Posts Tagged ‘ boardwalk empire ’

Four Ways to Get Boardwalk Empire Back on Track

In lieu of another recap, which I’m already late on, I’ve decided to take a look at  Boardwalk Empire‘s problematic fourth season. Uneven in every sense of the word, the show has overwritten the plot and underwritten the characters. Here’s how the show can get back to doing what it does best: blowing beautiful set pieces up. Continue reading


Recap: Boardwalk Empire, “The North Star”


To say that Boardwalk Empire‘s fourth season has been spotty would be an understatement. While the former intrigue and weight of the old show glimmers through every once and a while, season four comes and goes in waves. A thematically rich and engaging episode followed by several disparate scenes lassoed together without any rhyme or reason. “The North Star” is the latter. Following one of this seasons most original and interesting episodes, “The North Star” brings its characters as far from home as possible, anchoring them to plot lines that neither intersect nor advance.  Continue reading

Recap: Boardwalk Empire, “Erlkönig”

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“Erlkönig” is the episode I’ve been waiting for, one that erupts in change for all of the cast. The cause and effect that made the first few seasons of Boardwalk Empire so engrossing returns with a bizarrely directed and universe changing installment. People die, people pay, and halfway through season four, Boardwalk finally reveals its characters.

Throughout Boardwalk‘s run, we have watched characters create their own systems of operation. Within those systems, they run things a certain way, some through violence, others through cunning, and some through sex. Season four aims to change this up and has done so in the past few episodes. For instance, the sharpshooting phantom of the opera who feels nothing for the lives of criminals, Richard Harrow, buried his gun after failing to kill his sick dog. He can no longer get the job done, a far cry from the dependable assassin of previous seasons.

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Recap: Boardwalk Empire, “All In”

There are specific beats a good season of television should hit. Just like any narrative, a seasonal story arc has moments of rising action, a climax, falling action, and resolution. With the initial over-arching relationships and themes of the show far behind us, Boardwalk Empire has made attempts to make these moments count the best it can.

Last season worked as a Deus-Ex machina, a reset button for the world. Gyp Rosetti presented an element of catastrophic violence to help the audience move on from the Darmody dilemma and Nucky’s relationship to Margaret. While these were some of the show’s strongest anchors, the show must continue to move forward without them, even if they put the show’s star, Nucky Thompson in a bind and Buscemi nothing to do.

Left with very few places to go, Boardwalk has made a strong point early in the season to turn the supporting players into the show’s central interest. While Nucky remains the sun in this universe, episodes like “Resignation” and last Sunday’s “All In” show how integral Nucky’s minions and minions in general are to these operations. Piggybacking off the themes of “Resignation,” episode four examines why picking your partners remains the most important part of the game. For Nucky, his inability to do so in the past, with Jimmy, Margaret, and Owen, has cost him, and it looks like this time should be no different.

Many characters reveal their inability to handle the responsibility of crime in “All In.” Willy learns that boyhood pranks can be deadly if you don’t have a partner that knows his science, Van Alden passively joyrides with Capone, and Arnold Rothstein proves that simply looking for action isn’t the best way to do business. “All In” shows characters for who they really are (a child, a thug, a habitual gambler) in a way that’s tense and weighty. Actions have consequences no matter how harmless they seem and napping on the job can lead you to some uncomfortable situations. 

Boardwalk works best when it links themes through different characters and pushes them on clear path. The editing of the episode makes a distinct path from one thread to the other. By cutting from the FBI meeting about Nucky’s weakest link to Eddie or the violent jokes of Daniel O’Bannon to Willy Thompson, the show constructs a clean episode of rising action, a slow build to the problems the rest of the season will deal with.

Recap: Boardwalk Empire, “Acres of Diamonds”


Boardwalk Empire is a show that likes to take its time. So as the show ventures away from Jersey, it slowly constructs world’s elsewhere. Richard visits his sister in the midwest, where his mythology grows. Nucky heads south to Tampa and considers a new deal. Van Alden spends time in Chicago. Margaret is in Brooklyn—get out of Brooklyn already, Margaret! All of this world building, however, has not paid off in any significant seasonal arc just yet, and it hurts “Acres of Diamonds,” a slow, talky, and unengaging episode. Continue reading

Recap: Boardwalk Empire “Resignation”


If last week’s Boardwalk Empire was about mixing new cocktails—but not too strong—, “Resignation” reminds you to tip your bartender. Servants and henchman of all colors took center stage, and they want respect. “Resignation” shows the relationships of those in power, those who want it, and those just looking for recognition in a compelling and succinct hour.  Continue reading

Recap: Boardwalk Empire, “New York Sour”


With a mix of new and old, Boardwalk Empire returns with a slower, quieter, but ultimately satisfying return. Picking up where last season left off, Nucky reigns over Atlantic City and goes about establishing a tenuous peace between him and the mob bosses of New York. The bloodshed of last season is not forgotten, though, in this emotionally cold episode. The visuals are darker, the performances are more subdued, yet the violence is just as explosive. Continue reading