I too was very upset that Michael Pitt's Jimmy Darmody was killed off last season and was then very worried that the show would just stall without him. Last week's season premiere was a bit muted and made me think that all fears were coming true. The introduction of Gyp Rosetti, where he kills a guy for no reason other than to prove that he's the new BAMF in town, didn't help either.
Thankfully, "Spaghetti and Coffee" picked up where the premiere should have. Here's the 6 things I liked about the episode:
1. The fantastic opening in which a goldfish is displaced into a smaller and stranger environment - While this does apply to Nucky's more precarious position. I like to think it also parallels the newly-freed Eli's situation. While he never had the same elevated status as his brother, Eli was still a feared (and possibly respected) authority figure who could support his very large family. But his imprisonment, he's now taking orders from the boorish Mickey Doyle and his eldest son has replaced him as the provider for the family. I always thought Shea Whigham was not given enough to do and his quiet moments where he realizes that he's lost what little power he had was very affecting.
2. Nucky's new mistress Billie - I was never a fan of Lucy. I always thought that she hung around for so long because Paz de la Huerta had no problem taking her clothes off. Billie is already a step up from Lucy since she can actually form coherent sentences. She also seems to be independent enough not to fall apart if Nucky ever leaves her because she has other men waiting for her.
3. Margaret's new crusade - Margaret has been infuriating many times and the only time I actually liked her was when she signed the deed off to the church. This episode fortunately had a more aggressive Margaret, with her energies concentrated this time on bettering the hospital's prenatal care. She even matched the doctor's previous quips ("Please refrain from smoking that pipe or buy better tobacco. Whatever you stuff in there is appalling."), and Kelly Macdonald is always better snippy instead of submissive.
4. Chalky and his daughter - Chalky is also another character who never seems to get enough screen time, with his domestic life getting even less attention. His scene with his daughter's boyfriend ("How about you doctor me?") was interesting to watch. Also of note was his insistence of a different life for Maybelle who craves a more "interesting" life. Maybelle learned her lesson the hard way when interesting also amounts to getting your face beaten to a bloody pulp.
5. Owen's new status as "the golden boy" - Owen's risen up and Nucky's "golden boy" falls eventually.
6. Rosetti becomes more than just the "angry new guy" - Last week's introduction of Rosetti felt like violence just for violence's sake. But his eventual formation of a plan to screw Nucky over shows that he can play the game too. His presence was genuinely foreboding this time around. His "spaghetti and coffee" scene was also funny ("Better than Mama's, huh?").
Nucky was not one of this week's highlights, and further proves how he's increasingly becoming the least interesting character in the show. His reactions to his surroundings are more exciting than his actions. "Spaghetti and Coffee" overall felt more tightly focused than last week's premiere, possibly helped by the focus on a smaller amount of characters. Maybe someone can fill the Jimmy hole after all.