‘Boardwalk Empire’: Marriage of Necessity is Just Business as Usual

Published 1 year ago by

Jeffrey Wright and Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire Marriage and Hunting Boardwalk Empire: Marriage of Necessity is Just Business as Usual

[This is a review of Boardwalk Empire season 4, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]


As a series, Boardwalk Empire doesn’t have much time or inclination toward matters of the heart. In that regard, romantic endeavors typically end up being seen more as lust, or as a fruitless obsession that’s destined to end badly. And when there’s not even the spark of lust, the show generally manages to bring its characters together through some sort of business transaction or mutually beneficial agreement that may or may not involve matrimony.

That was certainly the case when Nucky Thompson wed the widow Schroeder and it was seen again when Agent Nelson Van Alden was forced to flee to the Midwest after being found out for murdering his partner. Neither arrangement wound up working out as well as any of the parties involved had likely hoped – though Mrs. Mueller does have a mostly functioning home from the Sears and Roebuck catalog, so that has to count for something.

But those are arrangements that have been in place for some time now, and it appears that after finally letting the volcanic rage of Nelson Van Alden out, the Mueller marriage may finally be on the mend. Nucky still finds himself estranged from Margaret, Teddy and Emily – though it’s not exactly eating him up inside. In fact, the suggestion seems to be that romance in the world of Boardwalk Empire is something of a fool’s errand: it never lasts and anyone imprudent enough to believe it will lead to something meaningful is in for a world of hurt. Perhaps this is why Nucky seems so taken with Sally Wheet.

Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire Marriage and Hunting Boardwalk Empire: Marriage of Necessity is Just Business as Usual

Other than having a mean right hook and the ability to put back copious amounts of the stuff making Nucky rich, she seems to understand that, at the end of the day, it’s all just business. Sure, Nucky may call in the middle of the night for purposes not entirely expressed by either party during the conversation, but that still leaves the object of his affection clutching a shotgun to her chest while lying in bed. The implication being: no matter what way someone chooses to get in bed with Nucky Thompson, they would be wise to keep their heart and body guarded as best as they possibly can.

But ‘Marriage and Hunting’ isn’t only about Nucky and Van Alden’s search for fulfillment within the claustrophobic confines of their work; it’s also working to set up a string of potential tragedies in the making: the deluded Gillian Darmody and her shady love interest Roy Phillips; the quickie marriage of Julia Sagorsky and Richard Harrow; and, of course, the growing infatuation Chalky White has for Daughter Maitland – which only intensifies after the brutal beating she suffers at Narcisse’s hand.

Of course, it’s likely all a ploy by Narcisse to lure Chalky into making a move that will once again ignite the flames of war between Atlantic City and New York (i.e., Nucky Thompson and Joe Masseria) – but as usual, Nucky’s there to try and avoid conflict until the last possible moment. Like Sally and her shotgun, Nucky’s prone to keeping himself guarded. As he’s seen too often in the past, passions run hotter when dealing with matters of money than they do with matters of the heart.


Boardwalk Empire continues next Sunday with ‘White Horse Pike’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

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  1. at moment one narcisse should have been killed.

  2. Hm. The problem with S4 is one of repetition. For Chalky and Maitland read Nucky Thompson and Billie Kent. I also suffer to be honest from post ‘Breaking Bad’ comparative. There simply is not enough continuation from previous seasons to draw me into the show. Frankly, it is almost as if Gyp Rosetti never happened. No surprise then that the strands affecting me the most is that of Gillian Darmody and Richard Harrow (they even seem at a loss as to what to do with him this season. S3 concluded Richard’s story, so it is frankly bizarre that they have spent nine episodes of S4 putting him back to the identical place he was at come the end of S3).

    It is painful to be too harsh as it is a show full of talent both behind the camera and in front of it, but there forever remains a cold distance, like each season is a new book that once read offers little reason to go back. There are no hidden secrets here and everything is continually presented upfront and resolved by the end. Dr. Narcisse will more than likely fall at the hands of Chalky and we’ll enter S5 with another new protagonist. You know what this show then needs? For Chalky to fall.

    Still, at the end of S2 I suggested to all Nucky killed the wrong brother and time will bear this out. It will be interesting to see whether that strand goes anywhere or not.

    • you do understand that it is a drama based on real life events. You don’t like this show but you like the new bad season of the walking dead( I know over 20 ppl who watch twd and no one thinks its good) and you told me that you have to go to gravity twice once to see the cgi and once to see the dialog of the two ppl on the movie. Just face it your not smart enough for boardwalk empire. You make assumptions that you have no idea will happen. I guess we all knew that the prohibition cop turned murderer turned iron sales man would end up working for the irish mob then al capone’s crew. He snapped so hard in the last episode it was great.

  3. oh god when will they stop teasing us with Van Aldens potential and unleash this mans full brutal madness? the foundation for a furious finale was definitively laid with that episode.

    after season 3 I thought this show was heading south but I must say I love how they continued in this season.

    • His arch might not end this season. I unlike Ajeno can’t read the future and I don’t have future scripts in my hands either. I like how this season is coming . The dr vs chalky is just a minor plot. This show is going to turn into the boot legers vs the feds. It might not come to head until the end of this season or next season. Im just glad ppl like this show and most don’t think like the trolls on here

  4. It is indeed too bad that there doesn’t seem to be a grand plan for the entire series; we go it by seasons, entering each knowing big issues will arise and will mostly get resolved by the finale, almost resetting everything to it’s original state with a slight change in the cast. That said the show always manages to amaze and excite and to not be all that predictable.

    Season 4 has been great, with problems landing at Chalkie’s door more than at Nucky’s for a change and the scene from episode 8 showing a softer side of Chalkie made a huge difference in his earning our support despite being so late in the game. I was sure Gillian would bring Roy down to her personal hell but at the moment there’s some hope that he can save her.

    The show has successfully made me root for characters despite expectations of all going to hell as it usually does.

    Also: Richard Harrow again under Nucky’s employment can only lead to huge badassery.

    It’s been a pretty slow boil this season but now the pot’s about to burst with only 3 episodes left and all these elements on a collision course.

    • Also: Richard Harrow again under Nucky’s employment can only lead to huge badassery

      right the one thing this was missing was the man with no face capping a bunch of ppl. I love Richard harrow and am so glad he is back. I just love how ppl are made because ppl in a drama based on real life doesn’t have movie or tv character arcs. PPl are mad because a real person didn’t just disappear in season 3

  5. i want to see the ex probition agent become an full blown psycho killing machine.

    • he will. You ever hear of something called the st valitine’s day massacure. Oh and im not talking about that sissy 50 cent either