Episode Title: "A Man, a Plan…"
Writer: Dave Flebotte
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Previously on "Boardwalk Empire"
This week's episode of "Boardwalk Empire" was one of the strongest in this third season run and I'd say it was largely due to the fact that "A Man, a Plan…" circled around to just about every major player. Yup, the gang was all here and they all made some pretty major moves heading into the quickly approaching season finale.
While it was great to see everyone, gangsters short and tall, Italian and Jewish and even a little Irish by association, Margaret and Owen's storyline was the most pressing. The lesson learned here, and throughout the episode, is that it's all about timing, whether leaving your estranged husband, quitting a dirty job, opening a socially progressive nightclub or getting into the heroin trade.
In Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) and Owen's (Charlie Cox) case, both were desperate to get out from under Nucky's thumb. Owen's plan was to space their respective escapes far enough apart so as not to arouse Nucky's suspicion. Not sure that would have worked, but we'll never find out after Massaria send Owen home to his boss in a box. As for Agent Sawicki, I can't imagine things ended much better for him.
Unlike Jimmy Darmody's death last season, the end of Owen's story wasn't quite as satisfying. Was he planning on marrying Katie or just trying to distance himself from Margaret in her mind? The latter seemed to be the case until the end of the episode, where we revisited Owen and Margaret's scene, this time in its entirety. When she asked him if he's lying, Owen went for a kiss rather than swear to tell the truth. Then we learn that Margaret is pregnant with his child. It's an exciting reveal, but cutting short the earlier scene to save this moment until the end felt a little cheap.
We're too assume that Nucky (Steve Buscemi) wasn't aware of their romance (until he saw Margaret lose it when she sees crate) though both Eddie and Mickey saw them together in questionable contexts. Now that he probably is, what will he do with Margaret, whom he promised a "new start?" And better yet, who will replace Owen as chief errand boy?
Out in Chicago, Van Alden (Michael Shannon) started peddling booze to a Norwegian cafe owner only to get collared by Capone (Stephen Graham). The look on Van Alden's face when Capone held him at fork-point was another great comedic moment for the former prohibition agent. He's definitely out of his element, at least when it comes to being bullied by diminutive mobsters. Will Van Alden spill on O'Bannion or will his confrontation with Capone toughen him up? Chicago is turning out to be the true proving ground for Van Alden.
Back in AC, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) and Julia Sagorsky's (Wrenn Schmidt) romance continued to bloom, despite an interruption from Julia's belligerent father. Julia thinks Tommy Darmody needs a father and we know Gillian (the only major player I can think of who didn't appear in this episode) won't go for that. Between Gillian and Julia's father, the odds aren't in favor of this couple. But of course, we know anyone's happiness on this show is short-lived. What'll be interesting is to see who or what ultimately does these two in.
With his back against the wall, Nucky made plans to take out Massaria while Gaston Means (Stephen Root) played both ends to the middle, getting both Nucky and Harry Doherty to pay him to take out the hysterical Jess Smith. Means proved a clumsy hitman, but it was no matter, as Jess pulled it together long enough to shoot himself in the head. The Doherty/Means/Nucky/Randolph conspiracy is one of the flatter storylines this season. Now that monkey in the middle, Jess Smith is out of the picture, hopefully things get a lot more interesting very quickly with the finale looming.
On that note, Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) and his "whadid you say?" outbursts are also starting to get old. The guy's a hot-headed psychopath, we get it. Why we need to watch him beat a man buried in sand up to his head with a shovel when we've already seem him beat a good samaritan to death and burn a sheriff alive, I'm not sure. At the very least, Gyp's ultimate demise should be very satisfying when it finally arrives.
As I mentioned earlier, this episode was all about timing and plans. Some failed (Margaret and Owen's escape, Nucky's hit on Massaria), others were temporarily thwarted (Chalky's designs on the old Babette's site for his new club) and one worked out in spite of itself (Gaston Mean's attempt to off Jess Smith). This underlying theme made what could have been a messy episode roping in too many players, cohesive and tight. "A Man, a Plan…" may have left us with more questions than answers, but it also gave us plenty to look forward to as season three comes to a close.