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Friday, October 21, 2011

Boardwalk Empire 2.4: Nearly Flagrante Delicto

HBO's Boardwalk Empire put up one of its most powerful scenes - sensual and psychological - in episode 2.4.  It involved two characters who are major but not the most absolutely central to the series.  And the scene in effect came in two parts.

The characters are Gillian (Jimmy's mother, played by Gretchen Mol) and the Commodore (Jimmy's father, played by Dabney Coleman).

In part one, Gillian starts seducing the Commodore with a 1920s exotic strip tease that leaves her naked and the Commodore breathless.   Gillian never looked better - we see her waist up from the front and all the way down the back - indeed, the only scenes I recall as seductive as this were Atia's (played by Polly Walker) completely nude scenes in HBO's Rome.   But the result of Gillian's temptations is not the greatest for the Commodore, who has a stroke.   We learn later that men in his condition apparently can't take this much excitement.

In part two of this story within a story, which comes much later in this episode, Gillian talks to the Commodore, immobile in his bed.  The talk is her reminiscence of the first time the two made love, which turns out to be a harsh and cruel tale of the Commodore plying Gillian (both were 20+ years younger - Gillian was just 13) with alcohol and starting to rape her when she's passed out.  But Gillian woke up, and has always remembered the incident with understandable revulsion and horror.   Which raises the question: did Gillian deliberately try to seduce the Commodore to  provoke a seizure?

I'm not sure, but I do find it just-desert O'Henry-esque (you can't escape your fate) that the Commodore is now pretty much back where he started last year, an invalid in bed in serious condition.  And this is one of the things - actually, three, the scene and the questions and the cycles - that makes the series so good, and this episode especially. It also featured Chalky's flaws as a father (he's insecure when his daughter brings home a well-educated young suitor), and the gang back in New York.   Any scene with Lucky, Lansky, Bugsy, and Rothstein is always one of my favorite scenes on this show.

So far, Season Two of Boardwalk Empire is even better than Season One, which is saying a lot, because Season One was fine indeed.

See also Boardwalk Empire 2.1: Politics in an Age Before YouTube  ... Boardwalk Empire 2.2: The Woman Behind the Throne ... Boardwalk Empire 2.3: Frankenstein and Victrola

And see also Boardwalk Emipre on HBO ... Boardwalk Empire 1.2: Lines and Centers Power ... Boardwalk Empire 1.10: Arnold Rothstein, Media Theorist  ... Season One Finale of Boardwalk Empire

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The Plot to Save Socrates

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