Erlkönig (Warning, Spoilers)

This is one of the best episodes of the entire series, covering so many topics, with excellent writing, acting and direction. The cinematography was also, as usual, the finest quality of any TV show I’ve ever seen. A truly outstanding episode, that strangely, didn’t focus on Nucky Thompson directly. Last episode saw Eddie being lifted by Agent Knox, after an all-night drinking session with Ralph Capone. We also saw Gillian’s drug habit begin to spiral out of control. Willie Thompson accidently killed (or maybe not accidental?) his nemesis at collage, by spiking his drink with a concoction of chemicals, but now it’s time to pay the piper.

Boardwalk Empire
Directed by
Timothy Van Patten
Steve Buscemi, Shea Whigham, Gretchen Mol, Michael K. Williams, Stephen Graham
Release Date
6 October 2013
Ed’s Grade: A+

Van Alden was asked to come work for the Capone’s, after the three of them boosted a truck belonging to O’Banion, and this is more or less the way this episode continues the story. It’s hard not to give some of the story away, so I suggest, if you haven’t seen this episode, you stop reading now. I tend to avoid spoilers, and can usually dance around certain subjects, but to properly talk about this one, I need to mention what the outcome of the previously mentioned events are, and who is left standing. This isn’t quite as dramatic as Game of Thrones’ The Red Wedding or Breaking Bad‘s Ozymandias, two showstopping episodes, but Boardwalk Empire is in a class of its own, comparatively speaking, and has more in common with a feature film.

Van Alden gets picked up by Frank, to take him to see Al, where he’s told to go and make sure the voters think with something other than their conscience, and while Van Alden is worried about O’Banion, and more so Al Capone, he’s starting to look a little more like himself again. Frank even takes him aside to give him assurances about Al, and this is after Frank puts Al in his place, in front of Van Alden.

Frank also hands the strapped-for-cash ex-agent a healthy advance on his pay, telling him to buy grass for his empty lawn. After things get out of hand with the voters, the Capone’s turn up to help sort things out, but a huge fight breaks out, leaving the brothers badly beaten, and while Al is crawling on the ground, Van Alden lifts his gun; aims it at Al; Frank sees what’s happening, but after we hear a shot ring out, Frank’s chest spurts with blood.

Gillian goes to see the judge about getting custody of Tommy, but ends up doing something foolish. She then goes to Tommy’s school, and again, does something foolish. Gillian is starting to show signs of the drug wearing her down. I suppose this was inevitable, but she also begins to act on her addiction now, by going to Purnsley to score, after she runs out. She even offers herself to him, but he’s only interested in her future business. Armed with heroin, she gets herself together, but apparently leaves her “tools” on the bathroom floor. Roy comes home and finds her in bed, but that’s not all he’s found

Uncle Nucky turns up at the police station where nephew Willie is being detained. He’s there to try and help the boy, but Willie takes a bit of persuading to come clean about the full incident. Nucky does what he does best, and also brings Willie into the fold. This isn’t obvious or stated, but to me it was apparent, with what reminded me strongly of The Godfather, more so than most of the things I’ve seen in Boardwalk Empire, thus far.

Finally; Eddie is being questioned by Knox and another agent, but Eddie is staying quite resolute and saying almost nothing. Eventually, a file arrives from Germany, telling Knox all about Eddie’s little brush with the law back home, and why he’s in the land-of-the-free in the first place. Eddie tells the agents something that will keep them happy for a while; knowing that he’s just crossed a line. He goes home to Nucky, ashamed; writes a letter; fixes Nucky’s socks; stands on his window ledge…

I didn’t want this episode to end, and haven’t so thoroughly enjoyed Boardwalk Empire so much since season one, and trust me, I love every episode of this show, but this was an exceptionally strong one. If you never watch another episode of Boardwalk Empire, make sure this is the one you do see.

TV Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer

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