Boardwalk Empire 4×06 ‘The North Star’: For those who are lost

Source: HBO

‘Where is this going?’ is a refrain I frequently ask of this series. It feels like at times the writers know what they want to happen, but don’t know how to get their characters there. We’ll spend an episode or two listing in one direction only to tack back towards something else altogether. With ‘The North Star‘, this show seems to be saying to viewers, “we know where we’re going and we’ll get you there, just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

I didn’t get that feeling from the first scene. The disjointed, stop-and-start conversation between Nucky and Margaret was frustrating. It’s never easy to break the news that someone has died, let alone committed suicide- but his vagueness was never going to win her over. Neither was his comment that he ‘would never put anything living in a box’, but I literally laughed out loud at that unintended bit of black humor. I don’t get why you bring Margaret back if she’s not going to be back. The quick meeting took away from the power of that scene from last season, and I’m suspicious that it was just to set up Nucky’s decision making later in the episode. I was happy to see Margaret of course, but it was largely superfluous.

 

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Following Nucky down to Tampa, his story picked up considerably. It seems like Nucky is always dealing with morons, and McCoy is no different. He’s got to be resourceful though, because how did he get that body out of that hotel room? It was super bloody in there, and he still had a body to get rid of. Is it still there? Tucker’s goons come looking for him, and I’m glad they have Nucky immediately pick up on the fact that McCoy probably will screw this whole endeavor up if given the chance. I still don’t know what Sally’s deal is though. I mean, yeah she’s likes Nucky, but she’s really doing a lot to ingratiate herself to him,basically apropos of nothing. Additionally, if Nucky has a weakness it’s women, so I can definitely foresee a betrayal from her. This deal seems doomed in one way or another. McCoy murdering a partner. Lucky having to pull out because of it getting back to Joe. Meyer and Lucky not being together on it. The Florida goons snooping around. There’s just a lot of variables in play here. This is when I got the feeling I mentioned earlier. I don’t know where this is going but it’s interesting enough to where I’m willing to sit back and enjoy the ride. Alligator fights get me every time.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Nucky’s other weakness is his poor brother Eli. I got into this last time, but it clearly bears repeating: Eli is not Nucky and never will be. His heart is in the right place and he’ll occasionally figure something out that no one else would have (the Gyp ambush, the deposit box key), but ultimately Eli will make a stupid mistake. His problem is that he cares too much. Nucky’s instincts are to be suspicious of everyone, even someone who lived completely for him. Eli works at being suspicious, but his good nature makes him too trusting. He humanizes Eddie and sees similarities to his own concerns for his family. This blinds him to the fact that he has handed a federal agent access to important documents implicating Nucky in criminal activity. Willingly. So stupid. Agent Knox was afraid for the first time ever, and Eli’s sappiness gave him what he needed to remain in the hunt. So frustratingly dumb, but again I enjoying the ride.

I finally gathered that the singer at the Onyx Club is named Daughter, and she is clearly trying to take Chalky for a ride. It seems like his strategy for avoiding his clear attraction to her is to tighten up and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Not the most mature resolution, and obviously completely ineffective. A performer as gifted as she is can read her audience and she reads all the way into Chalky’s soul. He hates his perfect family. He’s so bored that he wants to die. Talk about ungrateful! I have a message from your future Chalky, your life is going to get a lot more exciting and you didn’t even need to sleep with your employee. This coupling took way too long to happen, but that scene where she’s singing and we can literally see Chalky’s soul being laid bare in the middle of the club was so moving that it was worth it to let this story get some scenes to play with.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Just as moving were the scenes with Richard and the Sagorskys. As ornery and combative as Paul was when he initially met Richard, he is more loving to Richard in one conversation that Emma was his entire visit. We all could use someone to tell us that we’re heroic as well as the fact that we’re not alone in our sins. I loved- LOVED how Paul is basically passed out drunk for the rest of the episode. Hilarious, except for the fact that he has cirrhosis and is going to die. I’m getting butterflies just thinking about when Julia hears Tommy talking to Richard and when she later orders Richard to come home with them. I just want them to be a happy family and then Tommy grows up to be an astronaut. It probably will end in tragedy, but a man can hope.

Richard and Julia’s relationship is like the perfect antidote to the other romances that took place. I was a little uncomfortable with the punching between Nucky and Sally, even though she was initiating the violence (and Nucky did need a good punch in the face) a swell as the blurry line of consent between Chalky and Daughter. I get that this was a different era and the drama of those scenes kind of called for it, but it still made me a little uncomfortable. All in all, I’m willing to sit back and enjoy the ride.

is a self-described TV junkie, extolling it’s virtues to all who will listen. If for some reason he is not watching TV, he can be found seeing live music, in line at a food truck, or riding his trusty bicycle around Los Angeles.

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