We've come to the series finale, to the end of the line, where all of Nucky's reflections on his past -- both recent history and memories nestled deep in those flashbacks that have punctuated the season -- serve to illustrate that timeless question: is it the man who makes the choices, or do the choices make the man? This final season has been guiding us to the understanding that for Nucky, it was one singular choice that made him, a choice that also shaped the future of Gillian Darmody, intertwining their lives and fates.
With an intense, all-out war being waged between Nucky and Charlie Luciano, 'Boardwalk Empire' plunges onward toward its conclusion. The past bleeds into the present, as chance encounters blossom into opportunities given to those desperate for them, and how that desperation inevitably lends itself to gruesome circumstance. Most startling and perhaps poetic of all in "Friendless Child" is the way that two fates are intertwined, and how redemption can come at the 11th hour for Nucky Thompson in the most unexpected way.
HBO subscriptions have been something of a running joke through the TV industry, with a great many of the network's loyal fans sharing HBOGO passwords to avoid expensive cable packages, previously the only mean with which to watch shows like 'Game of Thrones' or 'True Detective.' Now, the company has finally acquiesced, and announced an independent streaming service due out in 2015.
This season of 'Boardwalk Empire' has been spiraling down a drain, and the further we go down, the more tightly coiled it becomes. "Devil You Know" posits the obvious question implied by the title, but it also darkly toys with ideas of judgment of character and role reversal, while delivering a tense episode and an emotional beating.
Within every organization -- be it criminal, institutional (hey Gillian!), legal, or social -- exists a hierarchy. There's always someone in a position of power who wants to put the pieces, or the people, in their places. And there's always frustration when those pieces don't fit, or when those pieces turn and try to knock you over to take your place, or upset the balance. In these 'Boardwalk Empire' flashbacks, a younger but slightly older Nucky is climbing up the ladder, still learning about all these moving parts. In present day, an older and wiser Nucky has made some kind of peace with how the tides have changed, and is content with his more minimalistic set of circumstances. Just when I thought I was out, well, you know.
The fifth and final season of 'Boardwalk Empire' seems to have established a pattern within a pattern, where everything feels so scattered. The plot threads are dangling and frayed and yet, slowly a couple of threads find their way together before an abrupt and violent tug jerks yet a couple more into position by episode's end. This season more than any other feels elusive in meaning -- as cold and distant as Nucky himself -- and at the same time, it all reads a bit on the nose.
'Captain America' star Hayley Atwell will return as Marvel's 'Agent Carter' as soon as tomorrow's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' season 2 premiere, but Peggy's spinoff series may yet upstage ABC's 'Avengers'-adjacent drama. The latest to join the cast of 'Agent Carter' is none other than 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'True Detective' star Shea Whigham, ostensibly the show's male lead.
Crime just isn't what it used to be. That's something that 'Boardwalk Empire' has perhaps ruminated on since the beginning, but something that has become more and more glaring with each passing season, with the introduction of foils and central conflicts for Nucky Thompson and the other major criminal players in New York and Chicago to navigate. Perhaps the reason why the fifth and final season has thus far felt as disorienting as the opening shot of "The Good Listener" is that there's no real singular conflict or thread running through it all. In the vernacular of 'The Big Lebowski,' there's no rug to tie this room together, man.
'Boardwalk Empire' returns for its fifth and final season, with a time jump that takes us forward seven years to 1931. While some things and places have indeed changed, much of the first hour is merely arranging the table for the final eight episodes, while also drawing bridges: a bridge between Nucky's various pasts and present, and narrative bridges between what was, what is, and what has to be; there's also a nice bit of thematic tissue in the episode's latter half that connects the series to 'The Sopranos,' as we witness the dawn of a new Italian mafia era back in New York.
HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' will pour its last premiere this coming Sunday with final season opener "Golden Days for Boys and Girls," though fans still no doubt question the period gangster drama's rush to the finish line, even jumping forward 7 years. To tide you over, we've got the first official clip from the season 5 premiere, as well as an explanation from showrunner Terence Winter of 'Boardwalk Empire''s big finish.