Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boardwalk Empire - So long, Nucky

I have to admit, I have been a reluctant fan of the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, sort of a love/hate relationship. It got increasingly violent over the years as Enoch Thompson (Nucky) descended more and more into the world of the big time gangster.

Steve Buscemi was excellent in the role.  He won Golden Globe awards and an Emmy or two for his portrayal of the crime boss. His incredible portrayal of the complicated Nucky Thompson kept me coming back for more.

The saga of the criminalization of Atlantic City began post World War I (before 1920) and continued into the early 1930s just before prohibition was repealed.  With a rich cast of characters, it brought to glaring life the world we have only seen in very old movies.

Every season there were plot twists, stunning surprises, and often main characters were killed without warning.  In the final season, many of the main characters met their final judgment.  For some of them it did not lead immediately to their death, but it substantially changed their situation.

Also, the season was told partly in flashback which showed Nucky as a child and an upright young man who ultimately gave in to corruption at the hands of the most powerful man in Atlantic City.  The theme of the season? "Every man has his price" - with a bit of "Karma is a bitch" - thrown in for good measure.

Nucky's downfall was due to something he did as an upright young man.  He gave a lovely thirteen-year-old girl to the richest, most powerful man in town, simply because the Commodore (as he was known) wanted her. The story line began in the first season of the series. Only Nucky's participation in it was kept hidden until the finale.

That one action destroyed all of their lives, Nucky's, Gillian's (the girl), and the Commodore, who ultimately died as an elderly bedridden man by Gillian's hand.

And though the likes of Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz were after Nucky, instructing their gang to kill him, in the end it was Gillian's (and the Commodore's) grandson, Tommy, who pulled the trigger.

This series played like a Greek tragedy, staged as a tawdry carnival with all the vices displayed to the tinny music of the era.  And in the end they all paid their dues to Karma.

This was a well done, evocative series, that left me pensive and sad at the wasted lives and opportunities.
I won't miss it since it ended so well, tying up the story lines.

The previous seasons are available on video.  I am sure the final season will be available soon.  It was an incredible cast with more plot twists than Game of Thrones. If you enjoy early cinema noir portrayed by a very talented cast, this one is for you.

Until next time...

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