“The trick is to stay alive long enough to cash out.” Said by Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), you can bet that sentiment’s going to drive the final season of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” to its conclusion. Well, that and the inevitable tag line “all empires fall.” Yep, it’s all coming to an end and it’s likely not going to be pretty. But when is the right time to “cash out” and will that be the undoing of all these greedy and money-obsessed kingpins? As showrunner and creator Terence Winter (“The Wolf Of Wall Street” screenwriter) told us last year, “That’s a big theme of the show, the whole idea of when is enough, enough?”
I feel bad for “Boardwalk Empire” and everyone involved. Yes, it does get a ton of Emmy love, but viewership has dropped and everyone I know seems to have bailed on the show long ago (I basically got voted out of including the show on our The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season). And yes, I’ve complained about it before in the past, because it can be slow, but it arguably has the best ensemble cast on TV right now and they make it eminently watchable. And I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, but many of these cast members are doing some of their best work ever: Shea Whigham, Gretchen Mol, Stephen Graham, Kelly Macdonald—is it any wonder why character actors like this have moved to television when you have such utterly rich parts to delve into?
Then you’ve got a whole cast of heavyweights: Buscemi, Michael Shannon, Jeffrey Wright, Michael K. Williams, Michael Stuhlbarg and even Michael Pitt completely turned his career around with the two amazing seasons he was on. And it’s created a lot of rising stars: Jack Huston’s movie career has totally taken off, Charlie Cox went on to become Marvel’s “Daredevil,” Vincent Piazza is in “Jersey Boys” and it’s only a matter of time until he pops in a major way. The list goes on and on. I’ll be sad to see it go, even if it did test patience sometimes. ‘Boardwalk’ wasn’t plot-focused; it was character-driven and all these actors really sung major life into their colorful roles with terrific texture and nuance. And this show deserved to have around two or three seasons to wrap up all their disparate story lines.
Alas, this is the final season and evidently the show is fast forwarding seven years into the future towards the end of prohibition. You can’t really tell from the new teaser trailer if the settings are the same, but it definitely feels like everyone is on the outs as times change. The fifth season of “Boardwalk Empire” begins in September. Watch the teaser below.