Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 19 ‘Peg of Old’ Review

Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 19 'Peg of Old' ReviewI have mentioned several times how much it impresses me that with so many characters on this show, that the writers of Boardwalk Empire are able to cram so much character development into one episode, but this latest episode, ‘Peg of Old,’ takes the cake. Yes, there’s still the graphic violence and even a very surprising sex scene for those simply looking for such things out of their TV watching enjoyment, but those who seek unbelievable storytelling came to the right place.

After a brief opening showing that boxer Jack Dempsey has indeed, at Nucky’s suggestion a few episodes back, come to train in Atlantic City (which also puts him in Nucky’s pocket, it seems), the story immediately shifts to Van Alden and the mess that his life has become. His wife will no longer converse with him by phone or by mail, and it seems the money he had promised Lucy for her trouble is now non-existent.

After a heated argument with Lucy, Van Alden heads into work only to find that his office has been overtook by the Assistant DA and her lackeys, moving Van Alden and his things to a tiny desk in the back of the room. The ADA is there working on the legal case against Nucky, making Nucky once again a thorn in Van Alden’s side, even when he’s not intending to be.

Margaret (finally!) makes the trek to Brooklyn to visit the family that she recently discovered are living in America. The show introduces several young ladies of varying ages, all of them her sisters, that only seem to know her as Margaret, but as her brother walks in he calls her Peg, thus proving Katie the maid’s theory that Margaret was actually the “Peggy” that she had her call about earlier this season. What follows is an odd mix of sweet and awkward conversation between Margaret and her brother and sisters. For every moment of progress she makes with the girls, her brother takes her down a notch.

In the midst of a slightly heated discussion, Margaret reveals that she left behind her old life in Ireland because she had gotten pregnant, lied about the circumstances that lead to the pregnancy, and fled for fear of the persecution and life she had awaiting her if she were to stick around. It’s some pretty emotional back and forth that brings out the best in Kelly Macdonald’s portrayal of Margaret. There’s a fire and defiance within that character that’s been missing nearly all season, but even amidst her sadness over her brother’s attitude towards her, you can sense that rebellious aspect of her coming back to the surface, and by episode’s end it returns in a not-quite surprising fashion. I hope we have more of the strong, rebellious Margaret to look forward to.

After last week’s shootout in the woods, Jimmy and the New York boys (Lucky and Lansky) had come to an agreement to start bringing in Heroin. This week they have all convened in Atlantic City, Al Capone in tow, to discuss their impending business venture, although it sounds like their still talking about booze to me. Eli shows up late to the meeting, only adding more fuel to the inferiority complex that character must have.

Jimmy continues to insist that Nucky is going to go down once the courts get a hold of him, but the other members of this younger group of gangsters insist that he should just be taken out. Jimmy seems to fend it off until Eli himself says to “just kill him, already.” This puts Jimmy in an awkward place and gives actor Michael Pitt a chance to really show what a multi-layered character Jimmy really is. Although he’s been on the Commodore’s side since the end of Season 1, you can tell that it’s Nucky that he truly admires and respects and the thought of not only harm coming to Nucky, but harm coming to him by his call, has him completely twisted up inside. Alas, he finds himself in a leadership position, makes a tough decision and informs Capone to call one of his guys to seal the deal.

Immediately after making this decision, it’s evident that Jimmy is filled with regret. He discusses this with his mother, who insists that he can’t look weak in front of the other fellows if he is to be their ringleader. What Jimmy is unaware of is that his mom has rekindled her affair with Lucky, leaving me to question if she has some ulterior motives herself.

There’s not a whole lot of Nucky this week, but what we do get of him is great. Early on he is visited by Lucy, with baby in tow, who admits she initially was going to try and play him for some money, but then tells the truth about her situation with Van Alden, which Nucky feels he can use to his advantage. He calls Van Alden in and makes him an offer. If Van Alden will spy on the ADA, Nucky will take care of him, Lucy, and the baby. Before they can agree, Nucky mentions that he gave Lucy some money, and Van Alden takes off, knowing that it can’t be a good thing.

Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 19 Peg of Old Review

Sure enough, Van Alden returns home to find a neighbor watching the baby and a dirty diaper on the spinning on the Victrola that Lucy had previously so desired. Van Alden has literally hit bottom. He’s made a mess of his once devout life having a wife that won’t speak to him, a baby with another woman, countless other sins, including murder, on his conscious and has now been propositioned by Nucky Thompson, the man he came to Atlantic City to take down in the first place. However, Van Alden’s faith runs strong and as we see him, holding his newborn daughter that he has decided to name Abigail, there’s a sense of rebirth in his eyes.

He immediately walks into his office and hands over an extensive file that he’s built on Nucky Thompson over to the ADA and agrees to testify to all information contained within. Rather than being in Nucky’s pocket, Van Alden has decided to go up against him once again, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. After the explosion that took the life of one of his men, Van Alden has recognized how far he has strayed from his path and it appears that he is back on the road of the righteous, or at least as best as he can be.

Even Owen gets a little bit more back story this week, although it’s not quite the clearest. After being a no-show to drive Nucky to a party at Babette’s, it is revealed that he is staking out a long time acquaintance that, from what I could gather, used to serve with him in the Irish military but committed some form of treason, as Owen waits for the man to enter a bathroom and then, with a handy spoon trick and some wire, relieves the man of a couple of fingers, as well as his life. This gives a greater glimpse to the more vicious side of the Owen character and I’m curious to see how this aspect plays out.

There is that other side of Owen, though. The handsome heartbreaker side that Margaret herself confessed to thinking inappropriate thoughts about. As it turns out, she won’t have to just imagine it any longer. As she arrives home from Brooklyn, properly informed by her brother that no one knows her or cares for her there, she finds an empty house, save for Owen the driver. The maids have taken the kids to the beach and Nucky is at Babette’s, leaving the house completely to them. Owen begins with his instant flirtations, which Margaret shirks from initially, but then she makes it clear that Owen can come upstairs with her. Although she acts cold and uncaring about the two of them and what they are about to do, once they begin Margaret seems to enjoy herself much more than she expected, vastly more than she has ever with Nucky, and that leads me to believe this won’t be the one time thing she insisted it would be. Little do Margaret and Owen know that while they are consummating their desires, that Nucky has been injured with no one by his side.

While at the party at Babette’s and listening to Jack Dempsey give his speech, Nucky starts making eyes at a young lady but his glance is interrupted by an almost crazed looking Jimmy. He gives Nucky a sort of cryptic message and walks off, leaving Nucky more confused than ever. Just as Jimmy steps aside, the gunman he hired takes a shot at Nucky, who manages to get out of the way save for his hand that he held up to protect himself. The gunman is immediately shot by one of the government agents working with the ADA, revealing that the government has an even closer eye on Nucky now than was realized. It makes for a fairly grim scene with Nucky, lying on the floor shot through the hand, while his lady and bodyguard are giving in to their carnal sides with no idea what’s become of him.

With only five episodes left this season, the story is definitely showing a picking up of the pace. Alliances and sides are being chosen, and everyone seems to be on the verge of making their next big play and I for one can’t wait to see it all unfold.

– Matt Hardeman

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