Boardwalk Empire, “Nights in Ballygran”: I’m the Leprechaun!

After getting dressed but before heading out for the day, Nucky takes the time to enjoy some tea with his brother. I don’t think it bore much relevance to the rest of the episode — the season’s best yet — but I appreciated the picture it painted. Nucky rules AC, and as sheriff, Eli’s his number one. Very militaristic. If I was better read, I’d have some spiffy literary parallel to trot out in front of you. But I’m not, so… bababooey.

The show’s really coming together, isn’t it? I didn’t really spot a common theme uniting the various and sundry storylines, but they all seemed to hang together much better than they have in episodes past. I’m thinking especially of last week’s episode, which was sort of beating us over the head with the whole Anastasia thing.

I can’t say I ever really considered Steve Buscemi to be any sort of romantic lead, but his relationship with Margaret has to be one of the most interesting things the show is doing right now. After Nucky’s birthday party, she obviously thinks there’s some sort of unspoken bond between the two of them, and Nucky wasted no time in shutting that one down when they run across each other that morning. Margaret’s not quite heartbroken, but obviously distraught about her soda bread (what?) Nucky’s obviously not interested in. And that’s when things get plucky. Margaret gets a little petulant at their next meeting and let’s on that Nucky knows about the alcohol trade going on in the city. Never one to be one-upped, Nucky tells her friend from the Temperance League that Margaret was at his birthday party, cutting a mean rug in the middle of all that booze.

Yes, getting sloshed in AC is alive and well, Prohibition be damned. At it turns out that the garage right behind Margaret’s house is a storage depot for a special batch of green hooch Nucky’s had delivered for St. Patrick’s Day. Margaret, our woman scorned, marches to the post office where Agent Van Alden has set up shop and asks him to take the place down.

Now Kelly Macdonald is an attractive woman. I could definitely think of worse things than being stranded with her on a deserted island, but I do not understand the Santeria voodoo magic spell she casts over Van Alden. He doesn’t have to resources to take down 10% of the city’s illegal booze outlets, but he’ll take down this one, and then crash Nucky’s St. Patty’s bash and arrest the owner of the garage. That whole scene may have been the episode’s best. We had belligerent Irishmen, midgets dressed up as leprechauns, and Van Alden’s Untouchables act to top the whole thing off. The dichotomy between his “do no evil” religiosity and his desire to take justice to AC’s mean streets is kind of fascinating. And those half smiles he see him sneak when he thinks no one’s looking show he definitely takes some sort of pleasure in his mean streak.

So, I hear Jimmy’s in Chicago. And maybe that’ll eventually go somewhere. But not this week. We saw the fallout from Pearl’s assault. She’s slowly turning into this show’s Alma Garrett. Or she would have if she hadn’t of killed herself by the end of the episode. It’s a horrible thing that she, faced with being disfigured for the rest of her life, would be driven to suicide, but for the purposes of the story, it had to happen. Remember that Jimmy walked out on his (almost) wife and son to go to Chicago and play gangster with Al Capone, so it was more than unlikely that he was going to play Pearl’s white knight, making her glasses of opium-laced orange juice for much longer.

Speaking of things in Chicago, we had an interesting historical fact thrown at us tonight. Arnold Rothstein’s coming under fire for purportedly fixing the 1919 World Series, which he was involved in. I have to say I was a little disappointed that the show decided to go here. Rothstein did have to testify in front of a grand jury on the matter, but unless the show is planning on turning this into a storyline, I would have preferred that they leave it alone. What was great about a show like ‘Deadwood’ was that it populated by characters who had real life equivalents, and the stories in the show sometimes compelled you to go and learn more about them on your own. The World Series thing felt like it should have been one of those moments. Addressed in the episode, it sort of felt like the writers were just showing us they had done their homework. But maybe it’ll go somewhere.

What A Great Episode Moments:

  • The midget leprechauns. And by that I mean midgets dressed as leprechauns. Not midget leprechauns. How small would those things be?
  • The music over the end sequence. Well done.
  • The Temperance League singing as Van Alden and the boys break up Nucky’s party.

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