(RTTNews) - HBO's new hit series "Boardwalk Empire" returned for its second episode Sunday night. This installment focuses on the aftermath of the violent liquor heist that was the centerpiece of the premiere.
In the first episode, we were introduced to Steve Buscemi's Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, the county treasurer and unofficial king of Atlantic City. The series opened with the start of prohibition, and Nucky began efforts to import illegal booze into the resort town. His underling, Jimmy, a war veteran unhappy with the job he had been given on his return, went off on his own to hijack a shipment meant for another group of gangsters.
The latest episode opens with Agent Nelson Van Alden investigating the violent liquor heist that ended the premiere. The robbery has been blamed on a baker's assistant who was found dead in a fishing net, a violent drunk whose wife, Margaret, sparked Nucky's sympathy.
Jimmy is enjoying the spoils of the heist, setting up Christmas in January for his family. Unfortunately, Nucky is not pleased that Jimmy pulled off the violent hijacking, which was staged without his consent and aimed at his partners. He demands that Jimmy pay another $3,000 as tribute.
Michael Pitt's Jimmy remains the show's most promising character. He's a burgeoning gangster, but also a family man. His apartment is small enough that he and his wife share a room with their small son - leading to an embarrassing and amusing scene where the kid interrupts his wife's attempts to do things "the French way."
So far this family/crime dichotomy is the only sense of internal tension in the show. The other characters have only been types in the first couple episodes - Nucky the Boss, Agent Van Alden the Dedicate Lawman - but Jimmy is rounding out to be a full character (helped this episode by the introduction of his showgirl mother).
While "Boardwalk Empire" is thin on internal tensions, there are external tensions aplenty in the second installment. Arnold Rothstein, the legendary gambler who fixed the 1919 World Series, is pushing Nucky to pay him money he feels he is owed on the missing liquor shipment. Nucky's response: "You want to see how I do business? Show your face again in Atlantic City."
Worries about the series' cost - a reported $100 million for the first season - have eased somewhat following the success of the premiere episode. Ratings were the highest for any HBO show's debut since "Deadwood" in 2004, good enough to prompt the network to pick up "Boardwalk Empire" for a second season.
After last week's much-hyped premiere, directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese, the show is settling into its regular run. The new episode was directed by "Sopranos" veteran Tim Van Patten, who also did some work on other HBO shows, like "The Wire" and "Rome."
(RTTNews) - The show got our attention with its setting and its hefty pre-premiere marketing campaign. But to become the next "Sopranos," it will have to draw more out of the characters, and rely less on its stylish setting and violent milieu.
by RTT Staff Writer
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