Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boardwalk Empire: Season 3, Episode 7

And here I thought there may be an episode without a body count. 
The Eli and Nucky Thompson clans get together for a good ol’ fashioned Easter egg hunt and Sunday dinner to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Nucky left Miss Kent to fend for herself for one episode while he spent the day with his family. Unfortunately, his attempt at making peace with Margaret is too little too late. I wonder if this will open the door for a more seductive relationship between Mrs. Thompson and Owen. But I can’t lie, I wished the writers had taken the opportunity to clear the air between Nucky and Margaret. I guess the lovey-dovey couple didn’t bring in enough ratings.

There was some good that came out of the long awaited family reunion. Nucky realized Eli’s sincerity and is willing to let his little brother take over the warehouse reigns. Finally, there may be some brains behind this operation, and I doubt Rothstein is willing to put up with another Tabor Heights incident.
The Thompsons weren’t the only ones enjoying their Easter. Richard Harrow is in love! His new flame is the daughter of an old angry old basement boxer and she doesn’t bat an eyelash at Harrow’s malady. I am so glad to see a bit of new love budding during such a horrific period of violence, debauchery and murder.
Now onto the sociopaths:
Gyp made a reappearance in this week’s episode and almost has his Easter goose cooked by Joe Masseria, but saved his skin by promising to bring the turf back to the New York crew. But of course, he couldn’t get away with just a bit of hotheadedness. He had to go ahead and assault and rob a priest after yelling at a statue of Jesus in his local cathedral. Gyp’s character may be showing the true signs of a sociopath, and I’m sure there are quite a few sociopath mobsters out there, but I have to be honest, I think I enjoy the episodes without Gyp.

Speaking of violence, debauchery and murder, Gillian covered the gamut in one Easter Sunday. She needed Jimmy to die on paper and she found a way, and talk about a psychological mess. The woman killed a good man who had a striking resemblance to the son with whom she shared an erotic relationship. Freud would have had a field day with this one. It finally seems as though she now has closure with Jimmy. Let’s hope the Boardwalk Empire fans that are still mourning his lost will lay him to rest with Gillian.

Next week’s body count: I do have to say, I haven’t been right once with who is going to die in the next episode, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying. I’m putting my marker on Mickey Doyle again. He is a stooge and with Eli coming in, he doesn’t really serve a purpose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane

With the new season of Broadway Empire and the long-awaited, just released Live By night by Dennis Lehane, the era of Prohibition   continues to rivet the attention of millions. As in Boardwalk Empire, the novel spins a tale of booze, violence, guns, gun molls, flappers, speakeasies, killers and the killed.
           Live By Night is a fascinating saga of the rise of an ambitious petty thief to a full- blown mobster and killer. We follow him and his obsessive love affairs from the Boston streets to prison, and to Tampa, running rum between Cuba and Florida. The classic universality and clashing values between Joe and his father, Thomas, enriches the plot’s twists and turns with psychological truth.      
          Reading the novel was like visiting my own family. The names are different; Joe Caughlin was the invention of the author; Louis Rosen was my real-life father. Joe Caughlin ran rum from Cuba; my father imported alcohol from Canada to be turned into liquor through stills. Fighting over bootlegging turf, they both wound up murdered; Joe Coughlin with his feet in cement at the bottom of the Mystic River; my dad, shot to death in the driveway of his own home.
          The novel addresses a haunting question of my life—can a criminal also be a good person? Against all odds, Lehane brilliantly creates a likeable outlaw with sympathy. Although I never knew my father, and my mother refused to talk about him, after reading They Live By Night I am inspired to think of my dad with a new-found compassion and solace.

Babette Hughes

Monday, October 15, 2012

Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episdoe 5

Okay, Gyp. Now, I really have to know what your childhood was like. Was it really necessary for the Boardwalk Empire writers to show such sexual perverseness? There is something to be said about shock value, but I hardly doubt knowing about Gyp’s sexual peculiarities is going to in anyway enhance this season’s plot line.  But just like every HBO show these days, it has toe the twisted line.  

With all of that being said, I do notice that the oddities of each of the Boardwalk Empire characters have been psychologically explained by their childhoods. Nucky was the poor, second-fiddle son.  We all know the stories of Gillian and Jimmy, and let’s not forget Margaret, the Irish girl who was willing to steal to find her prosperous new life in America. There is one thing that ties all of these characters together—the need for control.

It is getting tough these days to say who has the upper hand. Rothstein is at the mercy of Nucky for booze shipments. Nucky is at the mercy of the Gyp, the official Tabor Heights crossing guard, and it looks like Gyp has a bounty on his head for all of the trouble he’s been causing on Nucky and Rothstein’s turf. It’s only a matter of time until one of them loses the game and Buscemi is in the opening credits and anyone with access to Wikipedia knows how Rothstein goes down.

Van Alden/Mueller (when will it be all right to make the permanent name change) is also ready to take control of his life. With two FBI agents as his body count he is definitely going to need to seek the shelter of the dark side. Is O’Banion the right place to go? At least Mueller knows he has a wife on his side.

Mickey Doyle was spared this episode and so was Gyp. “Four fatalities and none of them Gyp.”

Prediction for next week’s body count: Let’s make it Billie for the fun of it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boardwalk Empire Season Three, Episode Four

Boardwalk Empire has finally hit full gangster. Sure, you expect characters like Gyp Rossetti to murder at the drop of a hat. But Nucky?!?! I wanted to believe so badly that he had a moral compass left. He murdered over booze. Over money. Over proving a silly point to his driver, Owen. 19-year old Roland would've made an excellent addition to Nucky's stockpile of goons, but Nucky decided to 'off' the kid who was just trying to get a leg up the only way he saw possible. Or maybe Nucky murdered the kid, who had a similar baby face to Jimmy might I ad, to help him deal with the demons that have been haunting him the past few episodes. Whatever the psychological reason for Nucky's body count rising, booze is still the root of all evil.

This episode brought to life just how much the Prohibition affected America. Crime increased 24% during the Prohibition. Organized Crime took hold of American black markets, and it proved just how corrupt our politicians and justice system could be. It amazes me that it took 13 years to realize the repercussions of the 18th amendment.

It isn't generally known that until the Prohibition there was relatively not mafia in this country. After the 18 amendment, criminals in Sicily found the bootlegging profits in the U.S. irresistible and swarmed over. This illustrates again how the disaster of the Prohibition ruined lives and makes me wonder if my own bootlegging father would alive today and my family changed forever.

Margaret's crusade for women's health education is the only sunshine to a very dark story. Sex was never discussed back then. Getting a mother to discuss menstruation with her own daughter was just as taboo. Margaret is doing good in the community and she is carrying Nucky along with her. If it weren't for Margaret's good works Nucky would be seen as nothing more than a fraudulent politician who lines the pockets of evil men in Atlantic City.

Prediction for who is getting the ax next week: Mickey Doyle.
Not only did he defy Nucky's direct orders. He went ahead and got a fleet of men murdered AND he ruffled Rothstein's feathers. Not a good turn out for our zany comic-relief character.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Episode 3

Margaret Schroeder Thompson
 It looks like Margaret has taken a few pages out of Nucky Thompson's play book. Not only did she wo-manhandle her way into a meeting with the Bishop of the Catholic Church, but she flawlessly led the Bishop and the Hospital Director into making plans for a women's prenatal clinic. If only this country had Margaret to arrange today's current women's health care education and coverage!

This certainly has been the season for tough guys needing support from strong women. Van Alden has the new Mrs. Mueller. Eli was welcomed home from a year in the slammer by his wife. Gillian picked up the business where the Commodore and Jimmy left off. And Nucky is so far gone he needs two women: Margaret to manage business and politics and Billie Kent for motherly comfort.

None of the men seem mentally stable these days, and there isn't any hope for Gyp Rossetti either. "Bon For Tuna" sends him into a fire-setting rage that will stoke the embers of a most assured head-to-head battle with Nucky. I wonder if we are going to get to see any back-story on Rossetti. What caused his mental wires to go loose?

The hot-headed, half-cocked nature of the men in Boardwalk Empire remind me of my  own father. Did he choose the bootleggers life? Or did he slip into it accidentally? Was he lured by the money? Or just the love of excitement? I’ll never know.

My father didn’t have a wife like Margaret; far from it. My mother was so traumatized by my father's murder she ran away turning into a flapper and party girl until she lost her money during the Great Depression. Then she went to work and raised my brother and me the best she could.