“Boardwalk Empire” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Three: “Bone for Tuna”

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.

3 Responses to “Boardwalk Empire” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Three: “Bone for Tuna”

  1. I dunno, I thought the episode was pretty mediocre (enjoyable but lacking anything special). Granted, it’s well-shot and -acted, and granted, some of the plotting may be leading to bigger payoffs, but why are we to care about Margaret’s quest for a prenatal education program? And why would making it seem like the head of the hospital is on-board with the idea to the priest (bishop?) really obligate him to do anything?

    I agree on Richard, and they did a pretty good job of using his personal code to rationalize why he can go back to working with Nucky soon rather than trying to kill him over Jimmy. That said, there is a real lack of conflict so far with Jimmy and The Commodore out of the picture and the other gangsters in New York and focusing mostly on their own stuff. Gyp is a clown–a dangerous one, but dangerous in a very simple way: he can only step out and ambush you. He can’t outfox you, out-negotiate you, out-plan you. He’s not only a poor nemesis in that regard, the writers very clearly make him seem even less impressive than he really is. They’re also wasting entirely too much time on Luciano, Lansky and Roth looking nice in their suits and doing very little.

    Thought the guilt-induced Jimmy-as-choirboy hallucination was both too familiar and too delicate. I do like Nucky being played for a sap with Lily, though, but their scene together was too ambiguous to resonate. I think she’s making him pity bacon?

    • Agreed about Margaret. This is her least interesting storyline yet, and that’s saying something.

      I think the simplicity of Gyp’s threat is what makes it threatening, or at least that’s how the show is presenting it. There’s nothing to be outfoxed here — just a supremely well-armed lunatic who picked the right location to make trouble.

      I sort of wonder if the seemingly tangential Capone and Luciano/Lansky/Siegel storylines are going to remain separate now. Game of Thrones opened that door and I wonder if more shows will step through.

  2. [...] That said, Chris Allen responded to my recent enthusiasm for the show by writing one of the better rebuttals to such things [...]