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Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 4 Recap: "All In"


A day in the life of Al Capone


The episode begins in Chicago, where Jake, one of Al Capone’s “runners,” is making his rounds collecting some debts. Having forced to walk up a flight of stairs, the morbidly obese Jake (and that’s being nice) proceeds to fall down the stairs and winds up in the hospital.


While in the hospital, he is visited by Al and Frank Capone and Nelson Van Alden. Van Alden brings flowers on the instructions of Mr. O’Banion, whom Van Alden is still working for.  Feeling nostalgic, Al and Frank decide to finish Jake’s deliveries and they drag Van Alden with them. Al wastes no time and gets tremendous pleasure in throwing an uncooperative customer out of a two-story window and onto a parked car.


As the day draws to a close, Al sees one of O’Banion’s trucks and (along with a reluctant Van Alden) hijacks it. When the two hear a voice in the back of the truck, they park it along the side of a road. The person turns out to be one of Mr. O’Banion’s employees- a man who works for Mr. O’Banion...AND Van Alden. Photo: HBO


When the man identifies Van Alden, Al gives him the count of ten to run. Al then instructs Van Alden to shoot him. After a few shots, his gun gets jammed. So in response, Al promptly fires a few rounds with his gun and kills the man in cold blood. Al finds what he did absolutely hilarious. Yep. Just another day in the life of Al Capone.

 Agent Knox is on a mission


Agent Knox is more determined than ever before to infiltrate Nucky and his gang. He has no substantial proof for his superiors at this time, but he plans to find the weakest link in Nucky’s chain and intends to break it (more on this later).



Chalky’s rift with Dunn continues; Narcisse and Dunn get tighter


Onyx Club singer Daughter Maitland once again catches the eye of Chalky. Despite his "You just go on singin' to the folks who need to hear you" demeanor, I’m not real sure whether Chalky doesn’t like the idea of having Daughter sing at the club because of the Narcisse connection or whether he’s putting on a facade to cover up his attraction to her. It could be Chalky just being Chalky.


One thing Chalky isn’t covering up is his dislike for Dunn. who tells Chalky that his mother is sick in Baltimore and he needs to visit her. Chalky agrees to let Dunn leave, but he acts like he could care less either way.


Turns out Dunn was lying and he goes to Harlem to see Narcisse, who promptly scolds and belittles Dunn for giving him drug money for the heroin Dunn sold for him. Narcisse isn’t happy whatsoever about Dunn stopping by where he instructs students. Dunn meets up with Narcisse later and apologizes for using Narcisse’s location as a drug money drop-off. Narcisse goes on about how Chalky is washed up (despite recently opening the Onyx Club) and how Harlem must not conform to the “downfall of the Libyan.” Narcisse spews so much mumbo jumbo that it’s basically all nonsense. Only thing is, Dunn doesn’t know the difference and gets all riled up to the point to where he administers a severe beating to a bystander at the indirect urging of Narcisse.



Willie gets in big trouble...and we’re not talking alcohol


Eli finds out that Willie is very unhappy at Temple. Willie tells him he doesn’t feel like he fits in, and that the school is dominated by Philadelphians and New Yorkers. Eli tells him to try harder and he “doesn’t wanna hear this nonsense anymore.”  Turns out Willie fitting in is now be the least of his problems.


Seeking revenge against Henry (the bully who embarrassed him last week) Willie decides to give him a little “something extra”  in the leftover booze that he has for another party he’s throwing. It works. Willie puts the “something extra” in Henry’s drink, and Henry proceeds to mess himself in front of the entire party.


After the party ends, Willie’s roommate waked him up and takes him to the hallway bathroom- where they find Henry dead on the bathroom floor surrounded by his own blood.

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The poker game


Nucky and Eli need a partner the possible real estate deal in Florida, so they try and convince Rothstein to go in with them. After the events that transpired last season, Rothstein is a little skeptical about anything Nucky presents to him. As a result, he requests Nuky joins him downstairs for a game of poker. “I find you don’t really know a man until you play cards with him,” Rothstein says as he walks out of Nucky’s office.


Nucky obliges and joins Rothstein at the table, and it gets ugly. Rothstein is in the hole for some big losses. And as the night goes on, Nucky gets to know Rothstein in a way he had never seen him. Seeming rattled and agitated, Rothstein is granted $200,000 by Nucky in an effort to recover his losses and he loses that money as well. Lansky tells Rothstein is basically embarrassing himself, so much that Meyer Lansky tells him he should walk away now before his reputation gets damaged. It doesn’t help that a man is taunting Rothstein and Lansky with off-color remarks about their Jewish heritage.


Photo: HBO

Meyer Lansky’s rise to power


After Lansky convinces Rothstein to cease activity at the poker table, Nucky tells Lansky the proposal to Rothstein is off. Nucky takes notice of how obsessed Rothstein is with winning and thinks Rothstein’s ways will serve as a hindrance in regards to the deal.


Instead of asking Nucky to reconsider, Lansky asks Nucky to be part of the deal instead of Rothstein. He promises Nucky $500,000 in 48 hours. Nucky tells him “this conversation never took place” if Nucky doesn’t get his money by that time.


Shortly after the conversation takes place, Lansky follows the man making anti-semitic remarks out of the casino and kicks the crap out of him. While it’s most likely that Lansky assaulted the man as a result of his behavior at the poker table, you have to wonder if Lansky ended up taking the man’s money as well. While Lansky is a hustler, it’s undetermined whether he’s a big enough name in the underworld at this time to get a hold of that kind of money in the time frame Nucky needed it.



Eddie has a little too much fun


Nucky instructs Eddie to meet Al Capone’s brother Ralph and give him $10,000. Eddie does as he is told, but Ralph is hungry and wants company, so Eddie takes him to the ‘Knife and Fork.’ After dinner, Eddie and Ralph share a drink or two (or five or six) before Ralph takes the train back to Chicago.


As Ralph gets on the train, agent Knox grabs Eddie and detains him. Knox now has his weakest link.



Final Thoughts:


-I really liked the crazy, bible-thumping Nelson Van Alden better than the sheepish George Mueller.


-Why is Nucky still ordering Eddie around when he gave him a promotion?


-Chalky could possibly fall off the wagon and bed Daughter Maitland. Dunn was set up by Cora, so I don’t know if the writers would use a similar storyline. Either way, Daughter stops Chalky dead in his tracks whenever he walks by and she happens to be singing. Narcisse could use this as leverage if Daughter is in on a possible ploy. More things will have to play out regarding this scenario for a clearer judgment to be made.


-Originally, I thought Dunn and Chalky’s rift was a ploy to try and take down Narcisse. It still might be the case, but it really looks like the two are having a pretty severe falling out.  As much as I like Dunn’s character, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. Narcisse is obviously playing him like a fiddle...or is he? You would think, but who knows? What I do know is that Narcisse isn’t taking Dunn under his wing out of the goodness of his heart. This can only get worse.


-For the first time in the entire series, we see another side of Rothstein. The old Rothstein wouldn’t have snapped at Meyer and practically everyone at the poker table. Does anybody know how Arnold Rothstein supposedly died in real life? I do. I won’t tell you, but there could be some foreshadowing here.


-Like Al Capone to a lesser degree, Meyer Lansky is slowly becoming more involved in bigger business matters. Usually pretty laid back and reserved, it seems that still waters run deep with Lansky. Meyer’s backstory he told Nucky detailed a pretty revealing look inside his psyche. This was further revealed when he laid the beatdown he did on the anti-semitic gentleman outside the casino- mumbling something in Russian the entire time he was knocking him senseless. The big question here is how the relationship between Rothstein and Lansky will change once Rothstein finds out Lanky weaseled him out of the Florida deal.


-We all knew that Mickey giving Willie the alcohol was going to come back and haunt him eventually. This happened quicker than expected. And although the storyline is somewhat predictable, Henry’s death was a surprise. Bootlegging some booze is one thing, but involuntary manslaughter is not something Willie wants to deal with.


-As previously mentioned several weeks back, Nucky is pretty mellow this year. It’s going to take a crazy incident to get him riled up. Next week’s previews showed agent Knox getting pretty rough with Eddie. And If anything happens to Eddie at the hands of agent Knox, Knox is as good as dead. Count on it.


Boardwalk Empire is progressing a little slower than usual, but many plots are developing. The next eight episodes should be extremely busy. This will be interesting to see how it all plays out as well as how much they can squeeze into the back half of the season. Episode six is when it all goes down, and it won’t stop until the end.




Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: HBO