Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Round Two: Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Ivory Tower” (B/B+)

Man, this show is dense. Even the title of this second installment, appropriately enough, feels impenetrable. The fact is that, like shows before it such as “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos,” it’s hard not to feel awed by most of the events transpire. I’ll admit that I’m still somewhat hopelessly confused about the identities and relationships of some of the characters, and having a bit of trouble keeping all of the plotlines straight. I’d like to acknowledge, and not necessarily comment on, the fact that Chicago and its big ringmaster Arnold Rothstein, played by the pretty awesome Michael Stuhlbarg who forces men to choke to death just for his own amusement, seems to be an awfully big part of the show, sort of like how the New York mob was central to “The Sopranos” in its later seasons. The double life of Jimmy is probably the most fascinating element of this show, and the occasional name dropping of current nobody and loose cannon Al Capone helps ground this show in an interesting historical way. Nucky’s conversation with lead cop Nelson Van Elden was very interesting, and the way that Margaret Schroeder (I’m having to look up all these names as I’m writing this) is being dragged into a web of lies and deception is both riveting and horrifying. The way Nelson describes Nucky’s operation is particularly damning, and Nucky is certainly one of HBO’s finest and most compelling antiheros to date. Within the last week, this show has already been renewed for a second season, so get ready to get to know Nucky and his crew a whole lot better.

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