My week two recap of Boardwalk Empire is now up at Salon. (At least for the next several weeks, they'll be up immediately after the first east coast airing, whether or not I get around to linking to them then.) The show is a little steadier on its feet post-pilot, with Terence Winter's old Sopranos colleague Tim Van Patten taking the monocle and jodhpurs from Martin Scorsese. That means fewer flash-freezes and temporal leaps, but also a lot more solid characterization. The show still feels pedantic in its period detail, tacking signifiers like a Ku Klux Klan recruit handing out flyers on the boardwalk onto the beginning and the end of scenes, but then that was a fault of Mad Men's early episodes as well. (Look! Sally's playing with a dry-cleaning bag! They don't clean up after picnics! Oh tempora, o mores!) But the show still feels like it hasn't found its focus. I let HBO's screener DVD play halfway into next week's episode while I was doing some chores, and found that a character I'd assumed to be mere window dressing was the subject of his own scene, which is part of the problem: There are so many characters to maneuver into place that it still feels like we're engaged in an act of faith, with the consequences for not paying it off growing steeper each week. A lot of the substance is engaging on its own — although sweet Jesus did they rip off The Remains of the Day this week — but a better sense of where we're going would make the journey seem a whole lot shorter.