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Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' Improves Fortunes With "Bone For Tuna"

BOARDWALK EMPIRE - Season 3, Episode 3: "Bone For Tuna"

So far this season, a general rule of thumb says that the amount of screen time Gyp Rosetti and Richard Harrow receive is directly proportionate to how entertaining a given episode is. Aside from his interactions at the diner and the "Everybody got guns!" line, last week was a slow week for ol' Gyp, and Harrow was nowhere to be seen. This week, they are both involved in the best scenes and play important parts in the overall story.

 

Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale)
After seemingly working out a deal with Nucky Thompson, Rosetti reacts to the phrase "your neck of the woods" by imitating a monkey, even though Nucky had pre-emptively explained that he wasn't implying Gyp lived among trees. As Nucky put it, Gyp "could find an insult in a bouquet of flowers," and he proved that when he decided to break the agreement because he felt Nucky was mocking him by sending a message that said, "Bon fortuna." Unbeknownst to Gyp, the message was actually spelled "Bone for tuna," presumably so that Owen would know how to pronounce it. The final straw breaks the oddly thin-skinned camel's back shortly thereafter when the sheriff of small-town Tabor Heights makes the mistake of wishing him, "Good luck." Declaring that he and his crew would be sticking around for a while, Rosetti douses the sheriff in gasoline and LIGHTS HIM ON GODDAMN FIRE. This guy is a maniac, but his complex personality results in the most unpredictable character on the show. Although the eventual showdown would indicate that Gyp will probably be killed off, I hope he really will be sticking around.

 

Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) and Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks)
The plotline involving Richard Harrow was a good one, too. Hearing that Mickey Doyle was trying to bolster his reputation by taking credit for killing Manny Horvitz, the mild-mannered marksman forcefully brought Mickey to Nucky to recant his story and then confessed he was the one who shot Horvitz. Concerned that Harrow would target him because he had killed Jimmy, Nucky is relieved to discover that Richard had only planned to avenge Angela, noting that Jimmy "was a soldier. He fought. He lost." Dealing with his demons, Nucky wondered if Harrow ever thought about any of the people he had killed. "You know the answer to that yourself," was the response from the World War I sharpshooter. Drawing on the emotion of Harrow's backstory and Nucky's internal struggle over shooting Jimmy, this was a powerful scene that established the neutral relationship between the two. If Jack Huston doesn't receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination at some point during the series, it's a shame.

 

Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret Thompson (Kelly MacDonald)
Once again, it's the Thompson-heavy portions of the show that drag down the proceedings. I don't care about Nucky's pining after some floozy young enough to be his daughter. I don't enjoy the family drama between Nucky and his cold, distant wife Margaret. This aspect of Boardwalk Empire is what reminds me most of The Sopranos: the strained relationship drama between the cheating gangster husband and the manipulative bitch wife. It was my least favorite part about The Sopranos, but I much preferred James Gandolfini and the lively, conflicted depiction of Tony Soprano, so that made it bearable. As noted before, I can't say the same about Steve Buscemi and his bland portrayal of Nucky Thompson. Love the actor, but not in this role. He has two facial expressions—creepy stare and creepy smile—and neither of them work for this character.

 

Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi)
Boardwalk Empire is so close to feeling like an all-time classic series, but for me it falls short of the mark due to its lead star. As good of a character actor as he is, Buscemi cannot carry a show and it is patently obvious when the viewer gets solid doses of supporting characters like Gyp Rosetti, Richard Harrow, Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller, and Al Capone. These are the guys who are far and away more interesting and entertaining to watch. Here's hoping that the producers and writers of Boardwalk Empire realize this and possibly consider the idea of bumping Nucky off. This week's episode was an improvement over the previous week, but still not up to the quality of the season premiere or the best Season 2 installments.

FINAL GRADE: B-


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