Boardwalk Empire, Season 5 (USA, 2014)

boardwalkfinaposter-691x1024Created by: Terence Winter. (DISCLAIMER: I like to talk freely on this blog, so if you haven’t seen the show yet, I’m going to talk about the ending [though, if you haven’t seen the show yet, why are you reading this?]) So here we are, finally, the end, and this show, unlike a lot of others, didn’t stretch on and on and on past the expiry date. This felt like a good length, a fitting end to the momentum. When they started this thing at New Year’s Eve, 1920, I sort of assumed they would go all across the decades and end up roughly where the real Enoch Johnson ended up—in jail for racketeering, tax fraud, bootlegging, etc. But after going along roughly at one historical year per season, the decision to jolt forward several years to 1931, the beginning of the end of the gangster’s heyday, was a smart one. The whole season, I was basically wondering what the fuck they were getting at, wondering where the shoe would drop. All the flashbacks to Nucky’s childhood, showing us how he got to be who he is, finally filling in those fucking giant blanks that have been going on the whole series, they only really materialize into anything substantial at the very last moment, which proves to be a culmination of every single moment of the series, prompting in me a desire to re-watch the whole fucking series again—pretty clever hey? Goddamn little Tommy Darmody! The little kid we all forgot about! The whole thing, step by step: Nucky’s relationship with The old Commodore, with Gillian Darmody, and to her son Jimmy Darmody, the whole subplot with his wife, both of them biting the dust, and every decision Nucky makes throughout the whole series, all of it needs to be seen again through that light. And finally, when he finally finally finally gets what’s coming, it’s pretty goddamn cathartic. As much as I’d agree that this show falls behind the shadow of “greater” shows like Sopranos or Breaking Bad, Nucky’s death is to me completely cathartic, completely satisfying, and completely appropriate and smart from a storytelling point of view. The gimmicky non-end of Tony Soprano and the disappointingly too-final end of Walter White both felt like a bit of a let-down, a cop-out. And frankly, the other subplots about Miami, about Lucky Luciano and the Five Families, about Chalky White and Narcisse, and whatever the fuck else was going on by the end, I could really care less about most of it. This show’s main sin in my books was spreading itself too thin between too many characters and subplots. Even though I liked all of them, my attention was spread too thin for a haphazard, in many ways run-of-the-mill hourlong TV drama like this—in other words, too many characters for something less than a full-scale, conscious, deliberate War And Peace sized epic, which this couldn’t be. But there’s some great shit in here, and for all its seeming ho-hum quality, I do want to eventually re-watch this whole series someday.

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2 responses to “Boardwalk Empire, Season 5 (USA, 2014)

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

  2. Pingback: House of Cards, Season 4 (USA, 2016) | Offhand Reviews·

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