“Boardwalk Empire” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Five: “You’d Be Surprised”

* Gyp Rosetti, erotic asphyxiator? Sure, why the fuck not. The best thing about this development is how hugely unoriginal it is. The Sopranos went to the “annoying antagonist gangster is a prevert in the sack” well not once but twice! But this being Boardwalk Empire, it took the thing other shows and films have done a million times and just Boardwalk Empired the hell out of it — in-your-face sweaty hairy bare-assed goggle-eyed vein-popping grunting Gyp jerking off and passing out, and later wandering around the climactic overhead shot from Taxi Driver completely naked, his dick covered in blood, the broken belt wrapped around his neck like a mad dog who pulled its leash free of its master’s hand. Let’s throw in the murder of a teenage boy and a waitress’s rather marvelous bare ass in there too, while we’re at it. It’s all about excess, and Gyp Rosetti is the most excessive of all. Let him stagger through a bloodbath in the nude, by all means. Ecce homo.

* Andrew Mellon! Eddie Cantor! Gaston Means! Bugsy Siegel! Boardwalk Empire‘s ambition is starting to outstrip Game of Thrones‘. Hell, they even stuntcast Mellon, paying James Cromwell for two minutes of work — but this is a show that stuntcast a fucking photograph, with Deadwood‘s Molly Parker showing up as a picture of Nucky’s late (and currently completely forgotten) wife in the pilot, and never ever in the flesh. It’s sort of like watching an anthology series, from week to week.

* Which I like, but the sprawl does keep it from focusing on individual characters or relationships the way it ought to. Richard Harrow has appeared in like ten minutes total so far. Chalky White and Dunn Purnsley spent this episode as glorified muscle. How much would you rather follow Richard around, or spend some time with the White family, than watch Nucky make time with Billie Kent or Margaret take up her latest transparent attempt to placate her own conscience with do-gooding? (I know some of you would toss out the Lansky/Luciano stuff too but I’m sorry, you’re just never going to get me to complain about Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano.)

* Top TV director Tim Van Patten comes through with those jarring shots of Gillian and Levander staring right into the camera. And those truly wonderful off-center shots of Luciano and Owen waiting for their bosses to finish arguing — their entire lives defined by the small amount of space they’re permitted to occupy relative to the men who call the shots.

* Bugsy’s mostly an easter egg so far, but in showing how unreliable he is for anything other than unfocused mayhem and rampant sociopathy, the show’s setting up a contrast with Gyp — equally wild, but not exactly destined to create Las Vegas the way Siegel would go on to do. Maybe it comes down to the company you keep.

2 Responses to “Boardwalk Empire” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Five: “You’d Be Surprised”

  1. Spot-on! The other thing I didn’t like about Margaret’s storyline is how, of course, she’s disappointed to find that the latest guy to show her the slightest amount of attention, the doctor, has a fiancee. Boo. Hoo. How about she just takes this sex ed thing seriously (because for whatever reason, the viewer is supposed to) and just attack it with no thoughts at all about getting laid? I did like her leveling Nucky, correctly guessing that she’s his latest rescue project.

    I felt bad for Chalky and Jimmy–the characters and actors playing them–for being used for that Cantor scene. Pretty beneath them.

    I do like Vivian deluding herself into thinking Jimmy’s still alive. As you point out with the Gypurbator, at least when the show does something, it goes all the way with it. I wonder if Cannavale applied his own fake blood to his junk.

  2. She being Billie, of course.