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Boardwalk Empire 4×07 “William Wilson” Recap


By: The Harrowin’ Addict

This week, it was all about the secrets. And duplicity.

Just like the subject of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story William Wilson, read aloud and discussed by Willie Thompson’s professor. Wilson seeks to destroy a supposed doppelganger in whom he perceives weakness, and in killing the so-called imposter, actually kills himself. Willie, having argued with paramour Doris and brimming with guilt over Henry’s death and Clayton’s arrest, bolts from the classroom. And, as we learn in his confrontation with Eli, quits school altogether – sending his father into a drunken rage.

Even as we watch Willie precariously straddling his father’s demands and the appeal of his Uncle Nucky’s bootlegging business, perhaps the most glaringly dangerous duplicity is that of Daughter Maitland. A smitten Chalky has managed to negotiate an extension of her contract at the Onyx Club, but at the expense of relinquishing territory to Dr. Narcisse under the guise of the United Negro Improvement Association. And it is there that Narcisse accuses Chalky of apathy in the face of overdoses in the community, while it is Narcisse himself supplying the heroin to the people of the Northside.

Moreover, Daughter relays the story of how she became acquainted with Narcisse: that her mother was a prostitute, and that Dr. Narcisse saved her the night her mother was murdered. Later, she is reciting religious text while sensually bathing Narcisse’s scarred chest – and we learn that Narcisse was actually her mother’s killer. “These hands set her free,” he drawls, “and set you on your path.”

Nucky, following up on his brother’s suspicions regarding Warren Knox, turns to Gaston Means to uncover the truth. His efforts are futile, however, because Means himself is in Knox’s pocket. And Knox, whose real name is Jim Tolliver, is brooding over his associate J. Edgar Hoover taking credit for the proposed dismantling of the Nucky’s criminal enterprise.

And Nucky’s estranged wife Margaret, reverting to her maiden name of Rohan, is collaborating with her boss on some shady investments. But her cover is nearly blown when her boss introduces a new client: Arnold Rothstein, operating under an alias. But Rothstein assures her, with a phone call and a generous bonus, that her secret is safe.

Over in the Windy City, Al Capone’s vendetta against Chicago police commences with a bullet through an unsuspecting officer’s head in broad daylight. Al seeks a nod from Johnny Torrio to go to war with his rival, Dean O’Banion, whom he insists is responsible for his brother Frank’s murder. And after Torrio is conned by O’Banion into purchasing a brewery and subsequently arrested in a raid of the place, Torrio gives that nod with gusto.

And have things started turning around for Gillian? Her love interest Roy Phillips patiently nurses her as she withdraws from heroin, and confides that soon after meeting her, he filed for divorce from his wife. But as Gaston Means says earlier in the episode, “Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” Will that hold true for Gillian and her history of addiction, murder, manipulation, and ruthlessness?