Boardwalk Empire

Episode Report Card
Joe R: B- | 3 USERS: C
YOU GRADE IT
Take Me to the River

Van Alden and Sebso drive out into the middle of the woods. It's broad daylight but Sebso still can't manage to follow the directions an "anonymous source" gave him to this supposed distillery. I have no idea how he thinks going the "anonymous source" route is going to make Van Alden any less suspicious, but let's see how it plays out. They park the car and trudge through the trees, but it's not a distillery that they find. Instead, they come upon a congregation of black Baptist revivalists taking part in your basic riverside baptism. This is, of course, like Christmas morning for Van Alden, but then again, he reacts like you would expect him to react on Christmas morning: suspicious and confrontational. Even after he's satisfied that it's actually a baptism, he starts challenging the pastor on Bible verses. Once Van Alden is sufficiently convinced that Deacon Coffey's Christian faith is as unbending, zealous, and intransigent as his own, Van Alden tells them to carry on. So Coffey starts railing about "He who believeth shall be saved, and he who does not shall be CONDEMNED to the FIRES of HELL!" Obviously, this is giving Van Alden a semi at the very least. It's also giving him some ideas about Sebso. "Your people don't believe in heaven, do they?" Van Alden inquires, and yes, he means the Jews. If you thought you were going to get out of the first season of this show without some old-timey anti-Semitism, think again. Sebso's like, "Um, yeah, heaven's y'all's delusion, not ours." Van Alden is vexed by this: "If you don't believe in heaven, how can you conceive of hell?" Van Alden then turns back to the congregation, who are volunteering to have their sins washed away. He's getting a crazy (-er) look in his eyes and he sees the kind of fire-brand religious zeal he's always wanted. Christianity: Giving borderline psychopaths the courage of their wild-ass convictions since, well, ever. Sebso asks if Van Alden's okay. "I am," he replies. "The question is, are you?" Oh man. It never bodes well when a Christian looks at a Jew like that.

Gillian's brought a doctor over to see the Commodore as she tries to feed him soup. Doc, meanwhile, is busy examining the Commodore's gross, scabby feet, for what medical reason I cannot say. He notes that there's something wrong with every organ in the man's body, which, yes, seems pretty bad. I also can't say why Doc feels the need to cut off some of the 'Dore's hair, but I'm sure medicine was practiced quite differently in the 1920s. Commodore resists, with the kneejerk self-protection of an old man who can't do much but crouch back into his withered cocoon. But by now, Jimmy has showed up, and he helps to calm his father down while the doctor shears off some hair. As "cats in the cradle" moments go, Cat Stevens would probably find it wanting, but when the Commodore whispers "You're a good son," you realize it's clearly the closest they've ever been. Gillian looks a bit overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation, and Jimmy offers to stay with him overnight. I guess keeping time with Al Capone can prepare you for enduring any old kind of company. When Gillian leaves, Jimmy sits down, looks over at his dying father, and tries to keep from crying.

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Boardwalk Empire

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