October 18th, 2010
12:21 PM ET
Welcome back “Boardwalk Empire” fans. In last week's blog, I found a moment or two (okay, so it was more like five) to wax poetic on the subject of my affinity for the widow Margaret Schroeder.
Since the show began, this character (played masterfully by Kelly Macdonald) has been an increasingly intriguing wrinkle in Nucky's freshly-pressed world.
Well, as of this week's episode, "Nights in Ballygran," I should probably leave some space on this blog for your hand claps and high-fives because Margaret was absolutely magnificent.
As the show began, I could sense a big twist in the drama surrounding her. The writers have done a pretty good job giving us a steady diet featuring the different flavors of widow Schroeder's personality, and I could tell a big meal was being prepared.
It turned out to be a virtual smorgasbord, and I loved every minute of it. She was as graceful and demure as she was cunning, calculating and manipulative. It’s plainly evident Margaret is as intelligent as they come and (I can't believe I'm typing this) I even LOVED the vengeful chess move she made on Atlantic City's most powerful figure after he was a complete jerk brushing her (and her soda bread) aside. Why Nucky, why?
Let's go back one episode for the answer: When Nucky danced with Margaret at his birthday bash, I thought it was a poignant, "not-just-an-ordinary-happenstance" kind of moment.
As Nucky and Margaret spun around gazing into each other's eyes, all of their thoughts and ideas about one another were put on display for them to see and realize. Didn't it seem like this unlikely pair wasn't so "unlikely" after all? She likes him because he effortlessly saved her from a life she was otherwise doomed to lead (among other reasons), and he likes her because she's exactly the type of woman he finds to be an alluring challenge (among other reasons). The scene was brimming with foreshadowing and symbolism, and be sure to add Margaret's theft of the undergarment from the boutique to the list of foreshadowed tidbits as well.
Slowly but surely, Margaret realizes she wants to live the kind of life she has seen via Nucky, and he's had the growing thought that "while Lucy is exciting, beautiful, and will do exactly what I say, she is certainly no Margaret."
But during last night's episode, Nucky pulled away and totally dismissed Margaret, because he was sensing his feelings for her. Meanwhile, his brother Eli (who had my "jerk-o-meter" pegging in the 9.8 range the entire episode) could smell "smitten" in the air, and his jealousy went through the roof, culminating with the swing he takes at Nucky after the very "Sopranos"-ish Celtic dinner. That scene was bold and compelling in signature Terence Winter style, but Eli's speech at that dinner was neither bold nor compelling. I'll just say this: Brother, for the love of Peter, Paul and Mary, stick to the police work.
Elsewhere, the Jimmy and Pearl situation ended sadly. As she emerged for all to see her horrible scar, I felt my face wrinkle up, and had a feeling things would end the way they did. It was a jolting scene 45 minutes in, and I thought the episode actually needed that gunshot. Prior to that point, the episode dragged a bit and I could feel myself drifting into "New York Times crossword puzzle" territory. I did, however, enjoy the early Rothstein scene, which paid homage to his "alleged" role in the 1919 World Series, also known as the "Black Sox scandal."
So far, I've devoted a bit more than 300 characters to my intense like for the widow Schroeder, but how can I leave out Agent Van Alden? His scenes have been some of the best the show has to offer, and last night was no exception. Van Alden (played by Michael Shannon) embodies the gritty, ‘20s era federal agent with great flair. He's thoughtful and precise but he doesn't play around, and he never seems to not be in battle prohibition mode.
Finally, can we discuss that ending montage? Set to the traditional Irish tune "Carrickfergus," it was both beautifully edited and well-placed within the setting of the show. As the credits rolled, I was furiously searching Google for the title I thought I heard in the chorus, only to end up using my trusty iPhone app "Shazam" to record the song and get the real info. Now the new dilemma is whose version of the song is better: Charlotte Church, Paddy Reilly or Van Morrison? I'm stumped.
All in all, the episode ended well and was a notch higher than decent, with bonus points going to Schroeder and Agent Van Alden. As stated, she needs a "like" button as I watch, but something tells me her whistle-blowing may not just be brushed under the rug, even if Nucky gets to do the sweeping. Now that the two are an item things will really heat up, so stay tuned.
Loved, kinda liked, or hated the show? Let us know!
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