***Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t seen the first season of Boardwalk Empire!***
Keep reading to see an animated gif showing the whole editing process I used to create this image! Many thanks to Handy Andy Pandy for imparting his knowledge of gifs upon me!
You guys all know I LOOOOVE me some Boardwalk Empire. Or, at least, I did, up until last season’s finale. I’m trying to work up to forgiving the show for its horrible end before the final season starts this fall, but I’ve got a ways to go.
I had to completely put the show out of my mind for a long time but I’ve started dipping my toe back into that intoxicating water. As I was starting the whole series over again (for the manyth time) a new character caught my eye in a way she hadn’t before: Pearl.
Played expertly by Emily Meade (currently on The Leftovers, also on HBO), Pearl is a prostitute at The Four Deuces in Chicago, which is where Jimmy retreats into hiding until heat from a botched robbery he and Al Capone attempted dies down. She and Jimmy hit it off right away and form a quick, if somewhat odd, couple, shyly getting to know each other.
Jimmy’s ear is hurt after Al fires a gun right next to his head as a joke (seriously, who doesn’t fire dangerous weapons at their friends heads now and then?) Pearl tries to fix him up and suggests he take opium for the pain; “It’s divine, it really is, for whatever ails you.” Jimmy turns the offer down and the begin talking about their pasts.
Pearl, it turns out, is from Star Prairie, Wisconsin, a very small town where “Grampa was the first white man born in town, Pa was the first man got sent to state prison and Ma was the first woman run over flat by a car. So you could say I have a lot to live up to.”
She tells Jimmy of her plan to head west to Hollywood and become an actress as soon as she saves up enough money. Half-jokingly, she tells Jimmy he can come with her if he wants to, which he agrees to, and you can see that there’s a real affection growing between them.
But we all know, no one on Boardwalk gets to be happy for long.
Shortly after, Pearl finds herself being used as a means of sending Jimmy a message. She had nothing to do with any of the reasons these men want to hurt Jimmy, she’s just caught in the ugly crossfire… and it costs her her face. Warning for the squeamish, this is a bit brutal.
You have to think that with what little we know of her past and the fact that she’s a prostitute, life hasn’t been especially kind to this poor girl. Not only are her acting dreams shattered, but even prostitution is taken away from her. Jimmy feels responsible for her condition and tries to take care of her. The Four Deuces wants to kick her out as soon as she stops making money, but Jimmy delays them. Her face is stitched and bandaged and Jimmy spends a lot of time squeezing oranges into juice for her to take her opium in.
Despite her opium haze, Pearl realizes that her future has been erased. At one point, she forlornly asks Jimmy who will love her now? We wonder what this poor girl will do, but she’s quite calm and collected; she seems to have it figured out. While Jimmy is caring for her, she asks him to tell her a story.
I can’t blame Pearl for feeling that was her only option. Life had been quite unkind to her. She deserved much more, but I’m glad that she at least had a few beautiful moments with Jimmy before she left.
But, much as no one on Boardwalk stays happy for long, no one stays unavenged for long either.
Unknown to Liam, the face slasher, Jimmy has just met Richard Harrow, the World War One sharp shooter. At their first meeting, Richard tells Jimmy the story of how he once stayed three days in a blind, waiting for the single moment when he could kill a German shooter, finally taking him out with one shot below his right eye. Jimmy has a soft spot for the lonely and lost and accepts Richard readily into his life. And they concoct a plan.
While Pearl’s death is tragic, it is the catalyst for Jimmy and Richard’s friendship, which continues for the rest of the series. If Jimmy hadn’t needed someone to help him extract revenge upon Liam, who knows what would have become of their relationship, and who knows how it would have changed Richard’s involvement in the show? We might have never met the man who would become one of my favorite characters on all of television.
With a new appreciation for Pearl’s character, I felt like creating an image in her memory. And I have to say, I was very proud of myself for how little time it took me to transform myself into a Pearl-like girl; maybe 15 minutes. If I had more energy on a daily basis, I would certainly try and bring more of the 20’s style to my daily look! As things stand, I will have to be content with just dressing myself and either putting my hair in a ponytail or hiding it under a hat. But maybe some day… 🙂
Geoff was very kind and helped be my human shutter release for these self portraits. Byron helped by photobombing as often as he could. All said, this was a quick and easy shoot and editing it was quite a delight. My friend Robert Cornelius helped me figure out how to add the tears to the photo later, which I’d forgotten to do at the time of the shoot. Thanks, Robert!
Please enjoy the finished image and the detail shot where you can really see the tears! Also, HUGE thanks to Andy for showing me how to create the animated gif below! It’s a great way to show you guys the whole creation of the image in a fun way. I’m hoping to do more of these now that I’ve got one under my belt!