At this point in season 3 of Boardwalk Empire, it’s difficult to tell if Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) is maddening, entertaining or some spectacular concoction of the two. The series has always had some eccentric and volatile personalities, but none so prone to neurotically searching for pejorative meaning in the context of every sentence as Mr. Rosetti.
The gangster is still hanging around Tabor Heights, ready to intercept caravans of booze en route to Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) in New York, so, rather than risk bloodshed and further delay Rothstein’s shipments, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) sits down with Gyp to discuss his feelings on the matter and tries to make amends. Since Rosetti is the type of person who could “find an insult in a bouquet of roses,” it’s only a matter of time before Nucky’s cool, business-like demeanor (or anything else, really) rubs Rosetti the wrong way and the fireworks start. But for the most part, things go well; Nucky offers Rosetti another month’s worth of booze and, as an undeserved apology, even invites him to a private dinner in Atlantic City.
At dinner, Nucky anticipates Rosetti’s reaction to a comment, which nearly ends with a Rosetti flare-up, but he diffuses the situation basically by asking if that’s the road they’re headed down. The trick seems to work, and the pair get on cordially enough until Nucky fails to show up the next morning and personally see to it Rosetti’s rum is handled with care. This, in and of itself, is likely insult enough, but things get completely misconstrued when Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) reads a message from Nucky as “bone for tuna,” rather than “bon fortuna.” Nucky’s absence, Owen’s sloppy listening skills and what Rosetti perceives as a backhanded, condescending “good luck,” results in a prolonged stay in Tabor Heights and to commemorate the occasion, a sheriff served up extra crispy.
If there’s one thing that ‘Bone for Tuna’ excels in showing, it’s how one tiny, misperceived slight can snowball into a catastrophic mess. More troublesome yet, it seems the Sicilian’s penchant for fixated thought has rubbed off on Nucky, who, plagued with sleepless nights is caught between an inattentive lover in Billie Kent (Meg Steedle) and a distant, yet troublesome wife in Margaret (Kelly Macdonald). With his thoughts on the absent Billie, Nucky somnambulates his way through a ceremony with the Church regarding his endowment of land, while Margaret essentially uses the whole thing as a means by which to ambush a doctor into starting a prenatal clinic at the hospital. The whole thing manages to make Nucky feel isolated and alone, something that troubles him nearly as much as the recurring dreams of a young Jimmy Darmody, which his mind essentially decides is the beginning of how things started to change.
It likely doesn’t help that Nucky is reminded of the fact after seeing Gillian (Gretchen Mol) greet Rosetti at The Artemis Club. Gillian’s been on the sidelines so far this season, but her conversations with Rosetti and Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) have revealed that she’s been reduced to paying Nucky for a piece of whatever her club brings in, and that she’s partnered up with Luciano – who’s not very attentive when it comes to matters of upkeep on the house. Surprisingly, we find out Luciano is of a mind that Jimmy’s coming back, which poses the question: just who is aware that he’s dead? While Rosetti doesn’t manage to get such intimate details from Gillian during their conversation, there’s quite a lot to be inferred from her reply to Gyp’s question of, “Lose your own flesh and blood, what do you have?” As Gillian states: “You don’t have anything.”
One may, however, have the act of vengeance, as Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) demonstrated in the season premiere. So far, the dismissive way in which most everyone treats Richard has worked to his advantage. No one connected him to the death of Manny Horvitz, and he’s managed to come across knowledge that Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) is taking credit for his kill, as a means to threaten a few extra hundred dollars from his customers. This doesn’t sit too well with Richard; the Manny hit was meant to send a message, it was retribution for his taking of an innocent life – one that Richard cared deeply about. His explanation to Nucky seems to suffice, and when questioned about reprisal for Jimmy, Richard essentially chalks it up to Jimmy being a soldier; sometimes, soldiers die. Richard is certainly capable of much more than restocking liquor shelves and taking soon-to-be messed up kids to the circus. Now Boardwalk Empire is in a race to find out who sees value in Richard first, Nucky or Gillian.
The same can be said for the wayward Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), who is getting razzed by his co-workers for his rather straight-laced demeanor. Thankfully, Nelson’s new wife is full of positive reinforcement, which, in turn results in Nelson blowing off some steam at a local speakeasy, and later, offering a bribe to a Prohibition agent to avoid being arrested. It’s one annoyance after another with these iron salesmen, and rousing morning speeches about the state of smooth clothing aside, it doesn’t seem like George Mueller is long for the world of door-to-door sales. Van Alden’s proven himself capable (and entertaining) at enforcing his will in the past, so with sales down, ink on his good work shirt and an incredibly small apartment he’s sharing with a new wife and two kids, good ‘ol George Mueller’s likely going to be paying a visit to the flower shop of Dion O’Banion (Arron Shiver) pretty soon.
With the state of affairs out of the way, and a fairly potent demonstration of just how fragile everyone’s business and egos are, Boardwalk Empire looks ready to heat things up and get into the meat of season 3.
Boardwalk Empire continues next Sunday with ‘Blue Bell Boy’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview of the upcoming episode below: