Boardwalk Empire “Broadway Limited” – review

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.

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4 comments

  1. We haven’t seen this episode but are not overly impressed with the series thus far. It is too episodic for one thing and I am already tired of that set of the boardwalk.

  2. This was by the far the strongest and most dramatic epiosde of the three. Michale Shannon was brilliant. Funny, psychotic, magnetic and scary. I thought Margaret’s new job in hte dress shop was wonderful in its humiliation. Kenneth Michael Williams as Chalky was also unforgetable. Were you in a bad mood when you watched this. The dialogue was funny and sharp and the mood scary and funny. I love this show!!!!

  3. Suspension of disbelief…ever heard of it?
    While admittedly there was no reason given for the man going to Pennsylvania, they could have just added a line of dialogue suggesting it was the only free bed close by that could tend to him?
    And whenever the cops run in on Van Alden they could have asked the dentist what did the man say? Word eventually spreads back to everyone in AC, and Rothstein hears about it because he’s a man who I would assume has someone on the inside somewhere. FBI, cops, or even a man on the street. I know that hasn’t been shown, but we’re just over half-way through the series.
    Or you could sit and enjoy this really excellent show. Fantastic dialogue, fleshed out characters and a fantastic set, I really think you just enjoy complaining.

  4. The colors in the interior sets are beyond fantastic. Let’s talk realism. Before Las Vegas had major gambling, Atlantic City was the mobs wide open fun and gambling mecca. The who’s who of the Italian and Jewish mobs frequented Atlantic City all of which is captured accurately by series. The real Nucky,(Johnson not Thompson)ruled Atlantic City with an iron fist. I doubt that anybody else could play the flamboyant Nucky better than Steve Buscemi. The smartest mobster to have frequent Atlantic City and to have had the biggest impact on organized crime was Meyer Lansky. His role in the series was underwritten. The Arnold Rothstein scenes should have been bombarded with Lansky. I investigated him for five years in the 1970s at Miami Beach, Florida.

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