Boardwalk Empire 4×07 ‘William Wilson’: Everyone is secretly up to something

Source: HBO

This was another episode that had a unifying theme throughout every story line, but the writers saw fit to spell that theme out overtly rather than merely through symbolism. The Edgar Allen Poe short story Willie and his classmates read, William Wilson, is about a man who is hounded all of his life by a doppelganger that he considers to be a meeker version of himself. This other William points out all of his misdeeds and it eventually drives him to kill the doppelganger, only to discover that it was actually him the whole time and he killed himself. Kind of like Black Swan. Anyways, by coincidence, every plot featured someone’s secrets that could have dire consequences.

Let’s start with Agent Knox. We learn that he is actually Agent Tolliver, but no thanks to Gaston Means. I thought he was hilariously unhelpful, but Nucky should’ve dug deeper than that. “Maybe it’s an acronym” just wouldn’t cut it for me when my business and life was on the line. I was relieved that Eli remained suspicious of Knox enough to even raise the alarm, and it’s so frustrating that Nucky can sense something is off but he doesn’t know what. Having expressed that he “woke up troubled” and having Means say, with a straight face no less, “I usually just go back to sleep.” Like Nas said Nucky, “I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death.” It isn’t a surprise that Means would find himself compromised given the admitted efficiency of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, but I always felt that he would somehow find a way to insulate himself from prosecution. I guess playing Nucky is that insulation. I also like that Tolliver braced at Hoover stealing his thunder. Him having an ego and ambition gives me hope that maybe Nucky can play on that somehow.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

I was glad to see that Lucky’s ambition hadn’t gotten him trouble. I talked about before how I thought this show should just be called ‘Gangsters’ and whenever Meyer or Lucky are onscreen I perk up, because it’s more interesting to see them (along with Al) striving to achieve what Nucky already has. Joe seems to take immense pleasure in the fact that they can cut a side deal with Petrucelli, and he only gets that face when something seems to screw over Meyer or Nucky- which in this case potentially could. I really don’t want Meyer and Lucky to be at odds, but it seems like that’s the way things are going.

In Chicago, Al (who is basically coked up all the time now) just flat out murders a cop in the middle of the street. Then he tries to make the case to Joe that the cops are on O’Banion’s payroll and they should go to war. That was never going to fly with Joe using that methodology, but it was blatantly obvious that Al was right. Joe always is presented as the cautious, wizened old gangster, and how he didn’t see that setup coming is beyond me. Another point in my case that this show should revolve around people other than Nucky, is that every “Oh S***” moment that has happened in this show usually involves Al Capone. When Joe finally gives the okay for Al to start a war, it was one of those moments and I got goosebumps. That’s what this show could achieve on a regular basis.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Gillian spent this episode kicking heroin, and then receiving the love and affection she has been seeking probably her entire life. Roy’s secret- yes, they actually had a conversation about secrets, was that he decided to divorce his wife after meeting Gillian. This is too happy to be an ending for Gillian, and I feel like Roy has to be a murderer or something. Or, maybe the fact that Gillian is a murderer will come back to haunt her again. Or she will not be able to resist the needle. This was definitely a gentle reprieve for Gil, but the other shoe is definitely going to drop.

Dunn’s got the north side of town completely under the thrall of heroin if the church goers are to be believed, but Dunn is just a villain now. Murdering a Deacon in church- and not even bothering to finish the prayer is just uncouth. Chalky is so consumed with the Onyx Club and now Daughter, that he has been paying zero attention to what is going on. So naturally, Chalky asks for Daughter to stay longer and of course the price is giving Narcisse a foothold in his territory. Chalky has fallen hard and it is hard to see someone so oblivious to the trap they are walking right into. The fact is that Narcisse is several steps ahead of Chalky and nothing illustrates that better than how easily Daughter played to Chalky’s sympathies. He never bothered to ask how it was that Narcisse found her, and so it remains beyond him that Narcisse is an evil genius. It saddens me that Narcisse probably wont stick around as a character because he is so fascinating, but I am definitely eager to see how things play out.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

I’ll also hold off on commenting on the whole Margaret/Rothstein thing because there isn’t much to comment on at this point anyway. I wish I didn’t have to comment on Willie, but it seems I do. He can’t shake the guilt over what he’s done and ditches school, and his lovely girlfriend, deciding to drop that bombshell in such an off-hand and callous manner that even Nucky looked at him like an idiot. If this turns into a situation where Willie begins working for Nucky and  ends up being more capable than Eli, then I’m all for it. I fit’s just another reason for Eli and Nucky to be at odds, then I can’t wait for it to end.

 

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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  • BWE

    You think Dean was behind the set up? I thought it was set up by Al.