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Boardwalk Empire Episode 10: Joe Masseria Delivers a Message to Nucky

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Episode 10 of Boardwalk Empire ("A Man, A Plan") had about as much action, drama, death, and sadness as we have seen in any episode. Some may contend it's not the best episode ever, but it's pretty damn close if you ask me. This is by far the best episode of the year and last week's episode was great!

Boardwalk Empire

Many subplots continued to unfold this past week.  Nucky makes some serious moves in his bid to get rid of Masseria and Gyp while Gaston Means plays both Nucky and Harry Daughtery for $40,000 a piece so they can get rid of Jess Smith. Normally that type of action would be enough for one episode, but also - Margaret and Owen plan their escape, Lucky and Mayer Lansky make a deal with Masseria, Van Alden/Mueller encounters Al Capone fork to face, Gyp sends a message to his business partner that he won't even let his cousin slide, and Richard Harrow's romance with his new girlfriend goes further.

And, the end of the episode is about as shocking and sad of an ending we have seen yet.

Margaret and Owen Plot Their Escape to St. Louis

Margaret and Owen are madly in love with each other. They are also in love with the prospect of getting the hell out of Atlantic City for good. Margaret says she will head out there first. Then, Owen will disappear a few months later so as not to tip off Nucky. More on this later on, as we revisit this scene at the end of the episode.

Nucky Plots Masseria's Assassantion

The war is on between Nucky and Masseria. Nucky is no longer dazed and confused like he was last week as he is recovered from the concussion. He makes a series of moves to counter the offensive. First, he orders Eli to go out to Chicago to meet with Torrio so he can get some Chicago-style firepower to help with the war. Then he orders Mickey to go out to Western PA to run George Remus' distillery, now that he's out of the picture. Then, Nucky comes up with a plan to take out Joe Masseria in New York. Each Tuesday he goes to a Turkish bathhouse and Agent Sawicki and Owen Sleater will go up there to do the deed.

Unbeknownst to Nucky and Owen, Lucky Luciano tips off Masseria about the impending hit. This proves to be diastrous as we see later on.

Nucky has so much going on that he barely has time for his comrade Chalky White who wants to turn the location of Babette's into a high-end club geared towards black people. Nucky tells him that Atlantic City isn't ready for this and it clearly pisses Chalky off.

Gaston Means Plays Nucky and Daughtery for $40,000

Jess Smith is about to rat out Nucky and Daughtery so he can save his own ass. This is coming on the heels of George Remus' arrest - who will provide receipts to Randolph, which will implicate Jess Smith and Daughtery in the bootlegging scandal.

Nucky wants the problem to go away and Gaston Means offers to get rid of that problem for $40,000. Nucky agrees to the deal, but only once he sees actual results.

Means then meets up with Jess Smith and tells him that the feds marked the $10,000 which is sitting nearby and that all he has to do is burn that money. Means promptly heads over to Daughtery's office and points to Jess Smith out the window, who is burning the money outside. This proves to Daughtery that his lifelong friend is about to rat on him. Daughtery wants Smith gone, dead that is. Means says he'll do it, for $40,000.

Daughtery has a private chat with Smith before he gets ready for bed and they reminisce about a tornado, which took place when they were kids. In a way Daughtery relays to Smith that he knows he's about to snitch.

Gaston Means is lurking in Jess Smith's bedroom like a cockroach with pistol in hand and ready to do the deed. He goes up to his bed thinking he's laying in bed and slowly puts the gun to his head when he's surprised by Jess Smith who is waiting in the bathroom with a gun in his hand. Jess Smith says, "Did you ever murder anybody?" Means replies that he never did and Smith tells him he will get his chance to see one now when he puts the gun to his head and committs suicide.

In real life, Jess Smith committed suicide, but the details of his death were always murky. Word is that President Harding wanted him out of Washington when news of the scandal started to spread. After Smith's death, he became the fall guy for the administration's nefarious affairs. 

Al Capone Threatens Van Alden/Mueller With a Fork

Van Alden (a.k.a. George Mueller) finally makes a sale when he sells some booze to a local Norgwegian bar owner. His sales pitch? "How about a taste of the homeland?" The barowner offers him $20 for 4 bottles, which if you do the math comes out to around $250 if adjusted for inflation. Yes, bootlegging was big business and provided a huge return.

When Van Alden makes a return to the bar he his "arrested" and taken away. Al Capone brings him in and teaches him a lesson by sticking a fork near his eye. He wants to know if O'Banion is a good guy to work for and Mueller tells him he is. Thinking he's about to die, Mueller says a prayer, but his time hasn't come yet.

Gyp Rosetti Teaches His Partner Tonino a Nasty Lesson

Gyp Rosetti is all pissed off about the bottles of booze which fell off the boat and ended up in A.C. He gets an explanation as to why from his partner's (Tonino Sandrelli) cousin Franco. He tells him that a "rogue wave" might be the reason why the booze fell off the boat.

Not even science is a good enough excuse for Gyp who treats his soliders like roaches. Later on Gyp buries Franco in the sand up to his neck. Tonino pleads to Gyp to let him go for he is his "flesh and blood", but to his avail he fails. Gyp proceeds to take the shovel to his cousin's head like it's a golfball on a tee and beats his head into mince meat. Then after killing his cousin, Gyp has the balls to tell Tonino that "he owes him one." Pretty nasty...

Very soon all of Gyp's soldiers will turn on him. He has killed his right-hand man's "flesh and blood" right in front of him. This lesson to Tonino will come back to bite Gyp in his ass. Mark it down. I had a conversation with Joe Vallee the other night about Gyp surviving beyond this season. Before episode 10 I thought he would last into next season. Now I'm not so sure. I think Tonino will turn on him following this nasty, vulgar display of senseless violence.

But, as Nucky said Gyp is a petulant child. Gyp will kill anyone over anything when he doesn't get his way. Instead of taking his ball to go home, he prefers to play golf on a beach with human being's heads or use innocent waitresses as human shields. He is one of the more ruthless, compelling, and remarkable characters in the history of television; the true mark of a great villain.  

Masseria Delivers Owen in a Box

In one of Boardwalk Empire’s most shocking endings to date, Nucky is awoken to be informed of a special delivery in the middle of the night. Margaret is awoken as well. When the crate is opened, Nucky tells Margaret to not look. Inside it is Owen’s dead body.

Margaret’s initial reaction is to punch Nucky and she runs into a bedroom and locks the door. What makes this even sadder is that we flashback to earlier in the episode when Margaret tells Owen that she is pregnant with a child that is his.

Now Margaret will really have no choice but to get out of dodge. It’s clear that she and Nucky haven’t been sleeping together for quite sometime. And, now Nucky must realize that something was going on behind his back. Not that he has any room to talk after his repeated infidelities.

It will be interesting to see what happens between Margaret and the doctor who helped her with the sex education classes. Perhaps something will develop there.

With just two more episodes left it appears that the 2-part finale will take on a story arc similar to the end of Harry Potter when the castle gets invaded. Next week it looks like Gyp and his crew invade Atlantic City and Nucky’s mansion. We even see Gyp with the little white dog once again.

As they say...s--t is about to get real.

Without question this episode gets a "5." Time will tell if this goes down as the best episode of Boardwalk Empire ever, but right now it certainly appears like it is in my eyes.

Show scale:

5 - The Macallan - 12 Year

4 - Glenmorangie

3 - The Glenlivet

2 - Laphroaig

1 - Johnny Walker Black

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com

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