Review by Mike Dennis
I don’t know how this episode got the green light from either the executive producers or HBO. Nearly every scene strained the viewer’s credibility, going right to the heart of the series itself.
This series will be in trouble if they show more episodes like this one.
Where to begin? Well, how about at the beginning?
The wounded guy who stumbled out of the darkness at the end of episode 2 is rushed to a hospital. He’s the sole survivor, you see, of the “massacre in the woods” from episode 1. This is the one who was pursued, then shot (with a shotgun, no less) by Al Capone. I don’t know about you, but I think Capone would’ve taken no chances on leaving him alive.
In any case, he is alive. After three days in the woods with a hole in him “big as a grapefruit”, as Sheriff Eli Thompson says. How does a man survive such an ordeal? Don’t ask questions. Just listen.
For that matter, how does Eli even know the guy is in the hospital? He was there when they brought him in. Who told him about it? How could he have gotten there so quickly, especially since…
He was in a hospital in Pennsylvania!
Why is he in Pennsylvania (“Pennsylvania Methodist Hospital”, the sign read)? If you recall, he was shot just past the Hammonton, New Jersey city limit sign as the truckload of booze was headed for New York. A quick check of a map reveals Hammonton to be closer to Atlantic City, as well as to other New Jersey cities, than to Pennsylvania. Again, why is he in Pennsylvania? So the lazy writers could easily explain Agent Van Alden’s taking over jurisdiction from Eli. By transporting the wounded man across a state line, that makes it “federal”. Got it?
The Feds stuff the guy into the back seat of a car and head for New York. Why? Who cares? But along the way, oh, say in Raritan, New Jersey (out of the way to New York), he’s dying. So they pull into a local dentist’s office and drag him inside for emergency treatment. The “treatment” largely consists of Van Alden shoving his fist into the guy’s gut wound, sending him screaming in pain.
Now, you might be asking yourself along about here, why isn’t this guy dead from all that’s happened to him? Answer: because he hasn’t yet given up Jimmy Darmody’s name as the one who shot him. When he finally does, then he conveniently dies.
This admission in a rural dentist’s office ripples outward so that very soon, Nucky, Eli, and even Arnold Rothstein know about it. Rothstein, at least, cites “reliable sources”, but really. Who blabbed to all these guys? That’s not even hinted at as an issue in this flabby script.
Other events occur that are simply not credible. In a poker scene with Rothstein, he and his opponent make what are called string bets. This kind of thing would’ve been strictly forbidden in such a high-stakes game, but again, a lazy script writer wouldn’t care to research that.
In the final scene, Nucky walks into the Boardwalk hotel from a driving rainstorm. He leaves footprints in the hotel lobby, but, wouldn’t you know, his hat and coat are completely dry.
There are other such problems, but you get the idea.
I don’t want to hold the writer (Margaret Nagle) completely responsible here because she’s probably working from a treatment, in which the season-long arc and each episode are outlined. The treatment is drawn up well in advance of the show’s production, and is presumably made by Terence Winter, the creator. It is from these episode outlines that the individual scripts are fleshed out.
But you know what? I don’t care. All I know is, this show better get back on track or they’re going to lose me.