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Philly2Philly.com Boardwalk Empire Review: Episode 2


Last week Boardwalk Empire premiered on HBO after months of hype and more than delivered. The episode, directed by Martin Scorsese was intense, provocative, clever, and bold. Scorsese wasted little time in taking us inside the world of the corrupt Atlantic City political scene in the 1920's. And, Steve Buscemi showed that he can be a leading man in a major TV series.

We left off with Buscemi's character Nucky Thompson (based on the real-life Atlantic City racketeer Nucky Johnson) striking a deal with gangsters Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano over shipments of illegal booze.

Early on in the show it's clear that Thompson is as corrupt as they come and quite the smooth talker - two traits which many politicians share today. In the public he decries alcohol's effects on it's citizens. Behind the scenes, he looks to profit as much as humanly possible from the alcohol trade on the heels of Prohibition.

Here's the quick low-down of went down in Episode 2 (entitled "The Ivory Tower") for those of you who couldn't catch Boardwalk Empire Sunday night.

Nucky plays dumb when an investigator is on his tale

Special investigator Agent Nelson Van Alden is onto Nucky like flies on you know what, but Nucky never waivers. Later on we learn that Van Alden tells his boss that Nucky may be an even bigger fish than Rothstein.

Al gives a statement to a reporter who is a little too ambitious

A reporter looks to tie the murder of one of Rothstein's cronies to someone in Johnny Torrio's crew. He goes up to the bar (where Mr. Capone himself is serving up drinks) and asks Al for a statement after getting two shots of wiskey. Then, Al promptly gives his statement in the form of a violent beating to said reporter. A star is born on the boardwalk. Al Capone is no longer just another young  He means business.

Nucky offers help to Margaret Schroeder

Margaret Schroeder (played by Kelly McDonald) returns a large sum of money that Nucky gave to her following the death of her husband. Instead she asks if there is a job she can perform for Nucky. He tells her what she can do is "vote Republican."

Nucky orders Jimmy to come up with 3,000 clams in 48 hours or else

Jimmy puts a call into Al Capone who conveniently can't hear him on the other line. Ultimately, Jimmy makes some moves and comes up with the $3,000 and Nucky promptly takes his money and loses it in a game of roulette. Nucky has not just slapped Jimmy in the face, but spat in his face. Nothing Jimmy can do about it at this point. He's still a nobody looking to rise up.

Rothstein orders Nucky to pay him 100,000 clams or else

Nucky tells Rothstein to show his face in Atlantic City if he wants to see how he "does business." Rothstein eloquently explained earlier to a man involved in the murder of one of his guys that if he killed someone for amusement then just imagine what he would to do someone who really crosses him.

Uh-oh that "5th guy" is still alive

And, in true Shakesperean fashion we have peripeteia at the end of Episode 2 when the goofy businessman who wants to impress a young gal finally gets her to "give in." Unfortunately for both of them, one of the five men who was supposedly killed by Jimmy and Al surfaces in the woods, stumbling upon their car.

The you know what is about to hit the fan for Jimmy Darmody. Things are already heating up for Nucky who has a fed on his tail. And, Nucky now has Rothstein ticked off. My only concern here is the writers may have jumped the gun too quickly to have things heat up between Nucky and Rothstein, but we shall see.

After all of that - it's only the second episode folks. This show is shaping up to be as good as The Sopranos if not better. It also helps that Terence Winter (who was a writer for The Sopranos) is the executive producer and head writer for Boardwalk Empire. It's been a long time since HBO has had something as compelling as Boardwalk Empire. For you fans of The Wire, look for Michael K. Williams' character Chalky White (who played Omar) to start playing a bigger role in Boardwalk. The countdown is on until next week...

Catch Boardwalk Empire every Sunday night at 9:00 PM on HBO.