Music excites me. It always has since I was a little kid and on Sunday nights the music that excites me most comes out of my TV: The Simpsons theme, the opening flute and percussion of Rome, the samples in The Sopranos theme. The two chord vamp that opens Boardwalk Empire is the opening to “Straight Up and Down” by Brian Jonestown Massacre. It goes on forever in concert, even longer on record and I like the extended version best. And it’s not even my favorite Brian Jonestown Massacre song, which is “My Man Syd.” Two chords, drums and electrified strings. Feedback that sounds like reeds. Improvised like jazz. And a druggy undertone. Like “Acres of Diamonds.”
Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) is bringing jazz to the boardwalk, courtesy of Dr. Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), who sees jazz star Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham) as a drug delivery system. Heroin may have been around before jazz, but it didn’t have a soundtrack and without a soundtrack you can’t move to it. Gillian (Gretchen Mol) is already dancing to beautiful heroin. It makes the conversations more interesting, even if its hell on the dessert. Yeah, that’s a bad omen and I think Roy Philips (Ron Livingston) can sniff it. When you’re itching for a fix too long, you get sloppy and your ice cream melts. When your ice cream melts you’re on a downward slide. I hope they don’t turn Gillian like every other cautionary tale junkie on TV. Just once don’t turn it into a tragic don’t-let-this-happen-to-you thing. William S. Burroughs was a junkie into his 80s, so there are other stories to tell. Just saying.
Arnold Rothstein comfortably sat down for a gentlemanly dope deal with Dr. Narcisse, sometimes swaying into what sounds like Sidney Greenstreet, who takes offense at semantics, or simitics, and has to wipe Rothstein’s the non-Libyan sweat from his palms. And Rothstein doesn’t look like the kind of person who sweats. And I loved the introduction of Owney Madden, though it took me a few beats to get used to the accent. I’ve seen Cotton Club too many times and Bob Hoskins has taken over that part of my brain. The good doctor fills his prescription with Rothstein, with Madden standing up for him, and eyes Chalky’s man, Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey), as the guy who can move the packages in Jersey. There’s a lot of money in that white powder. And money is power and together they can buy freedom. Narcisse, sorry, Dr. Narcisse, is looking to build his own empire. An educated empire.
Every college campus has a dealer. If you don’t know who it is, ask your RA. Eli’s kid is a budding dealer. Not drugs, though college kids probably did everything there was to do, but what they did most in the twenties, was booze. It looks to me like Eli’s kid, is feeling straitjacketed at the button down school where he’s BMOC on account of he can get the booze. Mickey may have given him a fat lip, but he knows talent when he sees it on the way up and he squared himself with the kid, because he knows one day, and that day may never come, where he’s gonna want to call on him for a favor.
Okay, so going straight isn’t in the cards for Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), Rick to his old friends from the old neighborhood, which is rustic. You could hide Walter White there with a barrelful of millions. That works out for Rick and Emma, though, because woods are convenient for hiding bodies. Too bad he couldn’t keep his gun buried. Good to see him try a joke though, a small one, but good enough for family.
Steve Buscemi is getting some sun in Florida and hates it. He hates it so much he makes it rain wherever he goes. And when Nucky goes somewhere in the sunshine state, he goes there in funereal black. He doesn’t even have that red carnation to offset the doom and gloom he’s carrying with him. Nucky is feeling something like regret there in the sticks and the best way to cure his ills is with unsympathetic bartender Sally Wheet, played by Patricia Arquette. She’s just the alligator bite on the ass to get him to uncharacteristically give a second chance to an old friend. Captain Bill McCoy (Pearce Bunting) just got out of jail, owes big and talked big about a stupid deal. But, on the promise of some cream of Wheet, Nucky takes a beat too long and tells McCoy to move things ahead. Of course, he has to, McCoy is kind of who we see this through. Boardwalk Empire started on his boat. McCoy was the first person we saw on Boardwalk Empire.
Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars