Boardwalk Empire, episode 4, season 1
The fourth episode of Boardwalk Empire finds just about everyone embroiled in a turf war. Nucky Johnson fights for the state’s highway appropriation funds to be portioned to Atlantic City; Al Capone and Jimmy Darmody bully their way into Chicago’s bootlegging hotspots; a bloodthirsty Ku Klux Klan pledges to eradicate the black man—but
Omar’s Chalky’s conclusive interrogation tactics prove that last week’s lynching wasn’t Klan related.
“You don’t invade a country all at once. Take it over one piece at a time. Act nice. Negotiate for a portion… Before you know it, you’re controlling his entire territory.” While a buffoonish Capone ignores Jimmy’s free advice, Margaret Schroeder appears to be versed in the delicate art of the friendly takeover. She inches her way further into Nucky’s heart (who, me?); stopping along the way for a pleasant current events chat with New Jersey Senator Walter Edge: “As you’ve learned, if you withhold from a woman something she deeply desires, then she’ll surely find a way to withhold something you desire.”
Jillian Darmody takes a more direct approach, giving Lucky Luciano a dressing down when he comes looking for Jimmy. Jillian may not know that Lucky has been hired by Arnold Rothstein to take out her son, but she does know that he’s up to no good, and is more than happy to let him believe that she is Jimmy’s wife. Surely this is the “dangerous man” Jillian’s fortune teller warned her about in last week’s episode. What’s uncertain is whether Jillian’s seduction of Lucky is meant to distract him from the matter at hand, or to feed her own desires—probably a bit of both. We know that Jillian’s maternal instincts have mingled before with her craving for male attention; and this episode more than hints that these competing impulses might come to a head. I really hope it doesn’t mean that Gretchen Mol won’t last the season, as she is now threatening to steal not only scenes but the whole show.
Bored to Death, episode 2, season 2
“The Gowanus has Gonorrhea” and George (Ted Danson) has prostate cancer. But it’s stage 2, so we think he’ll be ok—once “all or part of the prostate” is removed by his urologist-cum-love interest. Jonathan Ames’ kidnapping for ransom is a more pressing matter—after being dumped by his polyamorous girlfriend for Warren, the third party in last week’s “group cuddle,” Jonathan is snatched by the owners of the hard drive he stole from their dungeon in the season premiere—and they want $20,000 so they can build a new dungeon in Boston. George and Ray (Zach Galifianakis), fueled by copious amounts of pot, ineptly plan a raid while Jonathan and his would-be assassins exchange musings on affairs of the heart and the wisdom of Oscar Wilde.
So far, the second season of Bored to Death has been stronger than the first. Jonathan Ames is minus a book contract, Ray is down a girlfriend, and George’s free-flowing Orangina supply has been cut off by the magazine publisher’s cost-cutting efforts. The dearth of riches has made way for a much funnier script. But “The Gowanus has Gonorrhea” is excessively preoccupied with cutesy-clever sideline dialogue and none at all with a coherent narrative. Naturally, George and Ray fumble the attempt to rescue Jonathan, so they jump in the kidnapper’s Zipcar and head to New Jersey (the real Jonathan Ames’ birthplace) where Jonathan has promised his father will deliver the ransom. When the bag of cash the elder Ames supplies is $18,000 short, the good guys are spared a violent end on account of geography: “It’s New Jersey, it’s too bright. You can’t kill people here!” Touché.