Things came together a little more clearly this week on “Boardwalk Empire,” as “Resignation” is able to balance the show’s large ensemble and bring to light some of the sub-plots. Nucky, however, appears to be keeping true to his cautious ways so much that the audience can’t even know what he’s up to. Still, all be it a week late, season four feels like it is truly getting underway.
Right off the back we catch up with a familiar face as Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden (aka George Mueller) continues his work for the gangster O’Banion in Chicago, as his muscle. But just how deep Van Alden will get into the gangster business will be a major factor for him this season. O’Banion sends him to spy on Capone, but Capone figures it out early and his partners see it as a possible opportunity to bring Van Alden to their side.
Two sub-plots in episode one that practically got no explanation involved Richard and the new prohibition officer, Agent Know. Episode two thankfully brings things to light. Richard’s vigilante spree was part of a deal he made with a man who was double-crossed out of a business deal. Richard has one more hit to make, but can’t bring himself to do it and lets the man live. Now back with his sister Emma, it seems Richard’s taste for violence is gone, as he can’t even bring himself to put their dog out of its misery. A wrench gets thrown into that plan as the man Richard made a deal with isn’t done with him yet.
Knox, on the other hand, will be the one messing up plans in a big way. After he murdered his partner last week, there clearly was more to him than meets the eye. Now the head of the Prohibition Office in Atlantic City, we actually learn that Knox is working for J. Edgar Hoover, who apparently isn’t interested in giving Nucky any lenience.
As for Nucky, he makes preparations to head off for Florida. Why? We still don’t have any idea, but it’s big. However, we did meet Dr. Narcisse, played by Jeffrey Wright, and early signs point that Nucky will have his hands full. Gyp Rossetti was Nucky’s physical superior last season, Dr. Narcisse appears to be his intellectual match. A master manipulator and cold-blooded, Narcisse already is planting the seeds to bring Nucky’s world down by driving a stake in between him and Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams). It should be interesting to watch their chess match play out, especially since Nucky is clearly a few moves behind.
Other quick notes, still no Margaret (Kelly MacDonald), and Ron Livingston’s one scene last week was more than we got on Sunday. Stephen Root pops up in a guest appearance though, which hopefully means we get more of him this year. Nucky’s right hand man Eddie demands respect and gets it from Nucky and now is officially part of the business.
Things are still developing slower than last year, but at least things are coming together. Despite being practically in the dark about Nucky’s actual dealings, Richard, Knox and Van Alden seem like they will have interesting arcs to keep us entertained for the time. The wait for Jeffrey Wright proved promising, as he was instantly magnetic. “Resignation” was an improvement from “New York Sour” that get hopes up for the rest of the season.