Not much to say about this one other than that I continue to find this show enormously pleasurable to watch, on a purely sensual level. It’s like drinking a really really good beer or having a really delightful experience on ambien. Dream sequences, nude scenes, deeply strange actors, nightmare violence, Bugsy Siegel…Even when you’re not convinced the show’s really saying anything, something special still comes across in experiencing how it’s said.
Gyp Rosetti is the best example of this I can think of. The character is absurd, his clichéd gangster brutality offset primarily by wondering just how a person as obviously crazy and impossible to work with as this guy is still breathing given the company he keeps. Moreover, both we and the other characters totally have his number — once you’ve heard Nucky tell him he could find an insult in a bouquet of roses, you’ll never need to think any harder about Rosetti and his motivations ever again.
But it’s not his actions that matter, it’s the work done to get there. I keep coming back to the camera lingering on Bobby Cannavale’s leathery neanderthal face in the car as he stews and broods and simmers and finally explodes. I love the internet comment-thread semantics of his one-man crusade against NOT taking things personally: “Everyone’s a person though, right? So how else can they take it?” Or as he more forcefully puts it later: “WHAT THE FUCK IS LIFE IF IT’S NOT PERSONAL?” I love the bizarre Blue Velvet lighting of his sojourn in Gillian Darmody’s salon, where he looks like a dangerous animal someone let in and everyone’s trying very politely not to notice. There’s a fire there that belies the standard gangsterisms they build up to. The parts are more than the sum of the whole.
One more point: Richard Harrow is to Boardwalk Empire what the Hound is to Game of Thrones, from the facial disfiguration on down. Nucky’s past terror at this point, at least when it comes to his criminal associates (though not when he fears for his paramours, obviously), but it was still absolutely fascinating to watch him realize, in awe, that before him stood the single deadliest human being he’d ever met.