Sadé Green reviews the first episode of Boardwalk Empire season 4….
The premier of the new season of Boardwalk Empire really didn’t disappoint on Saturday as pretty much everything you’d expect from a BE episode was present: sex, death, extreme violence, dancing and a few lighter moments thrown in for good measure. A full one hour long, ‘New York Sour’ tried to cram in as many new story lines as humanly possible; unfortunately this made it a little bit too slow.
The central characters of Boardwalk Empire have all developed fantastically well over the last three seasons – so well in fact, that this episode was dominated by peripheral characters who have clearly climbed up to the big leagues. Although there are certainly no complaints here, all are definitely capable of holding any big intense scene as well as our main man, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi).
So what’s new in 1924?
Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) opens the show making mince meat out of a couple of random men. During the course of the episode, Ol’ No Face (I mean that in a loving way) appears to be on death spree. It’s seems odd that whenever Harrow is on screen you feel a great deal of sympathy for him as well as fearing him – this is testament to the aforementioned brilliant character development in Boardwalk Empire; Jack Huston always nails it any time he is on screen. By the end of the episode we see his reunion with his twin sister Emma (Katherine Waterston). Hopefully this season, we will delve further into Richard Harrow’s past.
Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) now owns the Onyx Club, previously Babette’s, with his second-in-command Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey) by his side. Soon enough, Dunn gets himself into a slight predicament. Chalky and Dunn are having dinner with a talent agent and his girlfriend. Dunn finds that the girlfriend has slipped him a naughty little cartoon drawn on a napkin. The two slope off into the ‘black side’ of town and whilst having sex with the talent agents girlfriend, Dunn has a gun pressed to his head… by the talent agent himself. Things get a little, twisted shall we say (that’s a very mild way of putting it) and what do you think Dunn does? Considering the way Dunn has been portrayed in previous seasons, I’m sure you can imagine how he handles the situation; Chalky is not happy!
Al Capone (Stephen Graham) looks like he will have a much bigger role in Boardwalk Empire this season – great news as Graham’s portrayal of Capone is first-class; he is terrifying and charismatic simultaneously. Along with Al’s brothers, Ralph (Domenick Lombardozzi) and Frank (Morgan Spector), the Capones seem to be slowly expanding their business in Cicero. As well as getting rather annoyed at the incorrect spelling of their name – I wouldn’t cross Al Capony if I were you.
Meanwhile, Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) is spiralling further into a drug-fuelled depression. Her grandson Tommy Darmody is still in the custody of Julia Sagorsky (Wrenn Schmidt) and the future doesn’t look bright for his return. To try and keep afloat, Gillian has now been reduced to selling her own body (rather than other peoples) and her house. Her path crosses with that of Roy Phillips (Ron Livingston), the owner of a supermarket who is looking for a new house. Instead of hiring Gillian for her, ahem, skills, he asks her to be his acquaintance around town whilst he finds a place to live.
Lets not forget about Nucky’s whereabouts during ‘New York Sour’. Although he does take somewhat of a back seat, his presence is still felt. To begin with Nucky holds an all important ‘peace meeting’ with the various bosses around town. He ends up paying off Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) and smoothing over the fact that he annihilated 15 of of Masseria’s men. In true Nucky style, we also see him sleep with a woman and slyly chuck her out of bed after she makes a reference to Billy – clearly she has hit a nerve.
Other minor story lines to consider are Eli’s (Shea Wigham) son, Willie Thompson (Ben Rosenfield) desperate to get involved in the family business and the creepy Agent Knox (Brian Geraghty) – not as naïve as he looks. Notable absences from this episode include the fantastically weird Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) – let’s hope he returns soon – and the annoying Margaret Schroeder (Kelly MacDonald) – let’s hope she doesn’t return soon.
Overall, ‘New York Sour’ was a slightly drawn-out episode but considering how much was crammed in you can hardly be surprised. Despite the speed of proceedings, this episode will not disappoint. Plenty of new stories have been introduced: Chalky White and Al Capone have become larger characters, Dunn did something really bad, Gillian Darmody is a fully fledged drug addict and Ol’ No Face just killed a dozen seemingly random folk. I wonder what episode 2 will have in store for us…