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"Boardwalk Empire" -- "The Age of Reason": When That Shark Bites with His Teeth Dear, Scarlet Billows, They Begin to Spread

By Aggie Maguire | TV Reviews | November 1, 2011 | Comments ()


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Gentle readers, the terror is upon us. Forget the scalpings; forget the throat slashings. The truly terrifying plot line is here: the spawn of Lucy Danziger and Nelson Van Alden has arrived. Has there ever been a child in the history of television with a scarier genetic heritage and greater innate potential to become a psychopath? And yet, the birth of the child has so far brought out the best we've seen in Lucy who pulled herself together and behaved quite sensibly after the initial shock; and it also showed us a kinder side of Mrs. Van Alden who showed real compassion for Lucy rather than dismissing her as a harlot. Now if Lucy can just keep a smidgen of that common sense that surfaced and get the hell out of there before her baby is stolen, I might start liking the girl.

This week's pervasive theme was confession. Little Schroeder was doing it for the first time and didn't seem at all convinced of the benefits: he seems to belong more to the Age of Reason than his elders who, as we saw, still fear the consequences of disobeying their God's rules. Margaret was surprised to hear she was expected to make a confession and then used it to passive-aggressively threaten Nucky and shock Father Brennan with her wanton thoughts about Owen Sleator ( I know several people think I'm very hard on Margaret but she doesn't seem to have a sincere bone in her body. Everything she does appears to have a calculated angle behind it). Herman Kaufman was confessing while hanging upside down in a meat locker. And poor Agent Clarkson was on the brink of forcing Van Alden into a confession, which would have been really tragic since federal agencies really don't function well without at least one corrupt, sociopathic self-flagellating agent on board. I'm torn about Van Alden's initial bed side vigil: was he really remorseful in the beginning before he thought God was accusing him through Clarkson or was he just keeping watch to make sure nothing slipped out before the guy died? Either way, there was a very clever juxtaposition between his sudden loss of compassion and exit from the dying man's room once he knew he was in the clear and his wife's sympathy for Lucy when she finds her alone.

Uncle Junior is now going under the name of Whitlock and appears to be the new senior man behind Jimmy's operation. Dominic Chianese is a fine actor but I question the wisdom of casting him as a man connected to the mob in a show set in New Jersey. It's practically impossible to think of him as anything other than Uncle Junior, especially with such a distinctive voice. There's so much going on relationship-wise at the moment that I find the liquor smuggling less interesting, especially when they go with the patented BBC "three men and a dog" approach to a confrontation . we've had three weeks of parlor talk about the level of protection that Rothstein will provide for the liquor run, it ended up being just Lansky, Luciano, a driver and this week's version of the red-shirted ensign? And on the other side: Jimmy, Harrow and Horovitz? Perhaps I'm the overly cautious type but if I'd just lost $70,000 worth of liquor, I'd bring more than a handful of armed men along on an ambush of a major crime syndicate.

Line of the week: "He loved the Lord." "Seems like a pretty one-sided relationship."

Anvil of the week: The flickering lamp of hell fire flames above Van Alden's head



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