We’re just now winding down on Boardwalk Empire’s endgame, and as we’ve come to expect from all previous seasons of this show, things are about to get hairy for everyone. This week’s installment, “King of Norway,” moves all the pieces forward at least one or two steps as conflicts continue heating up. And when I say all the pieces, I mean all of them. With only three more episodes after this one the writers can’t afford to only focus on a select few anymore, given the shortened season order.
For one thing, the young Nucky storyline takes a massive leap forward in time as Nucky is together with Mabel and now a young adult deputy working for Sheriff Lindsay. Despite Nucky’s occupation shift, the Commodore is still very much in the picture keeping his power hold on the area, and with Nucky working in close proximity to the sheriff, that means more opportunities for the both of them. Another thing of note is actor Marc Pickering as this incarnation of Nucky, who does such a great job emulating Steve Buscemi’s speech and mannerisms that one could almost mistake him for the real thing.
Back in 1931, Nucky arrives at his place to find Chalky waiting for him in a new suit he must have picked up along his travels since the home invasion. With Valentin Narcisse on both their minds, it’s especially disappointing that actor Jeffrey Wright hasn’t had the time to shine this season after becoming a memorable addition to the show last year. Narcisse doesn’t appear in the hour, and so far he has only showed up in one episode, so here’s hoping that the final three are back-loaded with his material. Chalky’s gearing up for a showdown – it’s just a matter of when and how. On a side note, it was nice seeing him and Nucky reconciling after some rough patches when they were last together.
In Chicago, Al Capone doesn’t have anything of immediate concern except maybe constipation issues, although references to his “tax issue” foreshadow his eventual run-in with Prohibition Agent Elliot Ness. The Eli and Nelson comedy duo, however, have much more to worry about. In addition to being turned into Untouchables of their own kind after their original identities get exposed, Eli’s booziness and Nelson’s dysfunctional home life come crashing together. Eli has already knocked up another woman, but that doesn’t stop him from having sex with Nelson/George’s wife while the family is eating.
With the awkwardness continuing to pile on, it means that Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham’s unexpected comic chemistry thrives on. Punchline of the night goes to Shannon twice, once when Eli reasons that his “life is a shipwreck” and Nelson responds, “Land ho!” The other time is when the emotionally tense Nelson exclaims that he refuses to be “ruled by fear” but then immediately answers his wife’s calling. Has this season not taught us yet that Michael Shannon deserves to get his own comedy show and/or film?
While it’s revealed that Johnny Torio is working with Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky in their mission to take down Nucky, Gillian’s affairs in the nuthouse don’t look to be improving from her perspective. As I’ve said in previous reviews, her storyline looks more and more trivial than the Young Nucky timeline (which at least made big moves here) as it treads on. Unless there’s some twist that she knows information that others don’t (unlikely), or someone working in the asylum is connected to the mob stuff (also unlikely), it’s still very unclear what the purpose of her inclusion is in such a compressed timeframe. Still, this is Boardwalk Empire, which has a habit of taking multiple dangling threads and tying them together at the last minute, so with only three episodes left it’s time to see what’s in store soon.
EPISODE RATING: 8/10