The smell of death is in the air. The body count increases and that can only indicate another season of Boardwalk Empire coming to a close. Three people die in this episode, all in different sections of a very busy storyline.
First, let's deal with Jess Smith, Harry Daugherty and Gaston Means. Following a scene where he convinces Nucky Thompson to pay him forty thousand to kill off the near hysterical Smith, Means persuades Daugherty to give him the same amount for the same job. Means attempts to jump Jess Smith while he sleeps, but Smith catches him, and eventually figures out that his lifelong (and rumored lover) Daugherty ordered his death. Smith shots himself in the head, leaving Gaston Means with a bunch of money for nothing. The illicit backroom dealings have been pinned on George Remus, Andrew Mellon's distillery is now under Thompson's watch and the whole politics arc looks to be wrapped up. Maybe.
Our next fatality comes at the hand of Gyp Rosetti. No stranger to cracking skulls with a metal weapon (check the first scene of the season), Gyp treats us to the complete obliteration of a man's head. When an underling gets too mouthy by mentioning his father was a fisherman –somehow Gyp turns that fact into an insult– General Gyp has the guy buried to his neck in sand and crushes his dome-piece in with a shovel until it's a bloody sack of bone on a sandy beach. Gyp is a villain amongst villains, so baroque he's like a fairytale character; however, I can't predict he is very likely to die. It might seem like he or Nucky has to go, but the show keeps favorites around and kills off mainstays.
That flows nicely into the final death: Owen Sleater. I called it last week, along with millions of other fans — the romance with Margaret entered "point of no return" territory, and in fact, it entered "oh shit, we're fucked" zones this week. Margaret is pregnant with Owen's baby! That one actually made my jaw drop, but first, the death of an Irishman.
Owen is deployed to New York to murder Joe Masseria, backer of Rosetti and ultra powerful don of the early Mafioso , and instead returns to Nucky's doorstep in a big wooden crate. It is there Margaret sees him and she sobs like a madwoman, to the point that Nucky starts to look suspicious even in the highly confusing moment. The operation wasn't foolproof, but the circle of informed was small, so it's a bit of mystery how it went so wrong.
In an earlier scene, we witness Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky attempting to sell a bulk of heroin to first Rothstein then Masseria. Rothstein buffs the move — he will remain neutral as his rivals duke it out — and the impatient youngsters move to Masseria, who agrees to deal with them if they exchange info on Nucky Thompson.
The thing is, Luciano and Lansky were not in the room when the plan to assassinate Masseria went down. Assuming the leak comes from that room, I'm making a bonafide official Comics Bulletin prediction: Eli is the rat. First, his reinsertion back into the empire is a little too easy, and overall this season the writers have painted the character far different from his previous, treacherous self. Second, early in the year Gyp Rosetti caught wind of Eli's previous support to kill Nucky, and when the two came face to face later in the episode Gyp curiously didn't directly address it with Eli. It's possible Gyp and Eli are in cahoots, which would absolutely blindside Nucky at this point.
Some other things happen in the hour, but people don't die in those parts so it's not as interesting. Bullet points? Sure, let's go for it.
- Chalky White stops in to ask Nucky to buy out the boardwalk space now an explosion-rocked crater. Nuck refuses, 'cause he's a dick, and Chalk nearly pleads with, and even kind of threatens, Mr. Thompson. It's crazy how little Chalky has had to do this year. CRAZY. I'm not in love with the character but I know he's a huge fan favorite. Chalky and Dunn Purnsley spinoff please!
- Richard Harrow and Julia Sagorsky make out some more, and it looks like Rich might have got laid. Any time someone obtains happiness and it's not the series finale I'm looking for that source of happiness to get snuffed out. Don't do it to Richard, Boardwalk Gods, I beg of you.
- Van Alden update: He sells some booze to a Norwegian restaurateur and gets picked up by Capone's men for selling in marked territory. After a brief chat with Al he gets a fork stuck in his face until he agrees to give up info on O'Banion's operation. I guess this the start of the process to weave Van Alden back into the fold. Still not sure what's going on with all that.
There are a handful of little bits and pieces to this show I'm not mentioning since mostly they're tactics to bring together the fragmented sections of the overall story. A character is sent here, another character is brought in from there, and suddenly Boardwalk Empire is one big happy family.
It's a good show, ambitious as all hell, and doing what it needs with story and character to make me look forward to it every Sunday. I'm still waiting for it to hit the next level for a TV drama, but Boardwalk Empire is still a top level program.