Boardwalk Empire's Season 3 Finale: The Resurrection of Nucky Thompson

Boardwalk Empire S03E12: “Margate Sands”

Boardwalk Empire is misunderstood. Because of its pedigree—HBO, its Sopranos connection, a glorious cast, etc.—most critics, including myself, have wanted more from the show at various times during its three years on the air. There’s an assumption that any big drama series that airs on a big cable network, especially any big drama series that airs on HBO, is going to be unbelievably thematically rich and very applicable to the sort of close textual read that has become the norm in reviews like mine.

But Boardwalk Empire isn’t that kind of show, or at least it isn’t that kind of show to the degree people want it to be. Instead, it's a much more straightforward gangster story that, while interested in complex characterization and the fairly regular metaphor or allusion, has really never aimed to get caught up in the same kind of psychoanalytic digressions that The Sopranos enjoyed.

This is okay. In fact, it’s pretty great. Not every show should try to be like The Sopranos, even if it's made by someone who worked on The Sopranos. This is a fact I've remembered at the end of all three seasons of Boardwalk, but for reasons I’m about to address, tend to forget when I’m watching Episode 4 of a 12-episode season. I forget because I can’t think of a drama on the air that relies more on viewers having seen the whole season before really making a judgment, on the whole and on the individual pieces.

Without getting too hyperbolic, I would argue that no drama does endings better than Boardwalk Empire, partially because of the dramatic impact they have on the show's overall seasons. While I still get frustrated with how disconnected the threads can be halfway or even three quarters of the way through a 12-episode sequence, or how false some the connections of those threads can seem at times, the show has for three seasons now managed to pull everything together in a really powerful, satisfying fashion. And sure, Boardwalk Empire’s version of a conclusion doesn’t necessarily produce as big of a thematic payoff, but the show’s singular, underlying message—that in this world, no one can really be that happy—is always reinforced in important ways.

With that in mind, “Margate Sands” provided yet another example of Boardwalk Empire's closing abilities and though it lacked the exceptional emotional wallop that Jimmy’s death provided in last season’s ender, this one delivered relatively substantial conclusions to a number of the show’s disparate stories. The episode probably cleaned up some of the big messes a bit too quickly and too easily, but each scene built to the next in a legitimately exciting fashion. And somehow, just about* every important character was well-served in this final offering of the year.

* Sorry, Van Alden. Until 2013. I hope you ironed many a face during your time away from this episode’s events.

The entire episode was pretty strong, but the last third was on whole other level. Once Gillian entered Gyp’s room and their uncomfortable sexual encounter began, I was on the edge of my seat until the episode’s conclusion. The stand-out sequence was Richard’s journey through the mansion, which was beautifully staged and directed by Tim Van Patten and driven home by Jack Huston’s silent, steely performance. For a moment there, I actually thought Richard was going to die before getting to the surely terrified Tommy, and that’s a testament to the show’s ability to convince me that anyone could die at any moment. But thankfully he didn’t, and now Tommy is safe in the arms of a family who can take care of him—even if Richard isn’t going to be part of that family. No matter how hard he tries to get back to that picture he carries around, Richard knows that he’ll always be hamstrung by how his past has turned him into the bloody mess he is in the present.

Meanwhile, by the time Gyp got stabbed to death on the beach, it felt like his time had come, unfortunately. While I think the slightly more subdued version of the character from the earlier part of the season could have buoyed the series for a couple of seasons, Gyp had become an ungainly, cartoonish villain who started to annoy me more than anything else. Bobby Cannavale did great work, but it’s probably time to move on.

Despite the frustrations I have—and I know you folks have—with Nucky, this episode got a lot of mileage out of Nucky outsmarting everyone on the Eastern Seaboard. Last week, we saw that Nucky was tough enough to shoot himself out of a sticky situation, and here he simply sat back and did what he really does best: politick. He convinced Rothstein to invest in the distillery in exchange for Joe’s backing in the fight against Gyp, and then used his political connections (i.e., Gaston and Mellon) to get Rothstein in trouble for having a connection to said distillery. In just a few swift moves, Nucky eliminated his Gyp problem, got back at Rothstein for the lack of support, and fortified his relationships both inside and outside of Atlantic City. Nucky’s had his fair share of issues this season (more on that in a moment), but I have to admit that it was pretty great to watch him use all of his unrelated resources to basically get other people to do everything he needed. In the process, I think Nucky learned what kind of person he has to be if he wants to continue to thrive in this world.

Much ado was made last week about Capone’s visit to Atlantic City and Chalky’s big role in the penultimate episode, but neither character had a whole lot do in the finale except argue with one another over who will become the true fan favorite of the show's wise-cracking, violent supporting characters. The episode didn’t even bother justifying why Capone came to help, but that ultimately didn’t matter once Stephen Graham and Michael K. Williams were on screen together doing their thing.

Ultimately, “Margate Sands” pulled together the important stories and served the most important characters. I’ve grown to really appreciate the show when it’s on a slow-cook early in a season, but boy does Boardwalk Empire hum when it gets toward the end. And more importantly, this episode—and really, the final few—made all those slower episodes in the beginning worth it. Though frustrating, we needed to see Nucky’s weird distractions and witness how they caused his temporary downfall. We needed to watch Richard discover the family unit he always wanted in order to understand the risks and sacrifices he made. And I guess we needed Gyp to get annoying to wish that he would just die in the end.

This is a season that was ultimately about the tension between haves and wants, and the kind of trouble you can get into when you aren’t willing to be happy with what you've got. Of course, in a time and a world like this one, the prevailing sense that everything is up for grabs and no one is satisfied is easy to identify. Nevertheless, so many characters spent the season trying to get more for themselves, mostly in terms of money and power but occasionally other things as well, and for many of them, that journey didn’t end particularly well.

Nucky began the season on top of the world. Think back to the premiere, when he was literally giving away gold in a treasure chest. But like we've seen before, Nucky couldn’t be still. All the wealth and power and presumed happiness weren’t enough for him. He needed a new muse and unfortunately, so much of what happened to Nucky in this season’s back half boils down to his infatuation with Billie. That relationship turned him into a distracted gangster and businessman, but also a jealous and petty individual who learned his money couldn’t make everything okay, or give him the attention he wanted. At the beginning of the season, Nucky could do no wrong and most importantly, believed that.

But by the end of this episode, when he had gone through some real hell, it seemed like Nucky had finally realized that what Jimmy said was true: He cannot be half a gangster, no matter how hard he's tried. And more importantly, he knows that he’ll be best served by going underground, staying there, and using his smarts and political connections a bit more surreptitiously. Nucky can still be a gangster and a politician—he just can’t try to do so publically.

Just about everyone else wanted more than they had and struggled to get it as well. Margaret tried to raise awareness and improve women’s rights and she ended up miserable, pregnant, and alone. Owen wanted a life with Margaret but couldn’t let go of his half-assed loyalty to Nucky and ended up dead. Gyp wanted everything and ended up with nothing. In the aftermath of Jimmy’s death, you could almost say the same thing about Gillian, but at least she still has her life. Richard tried to build a family, only to realize he might not be the perfect choice to lead one. Van Alden wanted a life away from crime and booze and just got roped back in. Even those who ended up with something they really wanted—like Eli, who re-established a trust with his brother—are still left lacking. These characters are never satisfied and most of them are never, ever happy. But that drives them to keep making big choices, and it definitely makes for great television.


Notes


– The opening sequence, with the mayor answering questions about the rising violence in Atlantic City, was economical and entertaining, but full of some really terrible dialogue. The media laughing at the mayor when he said that he and not Nucky ran AC was a truly awful, cliché touch.

– It’s unclear how much trouble Rothstein is actually in for his connection to the distillery, and despite Mellon’s power, I can’t imagine the government can just make Rothstein go away if he'd never even visited the location.

– The part of the episode where Luciano got interrogated and gave up his supply, only to learn that Rothstein had a role in the whole set-up just to teach him a lesson about staying calm during a hectic time, was a bit busy and unclear. I know the episode was trying to misdirect us away from certain things, but I think I wrote down a bunch of question marks during that scene.

– Was anyone surprised about the low body count here? Gyp was the only major character who bit it, and after all the build-up, I would have guessed more “important” deaths. Related: Who do you think should have died? And you can’t say Margaret because you hate her for no reason.

– I’d just like to thank you guys for the comments, votes, RTs, and likes over the course of the season. This is the first show I’ve covered all the way through here at TV.com and I’ve really enjoyed it. Hope to see you back here in September 2013.



The final Gangster Power Rankings of Season 3


1. Nucky (previous rank: 3): How fitting, we end where we began: With Nucky on top. It’s been a long, tumultuous run, but for the first time in the show’s history, I think Nucky deserves this kind of respect.

2. Richard (previous rank: N/A): I guess that scene from last week with him unloading all the guns was worthy set-up, huh?

3. Tie: Chalky and Capone (previous ranks: 2 and N/A): Despite their issues, these two fan-favorite characters ultimately worked together to help Nucky. While their motivations are different and complicated, it was damn fun watching them interact and work together. More of this in the future please.

5. Margaret (previous rank: N/A): No way I’m finishing the season by leaving her out of the rankings. Yes, she’s alone and pregnant, but it takes some real stones to not be persuaded by Nucky and his money when she’s at that lowest point. Haters gonna hate.


Comments (68)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Feb 25, 2013
I really don't think we even need to talk about themes and metaphors and directing with this show. Sopranos is for contextual analysis, Breaking Bad is for metaphor-heavy directing, but Boardwalk is for just really, really amazing dialogue. All have their own place in art.
3
Reply
Flag
Feb 08, 2013
I hate Margaret. Whiny, dumb and annoying. In Season 2 she was sooo religious. In Season 3, a radical feminist. I wish she would be dead.
2
Reply
Flag
Feb 06, 2013
Isn't it obvious? Boardwalk is about the rise of organised crime, and Sopranos is about the decline.
3
Reply
Flag
Dec 24, 2012
Great finale to an average season, the Rothstein Lansky and Luciano relationship will deteriorate from henceforth and it is a nice setup for next season, i thought the distillery problem will still affect Nucky also as the secretary mentioned his name and Rothstein to the lawyer(cant remember her name), Gillian has paid her dues and should be killed off. its interesting to see where the show goes from here considering Nucky is on top as always and i will like to see more of Chuck and Capone next season.

PS: Killing Jimmy was a mistake as the show lacked in depth characters this season you care much about and with exception of Nucky, everyone is not given the much needed screen time to shine and the material should be improved for sound performances. And the only comparison BE has with The Sopranos is the gangster theme nothing els.

2
Reply
Flag
Dec 14, 2012
I noted that some viewers mentioned the difficulty they had in understanding the dialogue.
I have slight hearing difficulty (I'm 77yrs old) and must agree with their comments. I never fail to understand Nucky and suggest that he should give elocution lessons to the whole cast!
The sub-titles are the worst on TV and sometimes the words on the screen have no bearing on the scene being portrayed. Please convey these complaints to the producers.
4
Reply
Flag
Dec 10, 2012
When she wakes up suddenly, Margaret looks puzzled, pulls her hand out from under the covers and rubs blood between her fingers while she's still in bed. It's clear from the lighting in the scene and the sleeping children, that she is up earlier than usual. Then she goes to the bathroom. That means she was bleeding (we assume from an abortion), and hence not pregnant anymore, for those of you who did not understand that scene.
5
Reply
Flag
Dec 07, 2012
This season was as good as the first two IMHO.
I was a big fan of Jimmy and was a little annoyed and worried when he left.
3
Reply
Flag
Dec 06, 2012
great season closer, good review in general. Personal highlight was Richard going all ww1 in the mansion to rescue Jimmy's son.
6
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
how can Richard be a boss - he's the most moral character in the show, Nucky's character has grown so much in S03, less suits and more rolled up sleeves hold a gun please, I loved it when he loses his hearing, glad Owen bit it - didn't show enough cracks in him and could only understand about half what he said, loved Gyp's Nucky routineand his suits, and think Gillian reinforces common theme of the show - everyone's looking for an angle and generally shit scared, gotta keep Doyle, just love the way he says Nucky (nuk, nuk, nuk). Soprano's - micro organised crime, BWE - macro (historical evolution of) organised crime. jibber jibber
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Bit ironic though, isn't it, that you can't understand Owen with his beautiful Irish accent, but you understand the Italians with their bad grammar and their guttural noises just fine. "No disrespec or anyding".
4
Reply
Flag
Dec 06, 2012
Yeah, I'm puzzled by that comment on Owen's speech. I'm a non-native English speaker, and I could understand him crystal clear.
2
Reply
Flag
Feb 25, 2013
A lot of people have trouble understanding the northern Irish. I think it depends on your own accent. I live with a girl from Belfast and after a year, I still have trouble understanding what she's saying sometimes.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
One thing you have to remember is that some characters really CANT die. Ala pretty much Nucky, because he's the main character, and anyone based on a real life character (Lanksy, Rothstein, Capone, Bugsy (Lanksys annoying little henchman) ).

But to give you an answer, I really did wish Gillian had died. Like many with Margarette I do kind of just hate her for no reason. I know her whole talking to everyone and everything like they are a child and she is over playing her motherly know it all with a snide underbelly thing is riveting, but she has to go. I guess I forgot that she sort of drowned the Jimmy clone because I figure once Gyp plunged the needle into her she was done (and was half expecting her to start twitching on the bed from going into cardiac arrest).

Or, partially, I was hoping Richard would kill her (which I was anticipating from seeing the preview of him raiding the house with a lot of guns), say something witty like "hrrrm, see you later" (he doesn't have both eyes, get it?).
4
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 06, 2012
I thought Gillian was going to die, to be honest. Very interested to see what the show does with her.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
With, perhaps, one exception...the historical Rothstein actually dies in 1928, after he loses a high stakes poker game, refuses to pay up, and is later murdered in revenge for that. I do not know exactly where the timeline of the show is supposed to be at right now, but 1928 can't be more than 3 or 4 years away, and is therefore within the temporal scope of the show.
3
Reply
Flag
Feb 25, 2013
That's true. They said 2 years passed since the previous season, I believe, so I think we're already at around 1925 by the end of the season. Next season could conceivably see Capone and Lucky Luciano start to rise to power and Rothstein get killed.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
It's sad that you ignored the best story of the episode, AR, Lucky and Meyer. The scene with the three of them revealed a lot about their characters and their future on show.
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
I agree. There was nothing "rushed" about it, the reviewer just made a lot of "question marks during that scene", I think that is saying a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if the reviewer never heard anything about Luciano and his role in the organized crime later on. And the Mazzeria - Rothstein - Meyer-Lansky - Luciano constellation will take a larger part in the upcoming season.
2
Reply
Flag
Dec 08, 2012
I agree, the reviewer has said that he doesn't like Lucky and I think he doesn't pay attention to the NY scenes in part because of that. For me those are the best parts of the show (and the Chicago stuff) and I really hope the writers focus more on it next season. The scene was a little confusing for me the first through also, but rewatching it really showed how amazing all of the those characters and actors are.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 06, 2012
I'm vaguely aware of the real history there, but I'm not required to know to watch the show. This show is for everyone (theoretically) not just organized crime buffs, right? That scene WAS confusing, at least initially.
2
Reply
Flag
Dec 06, 2012
Yes it was initially confusing, who paid for what and who gets the H and stuff but it was supposed to be so but then it came around pretty nicely I think.And of course you don't need to be a buff to watch this show - in fact buffs are constantly irritated about Nucky and Eli Thompson. Even Richard Harrow existed but I didn't find anything about Nucky.
Reply
Flag
Feb 07, 2013
To Babylucas: THERE WAS A CHARACTER WITH A FACE PROSTHESIS, he was even involved in the Valentine's day massacre.You're welcome.
Flag
Feb 06, 2013
Richard Harrow is a made up character, what are you talking about? You didn't find anything on Enoch Thompson because he didn't exist, his character is loosely based off of the real-life treasurer of Atlantic City, Enoch JOHNson.
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
I don't think the opening was a cliche at all, it worked great with what happenned at the end of the episode. Nucky went from the well known man who runs AC to wanting and starting to be the quiet man behind the scenes.

I was at the edge of my seat at the Richard scene. I love that character as I do few others. I thought he was going to die I was chanting at the screen please don't die. Even when he went into Tommy's room I thought he was done for; he would sacrifice himself to save him, but no. I cheer and released an air of relief when it went down. Yet I felt truly sad at the prospect of what comes next after leaving Tommy with his "girl". I do hope hea sticks around and slowly builds up to be the man he wants I just felt sad at the prospect that maybe it will not happen.

I also screamed at Gillian last week when she said that sh*t to Rich. No one speaks to him that way, or at elast should. Not even Jimmy would allow it. So I hope Gillian rots.
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 06, 2012
I enjoyed the opening until the reporters cackled at the mayor. That was probably the worst thing that's ever happened on this show.
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Surprised there's not more love for the Masseria character 'u no got Nucky thompson'! Every scene he was in was riveting, revelation of the season we need more of him!
Great finale albeit a bit predictable and just fantastic production overall!
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
I totally agree. I really like Masseria. The character is played very well and I hope we see more of him next season.
Reply
Flag
Dec 06, 2012
I agree that he delivers it very well. There is not a great range to it , though..he basically delivers every line in the same tone and eye-balls the other guy in the same way every time. Again, most effective in the menace it conveys, but not a great range. Not like Rosetti who could switch it up.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Not much of a mention for Gillian's final scene. I know that her arc has been balls-crazy this season, but her slumped on the floor asking Nucky why that awful thing happened to her just shows what she really is: a broken human being trying to survive. This in no way excuses her behavior towards Richard and Tommy or her killing a Jimmy look-a-like, but it made me a little sympathetic towards her. She knows she lives in a world where no one ever gets a happy ending and the best thing you can do is to keep going. Her ways to achieve this might not be right, but you have to give her credit for surviving this long.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
I think it's disingenous for anyone to say Richard has the best gangster power, because he's pretty much the only player in the game who doesn't WANT the power -- he just wants to belong. The biggest bad-ass of the episode (and others), for sure, but not any kind of leader.

The actor who plays Capone did a very good job as well, and it's good to see his character getting more balsy.
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
"Who do you think should have died? And you can't say Margaret because you hate her for no reason."
And:
"Haters gonna hate."
Nice try Cory. You don't get me with that.
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
It was great watching Nucky and Eli walk through the house all mystified, staring at the carnage...Richard layed waste to that place!!! It was like watching an RPG game come to life.
4
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
-I would agree.

-Thats a valid point. Plus, he's the worlds biggest weasel, so we'll see...

-Rothstein is a little shit.... Ok, full disclosure I just saw MIB3, so I may have some extra unwarranted Rothstein hate. That movie was garbage covered in sprinkles..

-The guy w/ the squeaky voice. It's like Eli asked earlier in the season, how's he still alive?

-I do NOT hate Margaret for no reason. I have many reasons...
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Hey, I like Mickey and that infectious little giggle of his. I think it's actually kind of awesome that against all odds he's survived all this time. Someone likely should have put a bullet in his funny face by now but they haven't and he continues to kick ass as a result (well, except that part where he got a whole bunch of people killed by forcing the Tabor Heights route).
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
How is Mickey still alive? It's like he said to Eli, "I'm useful". Sorta useful.
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
I was very disappointed that Gillian did not die a long, slow, and painful death....I was hoping that Gyp would murder her, and Richard Harrow would murder Gyp....I thought Mickey Doyle would die.....I thought Margaret would die from her abortion....I hope Eddie Kessler recovers 100 %.....I also hope that Nucky hires Richard Harrow to replace Owen Slater for next season...
7
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
"I also hope that Nucky hires Richard Harrow to replace Owen Slater for next season..."

Hear, hear!
4
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
As you say, we don't know what Capone got in return for his help, but whatever it is, I bet that it will nicely explain how he is going to rise to the top in Chicago. The thing between him and Chalky: it was very entertaining of course how they squabbled yet ended up liking each other, but I also think that it is symbolic in the sense that both Capone and Chalky are two characters that will, in fact, get what they want (Chalky will get his club).

Richard's killing spree was superb, and only mildly diminished by the fact that Gillian (also getting to be a very annoying character!) wasn't caught in the crossfire (because she tried to kill a bed mate with needles - again). But you have to wonder what the hell Nucky and Eli thought they were doing, showing up at the whorehouse without any apparent backup? They couldn't know Richard was going to do them the favor of disposing of all the gangsters in it for them.

Hey Joe, how many guys you got now? Exactly? I think you got exactly 43 less than before!
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
It's very interesting how they balance history and fiction - it seems that characters won't die unless they did in real life, but the rest of the details of their existence are pretty free for interpretation. For that reason, I was pretty nervous that Capone was going to do some damage to Chalky White in their fist fight...
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Last night's episode re-solidified the as my favorite. I haven't liked Gyp since he appeared and have been waiting anxiously for his death. Maybe I have some strong bias against him after this years stint as an asshole on nurse Jackie, but I also feel like his Italian performance was the weakest on the show. Glad he and no one else major died. They killed off Jimmy. which to me -as Jimmy was my favorite on the show- was a near show killer. You point out some things as being cliche but think the show should kill off big characters for the sake of a strong finale? Lame.

Anyway, amazing finale. So strong Homeland felt laughable at times and for the second time I'm giving up the crapfest that is The Walking Dead altogether (quit like two minutes in).
3
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
I too was a huge Jimmy fan...and I had a hard time with the show for a lil while because I was so mad they killed him...yes I understood it, and it was done well and evoked much emotion..but still I miss Jimmy so much, and I wish it could have gone a different way.
However I must disagree with you on The Walking Dead, I love that show, and I enjoyed the finale. Yes there are problems with that show and things that annoy me but I can't help it..I'm invested.
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
This comment has been removed.
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
This comment has been removed.
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Brilliant. I love the whole series.
I missed what happened to Kessler after the kitchen table op...?
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
It would be a real gut punch if Kessler ends up dying after all that...
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
I'm sad Gyp bit the dust to be honest, he was my favourite character this season, he injected it with a bit of excitement, every scene with him was tense and exciting, Bobby Cannavale did a fantastic job and his line "How can you lose if you never had anything?" was perfect.

Also, I thought Richards killing spree was a bit Hollywood, I know he's a soldier but could he really clear out a mansion full of gangsters? surely someone would get a shot at him.

If someone else should have died it should have been Gillian, she is no longer the woman she used to be, she has nothing left, she would be better off dead.

This was a really good tense episode (It was bloodier than the walking dead) but I'm just a bit disappointed my favourite character gets killed in the season finale yet again.
2
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Oh, and am I the only one that found Gyp's impression of Nucky hilarious?
6
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
I agree, that was probably one of the best season finale's ever. It definitly had a big payoff for a slow start. I thought Gyp was a good bad guy to hate and really kind of wished Richard had been the one to do him in. The scene where Richard eliminates everyone in the mansion was pretty awesome. I can't wait to see where we go from here. Great episode! Good Season.
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Wow, just wow. Now that's how you make a great episode of television. First of all, I'd like to applaud the way that season three's finale balanced out giving us what we wanted, while also being sure to stir the pot a little in unexpected ways. There were several things that the show did that were pretty predictable: Gyp was killed off, Richard was a total badass, and Nucky rose to the top. Cory, I completely agree that the Gyp of old would have been a wonderful character to keep around, but that by the end of the season he was way too crazy to let live. I will take it a step further and say that he ensured his death by killing his second-in-command's cousin. If you want to stay in power, don't ever kill your right-hand-man's relative and then say that they owe you, let you've done them a favor. It is for this reason, as well as the one brought up by Dayman90, that it wasn't surprising who killed Gyp. I was a little surprised that he got stabbed though, since I assumed he would be shot in the back of the head like everyone else. Though since Gyp used a knife to kill someone in the beginning of the episode, it seemed fitting, and it also made for a very good sequence.

The one complaint, which isn't really a complaint, I have about the episode is the ambiguity of some of the storylines. For instance, considering that Luciano was arrested in the last episode, Rothstein could not have set that play in motion with the intention of making a deal with Masseria, which he only knew he would need to do in this episode. So that leaves us with two possibilities. Either Rothstein set Luciano up from the beginning because he wanted in on the coke trade after all/wanted to put Luciano in his place, or after he knew he had to make a deal with Masseria he found out from his police contacts that Luciano was in custody and used to situation to his advantage. While both of these possibility are perfectly fine and valid, neither of them were really hinted at in the scene were Rothstein revealed what he had done, and that just leads us to wonder what happened. This review also brought up the fact that it was never explained why Capone agreed to join up with Nucky in the first place; all they said at the end of last episode is that they "made a deal." I think it's pretty obvious that, in exchange for his assistance in a time of need, Capone and his men will be given a very good deal once the alcohol shipments are up and running again. And since Rothstein is no longer Nucky's partner, Capone will probably take that place. However, something as big as fighting another man's war with the assistance of you and your own men usually deserves a discussion in which both parties are very clear and what the price will be for these services. Normally on this show, this is a conversation that we would see, or at least that would be mentioned in brief dialogue. But again, I don't really have a complaint about the ambiguity in this episode, because the time that wan't spent on relaying the details of these arrangements was spent on scenes of violence and badassery. And I'm sure that next season's premiere will answer all these questions, or at least the ones that matter.

In my comment of last episode's review, I said that the problem the show currently faced is that it had simply too many characters and that people needed to start dying. Too a certain extent, this episode was a bloodbath. However, the only main character that was killed off was Gyp, which means that only two main characters died this season (Owen being the other one). While I think at least one more should have died, enough of the guest characters were taken out of the picture, so it should all be good. This of course depends on whether or not being arrested leads to characters leaving the show. In the past two seasons, the finale has featured a Godfather-like scene where many of the seasons recurring characters are killed off in a lovely montage. However, this finale had a full-on gang war, in which mostly foot soldiers were killed. In fact, most of the "body count" of recurring characters was due to them being arrested (Harry and Reamus). But again, this doesn't mean they've left the show. I just hope that next season the show spends more time with it's starring characters, and less time introducing more and more characters faster than other characters are killed off or removed.
More+
2
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
glad to see that this episode and season (in retrosprect) are widely appreciated... I loved the season from the start and will also state once again that I absolutely love margaret, even though I'm repeating myself here (but someone's gonna stand up against the haters :D great to see cory, whose reviews I also very much enjoyed, is doing the same^^) like I've said before, BE is a slow developing show, I enjoyed every single second and therefore I can't help but feel weirdly satisfied to read all the praise now (it's sort of like a sympathetic "told ya!" vibe, I'm genuinely enjoying everybody else also being happy with the episode and hopefully season) :D
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
I thought this was a great end to a pretty terrific season. What I appreciated the most was the blend of character growth and storyline growth this season. Episodes like the Easter one or the one after Nucky almost dies in the explosion helped make everything feel more earned at the end of the season and for that I felt this season was very strong. The plan Nucky came up with screwing over Rothstein and Masseria was brilliant and great writing. The Richard scene was everything I hoped for and more. I'm not yet giving up hope on his life with Tommy and his true love hopefully we see more compelling moments with Richard next season because the character is one of my all time favorites in television. I liked that Gyp was killed by his number one guy but felt the death could have been a bit more shocking. I knew it was coming when we saw him in the closet then magically on the beach. I had hoped Gillian would die but maybe the heroin shot will bring her down a few notches. All in all a great final for a great season. Can't wait for next year.
3
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Ok besides Richard who is everyone's favorite now, I liked that Eli has become humble and loyal to Nucky and I liked Capone and Chalky's little smile at the end of their fight, hope a new friendship starts. I would watch that show, Chalpone's adventures. Gyp and Gillian got what they deserved. Although I would have been more surprised if they'd let Gyp live. Next season should def be Van Alden working for Capone and being bad.ass.
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
Letting Gyp live to me would be like allowing a rabid animal to continue roaming around..
Reply
Flag
Dec 04, 2012
still, his ending was determined from the moment he came in this show. i would've liked a bit more surprising end for him, the screaming at the beach and stuff was just ok plz kill me already. or a fistfight with van alden/capone/richard or something, at least SOMETHING more interesting.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Agreed that his death was rather anti-climactic... I too thought they could have come up with something more original, I was rather disappointed in the way in which he was killed.
Reply
Flag
Dec 05, 2012
Agree w/ you both.
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
A truly superb episode. The final scene of Nucky walking the boardwalk he had just reclaimed was a beautiful way to end the season.

As he watches the tide coming in, an inquisitive passerby asks if he is Nucky Thompson. He is met with a dead gaze. Nucky turns his back to the ocean, stares down in disdain at the oft worn red carnation adorning his lapel, and drops it to his feet. He then lights a cigarette and wades back into the crowd.

What a consummate symbolization of Nucky's transformation. He no longer has one foot in the water and one foot in the sand. He IS a gangster. Adversaries beware.

The Empire has just begun.
8
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
I have to admit, I did the slow clap when Nucky delivered Rothstein right into the DoJ's hands.

"Big bait catches big rat."
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
When Gillian was black-tar Heroin'd out talking to Nucky... was she talking about when the Commodore raped her?
More importantly... FTW Richard - he was playing real life Call of Duty Black Ops 2 complete with quick sniping head shots.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 03, 2012
That was my impression, yeah.
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
The blood on her hand and trip to the bathroom does seem to indicate no more pregnancy.
1
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
Safe to assume that Margaret had an abortion??....Although I really hope she didn't....
Richard Harrow ftw!!!!! No more BwE for 10 months...:(
Reply
Flag
Dec 03, 2012
I know! why wouldn't she want Owen's love-child, it's not as if she wants Nucky back. But then again, BECAUSE she doesn't want Nucky back, she has no money to take care of a kid I guess.
Reply
Flag
Dec 07, 2012
i know righttt!! something of owen's needs to remain :( but yeahh if she doesn't want to depend on Nucky..she's in no position to support another baby :(
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 03, 2012
I voted for someone else: John Barrowman's character on Arrow. He's clearly immortal and as such, is waiting in the wings to take down everyone on Boardwalk Empire before he moves onto Starling City.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Dec 03, 2012
trollllllll.
5
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook