How in everything that is sacred, did they fast forward seven years? If you finished watching the end of Boardwalk Empire Season 4, and if you even notice the date under the introduction to Cuba in the first episode of Season 5, you will realize that the series has zoomed past the 20s, and started the new season on the brink of the end of prohibition.
I wanted to see Al Capone’s rise to power, Nucky’s dealings after his last mess with Narcisse, Luciano’s steady progression into immortal gangster fame, but I’m guessing since they pulled the plug on the show, the writers had to fast-track to the end, real fast! After this recap, you will realize that you know nothing of the characters, and everything you were hoping for with this new episode, is lost.
If I wasn’t going to get some of my questions from last season answered right away, I was hoping that the show would have had a few eye-openers. Unfortunately, this first episode is slow and grueling, but not without a few gems hidden in the scenes.
The episode opens with a group of boys swimming around in the water to catch the coins that some extra rich people are throwing into the ocean. The Commodore is heading some tradition on the docks of Atlantic City, as young Nucky, is struggling to catch a coin to take home. These flashbacks are seen throughout the episode, possibly to show where the innocent young Enoch started before he turned into who he is in present times.
In 1931, The Nuckster is in Havana Cuba alongside his love of seven years (I’m guessing) Ms. Sally Wheet. The stock market crash has sent the U.S. into the great depression and Nucky knows that the government will soon abolish prohibition just to get the country out of the financial hole it’s in. He is speaking to the senator there to make sure once the ban on liquor is over, he is able to return with a clear slate. No jail time. He is also making arrangements to be the first to go legal by partnering up with the owner of Bacardi rum, himself.
Chalky is a prisoner, wearing stripes and working on a chain gang. WHAT? ? ? No one knows how Chalky got there. Could he have tried to murder someone he believed to be the killer of his daughter or did he just go nuts after his daughter died?
So far, he’s quietly following the motions like the other prisoners and doing hard labor in the woods. A seemingly crazy prisoner, who is constantly singing, seems to like to bother Chalky a little. But during a rebellion, in which some prisoners attack their prison guards, Old crazy, holds a gun to Chalky before inviting him to join him to obtain some money he has stashed somewhere. They unshackle themselves and run away. Where to next Chalky? We can’t even figure that one out because we don’t know what led him to prison or what exactly is going on in his head.
Margaret is still working at Connors and Gould. The top boss makes a speech to all employees to put them in good spirits, since the crash has left everyone in fear of bankruptcy. The boss man uses an analogy from a Mickey Mouse cartoon he saw to emphasize that everything will be better. Then he shoots himself in the head.
I’m quite sure no one took his word for it.
One of the of the other managers looks for the deceased’s key to a cabinet. Margaret claims not to know where the key is, but is seen looking through the file cabinet. She pulls out a folder that says “RedStone”. Arnold Rothstein had seen her bosses a few times in the last season using the alias Arnold Redstone, after he had started experiencing financial difficulty due to his excessicve gambling. What does Margaret care about Rothstein’s business with his finances? And that’s another thing, Rothstein is dead. Not even a proper goodbye, I tell you!
Nucky bumps into Meyer Lansky in Cuba. Meyer claims to be on vacation with his wife and brags about having a son. Some time later, Nucky is about to buy some lotto tickets, when some man with a machete tries to knock Nucky off. Luckily, Nucky had a bodyguard on Sally’s orders. The bodyguard took the machete away from the man and drove it through his head. Then he cut off one of his ears and put it in his pocket. Once again, Nucky gets out alive from an attack and I can’t help but wonder, what is the bodyguard going to do with that ear?
After bidding Sally a good night and making sure the bodyguard took her to her room, he notices the blonde from earlier, Meyer Lansky’s wife. He asked her where her husband was and she replied that he could be her husband, for one day or a week, whatever he would like. She could make him feel good. Sounds fishy? Seems like this blonde is a prostitute and if she isn’t Meyer’s wife, then he was lying for his reasons for being in Cuba. Which brings us to the hit on Nucky, could Meyer have tried to take him out?
And if thats not the story, whats the point of Meyer being Cuba?
Lucky is still taking orders from an ungrateful Masseria. Masseria is ranting about trying to be the number one boss and ridding himself of his rival Maranzano. Lucky is now sporting the famous droopy eye that the real life gangster is known for and seems very unhappy with his long times bosses orders and attitude.
As soon as I heard the phone ringing, tears collected in my eye. The random constant phone call was always a signal for gangsters, and when Lucky excused himself to go to the bathroom, I knew some major bullet popping was going to go down. Masseria, like many others before him, ignored the tell tale rings. But ask yourself, if restaraunt workers are on staff and in the area, why wouldnt they pick the phone up. They were told not to. Bugsy and a friend appeared soon after, and put about 20,000 bullets in Masseria. (rough estimate)
Now that Lucky has rid the Italian Mafia of the growing pain in the ass, that Masseria had become, he is viewed as a hero. Without Rothstein and Masseria to be over him, Lucky is his own man. The 5 families partake in a traditional ceremony, where they all slice their hands and shake hands with Lucky, to welcome him into the family. This is real folks. Lucky Luciano is now a part of the 5 families and will be bigger then those that came before him.
The poem recited in the beginning and end of the episode, reflect young Nucky’s original motivations. He hoped to be an honest and good person. If these flashbacks continue in the next few episodes, we may learn how he went from honest to down right dirty.
Early life for Nucky was rough. His sister was sick and possibly dying, and his drunk father was a fisherman that was more abusive then helpful. Nucky hoped to use his honesty to move one of the rich people to help him. His eye is on the Commodore, who even at that age, he is quite fond of. The Commodore looks like a forty year-old Jimmy. But you can tell that he is as cold-hearted then, as he is in later years.
Nucky returns the hat of one of the Commodores colleagues. Although there is money hidden in the hat and he discovers it, he does not keep it for himself. He gets no reward for this and that is the lesson to be learned on the boardwalk. You won’t get anything fairly. The Commodore isn’t remotely impressed. Later on, he gets into a fight with one of the local boys, and the Commodore ends up employing Nucky to sweep the deck, for a shiny dollar. It’s crazy to think that Nucky started at a young age sweeping and moved up until he became a treasurer. Clearly, he didn’t succeed the legal way and that is what this season will be about, how he ended up becoming involved with gangsters and underhanded dealings.
Hopefully, the next few episodes will tell us what made him change.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Anything, that actually surprised you?
image source: HBO