Posted by: pop-break | November 14, 2012

Empire State of Mind: “The Milkmaid’s Lot”

bill bodkin and kimberlee rossi-fuchs love a good hat…

The Skinny: After an explosive previous episode “The Pony,” Atlantic City is reeling from the repercussions of the action of Gyp Rossetti. Nucky is suffering from the effects of a major concussion including short-term memory loss. Margaret and Owen’s affair, recently reignited by a backseat tryst, may be going to the next level. Meanwhile, Nucky and Gyp are circling the wagons for what could be a bloody war. Outside of the world according to Nucky, Richard Harrow is finding an unexpected love.

The Body Count: We’re still remembering the death of Billie Kent.

Garden State Reference: The Battle of Monmouth was referenced in Tabor Heights town hall.

Favorite Performance: Although he’s often overshadowed by the show’s strong supporting cast, Buscemi shone this week as the concussion-addled Nucky. Oscillating between angry, demanding, manic, and emotional, Buscemi was frightening to watch, seemingly poised to say or do something disastrously wrong at every turn throughout the episode. His mistaking Chalky for an “uppity” shoeshine boy was particularly cringe-inducing and his insistence that Margaret remain in the room while he candidly discussed his murderous plans may have sealed the fate of their troubled marriage. Nucky was so uncharacteristically volatile and unpredictable, I was on edge during his entire proposal to Rothstein and other associates, not knowing if he was going to pass out, choke up, lash out, or otherwise bomb in that crucial moment. –KRF

This was another stand-out episode for Buscemi. While he’s the star of the show, he’s always been the glue that holds it together, while supporting characters get the spotlight to shine. However, this season, Buscemi has really taken the show on his back, filling the dramatic void left by Michael Pitt’s departure, and has wonderfully portrayed man who’s fighting against the current — a current that might drown him –BB

The Supporting Scene Stealer: As eccentric bootlegger George Remus, Glenn Fleshler provided some top-notch comic relief this week. Remus’ odd affectation of referring to himself in the third person is routinely played for laughs, but has never been so funny as his outraged declaration, delivered while clad in just a fine silk robe and skivvies, that “Remus doesn’t get arrested. Not in his own home, not anywhere!” Fleshler’s hopeless attempt at running away from the cops and ensuing fall were great bits of physical comedy, as well. –KRF

Charlie Cox’s Irish assassin, Owen Slater, really impressed me this week. Last season Owen Slater was a cheeky Irish killer of men and a real ladykiller. He was more humorous and lighthearted, always out for a shag — when he wasn’t putting men in an early grave. This season, he’s transformed into a more serious and compassionate human — and that’s in part to his love for Margaret Schroeder. He wants to become a husband, a father and most importantly, put distance between himself and the world of murder and vice he (and Margaret) are both steeped in. His silent intensity and worried eyes, really stood out this week. –BB

The Best Part of The Episode: This week’s best and most pivotal scene was Nucky’s ill-fated attempt to rally his cadre of gangsters and bootleggers to take up his cause in his impending war against Rosetti and Masseria. Having assembled Arnold Rothstein, Waxy Gordon, and virtually every other key player in the illegal booze trade (all except Joe Torrio, who’s mentally still vacationing in Italy), Nucky manages to set aside the still-crippling effects of his recent concussion and delivers a strong pitch, citing the benefit of his powerful political allies and promising a future of “expansion, cooperation, profit, and peace,” a productive new era in organized crime. Acting as the mouthpiece for the group, Rothstein wishes Nucky good luck (a nice call back to Nucky’s kiss-off to Rosetti earlier in the season), but deems him too much of a risk to continue doing business with. Impervious to his promises or threats, the men quickly pour out of Nucky’s office, dealing him perhaps the most crushing and humiliating blow he’s faced in the series to date. –KRF

The Part We Could’ve Done Without: As hotheaded thug Gyp Rosetti, Bobby Cannavale is often over-the-top and occasionally verges on parody, but was mostly effective this week, particularly in his amusing non-Q&A with the Tabor Heights townspeople and when he sadistically phoned Nucky to read him Billie Kent’s obituary. And then Rosetti had to steal General Anthony Wayne’s tri-cornered hat from the display case and wear it to work. Perhaps the moment was meant to echo the season one scene in which the rabbi advised Capone that if he wanted to be viewed as a man, he should no longer wear a boy’s cap, but rather than appear as a man taking charge, Rosetti just looked like a clown. –KRF

I didn’t mind the tri-corner hat, it heightens Gyp’s madness and his desire to be taken seriously by his superiors. The part I could’ve done without is Jimmy’s son running in on his favorite hooker getting nailed by a john. Yeah…didn’t need that. –BB

The Little Thing We Loved: Richard Harrow’s surprisingly successful night out with Julia provided a refreshing glimpse of the typically dour soldier’s witty and charming side, but the best moment of their date was their first kiss. In a visually striking and clever shot, the masked, expressionless side of Harrow’s face is to the camera, masking his reaction from both the crowd at the American Legion and the audience at home. –KRF

I concur. This scene made me smile as Boardwalk Empire isn’t a show known for giving you the warm and fuzzies. Harrow is one of my all-time favorite characters and to see him experience some sort of happiness, when not even a year ago he was trying to kill himself, is pretty awesome. –BB

Final Thoughts: Although “The Milkmaid’s Lot” featured some good moments for the supporting cast – Harrow remains captivating, Gillian continues to be perfectly loathsome, and Chalky is still woefully underused -the episode was all about Nucky and served to create a daunting uphill battle for him as the season draws to a close. With some of his most powerful allies, including Mrs. Thompson, planning to abandon him, Nucky is more alone than ever and thus, by his own admission, almost as good as dead. While things are certainly looking bleak, you can’t ever truly count Nucky out and while he’ll most assuredly find a way to maintain his throne (likely through his newly-strengthened political ties), I’m interested in seeing how it plays out in the face of such seemingly staggering odds in the weeks to come. –KRF

“The Milkmaid’s Lot” is an episode we’ve seen before on Boardwalk Empire — Nucky’s going to start a war and turns to his tenuous alliances who whether they like to or not, help him quash his enemies. And boy am I glad that this year’s installment of Nucky’s call to arms was met with deaf ears. While having Rothstein, Waxy and the gang help out Nucky would’ve been an epic, bloody and thrilling story arc — it also would be completely expected. What I’m hoping is that we’re going to see is Nucky rely on Eli, Chalky and Capone to get their hands dirty while he uses his political connections to defeat his governmental nuisances. I’m also glad the show is actually going through with the Owen/Margaret relationship. It harkens back to the initial Margaret/Nucky romance, but more sincere.

“The Milkmaid’s Lot” is one of the great pivot episodes this series has become known for. After a great, big episode like “The Pony” this exactly the type of episode you needed — one that sets the table for the climax of the season. It’s not a fantastic stand alone episode, but within season three’s arc — it’s perfect. –BB


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