Boardwalk Empire: Letting Go
Boardwalk Empire is full of characters who you can trust to be untrustworthy. Because of this, whenever we are presented with a character who does not appear to have an obviously nefarious or hidden agenda, we start looking for it. Sometimes we are right.
Even before we overheard a suspicious phone conversation a couple of episodes ago, we really didn’t feel like we could trust Piggly Wiggly man Roy Phillips. With the life she has led, Gillian has little reason to trust anyone. But that’s exactly where she found herself.
She trusted him enough to share most of her past with him. She trusted him enough to allow him to help her kick her heroin addiction. She hoped on a future with him. Hoped to a point that she let loose of her grasp on all of the things which she had been clinging to. She agreed to sell the Commodore’s house for a song. She appeared to give up her custody battle for Tommy. And it was all with the inner promise of Roy.
So when she breaks down and admits to her murder of that young man from Indiana, we all sense that it is a mistake, and we pity her terrible need. We’ve suspected for sometime that Roy was up to no good. Even guessed that he may be working for the doomed Roger’s family. But when he drops that very bomb on Gillian, the force of the devastation still hits hard. He would not be marrying her. He would not be taking her away from her troubles. Instead, he is her troubles come home to roost. Her salvation is her destruction.
Gretchen Moll’s continued fine performance sells the moment fantastically. Even with the almost unbelievably convenient presence of Roy’s co-conspirators, his revelation as a private detective sent to find the cause of Roger’s disappearance is shattering. It is a long, long con he has perpetrated.
But these are not the only characters weighing their options when it comes to their perpetual states. Chalky is on the run from an attempt on his life that he thinks was okayed by Nucky. He has Daughter Maitland in tow and is well on the way to simply cutting ties and hitting the road with her. This means leaving Atlantic City and the Onyx and his family. Is it really such a surprise that the moment he commits to this course of action she goes missing and Doctor Narcisse’s men show up in his hiding place to finish him off? As a story point it definitely is not. But I am reluctant to pin her for their presence. We’ll find out next week, most likely.
The final scene of the episode reveals another of our cast getting weary of the wheel he finds himself on. At a family dinner, Nucky deduces the source of the bad smell Gaston Means has alerted him to. It is his brother Eli and agent Knox. So he calls Sally Wheet in Tampa and tells her. He wants out.
Gillian is under arrest and maybe out of the picture because of it. Chalky is free to reclaim what he almost let go of. Nucky may not want what he always thought was his necessity and is looking for an escape hatch. Eli, meanwhile, sees himself as trapped when a simple act could possibly free him.
Next week will bring us into early 1925, and some will ring in the New Year by being relieved of their burdens.