S2E10: It’s funny. I was just saying how Angela might very well be my favorite character on all of Boardwalk Empire. And then, this happens...
“How them new shoes be fitting these days?” – Chalky
“A little tighter than expected.” – Jimmy
After only a few weeks of unofficial reign over Atlantic City, Jimmy Darmody has managed to lose the favor of just about every character on Boardwalk Empire. This week’s episode, “Georgia Peaches,” makes an effort to explore the friendless world that the man has built for himself. It seems that a poetic justice has imparted itself unto Jimmy in return for his betrayal of Nucky. Last week, we saw hints that even Richard might be beginning to lose his worship for Jimmy. This week, we see both the “up-and-comers” (Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Mickey Doyle) and the business heads (Eli Thompson and Jimmy’s father, the Commodore, included—and to a subtler extent, Mr. Whitlock) express an antagonism towards their far-from-competent leader, Jimmy.
Capone and co. are unhappy with Jimmy because, thanks to Nucky’s secretive business dealings, none of them can sell any liquor in Atlantic City. So, they are forced to high-tail it elsewhere (heading to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia…and Jimmy, as we learn at the end of the episode, heads back to his college town, Princeton). Also sparking some animosity is Jimmy’s dismissal of Meyer’s and Lucky’s proposal to sell heroin—a plan in which they are both heavily invested.
“Do what we’re paying you to do. End this.” – Business head
The business heads are meanwhile fed up with Jimmy’s inability to handle Atlantic City’s black community’s strike, provoked last week by a plan set forth by Chalky White and “new friend,” Dunn Purnsley. Jimmy suggests the businessmen give into their salary demands and offer nickel raises—however, just about no one is on board with this. Eli proposes a far more popular violent reaction: the strikers are attacked by Billy-club waving bandits, who also impart some wrath onto Deputy Halloran for his none-too-savvy conversation with Esther Randolph last week.
We also get a taste of the black community’s distaste for Jimmy, courtesy of his conversation with Chalky. When Jimmy fails to meet just one of Chalky’s demands—that is, “justice” brought to the men responsible for the described violence—Chalky insists that the strike will continue through and beyond tourist season.
And, finally, there’s Manny: Jimmy’s number one enemy right now. Manny knows Jimmy was behind his attempted murder. And Manny was already pretty put off by Jimmy’s refusal to pay his debt. So, when Mickey Doyle shows up with an alcohol delivery courtesy of Jimmy, Manny strangles Mickey until he reveals where Manny can find his boss, so that he might take some revenge.
“What’s so fascinating?” – Angela
“That fellow. Not a care in the world.” – Jimmy
Now, before we get into the last bit of misfortune for Jimmy, I think it’s interesting that this episode is notable in its absence of Jimmy’s mother, Gillian. Gillian is at once an incredibly supportive and an incredibly destructive figure in regards to Jimmy. While she is unwaveringly in his corner, she is also responsible for provoking some of the less favorable choices he has made, most notably shooting Nucky. Gillian is only mentioned in passing this week—by Angela, she’s babysitting Tommy—which is funny in an episode that is almost entirely about the devastation that is becoming of Jimmy. My first thought was, the show wouldn’t want to include any character that might be “pro-Jimmy,” in this episode (even Richard is barely seen this week). And that might very well be the reasoning. But maybe we’re also supposed to accept that Jimmy has become his own destructive force. When we met Jimmy in Season 1, he was an entirely promising individual—intellectually and ethically (at least, within this world). Recently, we’ve seen the effect his mother has on him. But now, we’re perhaps intended to understand that even in the absence of Gillian is Jimmy without hope of redemption. He has become what pulls him downward, he no longer relies on his mother for that.
“The most important thing in life, darling…your health. Your husband did this to you.” – Manny
Now, the “big ending.” As I said, Angela might well be my favorite Boardwalk character. And because of that, the scene she shares with Jimmy this week is one of my favorites in a long time. Jimmy acknowledges how unhappy she is, and what thoughts she might have of him. But he promises to make things better for her soon—this is just before he heads to Princeton (the town where he started on his bright path—he’s going back there to corrupt it…some fun symbolism there), and not long before Manny Horvits breaks into their house, killing Angela as payback for everything Jimmy has done to him.
It’s actually the saddest a Boardwalk episode has made me in some time—first, the heartbreaking scene between Jimmy and Angela really wrenches, because we understand (as do they, beneath it all) just how hopeless it is for the two of them to be happy. And then, this tragic figure who still, despite all her tragedy, wants to live…if only for her son…gets killed, thanks to the misdoings of the husband to whom she has been sadly, fearfully and devotedly attached. “Georgia Peaches” really gets to me.
“What would you do, Arnold?” – Nucky
“No one likes a longshot more than a gambler.” – Rothstein
Onto Nucky and family. Nucky’s business in this episode largely concerns his search for a new lawyer—he fires the lawyer whose hairdo we have come to admire for his inadequacy in making Nucky’s case work in any way to his benefit. He then heads to New York to meet a tricky, silver-tongued lawyer named Fallon, recommended by Rothstein.
More personal matters involve the worsening condition of Emily, and Teddy’s jealousy of the attention his sister is getting. When Nucky tends to Teddy to remind him that his mother still loves him, Teddy reveals that he knows that Nucky burned down his old house—but that he’ll never tell. Meanwhile, Margaret revisits her faith in order to pray for her ailing daughter. She even taps into her stowed away money, donating it to the church in order to earn God’s favor, so to speak.
“What should I make sure I never, ever do again?” – Eli
Finally, Esther (free of quips, but still fantastic) rehearses a testimony with Nelson Van Alden, and offers a jailed Eli a deal if he’ll cooperate in the trail against Nucky (which I truly don’t see why he wouldn’t, considering the lack of brotherly love, unless I’m missing some way that this can harm him).
I always prefer when Boardwalk episodes pay tribute to one character in particular as opposed to forwarding six or seven plotlines. “Georgia Peaches” doesn’t offer that much in the vein of new information or developments (with Angela’s death as the exception), but we really needed to see an episode devoted so strongly to Jimmy’s catastrophic downfall. There are suppositions on the rise that he might not be around much longer—but then again, the Princeton tease at the end might indicate otherwise. Either way, getting an illustration of a desperate Jimmy (one so worn out as to be as vulnerable as he was with Angela) is something I highly appreciate.
S2E9: Despite the title of this week’s Boardwalk Empire, “Battle of the Century,” it is actually a pretty calm, introverted episode of the series. Sure, there is a murder. And an attempted murder. Not to mention disease, adultery, betrayal, the incision of a strike, and some scandalous office romance. But still. Somehow, in spite of all this, the tides are calm in Atlantic City this week.
Not to say the episode is dull—as a matter of fact, my personal tastes are more in line with some of these subtler episodes. It is particularly fun to hold Season 2 Jimmy up against early Season 1 Nucky. His flaws aside, Nucky is foremost a cerebral, logical criminal, whereas Jimmy is a young man destitute of emotional stability. We will see just how much damage he imparts unto himself in episodes to come, but I don’t imagine a personal or professional success ever skyrocketing much further than a couple of promiscuous women approaching him during the Dempsey fight with physical intentions.
“I think there’s blood on the ground sufficient for your lifetime and mine.” – McGarrigle
Nucky heads to Ireland, under the guise of burying his father, to deliver a sampling of guns to John McGarrigle, a leading figure in The Cause (Ireland’s rebellion against Britain), in return for the supply of Irish whiskey. Some particularly inconvenient timing engulfs Nucky’s business proposition, as England has suggested a truce, to which McGarrigle is willing to listen. Though a steadfast and humorless supporter of Irish independence, McGarrigle is also willing no longer to spare the lives of his men—one of his associates tells Nucky that McGarrigle lost a son in the battle recently, thus tiring him of the bloodshed.
McGarrigle gets to reunite with Owen (who has come with Nucky to Ireland) in this episode, telling the young man that he has changed, and lost the spirit of his country since moving to America. When you consider the ending of the episode, this scene is incessantly intriguing: after Nucky accepts that his deal will not go through, McGarrigle has his assistant see Nucky to the port to go back to America. At this time, McGarrigle is shot by his own men who wish to usurp his position so that they may continue on with The Cause and reject England’s truce (all of this, Owen knew about beforehand). What Owen must have been thinking, being lectured about losing his cause by a former mentor who was about to be executed for himself losing his cause.
Nucky takes issue with Owen’s involvement with McGarrigle’s murder, clearly because he himself was the victim of his own former protégée’s betrayal. Nucky keeps lining himself up with pretty disloyal right hand men (his brother not excluded)—although considering the fact that Owen slept with Maggie, one shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that he’s not exactly a reliable second-in-command.
Ep. 21: Clip - Remus meets with Jimmy and Gangsters
“Manny Horvitz is a dead man. Before we go any further, you need to tell me if that’s a problem.” – Waxy Gordon
“Maybe. But it’s not mine.” – Jimmy
Even in brief, more or less uneventful scenes like the one early on in this week’s episode, I love it when Jimmy gets together with the other restless protégées (Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky), as well as Richard and Mickey Doyle. The group meets with George Remus this week to elucidate a business deal. Meanwhile, however, Jimmy has the nagging problem of Manny Horvitz, to whom he owes a great deal of money that he just doesn’t feel like paying.
Jimmy meets with Waxy Gordon to discuss the removal of their mutual enemy, Horvitz. Here’s the thing that nobody seems to get: Manny Horvitz is unstoppable. I say this with an esteemed Zionistic pride—he is the biggest rock star on this show. A hired gun makes an attempt to kill Horvitz, but the butcher wrestles the man from his own weapon and then kills him with one of his butcher’s knife. Manny will persist as a thorn in Jimmy’s side—this might be the straw that turns him into Jimmy’s primary source for concern, especially since he found an Atlantic City matchbook on the would-be murderer.
If you recall, one or two episodes ago, Jimmy promised Richard that he’d find himself a nice girl with whom he’ll someday settle down. We learn this week that Richard took this as mockery, understanding himself to be fit for no woman’s affections. Both men attend an auditorium radio broadcast of the titular battle of the century, the boxing match between Dempsey and Carpentier. While there, Jimmy earns the eyes of a great deal of the audience—his fame is escalating rapidly around A.C.—especially two woman who pursue him flirtatiously. Jimmy demands foremost that one of them offer Richard company, trying to solidify the friendship that he insists to Richard the two of them share.
This is a tricky one to crack: what exactly is being built up between Richard and Jimmy? For a few weeks now, there have been traces of a fragmenting friendship. But why? Richard isn’t the type to betray Jimmy, to take action out of rage, or to develop any large ambitions. The only thing I could see happening is Richard pursuing Angela, but she’s got her own romance brewing with that woman Louise from last week. So what’s with the Richard/Jimmy angle?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I know the law. And I don’t have to go on sitting here if I don’t want to. … Do I?” – Deputy Halloran
More Esther Randolph. She and her subordinate—the investigator named Cliff, who resents Van Alden’s new involvement in the case thanks to his hefty sum of files accumulated on Nucky that he gave to Richmond—are both romantic partners as well as an adept interrogation team. After finding out that Nucky lied about going to Ireland to bury his father, they interrogate Deputy Halloran about various crimes Nucky and Eli may have committed, including the murder of Maggie’s late husband. Scene rating: fun as hell.
Remember Dunn Purnsley, the loudmouthed inmate who antagonized Chalky White for being uppity and self-righteous until Chalky had all of the other inmates, whom he had personally helped out in the past, beat the hell out of him? Well, Chalky and Purnsley are in cahoots now. Chalky wishes to incite a strike in the black community in A.C., and the silver-tongued Purnsley is his key to this: Purnsley, working in a kitchen now, encourages all of his black coworkers to rebel against their jerk of a boss and begin a strike. It goes as all dramatic strike scenes do (and should).
“Forgive me for what I’ve brought upon you.” – Maggie
Finally, the most human problem in this week’s episode: Maggie’s daughter Emily has contracted polio…and considering her dismissal of the Quarantine sign in Emily’s hospital room, Maggie might be getting a bit sick too. Things have gone horribly wrong for Maggie over the course of the last few weeks. Her own brother wants nothing to do with her. She succumbed to her weaknesses by sleeping with Owen. Now, her daughter is ill. And the idea of one of his surrogate children unwell is apparently the only thing that can bring horror to Nucky’s stone face.