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Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 8 Recap: 'The Old Ship of Zion'


Chalky’s getting bad vibes but takes action


During deacon’s funeral, Dunn pays a visit to the drug house on Baltic Avenue where his heroin is being made and has a chat with Moses, who cuts Dunn’s heroin. After Dunn tells Moses what he wants, he hands him a flyer of Dr. Narcisse’s play advertised on it.


While at deacon’s funeral, Chalky’s daughter asks him if he’s alright. There’s several issues bothering Chalky right now. First off, Daughter is singing during the service, and Chalky’s wife doesn’t fail to notice he is checking her out up and down. However there’s several reasons as to why Chalky is a little preoccupied.Photo: HBO


After the service, Chalky heads to the barber shop, where he runs into Dunn. Chalky reads him the riot act for skipping the deacon’s service and tells him that come along with him to help him with some business.


Chalky stops by the drug house on Baltic (with Dunn and several other of his men) and administers several beatdowns inside to the junkies. Nervous that Moses would spill the beans on him if they saw each other, Dunn runs into the back room and kills him, then takes his gun to make it look like he fired first. Chalky, who is immediately suspicious of Dunn after he runs into the back room, turns over Mose’s body and takes the flyer out of his back pocket.



Sally comes to Atlantic City; Nucky helps Willie again


As his latest shipment comes into the warehouse (nicely covered in oranges by the way), Nucky unexpectedly sees Sally, who came up from Florida to oversee the operation. Sally is playing coy the entire time and is about to run off with Mickey later that night, until Nucky decides he’ll have none of that and asks him to leave- before smacking him upside the head with Eddie’s cane that he’s using (for some reason). After some tit for tat, Nucky and Sally end of spending the night together- as Willie hears every bit of it as he’s trying to so to sleep upstairs.


The next morning, Willie meets Sally and are later joined by Nucky. Willie tells Nucky that he wants to learn how things are run in Atlantic City. Eager to learn, Willie says he’ll start at the bottom. Nucky manages to get Willie a job at Mayor Bader’s office, but encourages Willie to be his eyes and ears. It’s also implied that Willie might go back to school. But it turns out that Willie might be going back to jail (more on that later).


Nucky drops by Chalky’s; Chalky interrupts Narcisse’s play and makes a statement


With the heroin outbreak out of control on Chalky’s side of town and Mayor Bader informing Nucky that things are getting out of hand, Nucky stops by Chalky’s to make sure his house is in order. Chalky is obviously edgy, but tells Nucky he’s working on the problem. Nucky warns Chalky not to let his life get out of hand and leaves.


Chalky then rounds up his men (including Dunn) and show up outside the building where Narcisse’s play is taking place. Chalky holds up the two bags he found in the drug house on Baltic Ave and sets them on fire. When somebody asks what the bags are, Chalky implies that Narcisse knows. Two stare long and hard at each other, as Chalky upstages Narcisse- at least for the time being.

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Narcisse gets the tables turned on him; Dunn meets his demise


After suffering humiliation at the hands of Chalky during his play, Narcisse stops by Daughter’s hotel room. Narcisse, well aware that Daughter will be with Chalky later on in the evening, instructs her to keep him at her place for a longer period of time. “There’ll be another visitor,” says Narcisse.


Later on that night, Daughter does what Narcisse asks and keeps Chalky at her room by singing "The Old Ship of Zion," which was played at Chalky’s father’s funeral. An emotional Chalky stays, just in time for Dunn to stop by.


Dunn informs Chalky that Narcisse is the one peddling heroin and that he also killed the deacon. When Dunn tells Chalky there’s a car downstairs and they can both take care of Narcisse, Chalky isn’t buying any of it. A violent fight then ensues between the two, with Chalky slicing the side of Dunn’s face. Dunn overpowers Chalky and is about to choke him to death when Daughter recovers the knife and fatally stabs Dunn in the back.

Knox plays hardball with Eli


As we saw last week, Knox is losing his grip on his attempt to crackdown on Nucky’s gang of merry men. However, someone in Knox’s group informs Knox that they have knowledge of Willie Thompson’s actions over at Temple and how Nucky got him out of trouble. Knox also learns that Willie’s former roommate Clayton is currently in prison facing the murder charge for Willie. A now rejuvenated Knox then visits Clayton in jail and bribes him with cigarettes, asking him to tell him everything he knows about Willie.


Shortly after, Knox and his associate meet with Eli in a restaurant, where Knox gives Eli the real reason why Willie left Temple. An enraged Eli refuses to believe it. Knox also tells him how Nucky drove out to Pennsylvania to get Willie off the hook. Now back in a position of power, Knox encourages Eli to turn in Nucky. If he does, Willie will be free.


Eli then goes home to his family, where Willie (at the request of Nucky) offers Eli an apology. Eli hugs Willie and welcomes him back. Looking on, Nucky reminds Eli that he did tell him everything would work out fine. Little does he know that Nucky had better count his chickens before they hatch…...



Final Thoughts:


-Eli is none too happy with Nucky anyway because he thinks Nucky is interfering in his relationship with Willie. Nucky wasn’t being underhanded and wasn’t trying to stab Eli in the back. He truly cares about Willie and doesn’t want to see him ruin his life. However, if Eli was mad at Nucky for meddling, how does he feel now that he knows Nucky got Willie out of trouble and never told him?  Is Eli’s judgment so cloudy over his son that he fails to see the big picture in regards to his suspicions about Knox? Eli tried to take Nucky down before and wound up in jail. Would he go against him again to save his son? As the episode ended, it looked that way.


-While Nucky has mellowed out for the most part this season, he’s still a man who gets what he wants and goes to whatever lengths needed to get it. This was obvious when Mickey was about to have his way with Sally and Nucky bloodied the side of his face with Eddie’s cane. Sally was and IS Nucky’s in Nucky’s eyes. He was going to make sure Mickey didn’t get in the way of that.


-I guess all’s shady that ends shady is the best way to describe the demise of Dunn. It’s been a downward spiral for him ever since the Cora incident. It’s most likely he always had a bug up his ‘you know what’ about Chalky since Chalky’s boys gave him a beatdown in jail. The minute Dunn got the chance to turn on Chalky, he did. After he killed the deacon, there was no going back for Dunn.


-The longer Narcisse is around, the more I think he’s nothing more than a manipulative coward who preys on the feeble minded to do his dirty work. First daughter, then Dunn. He couldn’t manipulate Chalky, and Daughter thwarted his master plan by killing Dunn. Chalky might not be able to read, but he’s pretty sharp. He’s been onto Narcisse the moment he met him.  Messing with Chalky is one thing, but when Narcisse starts messing with Nucky (as next week’s previews indicate) AND Chalky, that’s just bad news. Narcisse is going to get his, it’s just a question of how he’ll get it.  


Boardwalk Empire turned it up a notch this week. The show is always at its best when the intensity is raised, and the final four episodes should be more of the same with Al Capone turning up the heat on O’Banion. It was rather unexpected that a new plot involving Nucky and Eli would be introduced this late, but it puts enough of an interesting spin on the bigger picture. That and the fate of Narcisse should make things interesting moving forward in the next few weeks.


Stay tuned.



Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com


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Photo: HBO