Episodes: 56 (hour)
TV show dates: September 19, 2010 — October 26, 2014
Series status: Ended
Performers include: Steve Buscemi, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frank Crudele, Vincent Piazza, Stephen Graham, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, and Kelly Macdonald.
TV show description:
This TV show is set during the Prohibition Era in New Jersey and is based on the Nelson Johnson book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. Martin Scorsese directed the pilot and continues to be involved with the production.
Back in 1920 in the Prohibition Era, Atlantic City is known as “The World’s Playground,” and is noted for being the place where rules don’t apply. The entertainment rivals Broadway, and the boardwalk features motels, nightclubs, and amusement piers.
Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is the town’s Treasurer, but also a political fixer and backroom dealer. He takes full advantage of the location of his city, being the center for rum-runners, and close to both Philadelphia and New York City.
Nucky’s brother, Elias (Shea Whigham), is the town sheriff. He, the Ward Bosses, and local heavies help Nucky position himself as the “go to guy” behind the illegal alcohol. He readily does business with the more noted gangsters like Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Big Jim Colosimo (Frank Crudele), Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza), and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).
Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) is just coming home after the Great War, and can’t wait to get back to his rightful place within Nucky’s organization. It doesn’t go as quickly as he’d like so he forges ahead with his own business. He aligns with associates that bring the Feds, headed up by Agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon), into the mix.
Meanwhile, Nucky is getting romantically close with an abused woman who he tries to help out, Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald).
Episode #56 — Eldorado
At dawn, Nucky leaves his clothes and personal effects on the beach and heads out for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
1897. Enoch is granted a moment alone with the Commodore to discuss taking over the sheriff’s position. The Commodore is open about his contempt for Enoch’s eager and earnest nature, and interprets Enoch’s mention of the previous night’s “errand” as a threat. Their impassioned argument comes to a halt when a schoolteacher interrupts, asking if her group of girls can recite a poem for the Commodore.
Joe Kennedy and Senator Wendell Lloyd argue about the possibility of repeal at a Mayflower Grain Corporation board meeting. Based on Lloyd’s insistence that repeal is merely a pipe dream, the board members voice their desire to sell; certain that Lloyd is Nucky’s puppet, Kennedy asks his partners to hold firm and not sell for 24 hours while he gets to the bottom of things.
Al Capone’s lawyer tries to explain the gravity of the federal case being made against him, but Al holds steady in his belief that money will squash the charges. His brother Ralph, having dealt with “these tax pricks,” worries that greasing a few palms won’t save them this time.
Kennedy storms into Margaret’s office at Conors & Gould and confronts her about Nucky shorting Mayflower stock. When Margaret points out that the stock has dropped 3 points in the last hour, Kennedy threatens to reveal her scheme to his partners. Margaret coolly informs him that as his partners are selling behind his back, Kennedy should join her “client” in the short-sell scheme: Kennedy and her “client” can buy the dumped Mayflower shares for an immense profit. Later, they watch as the stock plummets before Margaret gives the go-ahead to cover the short positions.
1897. Enoch returns home to discover Mabel sitting in the kitchen in her undergarments, dazed by a miscarriage. They’re interrupted by banging at the door: A frantic Eli insists their mother needs Enoch.
Capone brushes off his wife’s concerns about the rumors circulating about him, and heads upstairs to have a heart-to-heart with Sonny. Capone, explaining he may be going away for a while, tells his son to be a good boy and keep to his lessons, before leaving him with a final thought on his crimes: “Remember, all I did was for you, to leave you with something better. And that can’t be for nothing.” The following day, he turns himself in, making a spectacle for the media one last time.
That night, Margaret meets with Nucky at a New York City apartment he’s thinking about renting. She reveals the profit he’s made in his Mayflower Grain scheme: a whopping $2,364,120.00. Margaret hasn’t made out all that badly herself, having picked up 1000 shares and a tidy profit of over $29,000. After assuring Margaret that his circumstances have changed and that there are things he won’t do anymore, Nucky asks if she likes the place. Margaret hints that there may be a sliver of possibility for reconciliation, and the two dance to a song on the radio.
1897. Enoch arrives at his childhood home to find his mother with a black eye, courtesy of his father. Drunk, Ethan greets his son with a shotgun. The confrontation soon comes to blows, Enoch promising his father that should he hit his mother again, he’ll give Ethan what he deserves — “law or no.”
While working out the details of the upcoming commission meeting, Charlie Luciano and Meyer Lansky task Benny Siegel with taking out their “friend” who’s been running his mouth all over town. “Two shooters, in public,” Luciano orders. “So people know.”
Nucky walks the boardwalk in Atlantic City, sensing that he’s being followed. He heads to Eli’s rooming house, where he tells his brother about his morning swim. “Went out past the surf line. Farther than I ever dared as a kid. I thought — keep going. Keep going until you can’t turn back. Past where there’s any choice.” He tells Eli it’d be best if they don’t see each other again, and encourages him to attempt a reconciliation with June or live with the regret of having not tried. Nucky leaves Eli with a paper bag and the two men share a hug. After his brother leaves, Eli opens the bag to discover stacks of cash, along with a shaving kit.
Luciano presides over the first meeting of the new gangland order. In attendance are the heads of the five New York crime families as well as chiefs from Buffalo and Chicago. Luciano explains that the table they’re seated at is round because nobody sits at the head. Instead, there are seven bosses and all beefs get settled at that table, together, before things get out of hand. “If it’s good for business, it’s good for us,” he declares. “The future’s ours, boys.”
The last of Luciano’s problems is cleaned up in Harlem, after Benny Siegel arranges for two men to take out Valentin Narcisse. As the Doctor exits a church, he’s gunned down in front of his parishioners in broad daylight.
Nucky visits Gillian at the psychiatric hospital, where he tells her that whatever help she expects from him, it’s no longer possible. He’s arranged a private room for her and a trust account should she ever get herself out, but explains through gritted teeth that she shouldn’t look to him for help. Unnerved by her silence, Nucky begs to know what Gillian wants from him but it soon becomes clear that he’s come too late. Observing a ladybug crawling on her hand, Gillian asks him, “They’re called ladybugs, but how can you tell which one’s a lady?” As she attempts to get up from the couch, Gillian doubles over in pain; her abdomen is still tender from Dr. Cotton’s surgical procedure.
1897. Enoch works the King Neptune parade, where he spots Gillian in a homemade costume among Neptune’s consorts. The two lock eyes, prompting Gillian to make a break for it, but she’s caught by another man on the boardwalk. Gillian tells Enoch that if he won’t simply “leave her be,” he might as well put her in jail. Before they can finish their conversation, they’re interrupted by Jim Neary — Enoch is wanted by the Commodore. He begs Gillian to stay put until he returns.
Nucky returns to the Old Rumpus to get his things. While he packs, his private line rings — Vic Borden at the Ritz calls to inform him of a “situation that needs attention.” When Nucky arrives, he learns that a very drunk Joe Harper attempted to rob a woman in the hotel lobby. Not wanting to get the law involved, Vic called Nucky to deal with Joe.
1897. The Commodore asks Enoch to hand over his badge, then dismisses him from service. When Enoch asks why, the Commodore tells him he doesn’t have faith in him. “You think you deserve something for trying hard. I’ve never liked that one little bit,” he tells a bewildered Enoch. “Through me and from me, that’s all there is. What are you in the end, anyway?” Defiantly, Enoch tells him, “I am what I need to be,” but the Commodore responds, “How does that make you anything at all?”
Nucky takes Joe for a cup of coffee, and questions how he went from someone who “wanted to get ahead” to a drunken thief. After learning that Joe blew all the money he gave him, Nucky advises the young man to go back home, and if he doesn’t have one, to “find one, make one, or do without one, but don’t take it out on everyone else.” In a final act of charity, Nucky hands Joe a $100 bill, but unwilling to take any more of Nucky’s help, the boy tears up the cash.
1897. As Enoch leaves the porch, Leander Whitlock approaches him about “a youth the Commodore wishes to place in service.” He pulls the sheriff’s badge from his pocket, and directs Enoch’s attention to Gillian, still waiting for him on the boardwalk. Enoch approaches Gillian, stating uncertainly, “You want to sail around the world.” He tells her about a rich man who has offered to help them both. “Would you like to meet him?” Enoch asks, extending his hand. “I promise I’ll always look after you.” Gillian takes his hand.
Nucky walks the boardwalk, once again spotting the two suits who were following him earlier. He turns away from them, only to be stopped by Joe Harper. “When Mima talked about you, I couldn’t tell if it was love or hate,” Joe tells him. When Nucky denies knowing anyone named “Mima,” Joe reveals he’s talking about his grandmother — he’s Tommy Darmody. He raises a gun and fires several shots into Nucky before the two suits — IRS agents trailing Nucky — pull a raging Tommy away. As Nucky dies, his 10-year-old self dives into the ocean and catches the gold coin that eluded him long ago. Courtesy HBO.
First aired: October 26, 2014.
What do you think? Do you like the Boardwalk Empire TV show? Do you think it should have ended or been renewed for a sixth season?
Image courtesy HBO.