Boardwalk Empire

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Joe R: A- | 1 USERS: A+
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He's There, the Phantom of the Brothel
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

On a gray Chicago morning, a frog-faced creep of a guy sits down in a diner with his morning coffee and paper. This is Liam -- remember Liam? The wonderful person who slashed Pearl's face open a few weeks ago? And who was miraculously not present at the Sheridan massacre last week? This is his usual dining spot, and thanks to the cop at the counter who's on Al Capone's payroll, Al knows it too. He tells Jimmy, who is currently laid up on one of the brothel's fainting couches. It's his leg, again, still hurting from those war wounds. After last week's confrontation, it's nice to see Jimmy and Al able to talk about Jimmy's leg without any resentment hanging in the air. Anyway, Jimmy takes in the news about Liam with stone-faced silence.

Cut to an enormous but severely run-down home where Pa Thompson is currently stumbling around, half-senile, cursing the cats who are running around his kitchen. The house, while clearly in a dilapidated state, definitely looks like something that used to be quite stately. So Pa is threatening the cats with a fireplace poker -- it's not clear if these are a) his cats and he just hates them, b) his cats and he doesn't remember, or c) feral things who have taken to squatting in Pa's kitchen. Either way, they're getting a mouthful from this old wretch. He takes his toast from the stovetop -- after momentarily burning his hand -- and heads back to the table when he stumbles over the cats underfoot. It's a hard fall, and he's clearly hurt his leg. He calls for help, but after everything he's been saying, I don't blame the cats for ignoring his pleas.

And while we're on the subject of injured legs, Jimmy's at the VA hospital, having his looked at. The doctor is vaguely unsympathetic, as he smokes and asks Jimmy how it hurts and what he does for a living. The leg, by the way, looks like mangled hell, all giant scars. Doc says the screws in the femur could be the problem, though he doesn't get the joke when Jimmy cracks about having a screw loose. Doc then brings up Dr. Robert Woodworth, who's developed a test -- a kind of personal inventory -- for returning soldiers. Jimmy says the war is over, but Doc says it might be useful anyway. Jimmy agrees to answer a few questions, and the Doc walks across the room, which brings Jimmy's gaze to the sad-looking man sitting on a bed across the room. The guy turns to look at Jimmy, at which point we see he's had the left side of his face blown clean off. It's unsettling, not least of which because of the way he's staring back at Jimmy, vacantly but persistently. Jimmy looks down and sees a mask -- Phantom of the Opera style to cover half his face, but flesh-colored. It comes attached to a pair of glasses, which kind of makes it look like a Halloween costume. The predecessor to the classic Groucho glasses. Except, you know, if you were wearing them because your nose and mustache were blown off your face in the war.

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Boardwalk Empire

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