Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall Review: Boardwalk Empire

This Sunday on HBO will be the premier of season 3 of Boardwalk Empire. I for one can't wait! The Atlantic City based drama surrounding the politics of prohibition and the gangsters pulling the strings is one of the most compelling I've seen. Last season ended on quite the note, and I thought it'd only be fair to catch all of you up on what's been happening with our friends in 1920's Atlantic City...

(And if you're planning on watching, just know--there will be season 2 spoilers in this)

Normally, I'd start with the lead character, Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buschemi). But that would just make things a little too complicated. So, I'll start with his kinda sorta not really son, Jimmy Darmody.

Jimmy Darmody, played by Michael Pitt
I say "kinda sorta not really" his son, because while he was the strongest father figure in young Jimmy's life, he wasn't actually his father. His father is a man called "The Commodore", who was Nucky's boss back when Nucky was a young 20-something just getting started in the business of crooked dealings and eventually bootlegging (the business that keeps the whole show running). The Commodore wanted a woman one night, so it was Nucky's job to get him one. He grabbed a 13 year old girl named Gillian Darmody, one thing lead to another, little Jimmy was born, and Nucky felt this incredible guilt for having a hand in Jimmy's conception at all. With the Commodore totally uninterested in his son, Nucky took on that role.

Jimmy and Nucky
Well, in season one, Jimmy has been working under Nucky, being slowly groomed to take over for his "Uncle". He has a young son and a wife he has no real relationship with (Tommy and Angela). He's frustrated with his position, and performs a pretty shoddy "job" to try and impress Nucky. He gets sent to Chicago to go off the radar while Nucky cleans up the pretty bloody mess Jimmy had made. While there, he becomes friends with Al Capone and the two start getting rowdy in the Windy City. Jimmy comes back to work for Nucky again and the end of season one leaves us with Jimmy knowing Nucky basically pimped his mother out to the Commodore, and that his fatherly affection was really just born out of guilt. Woops. It's because of that, Jimmy decides to get into business with his actual father, and Nucky's brother Eli. They decide it's time for Nucky's corrupt business to, erm, "dry up".

Jimmy, the Commodore, and Eli, cooking up nothing good
So okay, season 2. Jimmy, The Commodore, and Eli get a group of supporters together and decide to take Nucky down. They do everything they can, from manipulating the liquor supplies to endangering Nucky's relationships with suppliers and buyers. Everything's going super smooth until....the Commodore has a stroke and is a vegetable. This leaves Jimmy in charge, which is like, the worst idea ever. Jimmy has no real clue what he's doing and is way too erratic, impulsive, and emotional to be any good at this whole bootlegging/crime boss thing. So of course things start falling apart. There's a botched assassination attempt on Nucky (he gets the hand?), Jimmy makes some pretty bad deals with obviously bad people, and everything is just a big bad bloody mess.

Jimmy and Manny Horvitz
Jimmy's biggest mistake was trying to take out Philly crime boss Manny Horvitz. Manny's a beast, and doesn't think twice about taking out Jimmy's wife. Yup, bye Angela. We enjoyed the thin plot lines about you kinda being a lesbian and running off with your son and girlfriend to Paris to be weird painters. But can't say we're all that broken up over you. Jimmy on the other hand is utterly beside himself (and we can't help but think if that's because he now has to take care of his son rather than actually missing her). And when his dad (who's still pretty much a vegetable but slowly getting better) starts hassling him about the mess he's made, Jimmy loses his shit and kills him. After that, Nucky swoops in. But I'll wrap that up later...

Margaret Schroeder, played by Kelly MacDonald
On the other side of the coin (so to speak), we've got Margaret Schroeder. She's Nucky's number one girl. She was in a loveless marriage with a man who fell victim to that shoddy job Jimmy pulled in season 1. And when she found out he was dead, she reacted so violently that she suffered a miscarriage. When Nucky looked at her, all he saw was his dead wife (who killed herself after their infant son died) and instantly fell in love with her. So okay the two of them are together. She lives in his really nice house with her two kids and she's dealing with religious identity struggles. Being Irish and Catholic, she struggles alot with it. Nucky doesn't tell her much about his business dealings, but when the Feds case against him (I'll get to it) starts heating up, he does start to tell her some of it. And it just sends her into a tailspin. It doesn't help things when her daughter comes down with polio and needs to be quarantined for a month. Eeks.

Throughout the whole Polio thing, Margaret's rediscovered her faith. She's all kinds of chummy with the local priest and wants nothing more than to help him and the church. So, when Nucky signs over all this property to her to avoid it being brought up in his fed trial, she signs it all right over to the church. Woops! Sorry Nucks!

Okay, so now onto that whole Federal Trial hanging over Nucky's head. So season 1 we met Agent Van Alden. He's this straight laced conservative tight ass who knows Nucky's running a bootlegging business and wants nothing more than to shut him down. Season 1 he can't quite get the job done. Season 2 the feds send this ginger woman in to finish things up. She makes all kinds of progress and they actually end up having a trial. Van Alden feeling slighted and betrayed by his superiors, goes to the arms of Lucy Danzinger, who just happened to be Nucky's number 1 girl before Margaret. Welp, of course Van Alden gets her pregnant and decides that since his own wife back in the Mid-West can't have kids, this would be the best gift ever ever ever. So he pays Lucy to stay in this apartment by herself for 9 months and have the kid. She does begrudingly, has a little girl, and then leaves. Well shocker, Van Alden's wife is PISSED and wants nothing to do with him or the baby. So he's left with a baby girl and nothing else. He doesn't even think of a name until he hires a nanny named Ingrid and she asks him what the girl's name is--Abigal. He gets a better apartment and basically pays this woman to be her mother. Awks.

Van Alden and his um, daughter, Abigail
And then there was the finale.

Number one thing to know about our lead guy, Nucky Thompson, is that he is a master manipulator. So it came as no surprise that his federal trial was declared a mistrial and he was free to walk. And when I said that Nucky swooped in earlier about Jimmy? Well, that did come as a surprise to I think everyone but Jimmy. Nucky shot him in the head at point blank range. I think in some respect, the die hard Boardwalk Empire fans are still reeling from that. And judging from this promo, it looks like Nucky is too...

So, some questions for season 3:

What's gonna happen to Jimmy and Angela's son, Tommy?
How is Nucky gonna deal with the rest of his betrayers? (Brother Eli, I'm lookin at you!)
Who's Nucky gonna pay off to get that land back from the church that his loving wife just signed over?
Will the Feds ever get him?!

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