Boardwalk Empire 2.07 “Peg of Old” Review

Boardwalk Empire season 2 pours past the midway point with tonight’s ‘Peg of Old,’which sees Margaret Schroeder looking to reconnect with her family while Agent Van Alden struggles with the continued fallout of his personal life and new baby. “Peg of Old” continues driving Boardwalk Empire season 2’s plot along, but feels mostly like a transitional episode with a few surprises in store.

After all the tension and excitement of last week’s ‘The Age of Reason,”Peg of Old certainly had a lot to live up to. With the second season of Boardwalk Empire now more than halfway over, the quieter character-driven episodes have fallen by the wayside and things should theoretically pick up full-steam ahead. Then again, Boardwalk Empire will never be a supremely fast-paced show, even when it flirts with the idea.

That was what struck me most about ‘Peg of Old,’the idea of people exploring things they don’t ultimately commit to. Just as ‘Peg'(Margaret) looks to reconnect with her roots before dashing back to ritzy Atlantic City, Jimmy sees a path before him he ultimately chooses not to take. Being the big man in Atlantic City means taking decisive actions and literally pulling the trigger, but Jimmy can’t see past Nucky as a father figure enough to have him gunned down in the streets. Even Lucy and Van Alden reject the paths they’ve toyed with, Lucy a loving mother and Van Alden a full-blown criminal.

Speaking of Agent Van Alden, Boardwalk Empire season 2 really has been letting the poor guy have it. Not only has Rose left and refused to speak with him on account of Lucy, Lucy herself has abandoned her motherly duties and alerted Nucky to Van Alden’s dire straights in the process. The poor guy can’t even catch a break at work, with ADHOC hottie Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) emasculating him at every turn in what’s sure to be a banner role in challenging Van Alden’s viewpoint on women. It’s especially jarring to think that all these pressures force Van Alden to work for Nucky directly by reporting on Randolph, but in his own way he gets to turn the tables on each. As much as Boardwalk Empire likes to beat down on Van Alden, it’s the way Michael Shannon expresses his ambiguous discomfort so very well that keeps it worth watching

Of course, ‘Peg of Old’really belongs to Peg of Old, as Margaret heads to Brooklyn to visit with the family she’d earlier researched. It all unfolds mostly as you’d expect, with her brother angry/jealous at Peg having abandoned her family just as she starts connecting with her younger siblings, but Boardwalk Empire hadn’t really had much else for Kelly MacDonald after becoming Nucky’s live-in companion. And talk about grabbing life by the…reigns, Margaret gets to break bad even further by finally utilizing Slater as ‘hers to command.’In a way the sin represents the closest she can feel to her ‘old’self, having last left her family behind because of her ‘sinful’pregnancy.

Boardwalk Empire - Owen Slater‘Peg of Old’really does belong to the Irish, a daunting thought if you have trouble understanding accents. Boardwalk Empire‘s newest favorite toy Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) gets plenty of time to shine as well, not only bedding Margaret, but conducting his own assassination in a bar bathroom with a garrote. They’re clearly working to set up some kind of mystery behind the character, having searched for his target for ‘five months,’but sometimes enough to simply marvel at the man’s fingers being lopped off by the wire. Slater certainly presents an intriguing character fast rising on everyone’s hit list, but for now I’m still Team Richard.

But how about that cliffhanger? Or, perhaps Nucky being shot in the hand doesn’t leave much suspense over his fate, but it’ll be fascinating to see how the attempt on his life or the manner in which Jimmy seemed to warn him play out in the next few episodes. More or less everyone on Boardwalk Empire has a path laid out or the remaining episodes of the season, so while ‘Peg of Old’isn’t exactly a showstopper it gives us a clearer view of where we’re going, and where we’ve been

And Another Thing…

  • Admit it, the ADHOC woman totally has a lady-boner for Van Alden. Classy, I know.
  • I liked the telling shot of Van Alden almost smiling listening to the baby being tended to, and the way it suggests the character longs for the idea of family without actually caring who they are. And way to go Lucy, for such a fine exit.
  • I might have liked if Slater and Margaret were merely implied to have sex, the scene very well could have ended with her tellingly saying ‘you can bring the bag up.’But that’s the film student in me.

What did you think?

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