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.