Boardwalk Empire: Eldorado (Series Finale)

Boardwalk Empire Blank Opening Title Card

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Eldorado

Season Five: Episode Eight (Series Finale)

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Howard Korder & Terence Winter

The Spin:

AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS:

Did anyone following the season’s arc really doubt it would end this way?  Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) may have made the claim to Nucky that “there is still graciousness in this world,” but like any great anti-hero tragedy…there is more likely justice.  And there are the damned and the damned.

And justice was served in the series finale.  Capone (Stephen Graham), who just when he was becoming a painful caricature yet again, has a heartfelt moment with his deaf son (yet again) and then laps up the limelight of his tax-evasion trial while tipping his hat in gentlemanly fashion to the fed that successfully infiltrated his gang.  Real men (even royal scumbags) know when to fight and know when they’re beat.

Meanwhile, Luciano (Vincent Piazza) is sitting comfortably atop his throne and orders a righteous hit on that vile piece of sweet talking human excrement Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), who finally gets what he deserves.  And in front of his blind blubbering followers, in public!  Oh, what sweet justice the lord hath wrought!

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Boardwalk Empire: Golden Days for Boys and Girls (Season Five Premiere)

Boardwalk Empire - 5.1

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Golden Days for Boys and Girls

Season Five: Episode One

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Howard Korder

The Spin:  The final season opens with the haunting Gretchen Mol reading a voice-over from the children’s periodical “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” where she’s seemingly telling the young lads we see diving into ocean after coins, “Be honest and true boys!  Whatever you do boys, let this be your motto through life.”  A moving flashback to Nucky’s hardscrabble childhood in 1884 Atlantic City (which was merely a pier and one Corner Hotel on a tiny boardwalk) is expertly interwoven into a flash forward to 1931, where will the help of the effervescent and ever-saucy Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette, all bosoms and moxy), the Nuckster has become Our Man in Havana, using a screwy senator as his pawn to talk a Rum King into hatching a deal to get Bacardi into the States as soon as Prohibition is inevitably repealed.  But trouble always seems to find our anti-hero, and Havana might be too hot to handle for the aging kingpin, who for the first time in his life is placing his biggest bet on a legal operation. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Farewell Daddy Blues

Boardwalk Empire - Jack Huston Farewell

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

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.

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Boardwalk Empire: The Old Ship of Zion

Dunn dunn dunn....

Dunn dunn dunn….

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – The Old Ship of Zion

Season Four: Episode Eight

Directed by: Tim Van Patten

Written by: Christine Chambers, Howard Korder and Terence Winter

The Spin:  Sally (Patricia Arquette) surprises Nucky by arriving in AC along with the first shipment of booze from Tampa, but Nucky is still too busy trying patch things up between Eli (Shea Whigham) and his son Willie (Ben Rosenfield).  What he doesn’t realize, though, is that Agent Fox (Brian Geraghty) has been clued into the mysterious nature of Willie’s schoolmate’s death and how his roommate got charged with the murder.  Thus he visits the poor kid in the slammer and gets the real scoop.  This allows Fox to brazenly approach Eli with an ultimatum.

But the really interesting action this evening was the Chalky vs. Narcisse plotline, which got even hotter and heavier.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Erlkonig

One week you're having a blast with "Bottles" Capone...next week you're....

One week you’re having a blast with “Bottles” Capone…next week you’re….

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Erlkonig

Season Four: Episode Five

Directed by: Tim Van Patten

Written by: Howard Korder

The Spin:  Betrayal, dishonor, broken families and broken hearts were the themes of tonight’s richly composed Korder penned episode.  As one of the empire’s dearest characters sang his swan song, Van Patten directed with a heavy Coen-esque pall in one of the most hauntingly photographed hours in the series history.

Eli’s dumb son plotline finely blossomed into something of substance, as Willie is brought in for questioning regarding his schoolmate’s gruesome poisoning and reaches out to Uncle Nucky in his time of need.  The Nuckster, always calm under stress, crafts a deal with the DA that involves Willie selling his innocent roommate down the river.  He ends up with a sweet crying gal in his arms, but he couldn’t be more torn up on the inside as he realizes the life he wanted is full of heartache, lies, death and an Uncle who will always be calling the shots.

Meanwhile, Gillian (Gretchen Mol – once again signing a letter to the Emmy voters – I mean, seriously, how has she not been nominated yet?) reaches rock bottom with her dope addiction as the Tommy custody case seems to be coming to a close and is not going her way.  Mol imbues so much nuance and nerve into her performance, you actually find yourself feeling sorry for Gillian, as if the poor girl after all she has been through can’t help herself…could never help herself…and Piggly Wiggly Roy (Ron Livingston) asks her a dangerous question in his sincere play to take care of her and help her find redemption.  But oh boy, Roy, I don’t know what you’re going to do if she ever tells you all the horrible things she’s done. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: New York Sour (Season Four Premiere)

Thank god for Harrow.

Thank god for Harrow.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – New York Sour

Season Four: Episode One

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter, Howard Korder

The Spin:  The theme of the evening was deception: people pretending to be what they are not, or pretending to work the system better than the next person, when in fact they’re setting themselves up for their own comeuppance.

It’s the dead of winter, 1924, and Nucky is making peace with Masseria and Rothstein when Eddie Cantor introduces him to the next pretty gal, who turns out to be no Billie Kent, at Chalky’s hot new Onyx club.  Meanwhile, Gillian is embroiled in a custody battle with the Sagorskys over Tommy and pretending to sell her now empty manor when in fact she’s selling herself all doped up.  Back in Cicero, Al Capone is busy making a name for himself.

This curiously disjointed season premiere spent far too much time on a brutish subplot involving Chalky’s right-hand man getting into quite a mess with a sleazy talent agent and his slinky, kinky wife, though that wasn’t the worst of things tonight.  There was also a painfully dull cliché of a plotline involving Eli’s eldest college-age son mawkishly wanting to learn “the family business.”

I was ready to give up on the sour hour if it weren’t for the as-yet-to-be-explained cross country-killing spree of last year’s best character – Harrow – as he made his way in the last scene (SPOILER ALERT)…home…and to his estranged sister. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Margate Sands

Boardwalk Empire 3.12

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

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… Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: The Pony

This is the girl.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – The Pony

Season Three: Episode Eight

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter & Howard Korder

The Spin:  It was an hour of new alliances made, chapters coming to a close and pawns being put in their place as series creator Terence Winter colluded with the series’ best writer Korder to coauthor an explosive episode where an act of fiery terrorism brought destruction to the boardwalk (and poor Babette’s!) while in real life the modern day Atlantic City licks its wounds from Hurricane Sandy.  And wouldya look at that, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has become the greatest pawnbroker:  her mock-Jimmy funeral brought her ownership of the whorehouse, she kicked Luciano to the curb as a partner, she came to verbal blows with Nucky (revealing that she’s not delusional and is fully aware of his part in the real Jimmy’s death), and then invited Gyp (Bobby Cannavale) into her lioness’ den to give him a tasty bit of information about where Nucky and Rothstein would be cavorting on a certain evening (hint: there’s only one supper club in town).

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Boardwalk Empire: You’d Be Surprised

No wonder Margaret dreamed of flying away in the season premiere.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – You’d Be Surprised

Season Three: Episode Five

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

The Spin:  If last week’s episode was meant to show the softer side to these tough guys, tonight’s episode existed to remind us of the deep-seeded depravity of the male characters as manifested through their misogyny and repeated degradation, oppression and violence against women.  Out in Cicero, the Muller formerly known as Van Alden (Michael Shannon), can try as he might to be a simple family man, but his violent past is infecting his sweet Swedish wife’s emotional well-being, leading to a shocking turn of events that has Muller running back to the Irish mob-run flower shop.  Back in AC, Poor Gillian (Gretchen Mol) still can’t come to terms with Jimmy’s fate and refuses to have him declared dead – the only action that will leave her with any title or credit to fix-up her house of ill repute in ill repair.  Nuckster, meanwhile reeling from a breakup with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) over the incompetence of the Jersey operation, can’t help but meddle in Billie’s career, desiring to control her destiny even while he tells his wife, Margaret (who learns tonight of the affair), that the young lady seems more than capable of taking care of herself.  Then there’s Gyp (Bobby Cannavale – revealing way too much tonight), taking the cake for most disturbing fetish (a title previously held by Van Alden), making a new deal with Rothstein that leads to a bloodbath leaving a nameless red-headed waitress naked and dead.  And all of this makes what had been Margaret’s previously boring story-arc concerning the opening of a women’s clinic finally carry some weight.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Resolution (Season Three Premiere)

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk Empire – Resolution

Season Three: Episode One

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Terence Winter

The Spin:  Everything was just so in the comfortably familiar premiere of Season Three – Van Patten’s sure-handed direction, the infectious flapper-ness of the period music, all the players from last season in their place and Nucky’s new persona as gangster-totalis.  A year and half may have passed, but Harrow (Jack Huston) is still all brokenhearted over Angela’s murder while playing protector to little Tommy.  Meanwhile, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has turned the Commodore’s former digs into an upscale brothel.  In Nucky’s inner sanctum, my favorite character from last year, Manny the Butcher (William Forsythe) is now a partner while Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) has her pretty little panties in a bunch over the lack of pre-natal care at the hospital she’s been spilling a carload of Nucky’s money into.  Out in the Midwest, Capone is trying to keep his temper in check while Van Alden (Michael Shannon) has taken up a sad new life as Mr. Muller the travelling salesman only to serendipitously walk into a flower shop owned by Capone’s competitor.  Continue reading