Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 3.06, “Ging Gang Goolie”: Skating on thin ice

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Boardwalk Empire, Season 3, Episode 6: “Ging Gang Goolie”
Written by Steve Kornacki
Directed by Ed Bianchi
Airs Sunday 9.00pm EST on Sunday

Ever since the sad departure of showgirl Lucy Danziger from the show in Season 2, leaving her baby girl to the tender care of Nelson Van Alden (which is a bit like leaving a baby in the tender care of a waterbuffalo), the position of ‘female character who is madder than a sack full of wet ferrets’ has stood vacant. Now, finally, we have a suitable replacement. Gillian Darmody – never the most stable of persons, apt to revenge herself on neglectful Sugar Daddies by lacing their food with arsenic – has steadily lost her marbles one by one as the loss of her son/lover Jimmy has gradually pushed her to the edge.

So far she’s dealt with Jimmy’s death by just pretending he’s away on business and writing him letters beseeching him to come home (and if this was The Walking Dead, he probably would). Now the writers have presented her with a Jimmy replacement in the form of gorgeous but slightly thick Roger McAllister, who she promptly seduces and renames. Exactly what Gillian is grooming her son-substitute for isn’t quite clear, but the short shrift she gives business partner Lucky Luciano suggests she’s in the market for new muscle and Roger has plenty of that.

Gillian is not the only female character getting satisfaction this week. After a convoluted storyline designed to alert the motherly concerns of Margaret Thomson, who believes her young son may be torching random buildings because he lacks a male role model, Owen Sleater (Charlie Cox wielding his grin like a weapon) rides to the rescue, like a charming, Oirish knight on a lightly soiled charger. Margaret has been doing that thing that women do when they fancy someone, which is to be very cross with them and gaze at them with smouldering come-on eyes at the same time. It’s a move designed to confuse men into submission (Miss Piggy is an expert – just look at the way she handles Kermit and you’ll see exactly what I mean) and it works like a treat on Owen, who trots off into the greenhouse with her despite the fact that when Nucky finds out what his henchman has been up to, there will be Trouble. Margaret’s first husband ended up in the drink on the orders of Nucky. I do hope Owen isn’t headed the same way because watching Cox act, wide eyes calculating, is a treat.

All of this coupling gives us a breather after the climactic action of last week. Gyp Rosetti is holed up somewhere, plotting terrible revenge, and while we the viewers know he will be back, probably with a machine gun for company, the change of pace allows for the development of some crucial plot underpinnings. Gradually the machinations of Attorney General Harry Daugherty (played with oily panache by Christopher McDonald) are becoming clear to Nucky, whose recovery from his earlier ennui is greatly assisted by eighteen hours in the same undergarments while he waits in the tank on a trumped up charge of alcohol possession.

The workings of Nucky’s psyche are given much needed clarification when he attempts to recruit prosecutor Elspeth Randolph to his counter attack against Daughtery. Randolph, smart as a whip, accepts Nucky’s invitation to the local diner and remarks, ‘you like to play the pater familias’. That observation instantly gives us the key to some of Nucky’s recent and perplexing behaviour. Elspeth is right; Nucky needs to provide, to rescue, to shelter. He has done that for Margaret and now she’s secure, he’s doing the same for Billie Kent, and he aspires to help Randolph out of the hole the male establishment has placed her in. Whether Randolph (the coolly intelligent Julianne Nicholson) will accept his offer remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, horribly scarred WWI veteran Richard Harrow has found a new woman to adore. Harrow spends a lot of time either shooting people or gazing longingly at photos of other people being happy, so I’m hoping that he’s going to finally be allowed the chance at a normal relationship. I know this is Boardwalk Empire, where no one has a normal relationship with anyone, but I can dream, can’t I?

Cath Murphy

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