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Boardwalk Empire - Episode 4.01 - New York Sour - Review

Boardwalk Empire is back and how! While it spends most of it's premiere setting up the various story lines for the rest of the season and dealing with the fall out from the third season finale in which Gyp Rosetti was killed, it also was one of the more bloody episodes of the series. 

''New York Sour'' picks up eight months after the end of season 3 and wastes no time going into Harrow's new story. Before returning to his long lost sister Emma, he spends most of the episode on a kill spree for which we have no reason at this point as to why he is doing this. I feel it could possibly relate to either his sister Emma or someone in Milwaukee  Wisconsin which was mention by Franklin Werner from the Old Mission's office before he was killed. Harrow's story has often been one of the best things going on in Boardwalk Empire, so color me intrigued as to where all this will lead. 

At the end of the episode Harrow finally arrives at Emma's house and in an ironic moment, just after Harrow stashes his gun between the firewood outside her house, his sister gets the drop on him with her own gun. ''Emma, I've come home'' he says as the episode ends. 

Nucky is much more on the background in this episode, with his biggest moment early on in the episode when he offers Joe Masseria a lot of cash as a way to ease tensions between them. The tension in the scene that featured all three factions, Joe/Lucky - Rothstein/Lansky - Nucky/Eli, was very palpable and for a moment it felt like something would go sideways. Though, besides Nucky's gesture, nothing happened between them, relations are obviously still very tender. 

There was also a little bit of subtle foreshadowing for the expansion of Nucky's empire when he was looking at the postcard from Florida, which was fun to see. Nucky seemed very reserved in this episode, no doubt still licking his wounds from the events of the third season. The way he had Eddie quickly shoo away the woman he had just slept with had me in stitches, but it was pretty clear this was a more contemplative humbled Nucky. Though not everything was negative on Nucky's side, his relationship with his brother Eli has mended somewhat. However William, Eli's eldest son who, is itching to get into the 'family business' and still finds it easier to confide in Nucky over his own father. Although Nucky set him straight that the family is counting on him to get his college degree, it seems certain something will go awry down the road.

In the meanwhile Chalky is still adjusting to his new life as owner of Babette's Supper Club and the status that comes with that. He was a bit uneasy, a fish out of water if you will, when negotiating with Dickie Pastor a manager for talent. The meat for this episode came when Chalky's right hand Dunn got into a fling with a horny Mrs. Pastor and subsequently got caught by Dickie in the act. For a moment I had thought Dunn was a goner, which I wouldn't mind because the guy is an asshole. 

Unfortunately Dickie is a fetishist who likes to see his wife fuck other men, so he directed Dunn to resume his business with Mrs. Pastor and lowered his gun while putting his hand in his pants. Dunn saw the opportunity and grabbed a bottle from the nightstand which he smashed over Dickie's head. As if that wasn't enough Dunn unleashed his pent up aggression from being called some degenerative things on Dickie's neck with the broken bottle. Ouch.

Mrs. Pastor hauls ass off in the cold night and soon thereafter Chalky and Nucky instruct Dunn to get rid off the body. Chalky critiquing the way Dunn disposed of the body was a fun scene, but it is obviously the start of some dissension between Chalky and Dunn. 

Ron Livingston's character Roy made his entrance in Gillian's story, who has been trying to sell the Artemis Club. Unsuccessfully so far, as the men who came knocking seemed to be interested more in her services than the house itself. Though Roy, a representative for Piggly Wiggly, seems to have an eye both on the house and Gillian. And on the other hand Gillian's attempts to regain custody of Tommy, who now lives with Julia Sagorsky, have also been unsuccessful  It's hard being Gillian right now, but I have a feeling Roy's arrival might change that.

Then there were two more stories that felt a bit disconnected from the main stories, that of rookie Treasury Officer Warren Knox and Al Capone. We are now introduced to Al Capone's brothers Ralph and Frank Capone, with whom he had a fun scuffle at home about the reporter that misspelled his name and his old nickname ''Snorky''. But it also showed the rift between his boss John Torrio and Al Capone himself. When John called Al in about a worrying newspaper article, Al was more worried about the way his name was spelled than the story itself. It lead to a fun scene with the reporter in question and a very mild Al Capone who only slapped the scared-out-of-his-mind reporter on the back of his head. But it was obvious Al Capone loves the notoriety, while Torrio wants to remain on the background. 

Coming back to Agent Warren Knox, the new and very green partner of Agent Stan Sawicki, who isn't as dumb as he leads others to believe when he leads his corrupt partner into a trap. Earlier in the episode bootlegger Elmer Borst tries to enlist Knox' illegal help in protecting his garage full of liquor and cash. When Knox' tells Sawicki, Sawicki sees an easy score. When arriving at Borst's garage Knox claims to have night blindness, so Sawicki tries to break into the garage alone. But Knox didn't tell his partner about the rigged shot gun and Sawicki gets a chest full of lead. Borst comes to look what all the fuss is about and Knox kills him. 

If that wasn't enough to show Knox' devious nature, it turns out Sawicki isn't quite dead yet even if bleeding profusely. Knox tells Sawicki he will call it in and soon as he gets a grip of himself, which means he will just wait for Sawicki to bleed out. It will be intriguing to see where Knox' story will now go, with Sawicki now gone. 

Despite all the good things mentioned above, the episode did feel a bit deflated at times with two main characters missing/not being touched upon. Those characters being Margaret Rohan and Nelson van Alden. The episode was good to great at times, dealt with the fallout of season 3 neatly and set up season 4 nicely. But I couldn't help feel it was missing something with two main character being MIA, even if their respective stories seem to be separated  now more than ever, from Nucky. 

8/10

Pascal Buijnsters Pascal's a Dutchman and has been a longtime commentator on SpoilerTV and started out as a writer for SpoilerTV last year. He is quite a TV addict and writes for a local, Dutch, newspaper. Next to that he's into soccer for his local team, a gamer and a fanatical swimmer. He writes previews and reviews for SpoilerTV for a variety of shows.

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