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Boardwalk Empire - 5.05 King Of Norway - Review - I Have Always Been This Way

Boardwalk Empire's final season's fifth episode marches on to be an intriguing ride. It's true it's plots are not greatly advancing, but rather it's clear that the writers want to leave us with a great character study.

Caught In A Net
I loved the way the episode comes in a near circle similar to the premiere in a kind of juxtaposed way with Mrs. Zeller and dead bodies under the boardwalk. Seeing a young adult deputy Sheriff Enoch Thompson as ambitious as his future counterpart was a delight, especially because we know the middle section of his story becomes so much darker and without sentimental retort and it feels like the current Nucky is much more like the man we see here in his youth.

It's also clear from the 1897 back story that the death of Pat marks a turning point and that if young Nucky wants to keep going and give the strong willed Mabel a grand future, and prove himself worthy to Mabel's father, then just as Jimmy once said, he can't be half gangster anymore, implying Nucky has to get his hands dirty. It's a curious thing to consider this when in the present Nucky is forced to contend with Lansky & Luciano and the ongoing vision of The Commission. Nucky again nearly looses his life!

I also want to mention what a fantastic casting job was done with young Nucky from actor Mark Pickering! Not only were his looks very believable, but his over all disposition oozed with Steve Buscemi's more seasoned portrayal. I also could see more of Dabney Coleman's portrayal of The Commodore in this episode's flashback with actor John Ellison Conlee too. There was something in actors tone and manner that was more reminiscent of The Commodore viewers come to know at the beginning of the series when he discusses the elimination of Pat to Sheriff Lindsey.

Sell Outs
I was not expecting Johnny Torrio to betray Nucky Thompson, especially when I thought in an earlier scene Mickey Doyle would via leading the Marshall to Chalky White. It was one of many great plot twists the episode delivered. One does have to wonder what is in it for Torrio and is it any coincidence that his wife was not present when Nucky came again to visit? Is Torrio also being black mailed or does he just share in the vision of The Commission? It will be interesting to see if Nucky will be successful in his promise, considering how real life history goes.

Family Relations
Another fantastic plot twist (and one of Boardwalk's more funnier scenes) was surely Eli and June having dinner with Nelson, Sigrid, and their children. Never in a thousand years would of I thought Eli and Sigrid would of had sexual relations (although the yodeling record should have been a clue), but the scene is so comically brilliant since clearly Eli was so drunk he didn't remember, June so dense or in denial she never admits any sort of truth, Nelson so self controlled and focused he never really pays attention to anything but work, and of course seeing Sigrid turn into an angry spiteful woman sick of everyone else's lies just made for one of the most dysfunctional dinner scenes ever!

Calling Dr. Sheehan Cotton
We also catch up to Gillian this week where again I am left wondering if Dennis Lehane is still consulting this season, as again this feels like something right out of Shutter Island?? (By the way, in case anyone is interested, a prequel series tentatively titled Ashcliff is in the works at HBO)  That realization and ignorance of how doctors (whom are all men in this time period), would believe that they could just "cut" things out of a person to cure them of their mental illness is exceptionally disturbing seeing what happened to Charlotte. As for Gillian it's hard to say if she's really cured and if she is not still secretly holding a grudge on Nucky Thompson, but her self control and awareness to her surroundings does seem to separate her from her fellow patients. I find that I still have empathy for her in this horrific situation. Who wouldn't want to do everything and anything to get out?! As suspected back in episode 5.02. I figured Dr. Cotton would be anything but a light and fluffy comfort.

However, I do think Dr. Cotton makes an interesting point about how does someone know if they are cured and/or is there such a thing as "temporary insanity"? This part of the narrative also creates a more apt parallel between Gillian and Nucky Thomspon himself, as the flashback featuring a conversation between Nucky and Mabel's father also makes point of what I always thought the series was about, who is Nucky Thompson, but Mabel's father more specifically questions "what" Nucky is.

Note: The Mental Institution is actually based on one that existed in New Jersey at this time according to Boardwalk's producers.

Mothers, Daughters
Chalky White also finally reconnects to Nucky Thompson, where Nucky continues to be in a sentimental mood offers Chalky refuge and protection, but refuses to help him in request to seek revenge against Dr. Narcisse.  Chalky takes matters into his own hands, but discovers his former love interest Daughter is with a daughter of her own. It's anyone's best guess how Chalky is going to react to this, depending on who's child this is. Imagine if she would be Narcesse's!

Daughters also continue to be thematic in other ways, as Nucky's 1897 story revolves around his motivations to wanting to prove himself to Mabel's father. We also get a rare scene with Nelson and Lucy's daughter Abigail, who inappropriately tells June that Sigrid isn't her mother, but that her mother was a "ballet dancer"!

Other musings and Observations

Pulling Teeth
On and off we have seen scenes that relate to teeth and or losing them. One scene back in the first season had to to with Nelson Van Alden interrogating someone at the dentist. Strangely this episode drops things about teeth twice. Once with Charlotte telling Gillian the doctors are going to take her teeth and again when Mike D'Angelo and other agents ask Eli about agent "James" Tolliver, as Tolliver teeth where found on Eli's living room floor...

Jimmy Allusions
We have a few Jimmy allusions this week. The most obvious would be young Nucky himself, as scenes like taking to Sheriff Lindsey about helping out with the Commodore's "other business" is reminiscent to many early conversations Nucky had with Jimmy. 

Another would be Nucky making a statement that nothing is more personal than having someone try to kill you, which goes back to the Commodore, Eli, Gillian, and Jimmy during the second season, but by extension also touches on season three with Gyp Rossette's whole argument about everything being personal, when Nucky told him that, "It's nothing personal", pointing out again a contrary duality in Nucky's beliefs, especially also because in this episode, when he offers Chalky refuge, and Chalky questions his sentiment, Nucky replies that he has always been this way! 

A third allusion would be with the young man named Joe Hawk who now works for Mickey Doyle. He helps Nucky with his dress coat. The name Joe Hawk is also kind of curious. The opening 1897 scene featured Deputy Nucky investigating what would be a dead hawk under the boardwalk and there are only a couple other characters that have the first name Joe or Joeseph such as the recently departed mob boss Joe Masseria and Nucky's recant rivalry or missed opportunity Joesph Kennedy Sr.

Note: I'm also reminded of Richard Harrow again, as under the boardwalk was his final resting place. It may be a spiritual nod to whatever fate awaits Nucky Thompson, as Harrow's death seems to imply there is something beyond death in Boardwalk Empire's universe. It's also kind of sad and harrowing to also think that Richard Harrow has not yet been mentioned at all this season and viewers don't know who found his body, let alone what happened to Julia and Tommy...

One Is The Loneliest Number
Although Johnny Torrio had betrayed Nucky, it's also not like Torrio has not urged him greatly to retire. In some sense, Nucky is still responsible for wanting to move forward with what seems like his final conquest with Bacardi Rum and the truth is, it's already cost him. With Sally's death, Kennedy's lack of support, Chalky's revenge story starting to unfold, and with two near death experiences in relatively short period of time, it feels like almost all the cards are stacked up against him...

Did you enjoy the episode? Did you expect Johnny Torrio to betray Nucky? Any favorite scenes or dialogue? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author - Darthlocke4
Laura Becker (Darthlocke 4) is a long time commentator, TV addict, and aspiring writer participating with other fans on SpoilerTV. She writes reviews and analytic type articles. Some of her other interests include philosophy, cultural anthropology, reading, drawing, and working with animals, as she grew up and continues to work on her family's horse farm.
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