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‘Boardwalk Empire’ Review: “Resolution”

HBO

New Year’s Eve is a time for change and promises of what the future holds, but the players of ‘Boardwalk Empire‘ seem to be straddling between past and present in “Resolution,” moving forward with one foot stuck firmly in the past.

It’s been a year or so since the events of the season two finale that saw Nucky gunning down his ambitious former protege Jimmy Darmody (RIP) and his wife Margaret bequeathing a chunk of his property to the church following their wedding. It is now New Year’s Eve in 1922 and the Thompsons are throwing one hell of a shindig to celebrate — an Egyptian-themed soiree complete with a treasure chest filled with real gold and jewels for their already too-wealthy guests. There has never been a more indulgent — and quite apt — sight on this show than watching the upper crust of Atlantic City root through a box of gold.

We never see the lower class and what they’re up to on this holiday; rather, our only peek at the less fortunate comes in the form of a woman who has an unfortunate miscarriage at the local hospital while Margaret is visiting to see the newly christened Eunuch and Margaret Thompson pediatric wing. The money she handed over may be good for helping children, but it’s not going to do anything for their mothers. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ hasn’t forgotten Margaret’s feminist leanings, and expands on this further when she stands on the beach at episode’s end, watching the first woman to fly across the continent take off in her plane on New Year’s Day. Margaret stares up at the sky hopefully, knowing there is so much possibility for women yet to be realized.

Things aren’t perfect in the Thompson household, as the marriage between Nucky and Margaret has devolved — Nucky is feeling resentful toward Margaret for giving away his land without permission, and it seems that Margaret might still be carrying on that affair with Owen Slater. During the party when Margaret questions a doctor about the prenatal practices at the hospital, Nucky is unwittingly roped into the conversation and feels as though his wife is trying to embarrass him. Nucky is still a misogynist, and he reminds us here that every good thing he’s done for women over the course of the series was little more than a ploy to win Margaret’s affections and get the votes he needed to stay in power. With Margaret annoying him now, we see a return to the sexist Nucky from the beginning of the series — one who says a female pilot should be more concerned with opening her legs than spreading her wings.

To that end, when performer Eddie Cantor shows up with his new showgirl Billie Kent, we see Nucky give her a lecherous stare, only to later discover the two of them have been shacking up for some time now. Not only has Nucky’s opinion of women not changed over the years, but his treatment of them hasn’t, either.

But women aren’t the only ones giving Nucky trouble — a new gangster has arrived by the name of Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale). When we’re introduced to him he’s beating a man to death for questioning his intelligence, and during a meeting with the major Atlantic City players, he plainly illustrates his short fuse. Rosetti is a hot-headed, sensitive type who doesn’t like to feel insulted or taken advantage of. We can surmise this is undoubtedly due to his less-privileged upbringing, and watching the show explore Rosetti further over the season will be truly delightful (and might just fill that Jimmy Darmody-shaped hole left in our hearts). Nucky has decided to deal exclusively with Arnold Rothstein, meaning the rest of the gang will have to purchase their booze from Rothstein — and most likely at a much higher price, as Rosetti resentfully notes. Watching the tanned, lively Rosetti sitting at that table with a group of pasty, white, wealthy gentlemen speaks a lot to his character and the sort of man we’re dealing with here — a guy with conviction and a short temper, a fresh injection of hot blood to a table full of men who look as though they’ve been drained.

Meanwhile, at the Darmody house, Gillian is signing checks in her dead son’s name and has opened an upscale brothel called The Artemis Club. Richard Harrow is still around, helping to take care of Jimmy’s son and trying to keep the memory of Jimmy and Angela alive. Seems grandma Gillian has been telling the little boy that she’s his mother, which brings with it all sorts of icky connotations. Richard knows this boy shouldn’t follow the same path as his father, and it seems that his story this season may be one of redemption. But first! Richard pays a little visit to Manny Horvitz and shoots him in the face for killing his pal Jimmy. Did Gillian orchestrate this assassination, or did Richard act on his own? It would appear that Gillian is still pulling the strings, and we can only hope that Richard gathers his wits and cuts them sooner rather than later.

And finally, our pal Van Alden has relocated to Chicago, where he seems to be inadvertently stepping into a hot bed of crime. He’s been working as a door-to-door salesman under the name George Mueller, but his salesmanship leaves something to be desired (to say nothing of how hilarious it is to watch Michael Shannon selling electric products door-to-door). As he grows desperate to provide for his new family, he finds himself stumbling into the middle of a heated argument at Dean O’Banion’s flower shop. O’Banion is a new rival for Al Capone and Johnny Torrio in Chicago, and this doesn’t seem like it’ll be the last time O’Banion and “Mueller” cross paths.

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