A rule of thumb for all Boardwalk Empire characters: don’t make plans. Anytime someone announces the pursuit of any sort of aspiration, he’s bound to wind up six feet under by the end of the very same episode. Meeting this fate on the latest episode of the series is Owen Slater — a character so debonair and likable, albeit shifty and amoral, that it’s almost a miracle he’s lasted this long on the show. When we last left Owen, he and the enamored Margaret were vowing to flee away together, escaping the life that Nucky has built for them. Right up until he shows up in the Thompsons’ doorway, dead inside a box (courtesy of Joe Masseria), Owen was asserting himself dedicated to that very plan… although who can tell if this guy is ever actually speaking the truth?
Let’s backtrack. Nucky rallies his inner circle (Owen, Eli, and Mickey) to pull the trigger on the antagonistic Masseria, rally the help of Johnny Torrio, and set up shop in Pennsylvania to start work on their own distillery, respectively. We don’t see how Eli’s and Mickey’s missions play out, but we do see what the cruel fates have in store for Owen. Masseria is tipped off to his approach by an especially traitorous pair of entrepreneurs: Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, who, in hopes of striking a deal with Masseria to fund a heroin operation, give up info about their “pal” Nucky’s plans to do away with the Mafia boss.
So, Masseria beats Owen to the punch… and all this after Nucky’s right-hand man has just learned that he’s going to be a father: Margaret is pregnant with his child. And given her mass hysterics upon glance of Owen’s dead body, Nucky is likely onto the fact that there was something going on between the two… although, really, did he think their marriage was going just fine before this?
Business as usual for Bobby Cannavale’s mad hatter. Something goes wrong in his operation (a dozen or two bottles go overboard and wash up on the Atlantic City shores during delivery), someone speaks out of turn when trying to be helpful, and he goes into a blinding, homicidal rage. It’s not shocking anymore, Boardwalk. Watching Rosetti is just like living next door to a crying baby — always the same nonsensical routine, and we just want to tell him to shut up and get over it already.
But on the opposite side of the spectrum is Richard, who, although living in a proverbial soap opera at this point, is always invigorating. Richard’s girlfriend Julie encourages him subtly to take the rearing of young Tommy into his own hands, and then invites him back to her place… where her belligerent father insults them both, earning Richard’s violent (but controlled) wrath. If and when Richard is going to institute a move of his own, with Julie and Tommy along for the ride, is uncertain. But hopefully any plans our favorite World War I veteran makes won’t leave him in a box on somebody’s doorstep. We’d miss you most of all, Richard.
Speaking of plans gone awry, hardly any time at all has passed since Van Alden has gotten himself into the bootlegging business before trouble heads his way. Thinking he’s made a faithful customer in a Norwegian barkeep, Van Alden is ratted out to the Johnny Torrio union and manhandled all the way to a meeting with an unhappy Al Capone, who, this season, is quickly rising to the prominence that history has pinned to his lapel.
And finally, poor Jess Smith. Innocent, good-natured, potentially brain damaged Jess Smith, who takes himself out of the picture after finding out that Harry Daugherty, his own childhood friend and closest confidant, was willing to have him killed as not to prompt any more trouble professionally. Little does he know, Daughtery is next… at least as far as Nucky’s schematics would read.
It seems like everyone close to Mr. Thompson finds him or herself on the wrong side of this war. This season alone, Nucky has lost his business associate (Manny Horvitz), his girlfriend (Billie), and now his right-hand man. Who could be next — Eli? Margaret? Please not Eddie.
[Photo Credit: HBO]