“It’s important to always have something to look forward to.”
This is a sentiment that Nucky shares with Margaret halfway through ‘A Dangerous Maid,’ Boardwalk Empire: Season Two’s third episode, but it could easily be something every character of this show should take to heart. Nearly every major character is hanging onto some dream of the future, and it’s not always necessarily a good one.
This episode is also a testament to the amazing writing staff and cast, as this show is filled with so many great characters, yet manages to give just about everyone (save for Chalky, who is sadly MIA this episode)something to do, and the actors, in some cases, being able to do so much with so little.
After being a no-show last episode, it’s nice to see Van Alden right off the bat. A little more insight is given into the goings-on between him and Lucy. After a moment of weakness on both parties last season, Lucy is pregnant with Van Alden’s baby and Van Alden is paying her to not only carry the baby to term, but to also have no contact with anyone; informing her to not even leave the apartment he has set up for them under the assumed name of Mueller. This isolation is obviously driving Lucy crazy and it becomes obvious that she won’t be able to take it much longer.
The character of Lucy (Paz De La Huerta) has never been used on the show for much more than rampant nudity, but ‘A Dangerous Maid’ finally gives her some humanity and even makes her quite the vulnerable. She misses her fast paced living, she feels trapped not only in her apartment, but in a pregnant body she can’t bare the sight of, and it has all placed her at her wits end.
She receives a brief moment of peace with a visit from performer and dear friend Eddie Cantor (Stephen DeRosa), who not only brings her cigarettes and whiskey (great for any pregnant lady!), but also a script for an upcoming play. It’s not long though before Van Alden arrives home and reminds Lucy of the state of things and their deal and this pushes Lucy to an almost destructive edge.
Luckily, and surprisingly, Van Alden manages to show some good will towards Lucy which not only makes her happy, but leaves Van Alden questioning his true motives in this situation, as he seems almost happy himself.
Meanwhile, Nucky is doing his best to take everything that’s happening around him in stride. He’s reassuring Margaret that, despite her worries about Nucky’s well-being and their overall financial stability, everything is going to be fine. He calls in a favor to newly appointed Attorney General Daugherty, but finds his situation is outside federal help. He also discovers the Commodore has used his connections with the Coast Guard to block Nucky’s ships of booze from coming in. Nucky’s beginning to feel pinned against the wall, but he’s not going down without a fight.
Al Capone finally makes his way to Atlantic City, primarily to settle his recently deceased father’s affairs. He first stops in to pay Nucky a visit to let him know about Chicago’s plans to go with someone else for their booze trade. Then Al makes his way over to the Darmody house to catch up with Jimmy.
Both of these scenes with Al show the range of this character, and it’s quite refreshing. Al is first and foremost a pompous loudmouth about nearly everything, but when he see’s Jimmy playing his son and being able to talk to him, you can see Al’s heart break as he thinks of his own son that’s lost his hearing and you can really feel the toll its taking on Capone. Much like Lucy in this episode, it’s nice to see this character not be so one dimensional and I hope there’s more of that to come.
Jimmy seems to be becoming even more conflicted about his decision to turn on Nucky and follow the Commodore. Although he’s definitely still on the Commodore’s side, you can easily tell that Jimmy is pretty eaten up over turning his back on Nucky. On two occasions in the episode, when someone alludes to Nucky being murdered, Jimmy quickly assures them that he’ll be arrested; making it obvious that Jimmy can’t bear the thought of something bad happening to Nucky. Jimmy accompanies the Commodore to a dinner with the Governor, helping to groom him into the man the Commodore has promised him that he’ll become.
It’s not long after that Nucky arrives and we get our first head to head clash between Nucky and those that have turned their backs on him and it’s just an incredible scene. Nucky is always very laid back and calculating, but here you can see his anger getting the best of him and he’s ready to take action against those that risk taking everything he’s built away. He promises them that he will bury them all, even Jimmy, and you can’t help but believe him.
This episode also gives us a little more of a peak into Margaret’s clouded history. She receives a letter from a private investigator informing her that some of her relatives have been found in America. Rather than excitement, Margaret seems a bit filled with dread over this revelation, telling Nucky that her and her relatives didn’t part on the best of terms. She enlists the help of one of the maids to call the phone number provided in the letter and asks for a woman named Peggy, whom they are told has been dead for over 12 years. This information greatly saddens Margaret and literally drives her to drink.
By episode’s end, thanks to some detective work by Katie the maid, it’s alluded that Margaret herself may indeed be this Peggy she was calling after, which completely changes the audience perception of what we’ve come to know Margaret as. I’m very anxious to see how this plays out and to discover just how much Margaret is actually hiding from everyone.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this episode is jam packed with characters, and there are small side stories that are slowly building. There’s Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, both itching to move up in the game but constantly being reminded that it’s Arnold Rothstein that runs things, including them. We also see Owen Slater, the Irish man whose introduction last episode was rather sub-par, but here he’s trying to find a place as Nucky’s muscle, taking over the void left by Jimmy, and seems to be en route to being a major player this season. I’m anxious to see what is in store for all of these guys.
Overall, ‘A Dangerous Maid’ is another excellent episode continuing the streak this season has had going. As good as the writing and acting is, it can feel a bit overwhelming with all of the ongoing storylines, especially when only a few minutes a week are paid to them.
‘A Dangerous Maid’ is definitely a transitional episode, setting up situations for what’s to come next, but it mostly feels necessary, and is paving the way for what is sure to be a continually excellent season.
– Matt Hardeman