“Boardwalk Empire” closes its second season with a shocker that we honestly didn’t see coming. While the episode makes too obvious an effort to tie up certain loose ends, the power of the moments that did work makes up for any of the minor problems that made their way into the final episode of season two. Read our review to find out what we thought. . .
- Director: Timothy Van Patten
- Writer: Terence Winter
- Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Shea Whigham, Gretchen Mol, Jack Huston
Episode Title: “To the Lost”
Finally realizing that he runs the risk of going to prison for the rest of his life and may even face a death sentence, Nucky opens up to Margaret and asks her to make an important decision which will preserve his life. Jimmy, distraught over the death of both his wife and his father (a death for which he was responsible), decides to reach out to Nucky in the hopes of renewing their friendship. Eli, however, may get in the way. Chalky and his men get the revenge they were looking for.
- Wait…whoa…really? That’s how we felt at the end of last night’s episode. It was a season finale, so we understood that certain unexpected twists would occur, but with so many TV shows playing it safe these days, we’re not used to a show that is willing to go as far as “Boardwalk Empire” did last night. We’re hesitant to explain in any more detail exactly what it is we mean, in the offchance that someone reading this review hasn’t seen the episode, but let’s just say that in this gangster drama, no one is safe.
- Nucky and Jimmy: Early in the episode, Nucky visits Jimmy at his home and the two have a conversation about fathers and the past. It’s a quiet scene, free from the excessive emotion that could have polluted it, and with two stellar actors on the screen, it works. We’re given a chance to see into Jimmy’s soul and learn that, yes, he might still have one.
- Chalky’s vengeance: A chilling scene early in last night’s episode shows a delighted Chalky, along with several of his associates, preparing to torture and kill the three Klansmen responsible for shooting up his factory. The casual way in which such brutality is effective is precisely because it doesn’t force us to flinch; we just watch on with growing dread. Unfortunately, this is all the screentime that Chalky is alotted in this episode. Oh well, there’s always next season. . .
- Margaret: Margaret is a little difficult to read this week. That might be a good thing; maybe she’s becoming the complex character that we always expected she could be. However, it’s tough to understand any of the motivations her character has, and at the end of the episode, we’re left scratching our heads, wondering what exactly prompted her to make the choices she made.
- Van Alden: The problem is that it isn’t terrible that Van Alden only got one scene in this episode; given the way he made his exit last week, we’re surprised that we even saw him at all. However, that doesn’t make up for the fact that his one scene is poorly written and feels tacked on. We don’t need unrealistic expository dialogue to tell us that he has fled to the Midwest; there are more graceful ways to give the audience that information. Anyway, the scene doesn’t last long enough for us to really understand the potential consequences of this development. What’s going to happen now that he is too far away from Atlantic City to participate in his crusade? Who knows.
While it wasn’t completely thrilling and there were scenes which felt like they existed solely to wrap up major plot points, there was enough true drama and tension to leave us satisfied with the way this season ended. We certainly didn’t expect a certain major twist, and now we do feel the need to tune in next season and find out how things will develop from here.
“Boardwalk Empire” will return next season on HBO!
What did you think of the season finale? Tell us in the comments!