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Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 5 Recap: "Erlkönig"


Willie gets a lesson in conscience crisis from Nucky


Nucky travels to Philadelphia after gets a call from Willie, who was arrested in connection with the accidental death of Henry. When Willie asks Nucky if his family knows, Nucky informs him that nobody knows about this, but that he needs some time to clean up the mess he created for himself.


Nucky then meets with the assistant DA, who is not the guy whose palm Nucky can grease. Nucky shows great disappointment that he is not able to meet with the DA, whom he apparently has a friendship with. This is further compounded by the fact that multiple witnesses say they saw Willie bring in alcohol to the party. Moreover, the coroner claims that the believed cause of death was different than the actual cause of death. Further complicating matters is the fact that Henry’s father is a major contributor to the Republican party who wants there to be consequences for his son’s death.


Nucky goes back to Willie and basically tells him to get his story straight- so he can make a good lie to cover up what he did. Nucky and Willie eventually meet with the DA and Nucky instructs Willie to recap the incident “ as best as he can remember.”


The two leave the DA’s office and Willie is basically off the hook. Afterwards, Nucky has a long talk with Willie. He tells him that whatever occurred is over. He promises him he can live with it, and that the people who discount him don’t know who he really is. When Willie asks Nucky how much he paid off the DA, Nucky basically blows off the question and notes that he will let him know all about what happened when the time is right.


Yes, Willie is in the clear, but somebody had to take the fall. That somebody is Willie’s roommate Clayton, who gets arrested for poisoning Henry.

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Frank Capone meets his demise; Al promises vengeance


Nelson (aka George) is picked up by Frank Capone and brought to Al’s office- where Al is snorting a mound of cocaine like it’s his job. Al instructs George to go to an electric plant and “encourage” the voters to do the right thing and vote for the person who Al has in his back pocket. George initially wants to do this quietly, but when he is assaulted, all hell breaks loose.  Photo: HBO


Later on, Al, Frank and George try their act one more time and violence again ensues between the three and some workers that are armed. In the midst of the carnage, George sees a beaten Al struggling for safety and pulls his gun on him. Frank sees this and is about to pull a gun on George, but is then violently executed by a slew of Chicago policemen.  Later on, Al swears to George that “every fu**ing thing that crawls is gonna pay.” Uh oh………


Gillian hits rock bottom


Gillian continues to use, which isn’t the best thing because she’s trying to regain custody of Tommy. She wants him so badly to the point where she propositions a judge, stops by Tommy’s school and tries to take him, and along the way she offers to sell her body to Dunn for more heroin. Gillian is found by Roy, who tells her he knows a thing or two about guilt as well. Gillian informs Roy that she’s done some pretty bad things. Has she seen the light? Or will she string Roy along, too?


The end of Eddie Kessler


Nucky knocks on Eddie’s door and he is not there. That’s because Eddie has been detained by Knox and one of his men after picking him up at the train station. Knox does everything possible to try and break Eddie (even hitting him so hard that he vomits), but Eddie will still not surrender any information regarding Nucky and the crew.Photo: HBO

However, Knox does his homework on Eddie. He comes back later revealing to Eddie that he knows a little bit about his checkered past in Germany. It’s kind of vague, but it seems Eddie allegedly took up with another woman and was involved in some shady dealings at one point.

After reciting "Der Erlkönig," a German poem which details an unresponsive father who ignores his son, Eddie finally breaks and tells Knox that he gave Ralph Capone money at the train station where he found him because Nucky asked him to do it. Knox then finally lets Eddie go, but infers that he will be back for more information.

A shaken Eddie then stumbles into Nucky’s place, where Nucky gives him a lecture for not getting back to him and staying out late. Eddie doesn’t tell Nucky anything about what happened. There’s a little bit of a pause, then Nucky points out to Eddie that he put out the wrong socks for him.Eddie then goes to straighten out Nucky’s socks, writes a letter (presumably in German) that he doesn’t seem to finish, opens the window next to him, and jumps to his death. Eddie is so guilt-ridden over his actions against Nucky that he would rather take his own life than give Knox any information that could lead to Nucky’s downfall.

Final thoughts:


-We really got some interesting insight in regards to the way Nucky thinks, and how he justifies his actions and the consequences that follow them. He basically told Willie to lie and that everything would be taken care of. Either Willie will be extremely guilt-ridden over diming out Clayton, or, like Nucky told him, he’ll just live with it. We could see a whole new Willie from this point on, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Nucky handles Mickey.


-It’s a shame to see Dunn go from a loyal ally to Chalky and Nucky to a drug pushing yes-man.  I don’t know how this will end, but I don’t think any good will come out of Dunn’s newly found extracurricular activities.


-Gillian’s charm has faded. She’s a heroin addict, we always knew she was crazy, she’s pretty much at the end of her rope and I have no idea where this storyline is going or what the future holds for her. In saying that, Gretchen Mol is clearly making the most of whatever time she has left on the show.


-Frank Capone was really the only one who kept Al Capone under control. Now that he’s gone….


After five episodes of Boardwalk Empire’s fourth season, it seems that every plot lined is now developed. This season seems to focus more on individual characters than one clear direction of where things are going. The death of Eddie will shake the core of Nucky’s group in more ways than you think. Although he was seemingly the weakest link in their operations, Nucky always had a soft spot for Eddie and he was a loyal employee for over a decade. Nobody knows for sure what was in the letter, but Knox’s mission just got a lot tougher with Eddie out of the picture. This might be enough to get Nucky out of his mellow state of mind. And as I mentioned before, if Nucky finds out that Knox (even indirectly) had something to do with Eddie’s suicide, Knox is a s good as dead. Count on this.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com


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