Monday, December 12, 2011
Boardwalk Empire Finale: “To The Lost”
Great shows usually make audiences react in the most emotional ways, and this finale of “Boardwalk Empire” was no different. Anytime a show kills of a main character, especially right after making him so damn interesting, it’ll hurt. But take a step back for a minute and you realize, this was the only logical way for things to end.
Time’s critic James Poniewozik, in his wrap up of the finale, puts it best:
“......in terms of sheer character and story, killing Jimmy was the wrong thing to do. From where I sit, collecting my jaw from the floor, it feels right now like the most logical thing for the show to do. Considering what unfolded this season, all the shit that went down between them, for Nucky and Jimmy to partner up again and get back to old times would have felt like a contrivance.”
We all know Jimmy didn’t exactly want Nucky killed when he took a bullet to the hand, but as an audience we KNEW that Terence Winter and crew wouldn’t kill Nucky anyway because he’s real and necessary for the show. But from that point on, it must have been simmering in Nucky to get full on revenge for everything that had happened.
Earlier in the series, in the first episode I believe, Jimmy said to Nuck, “You can’t be half-a gangster.” Well for Nucky, this was his Walter White moment, the point where he went from being a politician and a gangster on the side to just a full on gangster.
I’m upset about it just as many of you are, not only because I felt they were turning Jimmy into such an interesting character, but because of just how excellent Michael Pitt was in the role. The simplicity of Jimmy staring out at the ocean or smoking a cigarette and how powerful those moments were is a testament to Pitt’s skill.
I also thought the wedding sequence mixed in with Neary’s death was awesome and a great hark to “The Godfather.” One of the most interesting scenes of the episode to me was the very last shots of Jimmy in the trench in WWI. It was great writing and a powerful moment when he says: "I died in the trench, years back. I thought you knew that."
The episode leaves many questions, and luckily creator Terance Winter spoke with a few writers about the episode and the show’s future:
From the NY Times Art Blog:
“For most of the episode, I was hoping to [annoy] the audience a little bit in having them think, ‘Oh, great, everything’s going to be forgiven, and now he’s going to take this guy back and everything’s fine.’ And of course it’s not. But that was all by design, so that’s great.”
At HitFlix with awesome critic Alan Sepinwall:
It's clear, as you said, that when Jimmy gets the phone call and doesn't bring his knife, he knows it's coming. Does he know it earlier in the episode? Because it seems like some of his interactions with Tommy, for instance, are that of a father getting ready to say goodbye.
“I think he knew. I don't know that he knew exactly when it was coming, but this finale was Jimmy mopping up all the business he could, preparing knowing that at some point in the future, this was going to happen, whether it's now or next week or next month. He's going to do as much undoing of the damage he's caused as he can, he's going to psychologically say goodbye to his son, say goodbye to Richard, and get his affairs in order, and then he's ready to ship out.”
And on Entertainment Weekly, both Winter and Michael Pitt answered questions:
Said Pitt on Jimmy’s shocking death: “I like it...As much as I will miss working with everyone on this incredible project, I thought that it would be very shocking, and I’m always drawn to that.”
There are also many questions to be answered in season three, like will we ever see Van Alden again? Or what role will Gillian and Richard have now that Jimmy is gone? For all you Harrow fans, don’t be alarmed, Winter has things in store for him and the others.
Some quick hits from various interviews:
Q: What about Michael Shannon’s character, the now-disgraced federal agent Nelson Van Alden?
Winter: People in the audience who are students of Mob history might pick up on the fact that Cicero, Ill., was the place that became Al Capone’s headquarters in 1924. It wasn’t an accident that we chose to put him somewhere in the Midwest that might or might not have ramifications down the line for him.
Q: So can we expect to see Al Capone come into his own as a formidable force next season?
“As time goes on. The plan is now is we would come back in season 3 a little further into the future and start to really track Al Capone’s rise and — God willing — through the course of the series. By 1925, Capone was the guy everybody recognizes — the guy in the white fedora who’s firmly in charge of Chicago. Hopefully we’ll be on the air long enough to see that guy. Certainly in [season 3] we’ll start to see Capone on pretty much equal footing as Johnny Torrio in terms of who’s running the town.”
Q: And I’m assuming Richard Harrow will continue as a key player?
“Yes, Harrow will continue to be part of the show, absolutely.”
Obviously it hurts to lose a character as great as Jimmy and an actor as good as Pitt, but if you are a fan of the show, please don’t let this discourage you. These are many of the same people who did “The Sopranos” and this show is turning into something special.
Don’t let the emotion of it get the best of you. Can’t wait for season three. RIP James Darmody.