Over the past four seasons, Boardwalk Empire has fractured its central plotline and split its principal characters into different cities, leaving fans to wonder how the writers could possibly tie it all back together. Now, it seems they have one season and one season only to pull off the seemingly impossible.
HBO announced this afternoon that the beloved mob drama will end after its upcoming fifth season. No specific reason was made for the decision, but one would imagine there are two basic factors that came into play. First, the show’s numbers have been slipping a little bit, with many episodes drawing less than two million viewers, and second, I’m not sure there are believable ways to make these characters survive that much longer. I mean for the love of Atlantic City, Nucky’s world came really, really close to collapsing in on itself this year.
Here’s what creator Terrence Winter said in a statement he issued this afternoon…
“We’re thrilled to get the go-ahead for a fifth season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE. After much discussion with my creative team and HBO, we’ve decided to wrap up the series after such a great run and look forward to bringing it to a powerful and exciting conclusion.”
Based on the above statement, it’s impossible to tell whether HBO laid down the hammer or it really was a joint decision. Either way, it’s better for everyone involved that they know going into this season that they need to wrap it up and make it count. There are few things worse than a show getting the heads up halfway through production and having to cobble together an ending with only a few episodes left of wiggle room. That slapdash approach can lead to some disasters and is typically worse than a show getting a surprise cancellation because then at least it got in an entire normal season of TV.
If you’ve never watched Boardwalk Empire before, you should really consider getting on that. It’s a tightly written, very aggressive premium cable offering that mixes in some great references to the past with a larger storyline that feels very modern in all the best ways. Despite overall numbers being down, it still has a very passionate fanbase (spoiler alert), and there are more than enough theories floating around the Internet on a side variety of Empire-related subjects to keep new fans occupied for weeks. No doubt HBO will put at least some of the show on On Demand prior to the forthcoming seasons and any that don’t get that treatment are available in really snazzy Blu-ray sets.
I’m going to miss you (spoiler alert) quite a bit, Boardwalk Empire, but for the next six months or so, I’m going to focus that emotion into excitement for one last round of thrills.