Boardwalk Empire Review: “The Old Ship Of Zion” (Season 4, Episode 8)

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Of course, it was only a matter of time before Daughter Maitland came into play, and it’s Narcisse’s confidence in her loyalty that is his biggest misstep so far. Never one to do the dirty work himself, Narcisse sends in Dunn Purnsley to put an end to Chalky once and for all. The tender moment between Maitland and Chalky as she sings to him the song from which the episode got its title makes it seem pretty unlikely that she is going to go along with his murder, and sure enough the struggle between Dunn and Chalky ends in a manner that is both utterly predictable and completely satisfying.

By the way, how great is Michael K. Williams in this episode? The range he shows is amazing and this is easily the best acting he’s done of this entire series so far. Every time he’s on the screen it’s electric, just like back in the day when he played Omar on The Wire. There are so many great actors on this show, and it’s great to see Williams being given an opportunity to outshine them all.

One of the reasons this episode is so tight and action-packed is that there are fewer subplots going on then usual. We don’t see any of the action in Chicago, we don’t have to sit through any scenes with Gillian Darmody and the guy from Office Space (well, one of the two guys from Office Space on this show), and Richard Harrow is nowhere to be found. While Capone’s presence is always missed and Harrow’s absence for two consecutive episodes will make it a bit harder to get back into his subplot when it resurfaces, it’s refreshing to have an episode that doesn’t feel stretched thin, as many of the episodes of Boardwalk Empire tend to.

Let’s hope they can keep the momentum from this episode going. Next week we’re likely to see what’s happening with Capone’s looming war with Dean O’Banion, and that will no doubt be action-packed. Chalky may have taken out Dunn Purnsley, but he has yet to end the threat of Dr. Narcisse entirely, especially when Narcisse can still cause great harm to Daughter Maitland. We have yet to see how Eli will respond to the threat from Agent Knox. And hey, who knows, maybe something interesting will happen with Gillian Darmody’s subplot and it won’t be quite so tedious to watch.

Boardwalk Empire has always fared best in the back half of its seasons when things really get going, and “The Old Ship of Zion” has shown us just how great the show can be when it’s at its best.

What was your favorite moment from the episode? Sound off in the comments below.