Review: ‘Boardwalk Empire’ – ‘Bone For Tuna’

A review of tonight’s “Boardwalk Empire” coming up just as soon as I can find an insult in a bed of roses…

“What the fuck is life if it’s not personal?” -Gyp

Gyp Rosetti, the arch-villain of “Boardwalk” season 3, is a man who is perpetually ready to take offense to any comment, no matter how innocent. He grew up in Sperlinga, Sicily, a place whose name can be translated to mean “cave,” and if he wasn’t so violent, he would be all but crippled with self-consciousness about his lack of education and class. Instead, he’s a man you have to perpetually walk on eggshells around – and even then, it only does so much, as we discover when he treats Nucky’s “Bon Fortuna” card as yet another insult, and when the Tabor Heights sheriff has the fatal timing to also wish him good luck that night, Gyp burns the poor sonuvabitch alive with gas from the filling station.

It’s yet another power play by Gyp, in an episode full of people seizing control of a situation, often through subterfuge, or by usurping someone else’s identity.

Mickey tries to beef up his reputation at the warehouse by taking credit for Manny’s death, which understandably doesn’t sit well with Richard Harrow. (Richard, unlike Gyp, is able to control his most deadly impulses, even when taking the deepest offense.) Margaret expertly plays Dr. Landau and the bishop off one another, exploiting Nucky’s Order of Saint Gregory ceremony to get the pre-natal education program approved. And Gillian is still acting like Jimmy is alive, which allows her to control the Commodore’s estate while also living in denial about the many sins she committed against her son.

Gillian is understandably not happy to see Jimmy’s murderer show up at her place with Gyp in tow. And though Nucky isn’t making any major power plays this episode – he’s too busy getting dragged into both Gyp’s neuroses and Margaret’s ambition – he does spend a lot of time dwelling on Jimmy’s murder, picturing him as a young choir boy with the same bullet wound under his eye. Once it becomes clear that Richard isn’t there to kill him – Richard explains that Nucky and Margaret always treated him well, and, besides, “Jimmy was a soldier. He fought. He lost.” – novice killer Nucky has an opportunity to ask the more hardened Richard whether he’ll ever stop thinking about his victims.

“You know the answer to that yourself,” Richard tells him.

Gyp Rosetti, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like he’s particularly troubled by the men he has beaten, shot and burned to death. He’s a sociopath, plain and simple, and while that’s a much less complicated antagonist for Nucky than either Rothstein or Jimmy were, it also makes Nucky’s path tougher. Rothstein could be reasoned with, and Jimmy had a conscience and a sense of self. Gyp seems to act entirely on impulse, and a cold and calculating man like Nucky Thompson isn’t ideally-equipped to battle such a foe.

Some other thoughts:

* Richard and Nucky’s conversation also clarifies that Manny died specifically because of Angela’s murder, and not Jimmy’s. One of the more frustrating parts of the post-Jimmy show so far is that Richard has become more marginalized, and Jack Huston is too good for that. (I watched the scene where he hears about Mickey’s boasting three or four times, and each time my eye was initially drawn to the painted mask, like always, before the half of Huston’s face that was acting grabbed my attention.) I hope the writers find a way to make Richard more central to the narrative as the season moves along.

* Given what happened to his last few co-workers at his old job, I’m not sure Nelson Van Alden (even under the George Muller alias) is a man you want to be punking. 

* Nucky’s dreams are haunted not just by young Jimmy, but by Billie Kent, and in his waking hours, he’s still fixated on what hse’s doing, and who she’s with, when he’s not around. Not healthy.

What did everybody else think?