Boardwalk Empire
The Pony

Episode Report Card
Joe R: B- | 1 USERS: A
The Pony

It seems that gathering storm in New Jersey has arrived, and Margaret and Owen make a run for it to the car. Inside, Margaret frets about this and that -- is it right to get Emily a pony if she can't ride it, et cetera -- and he seems to have a good answer for all her worries, which just bothers her more. "Would you teach me to drive?" she asks him. He's all, "Now?" But no, she doesn't mean now. She means "...after." Well, if she insists. They kiss and then the camera cuts away before things get interesting.

And now is the time where I try to spend as little time as possible lingering on my least favorite scene of the night. These have been happening with depressing regularity lately. So it's Van Alden in Cicero, at the world's worst workplace with his uniformly awful and monstrous co-workers. And they're doing practice house-calls and everybody's being obnoxious because apparently that's how the door-to-door sales business was back then -- just unrelenting obnoxiousness. And Van Alden's been on no sleep lately, so everything's got him on edge even more than it usually does. Oh, and for these practice demonstrations, they're plugging in the irons and demonstrating them hot. Can you pretty much write the rest of the scene yourselves by now? I know I could. So Van Alden is called upon to present to Phil, and Phil is an unrelenting asshole as he affects a lady voice and gives Van Alden a hard time, all to the braying laughter of the mules they work with. The camerawork has gone positively Lynchian by this point, with manic closeups, and combined with Michael Shannon's let's-say-unsubtle acting style, it's like we're watching a completely different show. Anyway, Phil's insults finally go too far, and Van Alden attacks him with the iron to his face. He screams and his flesh smokes and everybody else goes batshit crazy. And if that's not enough, Van Alden then starts raging, overturning desks, throwing stacks of paper around, while everybody else cowers in the next room. He's like the mighty King broken free of his chains. This is a goddamn cartoon, and if it's the extent of the ideas this show has left for Van Alden, they'd be better off just having him drop dead of a stroke right now.

I'm also not crazy about this next scene, but whatever. Billie and her roommate are drunk and giddy and dancing the Charleston in their apartment, I guess on occasion of Billie knocking her screen test out of the park. Eventually, handsome Gil the actor man comes out from behind the curtains dressed like an Arab sheik, and the three of them laugh and make fart jokes, and fart jokes in period settings will never not seem weird to me, with the exception that proves the rule of Blazing Saddles and anyway ... obviously as soon as Billie and Gil are laughing and in a heap together, Nucky shows up at the door. Again, do you feel like writing the rest of this scene? Because you could. He's peevish as he introduces himself to Gil, who is full of himself but generally well-meaning, but he calls Nucky "sir," which is only the polite thing to when you're a young man and you're faced with a withered old crone, but Nucky takes offense (ah, the Gyp Rosetti trifecta this week) and ends up being the shit out of the guy. In doing so, he calls Gil an "interloper," so you can assume Mellon's dismissal of him earlier is playing its part in Nucky's atypical reaction here. Billie's screaming at "Gus" (a pet name for Nucky that I didn't realize until this week that she uses exclusively) to stop it, and she finally pulls him off. Vi helps Gil out to a taxi, leaving Billie to WTF all over Nucky. To his meager credit, Nucky gets right to the point of his problem: he doesn't like the "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement he and Billie have. She reminds him that it suits him fine when she doesn't ask him about the other parts of his life, but Nucky's tired of pretending he's not jealous, is what it boils down to.

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Boardwalk Empire




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