‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 4 Wrap-Up: EP Talks Major Character Death, Surprise Season 5 Returns
And so another season of 'Boardwalk Empire' has been lain to rest, bringing with it a few expected character deaths, and even more surprising survivals. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) will have a world of new troubles for the HBO prohibition drama's upcoming fifth year, but what do cast and crew have to say of the shocking turnout of season 4 finale "Farewell Daddy Blues?"
You're warned of spoilers for 'Boardwalk Empire''s fourth season finale from here on out, but after a near-superhuman showing of his killing prowess in season 3, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) finally bit the bullet in season 4, peacefully dying of a gunshot wound beneath the Boardwalk of a botched assassination attempt on Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright). Harrow hesitated to pull his sniper rifle's trigger, following a season-long desire to shed the killing lifestyle he'd been known for, while Chalky's daughter Maybelle accidentally took the bullet, the shock of which left Harrow to ignore Narcisse's men laying down retaliatory fire.
Huston had crafted the memorable role beginning in the second season, wherein the half-faced, gravel-voiced character quickly emerged as a fan-favorite, outliving Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), though both Huston and producers thought it fitting to give the character a full-circle ending, albeit a morbidly happy one. Speaking to TVLine, executive producer Terence Winter offered an explanation for the shocking death, saying:
We felt like we took his storyline as far as we could. By the end of the last season, he essentially felt unworthy, having picked up the guns again after getting away from that life and then going into a downward spiral; he basically felt that that was all he was good for. After he went home [this season] and had his moment with his sister where he says he doesn’t want any more of it and buries the guns, we just felt that if we ever do bring him back out of that — to the point where he’s gonna pick up a gun again — we can’t keep going back to that well. There had to be some conclusion to his story.
The events of this year really brought him full circle as a man. He ultimately got what he always dreamed of, a family and a life and somebody who loved him, but [it ended in] a very tragic, unexpected way.
Of course, Richard Harrow wasn't the only character to fall by hour's end, or at least leave questions of their presence in season 5. Both Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) and Narcisse were given surprising stays of execution, Narcisse now coerced into acting as an informant for J. Edgar Hoover ('The Killing''s Eric Ladin), despite a season that saw the two gangsters at odds over race and philosophy. Winter also confirmed that Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) would once again return, despite her character's position in prison, while Kelly MacDonald's Margaret will have a stronger role in season 5, somewhat reduced in season 4 by the actress's real-life pregnancy.
So too can we expect to see Eli (Shea Whigham) alive and well in Chicago next year, picked up by none other than Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), sure to be among the more entertaining deleted scenes as the pair catch up on their respective fates after season 2. Winter confirmed that Nucky had intended to pull the trigger on his brother for his betrayal with Agent Knox (Brian Geraghty), though the intervention of William (Ben Rosenfield) ultimately stayed Nucky's hand.
We'll have more to come on 'Boardwalk Empire' season 5 as it develops, but in the meantime, what say you? Were you sad to see Richard Harrow go, or had his time finally come? Was his dream sequence ending at least a happy one? Give us your thoughts on the 'Boardwalk Empire season 4 finale below, and tell us what you want to see from season 5 in 2014!