Boardwalk Empire ‘Erlkonig’ Recap – Episode 4.05

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The Breakdown

The episode opens with Nucky receiving a phone call from his nephew Willie.  Willie is calling from a Philadelphia police station where he has been arrested following the death of classmate Henry at a party at school.  After a somewhat lengthy interrogation process, Nucky gets Willie to explain exactly how Henry died, and Nucky helps him construct his story for the district attorney.  It looks like Willie is going to be charged with the murder of Henry until Nucky pays the district attorney off with a large campaign contribution.  Nucky tells Henry he needs to act like nothing is wrong and concentrate on finishing college.  Henry is released and his roommate Clayton is arrested instead.

No one has seen Eddie, who has been detained by Agent Knox.  Knox and his partner spend the day using physical and mental interrogation methods on Eddie in order to get him to tell them something incriminating about Nucky.

It’s election day and Frank Capone picks Mueller up to take him to make sure the workers at a local factory vote correctly.

Gillian tries unsuccessfully to reach Roy Phillips at his hotel.  Frustrated, she goes for her drugs, and finds she’s running low.

Mueller goes to Al Capone’s office with Frank Capone.  Al is hitting the nose candy and forgets that he asked Mueller to join them with the efforts to get the votes they want for their candidates.  Frank reminds him he was impressed with Mueller the night before when they killed O’Banion’s man in the woods.  Al tells Mueller “we’ve got some unfinished work with the florist.”  Mueller is directed to take 20 men to Western Electric to make sure the workers are voting correctly.  Al makes Mueller snort some cocaine, and it’s been clear for some time that Mueller isn’t comfortable around him.

Gillian tries to influence the judge in the custody suit for her grandson Tommy. Without her drugs to calm her down she is agitated.  She asks for a glass of water and then crushes the glass, cutting her hand.  She makes the mistake of trying to use sex to make sure she wins the case, but the judge will have no part of that and tells her to leave his office.

Frank Capone gives Mueller a big wad of cash as an advance for his services.  Mueller tells the men assembled at the electric factory that, “there’s no reason for this to get out of hand.  All we have to do is remind these men it’s in their best interest to elect a Republican ticket.”   The men question Mueller’s authority and when the workers come out, a big fight ensues.  The workers return to the factory.

Al Capone shows up and wants to know “What the f is going on?”  Mueller tells him they are outnumbered.  Frank says there are 6 car loads of guys on their way.  Before that happens, the workers come back out, and with superior numbers beat the crap out of Al and Frank Capone.

Tempted to take advantage of the chaos, Mueller pulls his gun and takes aim on Al Capone who is on the ground crawling away.  Before he can shoot him, Frank Capone starts to pull his gun out but is shot.   While the local police have been bought off and never showed up, a group of outside hired law men show up, heavily armed and they put about 300 rounds into Frank.  A helpless Al Capone watches as his brother is killed.

Gillian goes to a black barber shop looking for Dunn who she has learned deals drugs.  She doesn’t have enough money to buy the drugs and offers to pay for it “in other ways.”  He takes what little money she has and gives her a small amount of heroin.

After she gets her fix she goes to Tommy’s school to take him home with her.  Before she can do that Julia appears with two teachers.  Julia takes Tommy away and the teachers escort Gillian out of the school.  She goes home and goes to bed.  When she wakes up Phillips is there.  He’s discovered her drug kit and they talk about weakness and sin.  Gillian tells him, “I’ve done the most awful things.”  Phillips encourages her to tell him about it, “If it will make you feel any better.”

Knox has a file on Eddie.  They talk about Eddie’s past in Prussia and how he left in disgrace after taking on a mistress and leaving the country with money he stole from the department store where he worked as the assistant manager.  Knox learned German while in the service and uses Eddie’s native tongue to further break him down.  He tells Eddie he’s going to be deported and  when he goes back home he will have to face up to his family for all of his crimes.  Telling Eddie he must give them something on Nucky as a sign of good faith, Eddie breaks down.  He tells them he gave Ralph Capone cash from Nucky.  Knox releases Eddie but tells him they will see him again very soon.

Mueller is at the morgue and Ralph Capone has arrived after reading about his brother’s death in a newspaper.  He tells Mueller that Al wants to speak with him.  Mueller goes in where Al is next to Ralph’s body.  He reports to Al his findings about the men who killed his brother.  He says they are a special unit brought in after someone called them because the Cicero police couldn’t be trusted.  Capone says “Every f-ing thing that crawls is going to pay.”  He leaves Capone crying over his dead brother.

Willie is visited in his room by the girl he made out with in the library.  She tells Willie that Clayton was arrested for poisoning Henry.  She wants to know why he would do something like that to Henry?  Willie doesn’t answer but takes her into his arms.

Eddie stops in to see Nucky.  Nucky wants to know what happened to him and he tells him he was with friends drinking.  Nucky scolds him for not calling him and Eddie says, “It will not happen again.”  He calls Eddie over to him, and shows him that now that he’s not taking care of him his socks don’t match.  Eddie leaves and goes to his room.  He writes a suicide note in German, and then ensures that Nucky’s socks are paired correctly in the drawer. Then he jumps out the window.

Analysis

 In this episode, Nucky once again saves the day.  In this case, it’s his nephew Willie who he saves from being tried for the murder of Henry.  A bond is forming between Nucky and Willie.  Obviously Willie feels he can go to his uncle much easier than trying to get help from his father, and he’s probably right.  Nucky seems to be more understanding about Willie’s imperfections.

Gillian continues her downward spiral.  She has no shame when it comes to trying to use sex to get what she wants, be it the custody of her grandson or drugs.  She seems to be developing a relationship with an understanding companion.  So far, Phillips isn’t judging her, despite her apparent weaknesses and failings.  Whether he continues that posture after he finds out the true depth of her depravity is another story.

At the end of this episode when Al Capone is seen grieving over the death of his brother Frank, we have some indication that from this point on, Capone is going to be even more ruthless and violent than he was before.  Revenge is always good for racking up the body count.

Mueller continues to be a funny straight man.  When he was talking to Al Capone in his office and Capone was firing questions at him his short quick replies were almost in the cadence of a comedy routine.  How he is going to stay on the good side of Capone, now that his brother Frank is gone, will be interesting to watch.  Frank had served as a buffer between Al and Mueller on more than one occasion.  In this episode he urged Al to “mind the boundaries” when he pushed Mueller too hard.

Both Nucky and the viewers are really going to miss Eddie.  He was one of the more admirable characters in the series, at least until this episode where we found out he left Prussia after taking on a mistress and embezzling money from his employer.  Still we were sorry to see him jump out the window, but it all makes sense.  With Agent Knox breathing down his throat and him being so loyal to Nucky, what choice did he have?

 

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About the Author

Stu Cassell
was a stand-up comic and joke writer for Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Former weekly columnist for HIghlands Today. Free lance writer, author of Comic's Bedpan: A Lobotomy Patient's Guide To Joke Writing, Performing, and Selling - available CHEAP at amazon.com (shameless plug). Reformed chocoholic.
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