This weeks episode of Boardwalk Empire was entitled “Battle of the Century.” This was of course referring to the fight between heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey and his french challenger Georges Carpentier which took place in New Jersey on July 2nd 1921. This would be the only battle that took place during the episode and we didn’t even get to see it (but we did get to hear the real radio broadcast from 1921, that was pretty cool, but what else would you expect from Scorsese who used Jake LaMotta’s real fight audio in Raging Bull, but I digress). That is my only complaint, because the rest of this episode was excellent but come on, show us Dempsey knocking him out. I understand the title was about the fight since that was the actual name of that particular bought, but what we, the audience, witnessed was the build up to the inevitable battle between Nucky and Jimmy. Last week Nucky declared that he was stepping down and therefore James was the new king of the boardwalk. This week we saw what the power does for our young protagonist and how quickly that power seems to be slipping away.
Manny Horvitz, played by William Forsythe, from Philadelphia will be the undoing of Jimmy and his reign in Atlantic City. I am calling it now while there are still 3 episodes left to go in the season. I am second guessing myself a little though because if that does happen, the writers made it fairly obvious. I don’t know, but they are definitely foreshadowing that something is about to go down between the two of them. I don’t really understand Jimmy’s logic here. He made a deal with Manny, and yes Manny annoyed the crap out of him about it, but just because of that Jimmy decided to screw him over? He goes behind his back to his biggest rival Waxy Gordon and tries to have him killed. I can’t believe the would be assassin was carrying an Atlantic City pack of matches, what an atomic bomb that was. Manny knows everything now, and he is not happy. There could not have been a more perfect way for him to kill that guy though. The clever to the head was beyond cool, easily my favorite moment in the episode.
I love the way this series is always able to stay relevant to the time period of the 20’s. This time around though it was an incredibly depressing reminder of how far we have advanced in medicine. Polio was and is an absolutely terrifying disease, and to make things worse it mostly targets young children. Little Emily has contracted it and your heart really goes out for her in this episode. The spinal tape scene was almost impossible to watch, and Margaret was deeply affected by it. She obviously puts the blame upon herself and her bad deeds, which isn’t entirely fair but she is an Irish catholic after all and really can’t help but feel that way. Kelly Macdonald demonstrated once again why she is the best actress in this show, her facial expressions were so believable and you could see the torment on her face during the spinal tap.
When we were first introduced to Owen Slater and John Mcgaricle, I was happy that only Owen stayed stateside. By the time John was returning to Ireland, he had somewhat started to grow on me but he had still pissed me off so bad at first, and first impressions are everything. That being said, I was continuing to warm up to him throughout this episode. I was kind of disappointed that he said no to Nucky’s deal but I expected that especially after their dinner together. I absolutely loved the way that conversation between John and Nucky was shot. The use of the Cabiria movement was flawless. I was in complete shock though, at the end when John’s own countryman took him out as Owen drove Nucky back to his ship. That blew me away entirely, the Irish rebels had an extremely deep respect of Mr. Mcgaricle and did nothing to hide that whenever his name was mentioned. I never saw that coming, but at the same time I was very happy that Nucky was able to get the deal he wanted. With him returning to Atlantic City and 10,000 cases of Irish Whiskey soon to follow, the stage is set for the inevitable showdown where Nucky will attempt to reclaim his throne.