I think it is a testament to how good of a show Boardwalk Empire is, that even their episodes that aren’t so great in comparison to other episodes, still are incredible when compared to other shows. Last week was the best the show had ever been, and after tonight it still holds that title. That is not to say that ‘Margate Sands’ was not good, because it was, but it didn’t even compare to last week.
Biggest disappointment was right off the bat. The opening scene was great, cinematically speaking. Much like most scenes in Nucky’s office, it had the happy and jolly upbeat music playing right along with gunshots and people being mowed down en masse. I loved that juxtaposition along with its build up to the mayor proclaiming that Nucky doesn’t run the town, he does and of course the reporters laughing. Great scene. Could not have been better. However, that’s all we are going to see of the war that’s been building up for the entire season? You leave last week’s episode with Al Capone making a grand entrance and then he’s relegated to a few shots here and there? You’re killing me smalls.
I sort of love and hate what they did with Capone and Chalky the entire rest of the episode. I love it because it’s accurate (TV show level of accuracy at least) as we aren’t that far removed from the Chicago race riots of 1919 so it’s not hard to believe that Al Capone and his men are still a wee bit racist. By that I mean, really racist. They spend the entire episode, minus the two minutes they are killing Masseria and Rossetti’s men, fighting with each other. It was ridiculous. I do think that their coming to terms with each other at the end of the episode will lead into something more significant in the next season. If it doesn’t I’m just going to be irritated because there was so much time dedicated to their displeasure with each other. Time that could have been spent on the actual war between Gyp and Nucky.
There was other examples of factions being displeased with another. Team New York is at an impasse. An impasse that could have been avoided had Lucky and Meyer just listened to Rothstein in the first place. Damn minions, never know when to just shut up and stand in the background looking pretty. Rothstein ruled this episode. He’s like the Grandmaster of gangster chess (it’s a lot like wizard chess but you end up with a knife in your back) and even though he hasn’t had much screen time throughout the season as a whole, it all came to a head in the finale. So he’s taught his underlings not to f*ck with him so what’s next? He now owns essentially all of the Overholt distillery which will mean he’ll finally be able to finally get his delivery! Hopefully this will also lead to many more Rothstein talking to Mickey Doyle reaction shots. The look on his face every time he hears Mickey’s voice is priceless. Depending on when they pick the story back up, I wonder if we’ll see more of Benny/Bugsy Siegel. That would not be unwelcome.
Okay, I can’t stand Gillian but oh my lord she had a rough week. Tommy probably has no idea why he should really hate his grandmother but still his refusal of her company was a bit heartbreaking. You can just see Gillian’s desperation which of course leads to her ballsy attempt to kill Gyp. Even though it seems like a little bit of “turnabout is fair play”, I found myself actually feeling badly for Gillian with the heroin. I felt bad for Gillian. FOR GILLIAN! Damn you writers. If the “Gyp and Gillian try to kill each other” bit didn’t make me feel compassion for someone I previously hated, Gillian out in the hallway high as a kite sure did. Boardwalk Empire does a pretty good job at showing how shitty your life will become is you are forced into prostitution as a young child. When she was telling Nucky that she went upstairs to the bad man, I couldn’t help but just feel so sorry for her. Lesson learned writers- childhood prostitution is a bad idea.
If you are a Gillian fan however, do not despair for it seems that our resident incestual scumbag is going to live to ride again. Michael Ausiello of TVLine talked to Terrence Winter and asked straight out if Gillian lives. I’m torn on this one. Of course I’d like her to be gone because I can’t stand her, but she’s a good character as far as the show goes. Well here’s to another season of Gillian’s mental illness!
Someone else we get another season of, Richard Harrow!!!
I’ll admit that I really thought Richard was going to end up dead by the end of the finale. I would have placed money on that, and obviously I would have been poorer today. Not only did he survive, but he did a kick ass job in the “killing everyone you see” category. That scene was more Taxi Driver than Taxi Driver. That was the second time I’ve said that- wondering if Terrence Winter was feeling rather Martin Scorcese-esque this year.
One thing Boardwalk Empire is really good at is referring back to previous episodes. We’ve got the Taxi Driver style murderous rampage which was cool (bloody but cool) but what I really enjoyed was the “blood on the window” shot that tied together both the season premiere and the season finale.
In perhaps the most surprising turn of events in the entire series to date, Julia’s dad was not a complete asshole for once! I was rather stunned when Richard decided to take Tommy to Julia in the first place without getting himself cleaned up first. I was dumbfounded when it was Mr. Swagorski who was the voice of reason in the situation. Screw people killing and dying, that was the biggest surprise of them all! That scene always had the sweetest moment of the episode. Richard is standing there all bloody, hands off Tommy to Julia, and she grabs his hand. Come on Richard, you may want to protect her and Tommy from the full time gangster life you are returning to, but it appears as if she’s willing to stand by you. I don’t know how many other girls you are going to come across that will. Then again, I have no doubt that Richard and Julia will meet up again because Gillian is going to go on a rampage to find Tommy and get him back. That is not going to be pretty I fear. Oooohh, maybe that’s how she’ll finally die- Richard will shoot her as she tries to take Tommy back. Or maybe now that she’s had a good taste of heroin she’ll become an addict living on the streets of Atlantic City. Or maybe she’ll continue to just be a bitch that annoys me for another season. That’s the most likely scenario.
If we are talking about people who have futures up in the air, we can’t look past Margaret. Oh Margaret, you need to find a confidant. First we have you trying to confide in your sister-in-law who, wisely, changes the subject, and then you try to talk to the doctor’s wife. That and you’re going back to your maiden name and off getting abortions and sleeping in the same bed as your two children just like you were at the start of the show, shit’s come full circle Peggy and it isn’t pretty. I will say, I damn near stood up and cheered when Margaret closed the door in Nucky’s face. What the hell did he think was going to happen when he went to “apologize”? That was both infuriating and expected.
Even with all Nucky has been through this season, he still is the cocky ass who thinks he can “forgive” Margaret and she’ll come crawling back. What an idiot. Of course I do hope they get their shit figured out because I want them to become the King and Queen of the Boardwalk.
Best part of the finale? Nucky and Eli, together again. Actually, Nucky and Eli together as closer to equals than they’ve probably been in a very long time. Even though Eli tried to have him killed, it looks like Nucky has realized that post-prison Eli is the closet he has to a trusted ally now. Sign you are a bad guy? Your most trusted ally once suggested you be killed. That’s rough. But it was nice to see the two brothers come together, talking about their past life as Pineys, fixing old cars (and referring to an old “Willys car” they had when they were younger), sharing cigarettes, and then “convincing” Tonino to take out Gyp Rosetti. The family that kills together, stays together. How sweet.
Which brings us to the most obvious part of the episode, time to pour one out for our ol’ pal Gyp Rosetti. Of course no one had any delusions that he would actually survive this finale (did they?), but it was still sad to see him go. Sad in a “who is going to fill our sadistic sociopath needs now?” kind of way. At first I was a little peeved that he ended up dying in such a quiet way. Standing on the beach, pissing (this entire episode was one pissing match after another), making fun of Nucky, and then literally being stabbed in the back. My initial reaction was that he should have gone down in a blaze of glory but somehow being stabbed by Tonino seems more fitting. After bashing his cousin’s head in with a shovel and proclaiming it as some big favor, I can’t imagine it took much convincing by Nucky to get Tonino to do the deed. Of course them finding him in a closet with dead guys filling the house and them carrying guns themselves didn’t hurt either.
So Gyp is no more, Eli and Nucky are on the same team, Margaret may or may not return, Arthur Rothstein is a badass, Gillian is riding out a possible heroin overdose, Richard is running off somewhere without Julia and Tommy, and Al Capone and Chalky White are bff’s. A lot of action for one episode and that’s not even including the whole Mellon/Rothstein/Randolph/Means thing that was slipped in there. Whose team is Means on? I have no idea. I think I’m going to stop trying to figure that dude out because as soon as I think I do, he goes and does something that just makes me sit back with a “wtf” look on my face.
All we know is Nucky is no long half a gangster, and he certainly is no longer the glad-handing, shit grinned politician he was before this season. As for what the future holds, well we have a long time to sit back and wonder. I’m sure whatever (death of Pres. Harding) it is, it will be awesome.
Like I said up top, this episode was not nearly as good as the few episodes previous, but it was still good in it’s own right. As far as season finale’s go, it was great. It answered a lot of questions, wrapped up a lot of loose ends, but left enough questions that we are looking forward to the next season starting. That is exactly what a season finale is supposed to do so well done Boardwalk Empire.
I’m going to have to go with a four out of five. It was good, but it wasn’t great.
In closing, the song that Gyp was singing right before he shuffled off the mortal coil – “Barney Google”.
Until next year Boardwalk fans! It’s been fun, let’s do it again sometime.