Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review - Boardwalk Empire Season 1 Episode 9 Belle Femme

After the pilot of Boardwalk Empire which ended with plenty of bloodshed and overall excitement, the following episodes were toned down, even modest in ways (with regard to violence). There wasn't a weekly shootout or that sort of thing, leading some to write off the show. While it's partially a valid complaint, Boardwalk Empire has done a wonderful job in the subsequent episodes building a world and the characters the shape it, certainly qualifying as a show to keep an eye on. The past few episodes have ramped up the tension, with a full-blown gang war almost at hand. In turn, there's a sense of peril lying at every turn and we don't know who'll be caught in the crossfire.

But in my opinion, the highlight of the episode is Margaret who finally realizes her potential. The character who's come the furthest is Margaret who started off as the wife of a scumbag who Nucky dispatched of. But now, not only is she Nucky's woman, she's also a manipulator, able to work situations for her own interest. At the same time, there's still a veil of innocence over her as she doesn't know just how far her powers extend. Nucky suggests she tries to sway voters, knowing how many women voters there are, and after some convincing, Margartet accepts. The most important problem for her is how she manages to balance her self-interests with her conscience, knowing the business Nucky is in and her own convictions.

Already, a master manipulator Nucky works the political game, consulting the dying Commodore (who might be Jimmy's father) for help. Politics is about making tough choices and it may include replacing Eli as sheriff and the current mayor. Before Nucky does anything beyond talking with the new candidate he has in mind, however, he's nearly shot, and would be if not for a watchful worker. This is the most direct the Italians have been, and Jimmy alone may not be enough to handle them. And for Margaret, her dress stained with the blood of an innocent, is this the wakeup call?

"Belle Femme" turns things up another notch with the return of Jimmy. Unfortunately for him, Atlantic City doesn't prove to be the turnaround from Chicago. Angela doesn't care about him and his attempt to kill Lucky fails when Van Alden shows up. Van Alden's crusade, lawful as it is, is so narrow that Lucky, who's bigger fish than Jimmy, is allowed to walk off. Truly, Van Alden's thirst for Jimmy is to strike at Nucky and get Margaret, a scary prospect considering how convinced he is that he's doing God's work. While Van Alden continues on the straight and narrow, his partner Sebso is apparent being payed and kills Billy, the only witness against Jimmy. There are just things in the world that can overcome the law.

There are certain shows which grab you immediately and then shows which grow on you over time. For me, Boardwalk Empire has definitely grown into a favorite of mine. Hopefully the final two episodes can continue the momentum.

Score: 9.2/10
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