Boardwalk Empire Season 4, Episode 9 Review: “Marriage and Hunting”
Bam! Boardwalk Empire served it up this week with murder, confessions, terrible brutality, and sweet, sweet revenge. It was a big week for some of my favorite characters, a week for transformation, doubling down, big decisions, and unpleasant discoveries. We’re nearing the end of the season with only 3 eps to go. Bodies have started to fall, and there will surely be many more before the season comes to a close.
It seems that George Mueller is having trouble with his pipes. Dean O’Bannon doesn’t pay him much, not even enough to go to Sears and Roebuck to get a house that fits together properly. Mrs. Mueller is complaining; and she ain’t wrong. Bathrooms are for bathing; kitchens are for cooking the food. Mrs. Mueller mocks her husband for being meek, poor, and for working at a flower shop. That’s not a very good idea, especially not to those of us who know Mueller a little better than she does.
Nucky and Chalky meet as just a couple of friends deciding how Valentin Narcisse should die. Thompson says that Chalky can’t prove it was Narcisse who tried to kill him. Chalky White knows better, so they disagree on what should happen next. Nucky is tired of Chalky acting like he owes him something. Chalky is feeling used and disrespected by everyone around him. What’s more, Narcisse knows that Daughter is lying when she says Purnsley never showed up. I presume she doesn’t have a vacuum cleaner. The glass in her carpet gave her lies away. We already know Narcisse hates women and thinks nothing of brutalizing them. Still, seeing the physical damage he did to Daughter was nauseating. Ugh. When Chalky sees Daughter, his anger turns to fury.
Dean O’Bannon is talking about Leopold and Loeb; I guess everyone is. He’s is also talking about his man Stewie mysteriously getting killed while Mueller was out with the Capones. When his boss thinks he may have a guilty conscience, Mueller points out that O’Bannon’s tone can be downright accusatory. While the mobbed-up florist lets it go, it’s clear that this conversation is far from over.
Gillian Darmody is clean and sober, taking in some sun on the beach with her beau, Roy Phillips. She tells him the story of when she was first taken to The Commodore and raped. Gillian can’t even use the word, preferring “ravished,” which may have had that connotation in that time period. Phillips appears horrified. She was even younger than I thought she was, not even thirteen. Gillian reveals that she named her son after the last good thing she knew—a boy her age who kissed her under the boardwalk. Gillian’s life is tragic, but that’s no reason to give her custody of Tommy.
Narcisse is meeting with Owney Madden about getting a new heroin supplier. Being a “Libyan” though, it’s not going too well. Still, Narcisse is able to score a meeting with Joe Masseria. Should be fun to see how that turns out, seeing as how Masseria is a huge racist. Across town, Mueller is delivering a RIP wreath to an apartment that turns out to have the remaining Capone brothers inside. Ralph and Alfonse want info on O’Bannon. Mueller knows what they want; and he’s tired of taking crap from people. He offers to kill O’Bannon the following day for $1,000. The Capones agree.
Preparations for Maybelle’s wedding continue as Chalky’s distance from his family grows. Samuel’s mother seems closer to the White family these days, which would be awesome except that the Whites are confused and embarrassed by their patriarch’s behavior. Mrs. White knows something is up. When Chalky learns of Daughter’s assault at the hands of Narcisse, he leaves in a hurry despite Samuel’s mother being at their home making wedding preparations. Maybelle is surprised that Dunn Purnsley is no longer required to be on the guest list. Also, Chalky’s oldest son seems to be getting good on the piano. I can’t help feeling that bodes ill for the current pianist at the Onyx Club.
Arnold Rothstein is feeling unlucky. He’s staying home by his lonesome, thinking about pool, loss, gambling, and how goddamn poor he is. We learned tonight that there’s a Mrs. Rothstein. I don’t think that’s ever been mentioned before. Is she new? Elsewhere, Eli and Nucky meet to discuss Chalky and how his world is basically getting ready to implode. Eli agrees with Nucky’s assessment that Chalky might have to go. When Nucky asks about Willy, Eli clams up.
Gillian gives emotional but pointless testimony to the judge in Tommy’s custody case. She’s horrified when Richard Harrow shows up in the gallery. Julia gives more compelling testimony, but the judge is not cool about the fact that she’s not married. When Julia and Richard discuss this, they decide that they should get married for Tommy’s benefit. It’s actually pretty cute, since they’re obviously in love with each other but aren’t able to say it. Julia also knows that her father is dying, and that he and Richard are hiding it from her. Richard may be bad at hiding things, but he’s great at keeping his word.
Mueller is strapping one on to go to work—a gun, I mean. Before he kill O’Bannon, he’s accosted by some of the guys he worked with as an iron salesman last season. The guy with the iron print on his face had a blackjack, so they thought they were all pretty tough. For a minute, they were. Mueller asks them nicely to stop, several times. When they don’t, he kills all three of them and leaves them in the alley like trash. Ha! I bet THAT’ll take more than two months to heal, eh, funny man?
That’s when it happens. Arnold Rothstein presents Nucky with a life insurance policy that makes the death of Mickey Doyle worth half a million dollars. When Rothstein asks Nucky what he’d pay to keep Doyle alive, Nucky offers a plug nickel. Ha! Everybody hates Mickey Doyle, including me. Could it be that this is the season somebody finally shuts his smart mouth for good? Please, let it be so! Nucky buys the policy from Rothstein for twenty cents on the dollar. Apparently, Rothstein was swindled by his investment broker—the one Margaret works for, no doubt.
The Capones are not happy O’Bannon is still alive—so unhappy that they show up at Mueller’s house. Not for nothing, but Mueller has been kind of a jerk to his wife lately. The Capones give him one more day. When the time comes, O’Bannon questions Mueller again about Stewie. Shockingly, Mueller confesses that Capone killed Stewie, but that he’s killed plenty of other people himself. A minute later, some random guys show up at the flower shop and pump O’Bannon full of lead. Gruesome. Mueller takes all the money in the lock box. As Mueller steps away from the flower shop and all the bodies of his former coworkers, we understand that he intends to be Nelson Van Alden once again, and that he now needs a new job.
Narcisse has a seat in the audience at the Onyx Club—which has a whites-only house. There’s a bit of a stir that gets much bigger when Nucky has to stop Chalky from killing the Libyan right there in the front row. It’s a mess. Narcisse threatens to kill Chalky, which Nucky does not care for. Notice that when Rothstein threatened Mickey Doyle, Nucky didn’t give half a rat’s ass. But when Narcisse threatened Chalky, Nucky was pissed. It’s not all about money with Nucky, he really does respect Chalky White, and even if something bad has to happen—it’s business and not personal. Yeah, that’s sociopathic, but this is a show about organized crime, after all…
Enoch decides that he needs more security just as Richard Harrow shows up to say that he just got married and he needs a job. Fortuitous, no? Personally, I think Harrow getting married to a nice girl warrants a lot more than a half-hearted “Congratulations.” Later, Nucky calls Sally Wheat, ostensibly to check on the business. She doesn’t trust him, and that might actually go both ways. After his call, she decides to sleep with a rifle in her bed. Does she think Nucky called just to verify she was home so he could whack her out?
Roy Phillips is on the phone just long enough for us to understand that he has people somewhere else. He’s lying to Gillian, doesn’t intend to stay with her, and will be going back to wherever he came from soon. So what does that mean? What’s his game? I honestly have no idea why he’s taking up with Gillian except that it’s cheaper than a prostitute, and probably much more interesting. Is it about Tommy? Is he being paid to make sure she doesn’t get custody? Maybe by Paul Sagorsky?
Nelson heads home to show his wife the money and remind her that he’s worthy of some goddamn respect. I don’t mind saying, that whole scene was pretty hot. I guess now that Harrow has settled down and got married, Van Alden is taking over as lead Sexy Guy. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to him once he’s working full time for the Capones since he’s a wild man now. Back at Daughter Maitland’s apartment, Maybelle shows up unexpectedly to find her father with the singer. She runs off in tears. That’s got to be shameful for a man to have his children know of his affair(s). That all just sucks.
This was a spectacular episode of Boardwalk Empire that more than made up for a low-key episode last week. No news from Willy tonight, and we didn’t check in with the Feds at all. No doubt Agent Knox is using the week to rest and think up new ways to screw with people. Only three episodes to go this season!
See you’s next week!