Boardwalk Empire Review: “What Jesus Said” (Season 5, Episode 3)


The effects of Boardwalk Empire‘s seven year time jump have been felt all throughout season five, but not to the degree as they do in episode three, titled “What Jesus Said.” The focal point of this episode isn’t even on Nucky or any of the other gangsters, but rather an extended character examination of the now escaped prisoner Chalky, and his new partner in crime.

Keep in mind, it still isn’t really clear what Chalky was arrested and seemingly put on death row for. That’s what a prolonged time jump and decreased number of episodes will do for your television show, but the writers thankfully find a way to make it work by adding a layer of intrigue to the story arc. After having been absent for an entire episode, we pick up with Chalky and his newly befriended criminal pal as they are attempting to burglarize a house populated by two white women; a mother and a daughter.

What follows are numerous scenes interspersed throughout the hour that showcase a major departure from the Chalky we are familiar with. Convinced that there is a safe full of money stashed in the wealthy family house, both Chalky and his friend begin to terrorize the women, constantly threatening them unless they get the cash they are certain exists.

At the center of the dilemma is a brilliant performance once again by Michael Kenneth Williams, as he is caught in a moral conflict. The mother actually utters at one point “You’re not like you’re friend,” and we the audience know that while Chalky isn’t a saint, that he is above horrifying innocent woman. He’s simply caught in a very dark state of mind that is portrayed with captivation.

Elsewhere in America, we are reminded of Arnold Rothstein’s off-screen death – just another critical moment that skipping years ahead has cheated viewers out of seeing – but are also told that there is a mystery of sorts surrounding his murder. Between Bennett committing suicide and now this investigation, it has put Margaret into a sticky situation of sorts that will require her to take immediate action, as seen at the end of the episode. Essentially, this is the point where some of our story arcs beget intertwining into one, which is good because the majority of the season has felt disjointed due to nearly every character being wrapped up in a different issue, and in a completely different part of the country.