There is no better way to start off the new season of “Boardwalk Empire” than to have the vigilante Richard Harrow killing a few people. And that’s exactly how it all began for the premiere episode, “New York Sour,” which aired on Sept. 8.
But that’s all that we saw Harrow do until the final moments, when he returns to his home and puts his gun in the wood pile – only to have his twin sister, Emma, unknowingly point a shotgun at his back. When Richard turns around, Emma is stunned and nearly in tears. He tells her that he’s “coming home.”
The final moments seem to indicate that Richard might be taking it easy for a while. Of course, this is only the first episode, and “Boardwalk Empire” is known for bringing out some surprises.
“New York Sour” showed that many of the characters from last season might be taking a break for a little while. Not only did Harrow return home, but Nucky seems to want to lay low for a while, too. In this episode, he met with Arnold Rothstein, Eli, Meyer Lansky, and Joe Masseria to call a truce. Nucky wants to “settle down” and he “expects everyone else to do the same.”
The new season starts in 1924. Babbette’s has been remodeled after last season’s explosion that killed many – including Nucky’s mistress, Billie Kent. It is now known as the Onyx Club, and Chalky White is the owner. As he tries to work with talent manager Dickie Pastor to find some acts for the place, Dunn Purnsley finds some interest in a talent manager’s wife, Cora. The two leave for a little action, but they are soon joined by Dickie. Rather than killing Dunn, the racist Dickie tells him to continue screwing his wife. Apparently, it gets him off, and he wants to hear Dunn say, “Yes, boss.” But Dunn doesn’t last long before he grabs a bottle and kills Dickie. When he’s done, he notices that Cora has left out an open window.
Chalky is thoroughly upset and makes Dunn dispose of the body. He, Eli, and Dunn take Dickie’s body out to a desolate area, and Chalky gives Dunn a very difficult time. As Dunn is dragging the body out to a place to bury it, one of Dickie’s shoes comes loose. Dunn goes to grab it and almost throws it, but Nucky tells him to walk it over and put it with the rest of the body.
Gillian Darmody has become addicted to heroin after last season, when Gyp injected her and knocked her unconscious. She is currently in a custody battle for her grandson, Tommy, with Julia Sagorsky. Gillian says that she plans to put her house/brothel up for sale, and she wants to live quietly and raise Tommy. One of the men who checks out the house is Roy Phillips, played by newcomer Ron Livingston. He’s the owner of the Piggly Wiggly franchise, and he’s looking to expand it. Before he leaves to check out another place, he asks Gillian if it’s possible that she can become his companion, for when it comes time to settle down and scope out the rest of the area.
Over in Cicero, Ill., we see Al Capone trying to expand his power with the help of his brothers, Frank and Ralph. One of the first things he does is go to the local newspaper, after a reporter spelled his name incorrectly. He confronts the reporter and has him read his name out loud. The brothers also bring in a truckload of women for a new whorehouse, and that’s all we really see in this episode for the Capones. But, again, it’s early, and there will be plenty to come.
Eli is teaching his oldest son, Willie, to drive, and he notices that the boy has begun smoking. Willie is attending college at Temple, but he isn’t really fitting in. After the family dinner, Willie tells Nucky that he wants to go into the business with him. Nucky tells him to go to college and get his degree. Willie confesses that he has taken up smoking, and Nucky replies with: “I know; I went to college for a year.”
There’s another new character, Warren Knox, who seemed really quiet and innocent when he’s first introduced with Stan Sawicki. But it isn’t until the two go to a warehouse that has a secret supply of whiskey, where Warren tells Stan that he has problems seeing in the dark. Stan questions how he was able to become a Fed, and he goes to inspect the warehouse himself. The doorway is booby trapped, and Stan is shot. Warren kills the owner of the warehouse and looks over Stan’s dying body. He tells him – in a very sarcastic tone – that he’ll report the incident “as soon as I get a grip on myself.”
It almost looks like Nucky is going to have another romantic fling, but the blonde girl – whose name never came up – mentioned that she wanted to meet him because Billie Kent told her it was how she got on Broadway. Nucky tells the girl he’ll be right back. Eddie Kessler, recovering from his wounds from last season, walks into the room and tells the girl that she has to leave.
There was a lot going on in this premiere episode, but we didn’t even get a glimpse at Nucky’s new nemesis, Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright). We didn’t even see Margaret or Nelson Van Alden. But this was a good hour and a good setup for a lot of the returning and new characters.
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