Last night brought the season finale of “Boardwalk Empire.” It just happened to be the best episode so far. Secrets were revealed, alliances were broken, and of course, people were killed. A lot of loose threads were addressed but we were left with enough questions to make next season a must-see.

Read the review to see what we thought…

The Players:

  • Director: Timothy Van Patten
  • Writer: Terence Winter
  • Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Michael Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Shea Whigham

Episode Title: “A Return to Normalcy”

The “war” between Nucky and Arnold Rothstein comes to a close when Nucky’s political influence becomes valuable to Rothstein. Margaret wrestles with her feelings towards Nucky and comes to understand him better when he tells her about the death of his wife and infant son. The upcoming election is on everyone’s mind. As Jimmy spends more time with his father, he comes to realize that Nucky may not be the friend he would like to believe he is.

The Good:

  • Massacre: The remaining D’Alessio brothers get, ahem, “disposed of” by Richard Harrow (who is shaping up to be a chilling murderer, even if he is essentially a stock character), Al and Jimmy in a sequence that is ripped straight from The Godfather. Luckily, director Timothy Van Patten at least knows that a rip-off can be elevated to the status of homage if executed with enough skill, and boy does he deliver. The scene of Nucky playing the politics game at a press conference intercut with images of murky mob violence is just perfect.
  • Speaking of politics: This series has dealt with the unfortunate combination of politics and organized crime before but the two were never tied together quite as tightly as they were in this episode. It’s true, some of America’s leaders have been elected with a little bit of help from the mob, but the two worlds are arely joined together on film except in minor bits of dialogue. “Boardwalk Empire” has brought this reality front and center.
  • Nucky’s pain: All crime dramas ask the audience to sympathize with essentially horrible characters. We’re all human and we make mistakes, but murder is murder and it’s generally frowned upon. Still, when Nucky reflects on the passing of his child, we get a glimpse at his humanity. He’s been miserable all season; now we know why.
  • Jimmy’s pain, too: Jimmy went to war. He’s been fairly one-note all season (something you can get away with if it happens to be a good note), but seeing him confess his love to his wife was almost touching. We get a real sense of the wounded and terrified soul beneath his cold exterior.
  • See ya next season: The creative team behind “Boardwalk Empire” made sure that viewers will tune in next season by setting up some interesting dramatic possibilities. We already know that Jimmy’s feelings towards Nucky are starting to shift, and it looks as though he’s not alone in that. A major character in Nucky’s life seems to be plotting against him and as an audience we’re more or less teased; we don’t know whatexactly the plan is, but dammit, we want to find out.

The So-So:

  • About Agent Sepso: The fate of Agent Sepso is glossed over a little too easily. Van Alden calls it a heart-attack and no one seems to imagine otherwise. Certainly a doctor might want to weigh in with an opinion, but no, it looks like everyone is taking him at his word.
  • Margaret: The limits of fitting all the characters into one hour long episode mean that Margaret Schroeder ends up appearing more fickle than a preteen girl who can’t choose between Team Edward or Team Jacob. Girl just can’t make up her mind about Nucky, and when she finally does, it’s because some cheap foreshadowing at the beginning of the episode scares her into it.


Notice something peculiar about that review? Hey, there’s no category for “The Bad.” That’s because, unless you were nitpicking, there wasn’t much too complain about last night. It was a masterful season finale in which all the best elements of this show — corrupt politicians, complex relationships, unflinching violence — come together. “Boardwalk Empire” had a rocky start, but once the momentum got going, viewers were treated to some of the best entertainment and melodrama on television. We’ll be sure to tune in next season. Bravo.

Rating: 9/10

“Boardwalk Empire” has already been renewed for a second season! Keep visiting Screencrave for updates!

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What did you think of last night’s episode? Will you be tuning in next season? Tell us in the comments!