Boardwalk Empire “Anastasia” – review

boardwalk Empire

Review by Mike Dennis

Well, this episode is better than last week’s (how could it not be?), but that isn’t saying much.

Once again, the story line seems forced, not at all natural. Characters are doing things for no real reason, or for reasons that would not make sense in the real world.

Case in point: Sheridan, the head of the Irish mob in Chicago, comes to meet with Johnny Torrio to settle the problem of the out-of-control Al Capone. Seems Capone has been bloodying up Sheridan’s bar owners to get them to buy their liquor from Torrio. So far, so good.

When Sheridan arrives at the meet, however, Torrio is absent. Capone informs Sheridan that he, Capone, will stand in for Torrio. Sheridan is insulted, as well he should be. And a true gang boss would turn around and walk out without any further ado.

Instead, however, he sits down to hash out his differences with Capone. Keep in mind, Capone is still Torrio’s driver. Never would happen.

Well, after having been advised by Jimmy Darmody to make nice with Sheridan, Capone immediately begins giving the Irish boss all kinds of lip, demanding up to 50% of his total action. Incredibly, Sheridan sits there and takes it. You know, in the real world of gangsters, if Sheridan’s bodyguards didn’t just blow Capone away on the spot, Torrio would’ve the minute he heard about it. That kind of insubordination has always been a no-no in the world of organized crime. Furthermore, the real Al Capone didn’t rise to the top by being a stupid hothead. He knew the value of diplomacy.

Later, Capone and Jimmy are getting fitted for new, expensive suits. Where they got the money for this, one can only guess, but Capone claims to be “moving up”. Of course, we all know he did move up, all the way up, but how did he make this first move? Don’t ask me.

In episode 3, Arnold Rothstein hears (magically) about Jimmy Darmody being fingered for the liquor heist in the woods. He sends Lucky Luciano down to Atlantic City to kill Darmody. In episode 4, Luciano arrives at Darmody’s apartment to find Gillian, Jimmy’s mother. She identifies herself as “Mrs Darmody”, so it isn’t really clear if Luciano thinks she’s his mother or his wife. In any case, she is extremely rude to him, essentially telling him to buzz off.

Now, I don’t know about you, but one thing I’ve noticed in this series is Vincent Piazza playing Lucky Luciano very close to the edge, as if he could go ballistic at any moment. Personally, I like this reading of the character. In keeping with that approach to the role, Luciano should therefore strangle Gillian right there in the doorway for giving him so much shit, or at the very least, beat her to within an inch of her showgirl life.

But, no. He follows her to work, where he sits through her shows for several nights, apparently forgetting all about Jimmy and his real reason for coming to Atlantic City in the first place. Then he meets her outside for a little kissy-face. I wonder how Rothstein would react, knowing all this.

Then, of course, they had to give Margaret a chance to give a tedious speech on women’s rights, and there was some needless mumbo-jumbo about the Ku Klux Klan (didn’t it occur to Nucky that Mickey Doyle, and NOT the KKK, would be the prime suspect in the lynching?). And exactly who are those Italians Doyle is hanging around with, anyway?

I’ll give this show another chance, but my patience is wearing thin.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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About Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

One Reply to “Boardwalk Empire “Anastasia” – review”

  1. Capone proved he was more than just a driver whenever he stole the drink and brought it back to Torrio? Then at Colissimo’s funeral we see that he’s closer to Torrio? I don’t really see how it’s such a leap of imagination that Torrio was impressed by him and decided to give him more responsibility.
    In this ‘world of organised crime’ you speak of, you’re talking about 1920’s mob and mafia relations. I don’t think Torrio is really used to the entire idea of mob wars and really how violent all these ‘gangsters’ can get. We’re talking about before the whole public enemy era and before this idea of mafia has really entered the public conciousness. They underestimated Sheridan, and Sheridan let it play right into his hands then hit them where it hurt.
    And Luciano and Gillian both like danger? Also, maybe he can fly off the handle a lot with men, but doesn’t with women? You’re just assuming and saying it’s a mistake. They turn each other on and seem to both be a bit obsessed with sex…I don’t see how it’s that big of a stretch that their verbally explicit encounter might then lead to a sexually explicit one.
    Why would Nucky suspect Doyle? We have seen the KKK canvasing on the Boardwalk already and Doyle seemed to be friendless and without any influence. Nucky still thinks he controls Atlantic City altogether, hell, Doyle is friendless, those Italians (a group of people from New York that Doyle owes money to who are sticking with him now because they can get more back with him alive.)
    I just think you’re trying to find holes in the show. Later on you call it formulaic and it really is anything but. I think maybe the show might be juggling too much at once and there isn’t enough focus on a paticular plot development, but I think you’re well off the mark in your complaints here.