All season, as I’ve talked to people about Boardwalk Empire, I’ve been surprised to find that it often leaves viewers cold – they don’t hate it, they’re just not engaged. (Not enough zombies?) I still find it the richest series on television, with the most believably layered, ethically challenged characters. Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is a classic, a corrupt politician whose warm heart occasionally shines through. Do we doubt that he loves Margaret in his own peculiarly defensive way? (As I said at the season’s start, they’re Tony and Carmela in the 20’s.)
In tonight’s next-to-last episode of the season, all the danger is closing in. Nucky’s attempts to outwit the Feds may backfire. And we see in these previews, Margaret’s (Kelly Macdonald) one-night-stand with the handsome Irish chauffeur may not have been the best idea she ever had.
Throughout the season, as Jimmy Darmody had tried to displace Nucky as bootleg king of Atlantic City, Michael Pitt has effectively worked against his choir-boy looks, Gretchen Mol has been magnificent as his young, conniving, chorus-girl mother, Gillian – a sexier version of Lady Macbeth – and Jack Huston has been quietly affecting as Richard Harrow, the war-wounded man with half a face.
Take a look at what’s coming and expect some cliffhangers; the series has been renewed for a third season.