One of the lingering questions that has pervaded Boardwalk Empire throughout most of the series run has been the question of why Michael Shannon is still on the show. I’ve complained in the past about how this actor with tremendous range has been wasted this season, and while my complaints of missed opportunities still linger, “Marriage and Hunting” does deliver almost everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to the character of Agent Van Alden. Here we see Alden’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide like contrast between the weak, timid, wanting to please servant and the furious, decisive, man of action. It was a mesmerizing performance that made for some terrific moments and many a one liners (“I am calm”). “Marriage and Hunting” finally brought Van Alden into the fray, and in doing so made for one of the best episodes of the season.
It wasn’t all flowers and sarcasm though, Gillian opened up big time to still to-good-to-be-true Roy about her sordid past including her being raped before she even turned 13. It was a sad scene, and it almost made me feel sorry for the woman that killed an innocent passerby and slept with her son (yea, never mind). We know Roy’s hiding something by the way he lied about the phone call, but I still have no idea where that is going (maybe F.B.I.?). On a sweeter note, Julia and Harrow got married. Yea, it was out of necessity for Tommy’s custody but hey I’ll take my happy moments wherever I can find them, even one’s as awkward and clumsy as that. The marriage, while cute, wasn’t as game changing as Harrow’s request for a job. I’m sure the idea of Nucky and Harrow working together has many a Boardwalk fan ecstatic for the possibilities to come.
Last week, Chalky was the main focus and while Van Alden seemed to be in the spotlight “Marriage and Hunting” was an important episode in building the nearing threat of Dr. Narcisse. Seeing Daughter’s bludgeoned face was akin to something out of a horror film (great make-up work). Also, when it comes to Dr. Narcisse, you can’t help but feel for the guy when he sits down next to Nucky and everybody looks at him vehemently because he’s sitting with the white folks. You sometimes forget how racist most people were back then, but a scene like that definitely puts things in perspective. The focus on Chalky’s family life was also interesting in that I think it was used to set up what Dr. Narcisse will go after in the episodes to come. Chalky’s daughter is getting married, and HBO shows and marriages haven’t been the most joyous of combinations for those who attend so we’ll have to see how that plays out.
Nucky didn’t have too much this week, just a few small conversations. We now know or at least can sense that Eli is spying on Nucky. Rothstein met with Nucky about and asked his permission to kill Micky Doyle for a good amount of dough. I love Nucky’s complete lack of emotion or thought of whether Micky should die. The Sally call was surprising, but what an image to end the episode on, a moll and a shotgun.
– Van Alden is taking his kids to see the new Buster Keaton film? Based on the time (1924) it’s probably Sherlock, Jr. which means there in for a treat.
– Is Chalky living in the Shire? That arched hallway is very Baggins-esque.
– Does anyone else think Michael Stuhlbarg would make a perfect Penguin (The Batman villain not the bird)?
– No Willie is the best Willie.
– R.I.P. DOB