Boardwalk Empire, Season 2 (USA, 2011)

boardwalk-empire-season-2-posterCreated by: Terence Winter. [SPOILER ALERT: People die in this season.] I usually don’t get to watch a show so close together like this, but circumstances prevailed. As I noted before, the first season didn’t exactly grab me in the addictive way that The Wire did, or Mad Men did, or Breaking Bad did, or Deadwood did, but it caught my attention gently and subtly, in a way all its own. As needed, the second season was loaded with enough thrills, chills and spills to keep me intrigued throughout, and some of those moments were downright daring. But as I reflect on the season overall, I feel like this grandiose show just might be too small to keep going; it might be running out of steam. The court case against Nucky is pretty consistently, quietly intriguing; the mysterious Mrs. Schroeder is getting more tantalizingly complex as her past comes to light; the Shakespearean tug-of-war between Nucky and Eli is great to watch; Michael Shannon’s amazing Van Alden gets more unbelievable by the episode. But what I didn’t really appreciate until it was too late was that the real heart and soul of that show, the only “likeable” characters were Jimmy Darmody and his wife Angela. Now, of course, there’s a whole conversation to be had about the likability of characters versus their intrigue or complexity. I’ve argued with people before about the presumed importance of “likability” in a character—Kane’s likability means less than nothing when you’re trying to appreciate the overall interest of Citizen Kane (and TV these days is making the unlikable protagonist more and more of a prerequisite).  I would agree, of course, that it certainly helps to keep that relationship between viewer and character afloat when there’s at least something, some kernel of common humanity to be felt with even a hardened gangster like Tony Soprano, or in this case, a wayward kid like Jimmy Darmody. Ultimately, though, in this show, the character I felt the most for, the only truly innocent character (who was treated with any interest) was Angela Darmody. When she died, the show lost what was basically its heart and soul I think. And that relationship with her and Jimmy, actors William Pitt and Aleksa Palladino, was pretty damn compelling. As unique and messy as the relationship between Margaret and Nucky is, this one was more compelling to me, and now that it’s gone, I just don’t know. It wasn’t enough to kill her off, they had to do Jimmy too. It was a shocker, and it makes the show more interesting for the third season, but only because I have no idea how they’ll keep it afloat without those two. Plots will happen and backs will be stabbed, etc, but I’m not sure how much I’ll care.

2 responses to “Boardwalk Empire, Season 2 (USA, 2011)

  1. Pingback: Boardwalk Empire, Season 4 (USA, 2013) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Prohibition [Miniseries] (USA, 2011) | Offhand Reviews·

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