, and if that weren't enough, to put those two words into the mouth of Steve Buscemi – who directed it. In other words, this was a pretty great episode.
A peek into Nucky's subconscious revealed a telephone call that won't go through, a child killed by Nucky's own hand, and… bacon. Sizzling bacon that carries a message – props could have put the strips in straight lines and they didn't, so it has to Mean Something, right? I think it spells out "I O U,” and it means that Nucky owes basically everyone around him an explanation for being so goddamn boring lately.
Anyway, Nucky doesn't kill Gyp after last week's Tabor Heights blockade fiasco (mistake), but instead extends to him a rum-flavored olive branch, inviting Gyp to AC for the weekend and sending him off with a month's supply of hooch. Despite this reasonable plan, executed with 85% courtesy, it doesn't end well. Still, Nucky should have known Gyp would take offense to Owen and Eli being sent to pack him up: anything less than Nucky personally packing the liquor into his car would smack of I'm-Bettah-Than-Yoo. In any case, Nuck treats the Gyp situation like an afterthought throughout the episode as he keeps harping on the details of his dream – endlessly calling Billie, who doesn't pick up, seeing blood on the face of an altar boy who looks remarkably like the victim of his dream, reminiscing about Jimmy, and finally crawling to Billie's apartment and waking up to the sizzle of cured pig belly.
Margaret's on fire this week! Ignored and mildly bullied by the men around her, she finagles her way into a private meeting with herself, the head of the hospital, and the all-powerful bishop through a combination of smiles, money, and one of Charlotte York's patented "perhaps we should get married” arm squeezes on the bishop's secretary.
Once the bishop signs off on her plan--framed as Dr. Landau's, of course--Margaret and Dr. Affair-Waiting-to-Happen check out the women's clinic's new digs. It's filled with furniture and cleaning supplies, but is larger than 90% of New York City one-bedroom apartments, so it'll do. Predicted minutes until the Thompson Prenatal Clinic turns into a contraceptive dispensary: I'm going to err on the side of caution and say at least 90. Minutes until Margaret and Dr. AWTH get steamy: 95.
Mickey & Richard
Aw, Mickey's been claiming responsibility for Manny Horwitz's murder. Right after using this fib to shake down a client, the Contrivance Fairy then has him send an awestruck errand boy over to Gillian Darmody's House of Physical and Ephemeral Pleasures and immediately run his mouth about it to Richard. I guess Richard Harrow's half face inspires security in young liquor runners who have probably been told that secrecy and discretion are the best way to stay alive; maybe it's a period thing. Richard then literally catches Mickey with his pants down, hauls him in front of Nucky, and makes him confess his lies. Oh, Richard is just the best. When he admitted to killing Manny for Angela, and not Jimmy, my tiny heart of tar grew three sizes. Maybe he'll meet a nice whore at work to take his mind off things. Only the best for Mr. Harrow.
Times are only okay at Gillian Darmody's House of Physical and Ephemeral Pleasures – the roof is leaking and Lucky Luciano, Gillian's backer, is not putting up any more cash. Somehow seeing an angle, Gillian carefully tells Gyp about Eli and Nucky's past grievances. This is all well and good, but my main complaint here is that Gillian doesn't seem to know what a brothel's for. If a man wants a poetry reading and demonstrations of the lute, he can come to present-day Brooklyn and have an artisanal pickle with his culture.
You might remember that I've been having trouble unseeing Bobby Cannavale as the Funky Spunk Guy from Sex and the City, but he's managed to make me forget. His Gyp dances on the line between charmer and terrifying psychopath with tightrope precision; he's fantastic. I was rather loving him until he decided to take offense, yet again, over nothing, and douse the Tabor Heights Sherriff with gasoline and a match. But as much as I'd like to armchair diagnose him with rage issues, Gyp is strategic about when he blows up. When Nucky makes a borderline insulting comment at dinner, Gyp makes monkey noises and smiles, despite wanting to punch him in the face. Gyp clearly wants Gillian and has rapist written all over him, but instead correctly intuits an iciness between the Thompsons and Darmodys and needles information out of her instead. It isn't until Gyp is safely in the car, amongst his own and heading out of Nucky's territory that he unleashes his fury, and it isn't until he finds the sheriff, acting ever so slightly like a Nucky stand-in, that he really lets loose. He might want Nucky dead, but he's not dumb.
Van Alden cannot have fun. He just can't. Having finally gotten through the worst of his iron-salesmen hazing, because that's a thing, he gets laid--and enjoys it--and heads out to a speakeasy with his colleagues… which gets busted. The old Van Alden would have throttled a man of the law for attempting a shakedown, but this new George Mueller just pays the bribe. I don't think Van Alden can handle such a defanging, even if means happiness in his domestic life.
"Bone for Tuna" -
Gyp came to terrifying life this week, and Margaret was a total gangster in getting her prenatal clinic approved--Carmela Soprano would be proud. Despite the usual glut of storylines and the continuing fact that a Grey's Anatomy-style cast-reducing bloodbath would not be unwelcome, plots moved forward. Once Nucky shakes himself out of his love nest, things could really get going.
- Margaret's hair looks ridiculously gorgeous when Nucky comes home for a night; No wonder he was so nice to her. If she shook those tresses around during the day, I have no doubt that the Mean Doctors of Thompson Hospital would have caved on the clinic in a heartbeat.
- Lucky and Meyer's heroin operation is off to a bumpy start. This storyline is completely pointless, so: yay. I wish them ill.
- No Chalky? Minus ten.
- It took me a while to get that "Bone For Tuna” joke. I thought this show was supposed to make me feel smart.