‘Boardwalk Empire’ – Review of ‘Farewell Daddy Blues’
The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire has now concluded and the only reaction has to be: Are you fucking kidding me? Let’s talk about Boardwalk Empire‘s S04E12 “FareWell Daddy Blues” now.
WINNER: Al Capone’s easy ascension to the top of Chicago
After the hit on Al Capone fails, Johnny Torio seems a little too chill about the situation — the implication being, I presume, that Torio might have set up the hit to try to get Capone back for eyeing up his top spot. But Torio finds himself on the receiving end of an attempt on his own life — he got gunned down like Robocop, basically, as retribution for the O’Banion murder.
Torio, barely alive in a hospital, tells Capone he can have what he wants now and can take over the operation. Where there is crisis, there is opportunity.
LOSER: Eli Thompson’s no good very bad day
All of Eli’s tough decisions have come home to roost in the episode. First is Nucky realizing that Eli’s been stooling after Eli pushes a meeting with Joe Masseria and Valentin Narcisse on the behalf of Agent Tolliver which ends with Nucky pointing a gun to Eli’s head. Eli begs Nucky to put him down and, right as Nucky’s about to end Eli’s bullshit that has basically gone on since he conspired with Jimmy Darmody in season two, nephew Willie comes in and gives Nucky a crisis of conscience that ends up sparing Eli’s life.
Eli, hungry to seize the day, ends up confronted by Agent Tolliver when the meeting doesn’t come about. Tolliver is all angry because J. Edgar Hoover thinks he’s a joke, basically, and then ends up in a fist fight with Eli. It’s brutal, even by Boardwalk standards, featuring vases, a saw, and God knows what other weapons until Eli prevails, murdering Tolliver with his bare hands until his face is basically chop meat.
When the feds search for Eli, Nucky gets him safe passage to join Capone’s squad in Chicago where he meets up with Van Alden’s new life. Hijinks to ensue, I’m sure.
WINNER: Jimmy Darmody still driving plot
Gillian Darmody is on trial for the death of the soldier kid that Roy Phillips tricked her into confessing. In court, she refuses to back off the claim that the body is her son Jimmy’s. Richard then goes to Nucky to request a favor: He needs to know where Jimmy was actually buried when they ended his life so that Gillian will stay in jail and not come back to fight for custody of Tommy. The body is unearthed and confirmed to be Jimmy due to the screws in his leg and so ends Gillian’s bid for freedom.
LOSER: Chalky’s place in Atlantic City
Chalky thinks that he was set up by Nucky, despite Nucky’s insistence otherwise. But Nucky arranges a meeting at the Onyx Club between Chalky and Valentin Narcisse in which Chalky tries to trade Daughter Maitland for his own daughter. Narcisse brings out Chalky’s daughter and things go south fast. A still-reluctant-to-shoot Richard has been dispatched by Nucky to assassinate Valentin Narcisse. His reluctance ends up hitting Chalky’s daughter instead with the bullet, leaving her dead as Chalky explodes in emotion.
Chalky ends up back in Maryland at his old mentor Oscar’s house, emotionally beaten and bruised. Valentin Narcisse ends up cajoled by J. Edgar Hoover to rat on the black militant Marcus Garvey in order to be allowed to continue operating his business.
WINNER: Willie Thompson’s place in the empire
Willie is understandably a bit confused about where he stands with Nucky after assuming that his uncle was seconds away from putting his father down. But Nucky seems ready to keep Willie close in some sort of mentorship role. Basically a better mentally hinged Jimmy Darmody with none of the murder skills it seems.
WINNER: All of us for having about ten minutes of Margaret all season
Margaret moves into an apartment owned by Arnold Rothstein, a sign of their new partnership. And that’s all we see of her. Let’s keep it this way, Boardwalk writers!
LOSER: All of us for losing Richard Harrow
After the assassination attempt gone awry at the Onyx Club, Richard gets fatally wounded by bullets from Narcisse’s men. The end of the episode shows Richard going to a house in the woods where his sister, brother-in-law, Julia, her dad, and Tommy are waiting. Richard’s face is whole again.
It’s a dream. Richard has instead found his way to the beach where he and Julia first hooked up. His piece of face is on the ground and Richard’s dead body is all that remains as the water hits the shore. And this show continues to kill all of the things we love.
Total gut punch at the end losing Richard. That’s the main takeaway here. Amazing character underutilized all year and now he’s just gone. That said, his character may have crested; the actor, Jack Huston, is getting a ton of other work in movies and, with Richard’s distaste for killing, do we really need to see him play house in the background for seasons to come? It’s a huge loss but there isn’t as much story left to tell as there was when Jimmy Darmody was taken out prematurely. And the way the scenes were shot? Gorgeous. If Richard had to go, this was the way to do it.
Next season looks bright with characters in all new settings. Capone is a boss, Eli is a part of that operation now with Van Alden, Gillian’s in jail, Chalky will demand revenge sooner than later, we don’t lose Valentin Narcisse quite yet and Nucky…well Nucky’s going to be doing the same old shit.
Giving this episode four and a half pieces of face lying on the beach. Well-paced with everyone getting their story moved forward in a way that left me wanting more. RIP Richard Harrow.