Boardwalk Empire – Margate Sands
Season Three: Episode Twelve (Season Finale)
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Written by: Terence Winter & Howard Korder
The Spin: Well, the third season went off in grand style with a suspense and violence-riddled hour mixed with quiet manly heartbreak as the brains of the show – Nucky (Steve Buscemi) – and the heart of the show – Harrow (Jack Huston) – closed off their story arcs in classic style. Van Patten opened with another signature montage detailing the war on the streets of Atlantic City between Rosetti’s gang and Nucky’s thugs-for-hire that the whole season has been building to. Meanwhile the mechanization of the plot became more twisted than a flapper’s dress in a cyclone, and to try to recap who double-crossed who would leave me with mental whiplash. Suffice it to say, Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) appeared to be holding all the cards, until at the very last-minute…
…when Nucky pulled the Mellon (James Cromwell) card and had his old gal-pal Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) tipped off about Rothstein’s new ownership of the former Mellon distillery. Meanwhile, Masseria (Ivo Nandi) gets left with a smaller portion of his own heroin bizz though otherwise unscathed and Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) is left with his “uh-hum” twisting over the Margate sand only to get stabbed in the back – literally. As for the ladies, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) gets a taste of her own poison but makes it out alive (and even more emotionally unstable) while Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) makes some difficult choices about her pregnancy and status as a kept woman.
Composed and business-like, Nucky asks his estranged betrothed to at the very least take the billfold he offers…for the children…while she makes her decision about coming back to him or not. “It’s just money…it means nothing,” he tells her. “Yes it does,” she says while she calmly closes the door on him.
Indeed…and at the end of the episode, Nucky is alone and bitter on the boardwalk, with his money and power restored but not even wanting to answer to his own name.
Most Heartwrenching Scene: After the righteous bloodbath at the Artemis club where Harrow takes out just about everyone there, culminating in an insanely tense standoff where he rescues Tommy, he delivers the boy safely to Julia’s only to walk away from his chance at a family life, bloodied, damaged and alone.
Wait Until Next Season: Seriously what the heck was up with the Van Alden storyline this season? He just dropped off the face of the map…yet you know Capone has him in the thick of it. How’s that going to play out next year? Is Esther going to get Rothstein?
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?