Boardwalk Empire – Farewell Daddy Blues
Season Four: Episode Twelve (Season Finale)
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Written by: Terence Winter and Howard Korder
The Spin: The title of the fourth season finale may have been “Farewell Daddy Blues” (and Daughter Maitland blesses us with down-and-out moody blues over the signature closing montage) but “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” could’ve easily been an alternate title. If the penultimate episode was a prime example of tight focus on just a few characters, the finale proved how effortlessly Winter and Korder are able to pack so much into a single hour, and how unpredictable their Empire can be. This hour was a doozy.
Nucky, not surprisingly, as it turns out, was playing everyone and setting himself up for a sweet getaway to Cuba with the saucy Sally. The power-house fed-infested meeting was all a rouse to burn out that rat Eli, and Nucky was ready to pull a Jimmy before Willy boy interrupted the fraternal justice. Always the wily one, Nucky steps back from the situation to reassess, and after Eli delivers awkward bloody revenge against Agent Knox, Nucky sends his brother out west to a Chicago Empire now ruled by Capone after a botched attempt to take out a still kicking, but no longer fit to rule, Torrio. When the Muller formerly known as Agent Van Alden pulls up in the car to pick up Eli, it’s a pleasing irony and hopefully foreshadowing of some bat-shit shenanigans in season five. The new mess keeps him from Sally, while old muse Margaret moves into shiny new digs thanks to Rothstein.
Meanwhile, Nucky was also playing Narcisse, setting him up for a last hurrah at the Onyx Club after hiring Harrow (who just sent his new family off to Wisconsin to live with his sister), who owed Nucky a debt after Nuck anonymously tipped off the local police about the location of Jimmy’s body which in turn secured the conviction of Gillian. But old Harrow gets the shakes and as Narcisse is trying to play Chalky by using Chalky’s daughter as a pawn, he misses a beat and instead of taking out Narcisse shoots the innocent girl. In come the feds to handcuff Narcisse’s gang while Harrow gets shot in the melee and is left to wander underneath the boardwalk and only dream of a reunion with the ones he loves. If ever there were a more surprising and sad turn of events in the series, I dare you to name it. Harrow’s body slumped against a beam in the sand as the dawn-lit surf rolls in is the most bittersweet montage moment Winter and Korder hath ever wrought.
Then there’s Chalky, shell-shocked back in Havre de Grace with no grace or daughter (or Daughter) to be found.
And who would’ve thought Narcisse would end up sitting in a cell face to face with Hoover, who wants to use him as a pawn against Marcus Garvey!
Meanwhile, Sally is still alone in Tampa.
No one is left satisfied (except in some round about way Capone and Hoover, and well, presumably for the short-term Margaret).
But one thing for sure, the writers and cast aced this epic cliffhanger.
Saddest Moment: When you realize you’re inside Harrow’s head as Daughter’s song comes to a close on the soundtrack and that inviting porch with his sister, her baby, Tommy, Julia and her father is but a glimpse of the heaven he’ll never make it to.
Wait Until Next Season: What kind of trouble are Eli and Muller going to get into? Will there be a Narcisse infiltrating Garvey’s world plotline? Will Chalky ever have his day? What’s up with Rothstein and Margaret? Will Nucky and Sally be pulled closer or farther apart? Will Will become a loose cannon like his pops now that his image of Nucky is tarnished?
Commentary by David H. Schleicher
To my readers and Boardwalk strollers: Thoughts, reactions, comments?