Boardwalk Empire 2.07 “Peg of Old” Review

Kevin Fitzpatrick November 6, 2011 12

Boardwalk Empire - Season 2Boardwalk Empire season 2 pours past the midway point with tonight’s ‘Peg of Old,’which sees Margaret Schroeder looking to reconnect with her family while Agent Van Alden struggles with the continued fallout of his personal life and new baby. “Peg of Old” continues driving Boardwalk Empire season 2′s plot along, but feels mostly like a transitional episode with a few surprises in store.

After all the tension and excitement of last week’s ‘The Age of Reason,”Peg of Old certainly had a lot to live up to. With the second season of Boardwalk Empire now more than halfway over, the quieter character-driven episodes have fallen by the wayside and things should theoretically pick up full-steam ahead. Then again, Boardwalk Empire will never be a supremely fast-paced show, even when it flirts with the idea.

That was what struck me most about ‘Peg of Old,’the idea of people exploring things they don’t ultimately commit to. Just as ‘Peg’(Margaret) looks to reconnect with her roots before dashing back to ritzy Atlantic City, Jimmy sees a path before him he ultimately chooses not to take. Being the big man in Atlantic City means taking decisive actions and literally pulling the trigger, but Jimmy can’t see past Nucky as a father figure enough to have him gunned down in the streets. Even Lucy and Van Alden reject the paths they’ve toyed with, Lucy a loving mother and Van Alden a full-blown criminal.

Speaking of Agent Van Alden, Boardwalk Empire season 2 really has been letting the poor guy have it. Not only has Rose left and refused to speak with him on account of Lucy, Lucy herself has abandoned her motherly duties and alerted Nucky to Van Alden’s dire straights in the process. The poor guy can’t even catch a break at work, with ADHOC hottie Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) emasculating him at every turn in what’s sure to be a banner role in challenging Van Alden’s viewpoint on women. It’s especially jarring to think that all these pressures force Van Alden to work for Nucky directly by reporting on Randolph, but in his own way he gets to turn the tables on each. As much as Boardwalk Empire likes to beat down on Van Alden, it’s the way Michael Shannon expresses his ambiguous discomfort so very well that keeps it worth watching

Of course, ‘Peg of Old’really belongs to Peg of Old, as Margaret heads to Brooklyn to visit with the family she’d earlier researched. It all unfolds mostly as you’d expect, with her brother angry/jealous at Peg having abandoned her family just as she starts connecting with her younger siblings, but Boardwalk Empire hadn’t really had much else for Kelly MacDonald after becoming Nucky’s live-in companion. And talk about grabbing life by the…reigns, Margaret gets to break bad even further by finally utilizing Slater as ‘hers to command.’In a way the sin represents the closest she can feel to her ‘old’self, having last left her family behind because of her ‘sinful’pregnancy.

Boardwalk Empire - Owen Slater‘Peg of Old’really does belong to the Irish, a daunting thought if you have trouble understanding accents. Boardwalk Empire‘s newest favorite toy Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) gets plenty of time to shine as well, not only bedding Margaret, but conducting his own assassination in a bar bathroom with a garrote. They’re clearly working to set up some kind of mystery behind the character, having searched for his target for ‘five months,’but sometimes enough to simply marvel at the man’s fingers being lopped off by the wire. Slater certainly presents an intriguing character fast rising on everyone’s hit list, but for now I’m still Team Richard.

But how about that cliffhanger? Or, perhaps Nucky being shot in the hand doesn’t leave much suspense over his fate, but it’ll be fascinating to see how the attempt on his life or the manner in which Jimmy seemed to warn him play out in the next few episodes. More or less everyone on Boardwalk Empire has a path laid out or the remaining episodes of the season, so while ‘Peg of Old’isn’t exactly a showstopper it gives us a clearer view of where we’re going, and where we’ve been

And Another Thing…

  • Admit it, the ADHOC woman totally has a lady-boner for Van Alden. Classy, I know.
  • I liked the telling shot of Van Alden almost smiling listening to the baby being tended to, and the way it suggests the character longs for the idea of family without actually caring who they are. And way to go Lucy, for such a fine exit.
  • I might have liked if Slater and Margaret were merely implied to have sex, the scene very well could have ended with her tellingly saying ‘you can bring the bag up.’But that’s the film student in me.

What did you think?

  • Alex

    I think the show ending with her screams of passion it let everyone know how much more Peg of Old loved the sex with her new boy toy much more than she does with Nucky.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      She really turned into "Peg of OH!" Am I right? Am I right? Is this thing on?

  • Adam

    Yea, that's obvious. It's not important though. This episode was all about the why. Eli felt he needed to show jimmy, capone, ect, exactly what his intentions are, after jimmy starts the meeting without him. It was the same thing Nucky would have done and Eli wanted it known that this is not the same man who has been under Nucky's wing the entire show. Besides the physical attraction to Owen what could have pushed her to betray Nucky in his own bed? I think it's clear that Margaret feels as though Owen knows more about where she has been than anyone else in Atlantic City. While most have complained about the scenes with her brother, I found it interesting. Interesting that after all these years her own flesh and blood would not have more to do with her. I go back to when her brother (who's name I have no idea how to spell) says "you do want you want to Peg, you always have.", as a sign of things to come for Kelly Macdonald's character. I, for one, have never trusted her. All in all I think "Peg of Old" was a good episode, not great. Something just seemed off.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      I didn't even bother trying to spell the brother's name. But you're right, it'll be interesting to see where the character goes after this, as she continues delving into sin and crime…

  • jai u.

    I thought this was a transitional episode. The ground work has been laid out and it's all down hill from here. I could go either way with the sex screams, but I think they do reveal the other side of Peg. The build up with owen over the past episodes and then the way she casually laid down the ground rules to the affair while undoing her hair, was quite revealing.This happened right after being rejected by the only connection to her homeland. She has only cried twice in the series, both concerning her family. So in a way, she was emotionally compromised, when she decided to lay down with owen, but still seemed in full control (up until the very end!) This happened at the same time that Nucky seems to be making eyes at someone new. The episode left me with 1 main question – who did owen kill in the bathroom and why?

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Transitional is a great word for it, and you're right about Peg. She needed Owen in that moment to help her feel like "Peg of Old," Owen being the only connection to her homeland that wasn't currently shunning her. Not to mention, it wouldn't be the first time she got sinful with an Irishman, judging by what her brother said! I want to see what happens with Katy from here on out. But it looks like your question was answered below!

  • wendy

    Owen clearly killed and IRA traitor. He referred to his Uncle as dying at the hands of the Black and Tans. the horrific english occupational force in Ireland in the early part of the last century. He spit on him and called him a traitor as he left the bloody scene. (last time I saw Charlie Cox was in the movie Stardust….he's a hell of an actor)

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Nice history! I hadn't quite caught all of that, but I'm interested to see where Slater goes now that Nucky's going to be asking questions where he was during the shooting. Thanks for reading!

  • jilderberg

    that agonizingly slow fight to the death culminating in fingers plopping off like cold butter ripped my mind apart. and here i thought last episode's wrench bludgeoning was the worst thing i'd seen.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Wasn't that so fantastically gross? I love how gory cable TV gets these days.

  • Kennedy

    DEAD ON with this point…"I might have liked if Slater and Margaret were merely implied to have sex, the scene very well could have ended with her tellingly saying “you can bring the bag up.” But that’s the film student in me."

    I thought it should have ended with the "you can bring the bag up" as well I actually said it aloud, to myself while watching… then again we were promised a more explosive Margaret Shroeder this season and I've been IMpatiently waiting for her to BLOW! and that Hottie Slater was the icing on the cake! sweeeeet!

    • http://www.tvovermind.com/author/tvkevlance Kevin Fitzpatrick

      Thank you! I suppose actually seeing Peg's reaction/screams of doing the deed with Slater did add something more than just implying sex, but maybe that's the difference between HBO and regular TV. It wasn't enough to know it happened, we had to know how alive it made her feel!

      Maybe she will "explode" in the next few hours, plenty of episodes to blow the whole Slater/Nucky/Margaret thing wide open!