Last night’s “Boardwalk Empire” demonstrated yet again why this is the best show on TV. We saw deeper shades in several characters: Jimmy got nastier, Nucky became a dad, Rothstein got deadlier and Angela went back to girls. However, I have several bones to pick with the Powers That Be.
There’s no more pretending for Angela—she overheard Jimmy on the telephone confirming that he had OK’d the hit on Nucky. Because of this they at long last had the discussion I’ve been waiting for, beginning with “Why did you marry me?/Why did you marry me?” He really doesn’t know, she acknowledges that she did it because they had a child together and it was what society expected of her. He shuts her out of his life because he doesn’t want to expose her to the bootlegging and murders he’s involved in; she’s obviously suspected what he’s up to and doesn’t protest. There’s a quiet acknowledgment by both that they don’t love each other, and what follows demonstrates that they’ll go their separate ways even if they stay married.
Jimmy’s victory party celebrating Nucky’s defeat shows him in the company of several young ladies of the evening. Angela heads for the beach, where she promptly picks up a free-thinking young writer who’s in the process of being busted by the Atlantic City Modesty Police for a too-short bathing suit (Yes, this is historically correct). The two wind up at some Bohemian bash at a beach-side cottage where New Found Friend allays Angela’s hesitancy with “We’re invisible here” and kisses are exchanged. I call Rats on Bad Writing. Everything we’ve seen about Angela shows she acts out of passion—what we saw last night spells nothing more than Cheap Revenge Sex. She and Richard Harrow belong together, and that brief exchange between Richard and Jimmy about getting Richard everything he wants was one big Ominous Moment. I think he wants Angela, and it’s obvious that she feels a connection with him. But if she doesn’t want him, I would have expected the writers to bring back her last season’s love, Mary, rather than have her pick up some airhead. Note to Angela—if Jimmy finds out about your new lady friend, don’t expect him to be as sympathetic as he was about Mary. He’s turned a really bad corner.
On a different topic, has anyone noticed that Michael Stuhlbarg as Arnold Rothstein may be giving the best performance on the show, and with the caliber of “Boardwalk Empire”‘s actors, that’s saying a lot? He epitomizes deadly quiet–the sit-down he pulled together several episodes ago between Joe Masseria, Charlie Luciano and Meyer Lansky was one of the best scenes in the series. The tension was unbelievable as Rothstein’s voice got softer and softer as he imposed his will on his two underlings. His method of doing business is featured in this great video:
Apropos of absolutely nothing, I think it’s great that Julianne Nicholson has joined the cast as Assistant US Attorney Esther Randolph. I really liked her on “Law & Order: CI”—she gives great law enforcement. And if Margaret’s daughter, Emily doesn’t die of polio next week, I’ll turn in my tea leaves. Mags slept with the chauffeur, so cosmic retribution and guilt must ensue, at least in the land of sloppy writing. C’mon Powers That Be—you can do better.