Boardwalk Empire “King of Norway” Review (5×05)

6 Oct


“Then who will be called to account?”

When many of your characters have murdered and lied and cheated, accountability oftentimes becomes a major theme as a series draws to a close. How will these people face up to what they have done? Are they remorseful? Will they face the consequences? How will they face the consequences? Throughout “King of Norway”, past, present, and future are intertwined as people must decide who they want to be and, in some cases, who they will have to be in order to move on in life.

Of course, in some cases, it looks like the past catching up to people may mark their downfalls. Most of the episode for Van Alden and Eli revolves around a Pinkman-esque dinner party–during which you could cut the tension with a plastic knife–and it not only forces the two to confront their personal pasts, but also foreshadows D’Angelo forcing them to confront their business pasts. The camera simply rests on the dinner party, allowing the lengthy silences to build off of each other as Sigrid waits and the two men begin to wilt under the pressure, and the history, the past, that all these characters share is palpable in the atmosphere. When they’re later dragged off and when we find out about them having to steal Capone’s ledgers, we get the sense that accountability for them may involve an actual suicide mission. “We’re expendable,” Van Alden tells Eli while they’re sitting in their cell.

For someone like Chalky, accountability leads to acceptance of what seems to be an unsavory fate, and he embarks on a mission of his own that he might not make it out of. Whereas the feds sold their plan to Van Alden and Eli based upon them being able to do something good for once, Chalky states that he deserved to be imprisoned; he adopts a mindset of him being so far gone that he’ll allow his history with Narcisse to dictate his fate, and he seems to accept that he is not the man he wanted to be. When he comes across Daughter and her child at the end, though, he’s literally forced to face his past and ponder his future, to rethink who he wants to be at this stage in his life. A mission that’s all about Narcisse taking accountability has now turned the tables on Chalky.

And now, we reach Nucky Thompson, who realizes that he’s on his own when he finds out that Sally is dead and that Torrio’s teamed up with Luciano and Lansky. The image of a blood-covered Nucky threatening Torrio over the phone is the image of a criminal, of someone who wants to go legitimate, but simply can’t escape the cycle of violence that his past and this environment perpetuate. He’s feeling the consequences  of his relationships with Lindsay and the Commodore, he and Margaret are at odds, and his past is catching up to him. We see in the episode’s flashbacks a young adult Nucky who seems to starkly contrast the blood-spattered Nucky of the present, but in reality, we know that they’re the same. As much as he wants to be on top, he’s also someone perpetually in need of admiration, of acceptance, and when Mr. Jeffries remarks that he believes young Nucky doesn’t know who he is, we know that the answer is whomever he has to be to get what he wants.

The question becomes whether these characters will ever get what they want.



-We also get the idea of identity, who you think you are, during Gillian’s scene with the doctor. Her storyline parallels with Nucky’s at this point, as her making a case that she’s all healed is similar to Nucky’s notions of legitimacy.

-One of the most heartbreaking lines in this episode is Nucky’s “think of it as between friends”. Are they friends, or are they just two broken, once powerful people who happen to be near each other?

-The Narcisse-Chalky dynamic was one of the most electric things about season four, and I’m looking forward to it over these last few episodes.

-Marc Pickering as young Nucky pretty much nails all the Buscemi mannerisms. Also, those teeth.

-Always nice to see Al, even when the show’s exploring his constipation problems.

-Van Alden is at a comedic best yet again. “Land ho” and his aggressive stabbing of the food and everything about him, really.

– “I refuse to be ruled by fear.” “Husband!” “Coming, dear!”

-Three more. Expect next week’s review to drop on Monday again. The last two of the series will be up the night of.

Photo credit: HBO, Boardwalk Empire


2 Responses to “Boardwalk Empire “King of Norway” Review (5×05)”

  1. Altoon October 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    Great review. I can’t believe there are only three episodes left. This show will go down as a classic.

  2. Writer Loves Movies October 14, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    Great review. There was so much to enjoy in this episode! Marc Pickering was uncanny as the young Nucky, his mannerisms and vocal inflections were perfect. It was great to see Van Alden on fine form too – he had the best lines this week. Very sad to see this show end.

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