Boardwalk Empire's newest villain is a cunning, calculating and manipulative character in the world of organized crime. Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) showed up toward the beginning of season four when one of his men never returned from a trip to the boardwalk. Since then, the good doctor has been trouble.
He has muscled heroin into the Boardwalk Empire world, stomping on Chalky White's territory, which ultimately infringes on Nucky Thompson's territory. These crime bosses are like kings, so anytime they lose part of their kingdom, it’s war time. Turf disputes, murder and the affection of the beautiful Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham) are at stake in the season finale. Narcisse is no slouch. He may appear like some intellectual incapable of hurting others, but he has an army of muscle that scared Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams) and Daughter into hiding out in the penultimate episode.
Will Narcisse meet his end? That is hard to say. In past seasons, those who crossed Nucky (Steve Buscemi) were killed. Bobby Cannavale played Gyp Rosetti in season three, threatening the life and livelihood of Nucky. The season three finale ended with Gyp’s murder. If you cross Nucky, you meet your maker. Narcisse, however, has not crossed Nucky directly. Their beef is a result of Nucky's friendship and business partnership with Chalky.
There is a chance Dr. Narcisse could make it out of this season alive. A lot can happen in the finale. Chalky doesn't seem to have the manpower to win a war with Narcisse. Why else would Chalky be hiding? The second Narcisse threatens Nucky, the whole game changes. If and when that happens, Dr. Narcisse's days are numbered.
Williams, who portrayed gay Omar Little on the cult show, admits he became addicted to drugs in 2004 and spent much of his time on The Wire "playing with fire".
He tells the New Jersey Star Ledger newspaper, "It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead.
"When I look back on it now, I don't know how I didn't end up in a body bag.
"Eventually, I got so sick and tired of this charade. No one who was in my circle, who knew me as Mike, was allowing me to get high. I had to slip away to do drugs. I had to hide it. I'd be gone for days at a time. I was lonely in that part of my life. I was broke, broken and beat up. Exhausted. Empty."
Williams, who currently plays Boardwalk Empire's Chalky White, insists he's clean and sober now: "I finally said, 'I can't do this no more.' I didn't want to end up dead."
Season Three of Community (one of the most promising aspects of a pretty optimistic Fall season) is not starved for terrific guest stars. As you probably heard, John Goodman will enjoy a multi-episode arc as the "supervillain" Vice Dean Laybourne this coming season. We will also be graced with the glory of The Wire's Michael K. Williams, who earned endless praise for his portrayal as Omar Little on the HBO series (fans of Boardwalk Empire will also recognize Williams as Nucky Thompson's back-alley associate, Chalky). But perhaps the greatest news is the casting of the masterful comic actor Martin Starr as a Greendale professor.
Starr was iconic as the nerdy, somewhat antisocial movie-lover Bill Haverchuck on the short-lived (but amazing) Freaks and Geeks. Ten years later, Starr joined the equally brief (and equally amazing) comedy series Party Down, where he played a contentious aspiring screenwriter working as a caterer. As far as movies go, you might recognize Starr from his major roles in Cheats, Knocked Up and Adventureland.
Starr's prowess as a character actor is perfectly suited for the boundlessly creative Community. We see Starr below as a professor who seems to be stirring up trouble for Annie (Alison Brie) and Jeff (Joel McHale). We hear that a storyline involving an academic rival for Annie, called (in the spirit of Community's unceasing reverence for political correctness) "Asian Annie" will materialize this year. We've seen Annie get pretty desperate, but we've never seen her have to compete with someone in her sacred world: the classroom. Can we expect some extreme reactions? Most probably.
Community's third season will premire on Thursday, September 22, at 8 p.m. on NBC.
S1E4: One of the most interesting things about HBO's new prohibition-gangster drama Boardwalk Empire is that, well, it's not about crime. It's about love. Now that may seem like a stretch, considering there are dudes getting beat up or murdered every couple scenes, but with the young show's fourth episode "Anastasia," we learned that underneath all the booze and money lies a romantic tale with each of the show's central characters.
For example, take Atlantic City king Nucky Thompson and dress sales associate Margaret Schroeder. In the first few episodes, the two danced around their feelings for each other. Obviously, because of each of their situations, neither is going to act on it. But in this episode, we finally saw some advancement in each character beyond just sitting and thinking about the other.
The cornerstone of "Anastasia" was Nucky's "surprise" birthday party. (I put surprise in quotations because early in the episode, we see the alcohol-mogul practicing his speech -- "Oh, I had no idea," he says. Yeah right!). At this party, Margaret shows up to deliver Nucky's girl Lucy a special dress to put on after she pops out of the cake. In our eyes as viewers, Margaret and Lucy have developed a competitive relationship because they both clearly have feelings for Nucky. At this party, we get to see them compete head-to-head. Both are questioned about a woman's right to vote, and both give vastly different answers: Lucy doesn't know or understand the issues, and Margaret is very vocal about her thoughts and believes that all "civilized countries" have already passed the bill.
Then, Margaret and Nucky share a dance together. After they finish (to an applause from the crowd, by the way), Margaret says she must go. But before she leaves, she sees Lucy jump out of the cake -- nearly naked -- to surprise Nucky. Everyone in the room laughs and Nucky appears to be enjoying himself, until he catches the eye of Margaret before she leaves. So despite having an beautiful, only-in-underwear woman in front of his eyes, Nucky is still thinking about Margaret.
This development between the three characters was much needed. Yeah, the juxtaposition between the two women was laid on pretty thick (I could almost hear the writers yelling "Hey! There's sexual competition! Pay attention!"), but regardless, the advancement helped us viewers understand that the show isn't just about running booze across the country. It's about the characters and how they feel and how they're interacting with each other. And with the way the episode ends, with Margaret stealing a piece of lingerie from the dress shop after seeing Nucky and Lucy out on the boardwalk together, we understand that Margaret has gotten a taste of what love with Nucky would be like, and she may hope to steal her way into his life.
Meanwhile, while that love triangle happened in Atlantic City, Jimmy and Al Capone were trying to advance their mobster careers in Chicago. The two meet with Charlie Sheridan (Frank Shattuck) to try and get their cut of the crime in Chicago. Jimmy wants to take a more diplomatic and respectful stance, while Capone -- of course -- prefers muscle. After a discussion and a few threats from Capone, they strike a deal with Sheridan. But it's clear Sheridan is not happy about the situation.
It's pretty obvious that Capone is reckless, and Jimmy should not be working out with him. But if I was in Jimmy's situation -- you know, basically exiled from the East coast -- it's hard to say I wouldn't head to Chicago and team up with Capone too. But I don't know. I don't understand why Jimmy isn't more forceful with his ideas with Capone. Jimmy acts like he has something to prove, but whenever he has the opportunity, he succumbs to Capone. Their relationship is quickly becoming one-sided, which is underscored by the part in the episode when Capone buys the two suits -- an action that says "Yeah, we're in business together, but I'm providing." This isn't a good position for Jimmy.
Inside the Episode: Ep. 4 - Part 2
And by the end of the episode, we learn that Jimmy and Capone are not as high up as they think in the crime world. Pearl, Jimmy's prostitute girlfriend in Chicago who he's very fond of (there's the love theme again), gets knifed in her face by one of Sheridan's men, permanently leaving a scar, smearing her face forever. Suddenly, Jimmy's new life in Chicago is spinning out of control.
Back in Atlantic City, outside of a birthday celebration, Nucky is trying to figure out who is responsible for the lynching at the end of last week's episode. He sends his brother Eli to the local KKK meeting where he arrests the local Klan leader and brings him in for questioning. After no initial success, Eli brings in Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) for one of the best scenes in the series so far. Slowly, Williams delivers a heartbreaking monologue about his father, known as the best carpenter in the county, and how he was lynched. And the end, he pulls out his father's tools.
"What are you gonna do with them," the Klan leader asks, trembling.
"Well, I ain't building no bookcase."
We jump 10 minutes to Eli standing outside the room. Chalky comes out and says the man is telling the truth. He didn't do the lynching. We, of course, already know that it was the Italians who were responsible for the lynching. Not the Klan. But regardless, Eli asks how he knows, and Chalky slowly opens his hand, revealing the man's finger in his palm.
Through "Anastasia," we learned that the characters of Boardwalk Empire care more about their relationships versus money or wealth. And, although we don't know enough to tie each storyline together completely, the show is finally moving from development to action. This week set up numerous questions: How will Margaret respond to Lucy and Nucky? How will Jimmy respond to Pearl's knifing? How will Jimmy handle Capone? Or maybe most importantly, how will love handle booze?
A dying fat man is being rolled down a hospital hallway, a shotgun wound in his stomach. This is, of course, the same fat man who stumbled out of the woods at the end of last week's episode -- a.k.a. the man that Jimmy and Al Capone thought they killed when they originally hijacked the booze in the series' first episode. And so, how the heck did this man survive for days in the woods with a gaping hole in his stomach? "He's fat," Eli says.
Oh Eli. It's obvious why your brother Nucky is in charge of the operation. You can't really do anything right, can you? After botching the discussion to convince Margaret her husband was a rat in last week's episode, you underscore your stupidity again. This time, he clumsily tries to suffocate the dying fat man on his gurney with a pillow -- and fails miserably. I mean, I guess I've never tried to suffocate anyone, but come on. The dude was barely conscious.
Meanwhile, Nucky's cutting a new deal on booze with a new gangster since Mickey Doyle's hooch was compromised last week. The man? Total badass Chalky White (Michael K. Williams). As the two mull over the price and split, we instantly tell that Mr. White is no pushover. Despite facing the adversity of being a black man in 1920, White manages to take his split up to 35%, nearly double what Nucky original proposal of 20%.
Cut to a brief, but heartbreaking, scene in Margaret's house. As they sit around the dinner table, her daughter asks questions, underscoring the sadness of the entire situation. "When's the baby coming, Mama?"
"The stork got lost," she replies.
But, things look up for Margaret when a knock comes on the door. It's one of Nucky's guys and he's there to offer Margaret a job. Now, we can't help but assume at this point that Nucky is interested in Margaret. Yeah, I'm sure Nucky likes to take care of his community, but after the late night interaction last week where Margaret showed some power in their relationship, plus this job offer, we're seeing their relationship grow and develop into something. But we're not quite sure what that something is yet.
And speaking of Nucky and his relationships, he's getting busy with his always-naked girlfriend Lucy. But, despite Lucy showing her love for Nucky below the belt (if you know what I mean), we can tell there's something up between the two. She's a babe, no doubt, but I wonder if maybe Nucky is thinking about another woman -- specifically Margaret -- as Lucy does the deed. (And honestly, who better to play the "I'm getting a BJ from a woman but don't give a f***" act better than Steve Buscemi?)
Now, cut back to the hospital. FBI Agent Van Alden has now shown up, and he and his feds steal the body to do some questioning. While driving down the road, they quickly realize that this dying fat man will not make it much longer so they stop at the next medical establishment they find -- a dentist.
The fat man wakes up and tells Agent Van Alden to go screw himself. So, Van Alden does the logical thing and sticks his hand in the fat man's open shotgun wound to get some answers -- and it works. Before he croaks, he squeaks out "Jimmy."
Next we see Margaret in her new job helping one of her first customers -- Nucky's girl Lucy. She's dressing her, and we can tell that Lucy may not be as stupid as she seemed earlier in the episode. It appears that she's sensing a potential fallout between her and Nucky and that Margaret may be the reason. Quickly, she establishes her dominance over Margaret. After Lucy makes her undress her, she poses in the mirror, forcing Margaret to admire Lucy's perfect and flawless body. On top of that, Lucy calls Margaret a "charity case." Clearly, she's trying to make Margaret feel like she's nothing more to Nucky than a broken home.
Meanwhile, word's got back to Nucky (and Arnold Rothstein, who's pissed that his cousin is dead) that the feds know about Jimmy, so he has no other choice. He must make Jimmy leave.
Ep. 3 Preview Clip - Rothstein Knows All the Tricks
There's something more to Jimmy and Nucky's relationship as well. Earlier in the episode, Nucky met with Jimmy's mother, and for the first time in the series, it seemed like someone else other than Nucky held the power in their scene. In an odd way, Nucky succumbed to Jimmy's mother's words and advice. She also makes a reference to Nucky, saying that he "promised to protect Jimmy." Perhaps there was once a romantic relationship? And maybe, this is why Nucky acts like a father-figure for Jimmy.
Ep. 3 Preview Clip - Gillian Confronts Nucky
Because that's the exact type of response Nucky gives to Jimmy -- fatherly. He knows if Jimmy stays, he'll go to jail, so he sends him on his way. Nucky's not mad. He's not angry. He's just disappointed.
Meanwhile, Jimmy takes out his anger on his wife -- we learn that he suspects she cheated on him during the war -- and heads to Chicago. During his tirade, Jimmy experiences a flashback of the war. It's a bit heartbreaking, because Jimmy, although his intentions were good, has destroyed his entire life and family.
Now we cut back to the deal that Nucky made earlier in the episode with Chalky White. Something's gone wrong. On the boat, "Liquor Kills" is inscribed and one of White's men have been lynched by, we assume, Mickey Doyle. Nucky and White exchange some words and the split gets changed to 50/50.
We end on Nucky walking in his hotel. He gets in the elevator, stares out across the room, and sees the dirty footprints he left behind. Quickly, it seems, that after two major incidents with jobs, Jimmy's problems, and his different women problems, the monster that is prohibition is too big for even Nucky Thompson to control.