As Season 2 of Boardwalk Empire begins, we quickly realize that some amount of time has passed since we last saw Nucky, Margaret, and the show’s other characters. A lot has changed – some for better and some for worse.
First off, Margaret and the children certainly seem settled in their Atlantic City home. Margaret’s clothes seem more expensive and she cares much more about her appearance. Wearing makeup is a look that definitely becomes her. She’s clearly blossomed under Nucky’s care, especially now that she has maids and servants waiting on her as soon as she awakes. We observe her giving orders as she sits in the lavishly decorated dining room and it seems as though she has lived this way her whole life. Although she is clearly enjoying the lifestyle (and I don’t blame her), I hope that she is still able to remember her humble beginnings and where she came from. Her single worry in life is Nucky’s late-night escapades. Now living full-time with her and the children, he often returns home at all hours of the morning. I think that deep down, Margaret knows he is drinking, gambling, and possibly sleeping around, but I believe she chooses to ignore it since she would rather keep her lifestyle than put up a big fight about it. She softly scolds him once, and then proceeds to keep her mouth shut. It will be interesting to see how long she can do this for.
Jimmy and Angela’s situation has progressed as well. Now officially married, they’ve moved into a large and beautiful home on the beach. Jimmy, who realized at the end of last season that he needed to be a better father, has finally seemed to break through to Tommy. Tommy appears much less afraid of his dad, and is ecstatic when he offers to take him to shoot seagulls on the beach. Though Angela forbids it, Jimmy ignores her orders. His disregard of her wants and needs is definitely something that hasn’t changed. It doesn’t help that sly Gillian is still hanging around, constantly undermining Angela’s authority in the house. Though I took a liking to Gillian in the first season, her blatant disrespect towards Angela is frustrating and rude. The fact that she clearly fights for Jimmy’s attention over his own wife is also just plain weird and out of line. I like Jimmy and Angela as individuals, but together they may just have one too many obstacles to overcome in order for their marriage to succeed. I wonder if Angela will ever leave Jimmy to escape to Paris to find her former lover Mary again.
Meanwhile, Agent Van Alden is surprisingly still in town. Clearly, he was convinced to stay in the city despite his original arrangement to take up another position somewhere else. I guess his plan to escape his sins, such as murdering Sebso and impregnating Lucy, fell through. Or perhaps he felt obligated to stick around for Lucy’s sake. (Is it possible that he has a heart??) Nevertheless, he brings his wife Rose to AC for a honeymooning weekend. Last season, he was quite cold towards her, denying her a fertility doctor when she wanted to have children and displaying almost no emotion when he came home. But things have changed. Now, we actually see him smile with her and treat her to a nice romantic dinner. Has his experiences in Atlantic City changed him and brought him actual feelings? After Van Alden shows off to her by flashing his authority and raiding the very restaurant in which they are dining, they go back to the hotel room and have sex. But Van Alden’s image of a loyal and loving husband is soon diminished when he returns to his place alone in the morning and a now very pregnant Lucy is there. He hands her the cash he picked up from the raid and coldly orders her to leave. There are many unanswered questions about their relationship here. Does she live with him? How far along is she? What will happen when the baby is born? I hope Season 2 will satisfy these ponderings.
Lastly, one significant change happens at the end of this episode – and a cliffhanger at that. Nucky, ditching family movie night for an urgent call from the office, arrives at his Ritz apartment only to be arrested on the spot for election fraud. Is this the Commodore’s doing? After all, Jimmy, Eli and him have all had some time to plan their inside attack on Nucky, even enlisting Bader and Nucky’s own ward bosses to help. This could be the beginning of one complex and corrupt Atlantic City civil war.