Monday, December 12, 2011

Boardwalk Empire – To the Lost

If the creators of Boardwalk Empire were looking to end the season with a bang, they certainly succeeded. In fact, there were many “bangs” throughout the episode. The bloodshed that had been mostly absent for the last two weeks returned in a big way tonight. In fact, two people were murdered in the first minute of the show. Of course, the murders that took place in this episode were all a means to an end, as Nucky took back Atlantic City.

At the beginning of the episode, Horowitz declares that Nucky should not be as revered as he is. That he would “be nothing” in Odessa, which he considers a city of crooks. How wrong Horowitz turns out to be! The season finale certainly showed that Nucky will stop at nothing to save his own skin, and whoever crosses him is going to meet an untimely end. Nothing is sacred to him, not loyalty, not love, not even family.

First, he creates his new family by convincing Margaret to marry him, then he makes amends with his actual family by pulling Eli back under his wing. But THEN he destroys Jimmy’s struggling family (and his own humanity, I think) by killing Jimmy. Despite the fact that Jimmy was a flawed, murderous character, I was extremely disappointed to see him go. I can’t see how future seasons will play out without him. We are left to ponder the future of the next closest person to Nucky— Margaret.

At the beginning of the episode, I was starting to worry that Margaret was losing her edge. She agrees to marry Nucky, knowing that he is probably playing her, and she seems indifferent to the fact that he has a star witness in his trial murdered. She was starting to play out like a Carmela Soprano-like character, complicit in Nucky’s dealings and always at the ready to look the other way to ensure her own comfort and survival.

 Margaret, bless her, actually comes out as the master of deception. With all Nucky pulled off in this finale, he has nothing on her. He may be reassured now that she’s his wife, but he will find out next season that he has met his match. Don’t mess with a suffrage woman! Hopefully, he doesn’t try to kill her as well when he finds out that she’s signed his deed to prime New Jersey highway land over to the church. It’s not clear what her ultimate plan is, and it will be a long wait until next season to find out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Boardwalk Empire – Under God’s Power She Flourishes

Each character in this series is painfully corrupt. Some were corrupt at the start of the series, and others we’ve seen become more so from week to week. Can any of them be saved? Or in Nucky’s case, does he even care to be?

Margaret sees how corrupt she’s become, and has been trying to get right with God. She truly believes that God is holding her accountable for her sins. First by giving her daughter polio, and now by making sure she answers in court for allowing Nucky to order her abusive husband killed. On top of all of this, the maid overhears Nucky’s bodyguard flirting with her, so now she fears she will be called to task for cheating on Nucky. She’s been trying so hard to be a woman of God since her daughter got sick, but you can see by the expression on her face that she thinks it is too late. Nucky is no comfort to her, because he is pretty content with his “moral” code.

Nelson, altered by the birth of his daughter, has been cooperating with the federal prosecutor on Nucky’s case and sticking to the straight and narrow this season. He even turned down a bribe from bootleggers this week. Unfortunately, his past transgressions have come home to roost. I had almost forgotten that he drowned Agent Sebso last season. Now that Nucky’s lawyer and the federal prosecutor know about this, Nelson is an uncredible witness, and Nucky may not have to face a trial. This would pave the way for Nucky to take back Atlantic City, and just in the nick of time, because Jimmy is not doing so hot since his wife’s murder.

My favorite part of this episode was the flashback to Jimmy’s time at college. It was compelling to see this character in his more innocent days, enjoying a budding romance with Angela and flourishing in college. (Note the scene where he is discussing John Webster’s play “The White Devil” in English class, it’s no coincidence that the theme of the play is corruption.) Everything is hunky-dory until his mother Gillian comes to visit. It’s then that his life begins to unravel. First, he finds out that Angela is pregnant. Then, he is forced to deal with the repercussions of his mother’s visit and the affect she had on his college professor…and ultimately Jimmy himself when Gillian seduces him. This was obviously the turning point for our dear Jimmy. He promptly joins the service to escape his mother, and his service in the war turns him into the cold-blooded killer he is now. Angela’s murder brings all of these unsavory memories back to the surface for Jimmy. While in the middle of throttling his mother for ruining his life, he is attacked by his father. This family tiff culminates in Jimmy murdering his father in self defense…and at his mother’s urging. How Oedipal!

Next week is the season finale. Though it’s hard to imagine these characters becoming worse people than they already are, I don’t imagine they’ll all sit down to a nice family dinner together, either. Either way, I’m interested to see how it all plays out. Until next Sunday….