‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 3, Episode 10 Review – What’s In The Box?

Published 2 years ago by

Bobby Cannavale in Boardwalk Empire A Man a Plan Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 10 Review – Whats In The Box?

It was certain that Boardwalk Empire would make things difficult for Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he began to press for war with Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi). After all, he was going at it after seeing the whole Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) situation escalate from an minor annoyance to an attempt on his life – which left him without his favorite boardwalk eatery, mind you.

So, without the help of his key business connections like Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) – and, to a lesser degree, Rothstein’s associate Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza), Nucky devises a plan to eliminate Masseria, in an effort to leave Rosetti without an army to protect him.  However, as Nucky – and everyone else – soon appreciates, a plan is only one possible outcome of many. And so, ‘A Man, a Plan…’ sees just how the best laid plans can offer a conclusion no one saw coming.

Well, that may not be entirely true. Most everyone saw that Jess Smith (Ed Jewett) would reach the end of the line, but the sight of him putting the barrel to his head, rather than continue to point it at his would-be assassin, Gaston Bullock Means (Stephen Root), may have come as something of a surprise. Nearly as surprising as his friend and associate, Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald), giving Means the go-ahead to bump Smith off – especially after the lengths to which Daugherty was willing to go in order to keep Smith from trouble. At any rate, Smith is just another example of how far back plans can go, and how quickly they can spiral out of control.

Jack Huston and Wrenn Schmidt in Boardwalk Empire A Man a Plan Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 10 Review – Whats In The Box?

But surprising outcomes need not be in the form of some grisly demise (even on Boardwalk Empire). Certainly, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) had devised for himself some sort of plan by which he could continue to pursue the affections of the rather lovely Julia Sagorsky (Wrenn Schmidt). But after assaulting her father following another of his drunken, profanity-laced tirades, it would have seemed utterly improbable that things would escalate to the point of a romantic interlude spent below the boardwalk.

Richard’s long-overdue romance leads us to the issue of Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) and Owen Slater (Charlie Cox), whose plan was to run away together, leave Nucky Thompson and his war far behind, and have a go at it in St. Louis. It was the kind of plan that had tragedy written all over it, but Boardwalk Empire treated us to a bit of emotional deception by letting the audience know just what Margaret had on the line with this plan. Of course, anyone who has not been keeping up with historical facts while watching this season, may have surmised that Terence Winter had intended to do away with Jess Smith and Masseria on the same night – giving Nucky the leverage he needed to do away with Gyp Rosetti and get back to the business of turning booze into vast piles of money.

Naturally, with two episodes left, this would not be the case, thanks to the impatience of Luciano and Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef), who afford Masseria an opportunity to avoid assassination and send Owen’s body back to Nucky in a wooden crate. Owen’s death certainly has some heft to it – he was, after all, Nucky’s right-hand man. But more importantly, the way in which Margaret reacts is far more impactful. Those screams aren’t of someone startled by a dead body being delivered at four in the morning, and Nucky’s suddenly aware of a transgression he’d somehow overlooked.

But Owen’s death doesn’t just escalate the war with Masseria, it puts Margaret back into an all too familiar position of being stuck – this time with a new child on the way. And for all the opportunity and chance at a fresh start that child represented, now it’s just another reminder that her journey ended before it really ever began.

Michael Shannon and Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire A Man a Plan Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 10 Review – Whats In The Box?

Highlights from the episode:

  • “Would you pay a dime to see this?”
  • Van Alden (Michael Shannon) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham) have another run-in, which leaves the former treasury agent mumbling at a table with a fork in his face. Here’s hoping this turns into something substantial down the line.
  • Margaret and Dr. Mason (Patrick Kennedy) lose their women’s health class, but gain an admirer in the unlikeliest of women.
  • Means stands to make $80,000 from a guy shooting himself.


Boardwalk Empire continues next week with ‘Two Imposters’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview of the episode below:

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Nice review, Kevin. One element, although probably minor at this point, is who in Nucky’s circle told Lucky Luciano that Owen was going to try to kill Joe Masseria at the bath house? My money is on Manny Horwitz, who might see Nucky as the loser in this war and wants to be on the winning side, or Eli, who might still harbor resentment against Nucky. Perhaps the late Jimmy Darmody’s mom somehow found out and told her f#!k buddy, Luciano?

    As for Margaret, I distinctly remembered that ominous scene in season 1, where she plays that game in which she places a sixpence, a ring and a small rag into a cake, and she ends up with the rag forecasting that she will be destitute. As Kevin says, she’s now in the all-too-familiar position of being stuck once again.

    As for the main plot, the show unfortunately is trapped in the confines of history (albeit loosely, for the real life “Nucky Johnson” really wasn’t a gangster), Al Rothstein dies I think in 1927, so at some point, maybe even in the season finale, Meyer Lansky will take over his operation. Joe Masseria gets killed by Luciano in 1931, allegedly under the Lansky’s orders, but tha tmight come in season 4. The season finale might also end with Andrew Mellon dispatching a certain treasury agent named Elliot Ness to bring down Al Capone.

    Also, as Nucky is the main character, he has to win the war in the next two episodes.

    And one more thing, and I know this won’t be popular, but watching the Richard Harrow character storyline is like watching “The English Patient.” It’s incredibly boring and takes away from the actually interesting story. Either make him relevant or get rid of him.

    • Richard Harrow brings a fresh air and change of pace to the show that is needed. Harrow lost a close friend that basically picked him up from a most likely lonely and sorrowful existence, now over sees his friends son and has rekindled a since of meaning to his life with the girl he is seeing. It’s nice to actually see him have air time and see how he’s changing.

      If we focuses on the main characters only, then we’d never see him. I for one, would rather see, than not. The characters are important, all of them.

      • I would like to see Richard kill Jillian and run away with girlfriend and Jimmy’s son.

        • Jillian is the most despicable character in her way, in the whole show. And that voice– like nails on a chalkboard.
          Does anyone agreewith me that Gretchen had a face job amd was sexier before the face job?

    • Richard killed Manny, couch potato. So, it wasn’t him. I think that it was the corrupt Treasury agent.

      As for your points on history, we’re NOT going to see AR’s death in the finale, since season 3 takes place in 1923. And, we won’t see Masseria’s death next season, if BE doesn’t want to mess with history.

      I don’t think that the Richard storyline is as bad as you described. But, it would be nice to see him get back to do what he does best: kill people.

      • i think nuckie’s gonna recruit harrow,

        • I agree. I think Jillian bites it along with Gyp Rosetti. Harrow goes to work for Nucky. I’m thinking the guy that went to take out Masseria with Owen was the nark. I kept wondering what Luciano and Lansky could have known, and from who. I’m not sure about Margaret. She’s absent from the previews for next episode. Of course Nucky’s got bigger fish to fry. He won’t put her out because of the children. It may be that he doesn’t really care about her philandering, especially since Owen’s dead. A baby to raise as his own? Don’t know. But Nucky was stoopid to diss Chalky the way he did. Fortunately, Chalky needs Nuck , otherwise Nucky would be screwed. Great episode.

          • I agree with everything you said! What I got from Nucky’s reaction to Margaret’s reaction to seeing Owen’s body, was shock, but also compassion. I’m also concerned about his having “dissed” Chalky, but think they will probably end up on the same side. I also hope that Gillian and Rosetti will be gone by the season finale, and that Richard’s lot in life continues to improve.

      • Sorry, I meant Mickey Doyle

    • Manny Horwitz has been dead since ep one of this season

    • I think Nucky will ask Richard back for protection. Jimmy’s mom treats Richard with no respect. NONE!! Richard gets things done, no questions asked. We have seen Richard bring it to the table on more than one occassion.

    • Ummm…Manny Horwitz was killed by Richard in the season 3 premiere. Maybe you’re thinking of Mickey Doyle. Personally I think it was the FBI agent that gave them the info in the first place.

    • manny horwitz is way dead man. come on.

  2. Gaston Bullock Means = Foghorn Leghorn.

    One thing I find curious though. The episode before this one seemed to drop the hint that Nucky knew about Owen and his wife, mainly in one or two things he said directly to Owen. Then in this episode, we see that after Owen and Margeret have had their moment together and he comes into Nucky’s office, Mickey Doyle gives Nucky a thumbs up, as if confirming something privately. So I’m wondering if Nucky already knew about the two of them. But the look on his face when Margeret was crying suggests he didn’t. Maybe there is nothing to it. I probably should watch episode 9 again for those lines (I have a routine that means I don’t watch episodes again until the series finishes).

    Disagree with my friend above though. I like the Richard Harrow story very much and whilst at the moment it serves no purpose to the main focus of the narrative, it does offer counter balance that whilst all are losing their heads, Richard is gaining his. I think he will kill Gillian (inadvertantly doing Nucky a good turn), adopt the kid and complete his arc for the character. Don’t expect him in season 4.

    • I agree, I also like Richard Harrow quite a bit. At this point he seems to be one of the few good guys left. Almost everyone else that I started out liking has done something that’s made it hard for me to root for them. I still like Nucky, but after he killed Jimmy I can’t really love him anymore like I did in the beginning. I also used to empathize with Gillian and her frustrated desire for power, but when she killed that smoking hot guy–what a waste!–I lost it and now I just find her intellectually interesting as a character rather than someone I feel for. Love what you said about Richard gaining his head–that’s a great way to put it.

  3. One thing we are going to hear about either in the penultimate episode or the finale is the death of President Harding, which will have an impact on what plays out next. At least, of history has anything to say about it.

    • I’m not sure if anyone on here watched the preview of the next episode; but it seems to me to imply that either Gyp is staging his move on Nucky from Gillian’s brothel (as we have seem them introduced before), that Nucky and Richard and whoever else make a surprise attack on him from within the brothel, or both.

  4. Oh, and just one other thing. What was the deal with Owen proposing to Katie? Were they trying to show us that he was a player, insincere, had his own agenda? What, and why? So we wouldn’t idolize him after he died? Hmm…

    • I think he was just trying to convince her that she was wrong that there was anything going on between himself and Margaret. Having anyone else know would increase the likelihood that their plan would be discovered by someone who could threaten it.

  5. I used to love Margaret Schroeder, but she’s just gotten dumber and dumber with time. First, by giving away Nucky’s land to the church, now with the plans to run away with Owen. I could almost forgive her indiscretions with Owen, after all a woman has needs too. But to plan to run away with the guy, come on. She has two kids to think about. And how did she let herself get knocked up? Wasn’t she the one sneaking in the bathroom after making love with Nucky and using pine sol to prevent preganancy. Yet she allows herself to get knocked up by the help. WTF Miss Schroeder, have you lost your mind? Even with all of Nucky’s flaws you went from getting the living hell beat out of you on a daily basis by an abusive husband and living in a shack to living in a mansion. You’ve come a long way, you ungrateful tramp. But even with all this said, it was sad and shocking to see Owen in that box. I knew their dumb plan to run away together wasn’t going work, but I didn’t expect it to end like this… Damn.

    • You know what pisses me, and probably Nucky, off? She gave that land away, supposedly to buy herself forgiveness. 10 million dollars worth! But then she screws Nucky’s right hand man on a regular basis? What happened to the 10 million she just paid for forgiveness? And what’s with the righteous indignation about his mistress? She was the first to cheat!

      • Exactly, she’s a hypocrite, committing adultery on a regular basis. I don’t think the church would approve, Miss. Schroeder. Nucky is no saint by any means, but he’s been good to her overall. Like I said a major upgrade from the life she had before. But she pretends that Nucky is such a monster; she knew exactly who Nucky was from the beginning. And remember the time before she married Nucky when she was going to leave him, but she came back because she knew she would be broke and destitute without him.

        I can’t wait to see how Nucky deals with her next week, because based upon her reaction to Owen’s death he has to know now they were having an affair. Nucky is no fool. Although Nucky is going to have his hands full with the war, I hope they spend the time to address that properly.

    • Great points!

  6. Im sick of Jimmy’s mom and Margaret. Margaret is the biggest hypocrit on the show and i wouldnt mind her being killed off. Id love is Jimmy’s nutcase of a mom would go away too.

  7. I love how people are quick to point out that Margarer cheated first. Hmmmm…so during the montage for season 2, episode one…isn’t Nucky who’s canoodling with some showgirl with Eddie reminding him what time it is? I’ll wait while some of you Margaret haters look it up. Isn’t that cheating?

    IMO, Margaret had ever right to get hers. Her hubby has only been around in name only. And why? Because Nucky killed Jimmy and didn’t even have the nerve to tell his wife he did it. But she knew and donated the land. The multi-million mistake was Nucky’s.

    I am going to miss the Margaret/Owen love story.

  8. By the way, I just watched an encore of the episode. Nucky watches Margaret lovingly stroke Owen’s hair when the box is open. He totally knows.

  9. The Richard Harrow story is my favourite parts in this show, They better not kill him off because their are many more infront of him that I would chop, Gillian the lunatic and Margaret the spoilt brat are really get on my nerves now, Nucky gave her everthing and she still aint happy! get rid

    • exactly, Nucky should have left Margaret in the shack…

    • Agreed. Margaret knew who she was marrying well beforehand.

  10. I can’t find anywhere to watch the first season of this show. anyone got a site?

    • I think HBO protects their stuff very well. I doubt you’ll find any free sites…

  11. They would never kill off Harrow. He’s a fan favorite. Sort of what Omar was to “The Wire” except the show does not make him quite as badass. Nope , I think Harrow and Chalky ( who actually is Omar :), will be in the show till the end. Would love to see Harrow team up with knucky.

  12. I was chatting on fb while listening to the ep but who killed Owen. Did it show him getting offed? What the Gyp did to the guy in the sand was pretty brutal and i wonder if the treasury agent will try to go postal on capone.

  13. One theory I have regards Van Alden in Chicago. I wonder if there is a chance Eli “runs into” the former agent when he is in Chicago meeting with Torio and Capone. If so, he surely would recognize him and turn his life upside down AGAIN when he points this out to Capone. Just a thought, because who could Van Alden turn to then.

  14. Damn gonna miss Owen liked his character, Hey Nuck Jimmy would be the perfect man for this situation you’re in huh? Too bad shot him between the eyes. Can’t take Margaret and more Jimmy;s mom is hot but gotta go there is no more storyline for her.

    • Anymore* I seriously can’t edit or remove my post???

    • There’s plenty of storyline for Gillian. She wants power in a world that won’t let her have any by conventional means, so she’s back-dooring her way into it through sex (opening the brothel), the only way she thinks has a chance of working for her. As she said, when you own a brothel, everyone comes through your door eventually. She’s probably right about it being her best option, her attempt at straightforward power when Jimmy was alive was rebuffed by the gangsters who wouldn’t deal with a woman. I think her character’s fascinating, if not likable, and I’m interested to see how high she can climb in a world that’s very much a man’s world.

  15. One minor quip I have about Gyp Rosetti is that, at this point, do we really need yet another scene showing that he’s a total murderous psycho whenever he feels like his smarts are challenged? At this point it feels like it’s just an exercise in topping the gruesomeness of the last murder. Though I must say I’ve never so badly wanted to see a character get what’s coming to him. I kind of also want to see him and Gillian partner up in a more official capacity instead of just her feeding him the random tidbit of info, because their mutual psychoses bouncing off each other would be a thing to behold.

  16. I’m going out on a limb and predicting Gyp gets offed by his own man,the guy whos cousins skull got crushed by Gyp (I forget the henchmans name). He may be afraid of Gyp but the look on his face looked like the beginnings of murderouse rage.

    • That’s an interesting thought! The henchman, whose name I can think of either, was obviously afraid of Gyp, or he wouldn’t have stood back while all that was done to his cousin. He could very well decide to catch him by surprise, though.

    • You predicted correctly! I was disappointed that Tonino didn’t say something about his cousin, while he was stabbing Rosetti to death, but it was nice that he got to see someone he trusted doing him in. In the scene where it looked like Gillian was going to be offing Rosetti, I thought it very surprising that they would choose to get rid of him in that manner, but it would have actually been kind fun to see her strangle him with his belt. I usually look away when someone is killed, but I had been looking forward to seeing Rosetti killed from the very first scene, where he kills the nice guy who stopped to help him. I have enjoyed seeing Bobby Cannavale’s performance. However, after the cousin scene, I just wanted him gone as soon as possible.

      • I dunno, I sort of thought he got let off too easy. I wish he would’ve at least seen it coming, knowing he was about to die instead of getting it from behind in a sneak-attack. He was just SO awful. Agree, though, Bobby Cannavale’s performance was hell on wheels. You could really see the humanity in him even though you just wanted him to die–he wasn’t some cartoon bad guy at all. Everyone on this show, though, is a great actor, even some of the parts that only have one or two lines have consistently impressed me.

  17. Boring series.

    • Give it a try again a few years from now. There have been a lot of movies/TV/books I thought were boring and then years later with different experiences under my belt, I saw things in them that I never had before. One of my favorite movies is one that it took me about 10 years and several viewings to like (my dad kept trying it out on me, and eventually it worked).

  18. TONINO is Gyp Rosetti’s henchman’s name. Yes…he should kill him.

  19. Forgot to indicate I want to notified of follow-up comments…

  20. nothing on gyp rostti’s brutal pummeling of a man’s head with a shovel while his cousin watches?

  21. How did Lucky find out that Nucky is making a move
    On Masseria. Only The FBI agent,
    Mickey Doyle, Nucky , Eli and Owen know,
    But it doesn’t say who tipped off Lucky.