Review by Mike Dennis
Whoa! This show is back. After drifting off into a sort of unreality for a few weeks, the series’ latest episode has put it back on track. The story arc thickened considerably, and the characters are now acting the way you might expect.
And can you say “Adult content”? More on that later.
The show is settling into much more of an ensemble feel rather than a starmaking turn for Steve Buscemi. His Nucky Thompson character is still at the center of things, but the last few episodes, especially this latest one, have given the other characters much more to do.
Jimmy Darmody remains in Chicago, living at the whorehouse. Al Capone is Johnny Torrio’s muscle, but Jimmy is the diplomat, giving Torrio some good advice on his upcoming meet with Charlie Sheridan, the Irish crime boss. The advice eventually turns into a bloody massacre of Sheridan and his boys.
Capone shows a surprisingly human side in this episode. We see him in a home setting, in his rundown apartment with his “guinea mother and mick wife”. There’s also a touching scene where he learns his son is deaf.
Meanwhile, back in Atlantic City, Nucky is still hot to close that highway construction deal with the state, but he needs the help of Jersey City boss Frank Hague. During a scene in a whorehouse, Hague bobs and weaves on the question of the money, but while he and Nucky are going over it, they’re being serenaded by a naked whore on a fainting chair, playing the ukulele and singing “Japanese Sandman”.
Arnold Rothstein, who is still in New York, has finally gotten around to demanding some answers from Lucky Luciano as to why Jimmy Darmody is not yet dead. Turns out Luciano is consummating his affair with Gillian, awkwardly opening up to her as he never had with any woman. Rothstein further unsettles him by telling him she’s Jimmy’s mother, not his wife. That’s okay, though. Seeing Gretchen Mol getting fucked doggie-style carries the episode all by itself.
Nucky continues his shine with Margaret, moving her and her kids into a row of townhouses for “concubines”, as she is to learn. You can tell she’s not too thrilled with this, but she’s already quit her job at the dress shop, so what is she to do?
Agent Van Alden shows up in a creepy scene where he’s perving over Margaret’s immigration papers and a ten-year- old photo. I’ll just say he gets pretty extreme. Parental discretion is seriously advised, not only for this, but for the whole damned episode.
Fortunately, there was none of the lazy writing shortcuts and formulas that stained the last few entries. It was logical, strong, and featured great characterizations. The story shows signs of pulling together. It’s not there yet, and any further digressions could derail it for good, but this episode showed promise.
I do, however, want to see more of Dabney Coleman. He shouldn’t be wasted.