“I already know I want to be with you every night. Also, I’m going to be homeless.” This is Zoe Kazan’s only-in-New-York pitch to move in with Jonathan. In typical Ames fashion, he takes it under consideration, even though they’ve only been sleeping together for one day. It’s left up in the air, probably since we’re not sure if Kazan will be available to shoot season three.
Zach Galifianakis clearly enjoyed his time on the set of It’s Kind of a Funny Story—two of his castmates make appearances in Bored to Death’s season finale: Jim Gaffigan as George’s unhinged addiction counselor, and Matthew Maher as the intake manager of a hostel where Ray’s stalker lives. Said stalker has been sending threatening emails and a Super Ray voodoo doll with an Exacto knife in his back. Jonathan’s case of the week is to track down the stalker and stop him before he puts the knife in Ray’s real back. They ultimately catch him, but not before he manages to stab Ray at Brooklyn Comic-Con, landing the mortal in the hospital—where Leah rushes to his side and professes her love. Of course, the incognito stalker is (the real) Jonathan Ames as Leah’s one-time lover, Irwin—did anyone not see that coming?
Indeed, “Super Ray is Mortal!” is high on solipsism but low on stakes. Every episode of Bored to Death draws a deeply insular character web and circuitous narrative that has the feel of a video game, or (more aptly) a comic book: Obstacles from the outside world are neatly lifted in and just as cleanly blasted away. Tiresome? Sure. But there is an undeniable charm in a television show that never aspires to be anything more than what it is. Except when it does. Edition’s Obama-as-Mao cover is multi-purpose: It prompts George to leave his job, which gets him out of a sentence at a rehab center in Arizona, and opens up the possibility of romance with his now former boss (the supremely welcome Mary Kay Place—I hope she comes back next season, except if it means she’s off Big Love).
But it also inspires a vaguely self-righteous monologue about the presence of politics in publishing (Edition is an unconcealed stand-in for New York Magazine). When told by his boss that the bigger bosses want to the magazine to be “more on the right”—George soapboxes: “The right doesn’t know what to do. No one in American politics knows what to do… Let’s drop this political bullshit, please.” Yes, let’s.
Season 1, Episode 9: "Belle Dame"
“Belle Dame” is the most Sopranos-esque episode of Boardwalk Empire so far—the many balls in the air have settled into a controlled juggle, and the tediously established narrative is blazing ahead with the help of surprising but sensible twists and turns.
Three weeks ago, it was St. Patrick’s Day—now it appears to be late spring: Bathers on the beach; mistresses shopping for the season; and a convalescing sheriff. While the first half of the season inched its way across the calendar, the last few episodes have skipped time, with a mildly disorienting effect.
The D’Alessio brothers have been identified as the gang behind Eli’s shooting, and Nucky’s most immediate threat. He doesn’t know—yet—that they are under orders from Rothstein to take him out, but nonetheless dispatches Jimmy to execute the lot of them. Jimmy—who is about the only person in Atlantic City who is not afraid of Nucky—lays out the conditions of his new position and refuses to indulge his boss’s nuanced manner of assigning hits, demanding that he spell out exactly what he would have Jimmy do.
Most all of Angela’s scenes have a peculiarly modern feel—it’s not just that she is living in sin with her baby’s father (when he “feels like showing up”), or that she is the only female character on the show with aspirations of genuine self-sufficiency: Something about the way she speaks doesn’t quite reflect the atmosphere. But her bohemian disregard for convention can only take her so far—like it or not, she is ultimately beholden to male authority. When a tentative threesome is cut short by Jimmy’s sudden arrival home, Paul abruptly withdraws his efforts to launch her artistic career, tossing in a literal insult to injury. Unless she’s a better actress than she lets on, the fire between her and Jimmy is a two-way street: For what a fleeting moment looked like it would be a scene of marital rape dissolves into one of aggressively consensual (if unsettling) fornication. Still, the next morning finds her looking as trapped and desperate as ever.
Jimmy’s homecoming is brief: As he’s marching Lucky Luciano to his presumed execution, Van Alden arrests him and drags him to jail. On his way to his cell, he passes by another suspect in the heist/massacre—walking in the other direction. Knowing this means he’s agreed to testify against him, Jimmy asks a visiting Nucky for help getting out of there. Nucky promises to take care of it—but it’s Van Alden’s partner, evidently on the take, who shoots the witness in fabricated self-defense as he’s transporting him to another facility.
After an evening at Babette’s—where Margaret wears a $480 “gift” from Mme. Jeunet, which she swiped from under the nose of Harding’s mistress—members of the D’Alessio gang take a shot at Nucky, hitting instead an innocent bystander, who spills blood over Margaret’s new threads, just when she’d seemed resigned to paying the price of doing business. Mrs. Schroeder appears to be equally as appalled by the stain as she is the critically injured woman splayed next to her on the sidewalk. Will a ruined dress be the thing that snaps her back to the reality of her circumstances? Since we meet a different Margaret Schroeder every episode, it’s impossible to say.