Boardwalk Empire, Season 4 (USA, 2013)

Boardwalk-Empire-Wikia_Season-4_Promo-Poster_001Created by: Terence Winter. I spent a looooong time watching this season, like 6 months or something. But it was a pretty great bunch of episodes actually. Seeing Eli come out of jail and start from scratch, the whole subplot with his son Willy really coming into his own—frankly, all of the subplots were pretty awesome. I didn’t hate most of the things I usually hate. I usually hate late additions to the cast because we’re supposed to care about them as much as anyone else, but we really don’t, and too much narrative/emotional pressure is put on them. But here, it was completely solid. The addition of Jeffery Wright as the compelling and inscrutable black power provocateur Narcisse, the handsome Ron Livingston as Gillian Darmody’s new beau, and a few turns by Patricia Arquette, who I usually think is kind of terrible but whose presence here is put to such good use that I could listen to that corny southern drawl all day. And usually by this point in a show, I would be super bored with everything, but for some reason, the fact that this show is kind of a slow burner, spiced up here and there with some relatively pointless murder and gunplay, but for the most part a fairly slow, deliberate show masquerading as a sensational Sopranos/Mad Men hybrid is really appealing to me. Each turn of the screw, each little plot point, however isolated and self-contained, I’m riveted to the screen. The whole thing with Agent Knox and Eli is completely engrossing (and the addition of a J. Edgar Hoover character—perfect!). The drama there is very potent, even though the characterization of the two characters is quite different. Whereas Eli (Shea Whigham) gets grittier and more unhinged and insane from season to season, reaching a high point with the incredible and jaw-dropping fist fight finale, Knox (Brian Geraghty) seems like a cartoon, a squeaky clean cutout of a person, but with some unpredictable, unstable undercurrent. For that matter, Van Alden is also an unknown element, we still really don’t know what makes him tick. And for that matter, Nucky himself, and probably 90% of the characters on this show. Gillian Darmody feels relatively straightforward—she wants to fall in love and forget the past, start a new life with her new man, the incredibly handsome Ron Livingston (who you’ll know from Office Space and Band of Brothers). And the thing is, I really wanted her to as well! Even though she’s a murderer, and she kind of creepy and weird overall, whenever her subplot would come up, even though it was a bit of a sleeper compared to the other high-stakes gangster stuff going on, it was a nice respite from all the complicated personality politics; it was a straightforward bit of catharsis. Sure, you could tell something was up with the handsome stranger, but probably a wife or something, no big deal. When they pulled the plug on her, it was one of those rare moments when I was actually angry at the TV show for a moment. I might have screamed “No!” at the screen, I was so devastated by how they treated poor Gillian. But really, she committed murder and got away with it! She’s just getting her comeuppance, but the way they did it feels a bit farfetched and downright cruel. This show keeps flooring me over and over again. Although I’ll say, seeing poor Richard Harrow bite the dust instead of living happily ever after reminded me of how I felt after Season 2: all the good characters are dead, and there’s no one sympathetic to root for. I don’t really give a shit about Nucky, or about any of them, but I really want to know how it all ends because they’re so fucking interesting to watch.

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3 responses to “Boardwalk Empire, Season 4 (USA, 2013)

  1. Pingback: House of Cards, Season 1 (USA, 2013) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Re-View: Band of Brothers [TV miniseries] (USA/UK, 2001) | Offhand Reviews·

  3. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

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