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: Friendless Child

Boardwalk Empire 5.7

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Friendless Child

Season Five: Episode Seven

Directed by:  Allen Coulter

Written by:  Howard Korder, Christine Chambers and Riccardo DiLoreto

The Spin:  Coulter masterminded his best Scorsese impression, harkening back to the style of the Marty helmed pilot, with montages and narration and a tick-tock-gun-shot-gavel-pounding score accentuating this written-by-committee penultimate episode.  It was a refreshing and impressive piece of workmanship coming off the jaw-dropping events of the previous episode and the scattershot nature of the season prior to this.

AS ALWAYS, BEWARE OF SPOILERS:  The gang war between Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Nucky reaches a fever pitch that results in the nabbing of Ben Siegel (Michael Zegan) as a bargaining chip.  Luciano one-ups Nucky, however, by nabbing Eli’s eldest son (Ben Rosenfield) in return.  Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Cuanto

Boardwalk Empire 5.4

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire – Cuanto

Season Five: Episode Four

Directed by:  Jake Paltrow

Written by:  Christine Chambers, Howard Korder and Terence Winter

The Spin:  There’s been a melancholic pall hanging over Boardwalk Empire’s fifth season.  Yes, it’s the last, which is sad enough alone, but it’s also strangely fitting that in the real world the actual current Atlantic City is on a generational decline with the closing of multiple casinos (most notably the lavish Revel) and nothing seeming to go the city’s way.  Watching the flashbacks to “The Education of Nucky Thompson” where the city was but one resort and a modest boardwalk before the turn of the 20th century reminds those localized to its current perils just how far the city has come and how long the way down is (I fear in the real world we ain’t seen nothing yet about how down and out AC can get).  You see this mirrored in the lethargy of 1930’s Nucky, a man who’s gonna have to wake up.  And could Capone’s warning call to Nucky about Luciano’s insinuation that the Italians should cut out Nucky from their empire at the end of tonight’s episode be that wake up call?  Nucky is a man who’s come so far (from Dickensian beginnings so painstakingly tailored in the flashbacks) and runs the risk of falling ever harder.

The episode oozed a calming dread in almost every scene.

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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: Belle Femme

Tres belle.

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireBelle Femme

Season One: Episode Nine

Directed by:  Brad Anderson

Written by:  Steve Kornacki and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The SpinTranssiberian and The Machinist helmer Brad Anderson directs this taut episode with great restraint and the best pacing since Scorsese’s pilot.   Fresh from Chicago, Jimmy tries to reestablish his family life much to his little lady’s dismay.  When he tries to pull a number on Lucky Luciano with Momma’s help, that crafty Van Alden spoils the party by bringing him in on murder charges for the Hamilton Massacre.  But what Van Alden doesn’t realize is that his number two is in cahoots with Nucky, and he does his own number on their star witness against Jimmy.  Meanwhile, as Nucky sets his sights on fixing the local elections, Margaret does her own bit of politicking.  All of this leads up to a shocking denouement on the boardwalk, brilliantly pulled-off by Anderson’s slow-build.  This pretty lady of an episode was an absolute knock-out. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Family Limitation

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireFamily Limitation

Season One: Episode Six

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten

Written by:  Howard Korder and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The Spin:  Van Patten & Korder upped the sex, violence and general weirdness in this episode which might draw the line in the sand where some of the curious being strummed along now drop off and those hooked stay on for the long haul.  Keeping with the theme of female empowerment, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) makes a conscious choice to become a “kept woman” only to have Nucky (Steve Buscemi) break her heart yet again, while he bemoans about trying to be good.  Meanwhile, in Chicago…Jimmy (Michael Pitt) wraps up his revenge in a shocking play for control of the Greek line in the name of Torio’s gang. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Anastasia

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireAnastasia

Season One: Episode Four

Directed by:  Jeremy Podeswa

Written by:  Lawrence Konner, Margaret Nagle and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The Spin:  How empowering it is to see a show where many of the writers also serve as executive producers!  While director Podeswa takes a cue from Scorsese and fills this amazingly layered and poetic episode with wall to wall period music, the writers (most notably, I am to assume, Nagle – who also penned Episode Three) settle into their groove.  Woven into this compelling hour are national politics, women’s rights vs. violence against women, race relations, romances, jealousies, turf wars and a wonderful “time capsule” of a frame story involving Princess Anastasia.  There is so much to admire in this episode, but it clearly belongs to the women from writer/producer Nagle, to stars Kelly MacDonald and Gretchen Mol to Emily Meade as the kind-hearted hooker Pearl.  Last week the focus was on dark humor, which rightfully leads to a quietly aching sadness in tonight’s affairs – as if reality is now staring the audience and the characters in the face.  If the writers keep this up…we’re looking at a show to rival Mad Men. Continue reading

Boardwalk Empire: Broadway Limited

Boardwalk Empire: Complete Episode Guide 

Boardwalk EmpireBroadway Limited

Season One: Episode Three

Directed by:  Tim Van Patten 

Written by:  Margaret Nagle and Terence Winter (series creator) from the novel by Nelson Johnson

The Spin:  Between bits of period-piece exploitation (check out that barbaric cure for an STD and that interrogation/torture scene in a dentist chair) there were some greater glimpses into the domestic lives of the main characters.  Only time will tell if the “ensemble” back-and-forth structure of the narrative will continue or if we will soon see Sopranos-esque stand-alone episodes focusing on a single character.  There was also plenty of plot development as Jimmy (Michael Pitt) decided to shuffle off to Chicago after being kicked-when-he’s-down by former mentor Nucky (Steve Buscemi), and in the process leaving his lovely fiance (Aleska Palladino) and young son in AC.  Meanwhile, a local turf war seems primed to break-out between The Pollock Doyle (Paul Sparks) — with the help of his Italian friends — and Nucky’s Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) gang for control of “mixing” and distributing the hooch.  Continue reading