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The Joy of Sex: the Opus Dei Edition

By Aggie Maguire | TV | October 26, 2010 |

By Aggie Maguire | TV | October 26, 2010 |

A more accurate title for this week’s episode would have been “Sexual Freedom and its Consequences in 1920s America” (perhaps Dr. Pisaster should be covering this episode). We found out that little Albert Francis (Sonny) Capone is deaf thanks to congenital syphilis; Gillian Darmody has been around the block enough times to not even blink when a man she just had sex with tells her he had an “infection” a few years ago; Nucky’s particular version of Catholic guilt involves prostitutes (really? is that supposed to be a bit of a change from Lucy?); and most shockingly, when a man offers to provide for you in exchange for sex outside of marriage, it may mean you are concubine.

Let’s deal with Margaret first. I do love the way the costume people have started to dress her in more jewel tones to mirror the blossoming of her personality, but I’m not sure what the writers are doing with her. Last week we saw some tremendous character development with the brainy woman behind the mousy, prudish front emerging to play a perfect chess game to get her man. But this week, we saw someone completely different. Why would she seek the OK from the Temperance League woman when she must know her new relationship with Nucky would irretrievably separate her from the ranks of respectable women? What, since she admitted up front that he wasn’t proposing marriage, did she think she was getting into if it wasn’t the role of mistress? Why would she do it? Yes, money and protection are compelling motivators but that’s not how she’s been written so far. And most puzzling of all: are her lady-bits made of titanium? How can she walk nimbly out of the bathroom with a grin on her face after douching with Lysol?

If only there were an Emmy for “Creepiest TV Character since Garrett Dillahunt left Deadwood,” Van Alden/Shannon would be a shoo-in. There’s really no lunatic quite like the ultra-right Catholic variety (it’s like Scientology with whips and chains). I absolutely loved the look on his subordinate’s face when the boss asked about the obsession with Schroeder and subpoenaing Margaret’s immigration records. We’ve all had that boss who made us do illogical things and he captured that “don’t look at me: I just do as I’m told” look perfectly.

The Chicago story line was actually far more interesting this week than the Atlantic City soap opera. We saw a new Jimmy, hardened but in control of his emotions, who is finally showing some tactical abilities as Torrio’s soldier (cue the obligatory dog tag metaphor) and figuring out how to manage Capone’s volatility while letting him know he’s not going to settle for the role of the side-kick. And at long last we got to see some of the acting chops that made us love Stephen Graham in “This is England”. I confess I had been disappointed with Graham in BE to date; his character had become a one-note thug, but he turned that around last night and I’m hoping the writers will give him some more rein to show what he can do in future episodes.

The other nice scene this week was the conversation between Nucky and Haig discussing the road paving issue and Senator Edge’s conflicts of interest. I would really like to see the show spend more time on the political maneuvering which is fascinating (and didn’t Buscemi nail that brief hesitation when he realized he didn’t know everything?) as opposed to Nucky’s bedroom antics because honestly, the guy looks anemic and frail enough to need regular iron infusions so I’m not buying three times a day with three different women.

Aggie Maguire lives in a fly-over state where she enjoys waving at the people flying over and wondering if anybody ever waves back. She is a member of the Jane Austen society and a life-long supporter of the Home for Abused Apostrophes.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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