Boardwalk Empire Review: "What Does the Bee Do?"
"What Does the Bee Do?" was filled with so many plot turns and interesting character revelations that it felt like a really long episode. A long one, but not a boring one. I found myself completely engrossed in much of the hour's action, especially the quiet moments between individuals who haven't really interacted much this season or last.
Chalky's return to his home and seat of power in the black community did not go smoothly. Still faced with the impatient families of the four men killed in the season premiere, Chalky feels ineffective as a leader because Nucky keeps delaying his vengeance, an act that both emasculates and frustrates Chalky.
I thought the character really started to question if his compromises are distancing him too much from his people and turning him into a glorified servant. Unable to express his growing rage to his boss, Chalky's disgust at himself boils over at the dinner table, declaring his family a little too posh for their "country" father. The dinner, which included his daughter's new boyfriend, Samuel, was a tense experience, and Chalky's rage was palpable, although misdirected.
Nucky has ignored Chalky for too long, occupying himself with his own vengeance, and this could have dangerous consequences in the very near future.
I've been a little wary of Gillian ever since she brought Jimmy and the Commodore together, bulldozing over her strange past with Jimmy's father in an effort to ensure her son's future success. Gillian, like Lady Macbeth, fuels the ambition of the men around her, mostly for her own good (and for Jimmy apparently). I've found her so mutable and ruthless in her determination that it's hard to feel much sympathy for her....
... Until she recounted the story of her first time with the Commodore. She clearly expressed her anger, sadness and continual fear from being raped at such a young age. When the Commodore cannot or will not remember his actions, Gillian's rage spills over and she repeatedly slaps him in the face, no doubt unleashing years of repressed resentment. It was a shocking and disturbing scene to watch, and I wonder how their relationship will develop from this point.
The most heartbreaking and mesmerizing moment took place between Richard and Angie. Over time, the show has highlighted Richard's fascination with families and his adoration (envy?) of Jimmy's relationship with Angie and Tommy. In a rare moment alone, Angie asks to sketch Richard's face and he, surprisingly, agrees. This scene beautifully illustrates Richard both literally and figuratively unmasking himself.
When Angie asks if he's ever been in love, he admits to only having loved his sister, Emma. When he spoke about what happened after his accident, I expected his sibling to be the one who turned away from him, but Richard's story is not that simple. His situation was even more tragic; once disfigured, he found that he couldn't look at Emma the same way again. He simply says, "I lost whatever I thought love was," a cold but succinct way of expressing what's really at the heart of Richard.
Having exposed himself emotionally to Angie, he takes the next logical step and removes his mask. It was an exquisitely acted scene and really made Richard more than just a tragic character. It also made him a little scary. There's an emptiness inside Richard that makes his job as an assassin much easier.
The episode did leave us with some interesting developments that will really change things over the course of the season. How is Jimmy's coup going to withstand all these losses? Will the Commodore's stroke cripple Eli and Jimmy's business?
What about Luciano and Lansky's business? Are they just going to follow Rothstein's orders and abandon their card game? Is Van Alden going to be exposed as a corrupt agent?