“Boardwalk Empire” on Sunday night’s episode was titled “All In,” with our favorites returning, but many are taking on new roles and unfamiliar territory. Promotions, and and new twists result in new relationships forming that not all of the big bosses would approve of. Early in the episode, we look in on the offices of J. Edgar Hoover and young Federal Agent Warren Knox. In a bit of classic investigative police work, Agent Knox breaks down Nucky’s crew on a tackboard as the bureau builds its case.
Wasn’t surprising that Agent Knox convinces us once again that he is someone Nucky cannot buy. Knox is quickly establishing his role as the legal threat of season four, much as Esther Randolph and Agent Van Alden of seasons past. Whether he has the skill to break Nucky’s winning streak versus the law is not yet clear, but he’s already shown that he’s dangerous by playing dumb and right into Nucky’s operations at the start of the season.
In Atlantic City, Nucky returns home from his trip to Florida, only to ask his once-devoted servant for a ham sandwich and a beer. But that’s beneath Eddie Kessler now, who’s been promoted, after 11 years of service as a valet, to be Nucky’s errand man, really a flunky. Eddie deigns the ham sandwich as the work of his successor, and instead receives orders for his first major, though simple, task: deliver a package to the train station. Plus, again, no shocker, but really good for the storyline.
Eddie is apprehended by Agent Knox. It’s unclear whether his past experience making breakfast and packing Nucky’s suitcases will be enough for him to withstand the heat from the Feds.
At the Onyx Club, Dunn Purnsley tells Chalky White he has to leave town for a few days to visit a sick relative. He, like Eddie in recent episodes, is looking for a little more respect from his boss, and a change. Purnsley heads up to Harlem to continue his discussion with Valentin Narcisse about moving up at the club, and possibly pushing CHalky White out . (Check out Speakeasy’s recent piece on the show’s seeming reference to black leader Marcus Garvey with Valentin’s character.) Narcisse tells Purnsley that, “Your Mr. White, his time is past.” Purnsley quickly adapts to taking orders from Narcisse, beating up on man on a Harlem stoop at his behest.
Arnold Rothstein returns to Atlantic City in the episode, and the show gives us a rare chance to catch Rothstein losing his cool. Nucky invites him to partner up on Florida land deal, but Rothstein is skeptical: “It’s my understanding that Florida real estate is played out,” he says. Rothstein asks Nucky to a high-stakes poker game–his way of trying to “get to know” Nucky. The game is right out of a James Bond movie: Rothstein keeps raising the stakes, while there’s that one loud guy at the table who mouths off to Rothstein and doesn’t seem to know what the battle in front of him is about. The game boils down to Rothstein borrowing $200,000 from the house to raise his bet.
However, a new twist in characters Al and Frank Capone and Agent Van Alden. Van Alden gets roped into running pickups with the Capone brothers after he bumps into them at the hospital, where their colleague Jake has landed. During their pickups, Al Capone sees a truck belong to O’Banion, who is still Van Alden’s employers. Al proceeds to steal it of course, with Van Alden in tow. On their ride, he asks how O’Banion is treating Van Alden. This gives Van Alden a chance to bring up the issue so many of the other non-boss characters (Eddie, most recently) have complained about: a lack of respect. Capone tells Van Alden if he keeps “busting heads” for the elections, they’ll let him sell that Norwegian favorite, Aquavit in Cicero, and that Van Alden could work for him.
The waters are getting muddier by the episode, with a big twist on its way, viewers.
“Boardwalk Empire” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. only on HBO.