By Alan Eyerly
8:00 AM CDT, September 9, 2013
It’s the winter of 1924 in snow-covered New Jersey as HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” begins its fourth season of bootlegging, gambling, prostitution and other vices from the Prohibition Era.
At the end of last season, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) regained control of Atlantic City in a deadly showdown with mobster Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale).
In Episode 37, “New York Sour,” Nucky makes peace with his Big Apple counterparts, including mob bosses Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) and Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg).
“I didn’t ask for trouble,” Nucky tells the gangsters. “What was brought to my doorstep I returned.”
Joe refuses to shake Nucky’s hand but accepts a bag of cash to compensate for the loss of Gyp and his hoods. Urbane Arnold is rewarded with a no-limit gambling spree.
Now that Nucky is separated from his wife Margaret (Kelly MacDonald), he freely indulges his attraction to sexy actresses, including one who hopes a hookup will lead to a Broadway role.
That strategy worked in Season 3 for free-spirited Billie Kent (Meg Steedle) -- until she was killed by a bomb meant for Nucky. This latest starlet stays alive, but she’s thrown out of Nucky’s hotel room by valet Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura).
Meanwhile, Albert “Chalky” White (Michael Kenneth Williams) is busy running the swanky Onyx Club when he’s confronted with a major problem -- the dead body of New York talent agent Dickie Pastor (Jeremy Bobb).
The agent wasn't upset that his wife (Jo Armeniox) had a tryst with Chalky’s assistant, Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey). In fact, decadent Dickie liked to watch
But the encounter deteriorated from tawdry to murderous when Dunn stabbed the husband with a broken bottle as his scantily clad wife fled out a window.
Elsewhere in Atlantic City, baby-faced federal agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty) sets his sights on corrupt partner Stan Sawicki (Joseph Aniska). Don’t let that innocent look fool you. Warren is ruthless!
Aware that a whiskey warehouse is booby-trapped with a shotgun, Warren feigns poor night vision and lets Stan open the door by himself. A second later he’s dying in the alley.
“I’ll call it in, sir, soon as I get a grip on myself,” says unruffled Warren, who also shoots the bootlegger.
As for lovely yet drug-addicted Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), she desperately needs money to reopen her Artemis Club brothel. Out-of-town businessman Roy Phillips (Ron Livingston) may be just the guy to save Gillian’s cathouse and share her bed.
“I could use a knowledgeable companion,” says Roy.
“Well, I’m certainly that,” Gillian replies with a coy smile.
Far from Atlantic City in a Chicago suburb, gangster Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and his brothers Frank (Morgan Spector) and Ralph (Domenick Lombardozzi) expand their criminal activities.
Not content to stay in the shadow of mafia boss Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci), Al craves the spotlight.
Al doesn’t mind being identified as a mobster in the local newspaper, but he becomes furious when his name is misspelled. He confronts a frightened young journalist and brutishly corrects the error.
“Now you know,” Al says, slapping the reporter’s head.
Finally, disfigured Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) is weary of killing, both from his days as an Army sharpshooter and later as a mob assassin. Searching for a fresh start, he returns to his family farm in Wisconsin.
Richard hides his pistol in a woodpile and looks longingly at a warm stove inside the dilapidated farmhouse.
“Emma, I’ve come home,” he calls out to his twin sister.
However, instead of welcoming her long-gone brother with an embrace, Emma holds him at bay with a rifle.
Not exactly the reunion Richard expected.
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