Monday, September 26, 2011

Season 2 Premiere: "21" The House Wins

At first glance not much had seemed to change down the shore. The Commodore worked on his thrust while Nucky did the a manner of speaking. The song choice of "After You Get What You Want," was perfect as we saw Margaret wake up alone while Nucky was still out cavorting. While he has never been anything but upfront about their arrangement the line he dropped when he came home took some balls.

She did have a right to be a little jealous though, of the attention paid to Jimmy by Nucky, while her troubled son sat just down the hall.

Margaret got her wish though when Nucky took time to talk to Teddy about the matches. Did you see the tear in the little man's eye when Nucky handed him the money? The kid went from thinking he was going to get the belt to the equivalent of finding a Golden Ticket. And how about how long it took Nucky to find a small enough bill in his roll to hand Teddy?

While Nucky is teaching Teddy not to play with fire, Jimmy is taking Tommy to shoot seagulls much to Angela's chagrin. Aside from the obvious dangers involved, Ange probably also didn't want to be left along with Gillian. I was proud of her for calling Gillian out on the undercutting. Nothing could have prepared her or myself for the next series of lines though from Jimmy's "loving" mother.

I'm fine with Jimmy shooting gulls, but I was bummed to learn he had a hand in the Clan's attack on Chalky. I understand the power move, but I really felt for Chalky as we saw real fear on his face for the first time.

I was shocked at how public the clan was in this episode. Along with wasting good table cloths like Jimmy noted, they were usually a cowardice group who only emerged in the daytime under the cover of their hoods. In the funeral scene they are mixing with the general public and politicians alike. Nucky didn't seem to have a problem with it, he only seemed to take objection to Jimmy talking to the head hood. Great scene with him and Jimmy on the porch as he seemingly once again read Jimmy's mind. Did he warn Jimmy about his father because he was really concerned about or is he just jealous of the Commodore. Some nerve on Nuck to call someone else duplicitous after his dueling speeches to the black and white congregations.

Whatever his motivation, you know one thing for sure, money was part of it at some level. I thought it was interesting how they made a point of showing Nucky as he counted the money from the Irish paving guy and then logging it before stashing it away in his shoe drawer. On the other side of the spectrum, upon opening Nucky's wedding gift, Jimmy tossed aside the envelope full of money disinterested. Those two scenes showed the difference between the two characters. Nucky is obsessed with money despite having all he could ever want. Jimmy has more money than he could ever imagine too it seemed, but what he most wants now is respect. I think the statue showing the father and young son annoyed Jimmy because it was as if Nucky would always see Jimmy as that little boy he raised instead of the man he has become.
Capone carries a similar chip on his shoulder and we saw it again as he sat down with George Remus. Al didn't like being compared to a wash woman for Torrio and took Remus's habit of referring to himself in the third person as an insult.
George Remus was no dope, rather yet another cunning "businessman" of the day. Remus memorized the Volstead Act and found loopholes whereby he could buy distilleries and pharmacies to sell liquor to himself under government licenses for medicinal purposes. Remus then hijacked his own liquor so he could sell it illegally. As he mentioned to Torrio and Capone, Remus moved to Cincinnati where 80% of America's bonded whiskey was located, and bought up most of the whiskey manufacturers. In less than three years Remus made close to $40 million.
I'm not sure if Chalky made that much in his day, but it seemed he had enough judging by his house, to step away from the game. We all know though that such a move is easier said than done. The back and forth between him and Nucky was one of the episodes strongest moments. I'm a little worried though about Lenore and young Lester. I really liked the scene where the latter played Clair de Lune which I have been a huge fan of ever since it was featured at the end of Ocean's 11.
That song is so beautiful, it always gets me. Damn you Richard Harrow, you got me too this week, what with the envy in your eyes as you looked upon Jimmy and Angela and then when you asked Jimmy what it was like to have everything before we saw you and your scrap book. Did you guys notice the father in the picture he glued down had glasses and a moustache? Pretty much the image of Richard if he had his entire face. I also got the feeling that Richard has a thing for the under appreciated Angela. He was the only one to say thank you for breakfast and was so careful and gentle as he stacked her biscuits on his hand.

Lastly, Van Alden, I didn't forget about you. Loved his line, "I take almost no comfort in 'about to.'" I'll admit, I was shocked by Rose. I did not think for a moment she was going to let Van Alden hit her where the good lord split her, but I guess seeing her man in action was too much a turn on. Not enough though to warrant keeping the lights on. The scene with the headboard banging the wall was classic.
We know Van Alden is capable of some cold blooded shit, but I was shocked to see he had stolen government evidence to pay off Lucy...who on BABY BUMP ALERT!!!
She is definitely preggers. As if the pictures weren't enough, the look on Van's face when Rose said maybe they shouldn't have any kids after all, was damning as well. Needless to say there's a lot going on as we saw Nucky get pinched. Jimmy is being set up to take over AC, but we still have guys like Arnold Rothstein who have yet to weigh in on the recent moves. At the end of the preview for next week you could see Arnold fighting to separate Jimmy and Lucky while he screamed that they are trying to run a business together. I'm sure that had to do something with Gillian but still Jimmy needs his and Rothstein's help to make a go of it. I could go on ad nauseum, but I'd rather hear your thoughts.