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'Boardwalk Empire' Recap 4.7: Family And History

Paul Levinson Paul Levinson
10/21/2013 8:21am EDT

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Probably the best scenes in Boardwalk Empire 4.7 - and there were many of them in this episode - were with Nucky, Eli, and Willie.  Nucky wisely stays in the background when Eli and Willie first have it out about Willie's quitting college, but intervenes when things get physical between father and son.  This leads to a key conversation between Nucky and Eli, in which Eli lashes out that "nothing" has come from Nucky - meaning, Nucky has no children.   Eli's aggravation is understandable, and Nucky, for his part, agrees that college is the best path for Willie, but Eli's outburst is unfortunate because it lays bare the schism that sill divides the brothers.   Nucky graciously says he'll chalk this up to Eli's drinking too much, but both men know that this is the first real confrontation they've had since Nucky took Eli back into the fold, and it's bound to have ramifications in the future.

Over in Chicago, Al reacts to the killing of Frank last week - a killing that took place moments after the disagreements between Al and Frank were in highest profile.  Death - especially a killing - trumps any discord between brothers in life and on Boardwalk Empire.  Like all the great dramas about gangsters, family is the powerful, pulsating underpinning of everything else that goes on.

Back East, Nucky is sadly bereft of his adopted family with Margaret.  We get another scene with Margaret - without the kids - but the most interesting part of the scene is the unannounced appearance of Rothstein.  As I said in my sneak preview (spoiler-free) review of this episode a few days ago, there was a winning cinematic quality to this scene, in which we see the world through Margaret's eyes, and feel her surprise when she and we realize it's Rothstein.

The death of some of the gangster powers that be is clearly on the agenda for Boardwalk Empire - the only question is when they will happen.   History tells us that O'Banion will soon get his due in his flower shop, and also that Torio's being set up by O'Banion in the Sieben Brewery police raid was the final straw for Torio.   But, in reality, Frankie Yale would get to be O'Banion's killer - not Al Capone - so it will be interesting to see on Boardwalk Empire how Torio's setting Al loose at the end of the episode plays out.

In real history, Arnold Rothstein has four years of life left, and his killer is no one that we now see on the scene. Lucky Luciano's tensions with Rothstein shouldn't have any grave results for Rothstein, and certainly not this season, but the fun part of all docu-dramas is you just never know where a liberty or two may be taken.

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Photo Credits: HBO