"Boardwalk Empire" – Episode 7, “Home”

11/04/2010 Posted by Admin

"Boardwalk Empire" – Episode 7, “Home”

Television Review

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Despite the expository first few episodes, there’s been a distinct lack of back-story for "Boardwalk"’s principles, with Nucky and Jimmy’s adolescence mostly regulated to passing comments about how someone else doesn’t understand what they’ve seen. Both characters thrive on their shrewdness to pass as the gangsters they think they are and a drop in this appearance can be deadly. However, in “Home,” both let down their guards and return to the past.

Nucky returns to his childhood home after his father takes a nasty fall. His father is tough old man with little patience for the man Nucky’s become, and immediately mocks Nucky’s position in society, scorning him for his lack of respect.

Nucky is a man of appearances and due to his size, we learn he has never been the toughest kid. He got by with his cunning business skills and ability to communicate, which his trip home reminds him of. He opens up to Margaret here, telling her of his childhood with an abusive father.  “I’m no stranger to a man’s cruelty,” she replies, insisting that he bury the past.

Margaret’s recent transition to Nucky’s flat has been a rocky one, at best, as she’s not used to being waiting on and certainly not used to being in such an open and non-committal relationship.

Meanwhile, old demons -- or phantoms, as the episode implies – haunt Jimmy. Awaiting psychiatric evaluation, Jimmy meets a man named Richard Harrow, whose face was blown off during the war. Regulated to a mask, Richard’s outlook is both bleak and poignant, and it grants Jimmy the chance to reconnect with his former nightmares.

Richard’s representation of the life Jimmy tries so often to describe gives him reason to move forward. Jimmy can face Richard’s deformity, which initially causes a gasp of disgust, and even share a drink while he stared into the heart of it. This coldness will move him deeper into the crime world in the same manner it served Nucky.

Episode’s like “Home” are necessary for any character-based series – to know where a person's going, you need to know where they’ve been, etc.  However, it’s also a classic problem that when dipping into a character’s past, the action slows. The information is important, but it's not always fun to watch.

There are choice moments of progression, though, and many of the dialogues, particularly between Jimmy and Richard, remain intriguing. However, where it succeeds with Jimmy, it stumbles with Nucky--Margaret’s effort to get him to open up come off more trite than honest.

Still, it is necessary for these characters to accept their pasts in order to move into the season’s final third, and in true "Boardwalk" fashion, their form of therapy is fantastic.

Grade: B

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