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Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Premiere Watch - 21, The House Wins

“You'll be judged by what you succeed at...not what you attempt.”

Season 1 of Boardwalk Empire set us up for a fall. Nucky Thompson, the man who so charismatically won his way into the hearts and minds of America through the course of 12 episodes was starting to strike a match on the bridges he so carefully cultivated over the course of years. He's ticked off his own blood, his old mentor, even his former protege, not to mention several heavy hitters in organized crime and Government. Things were peaceful, but that peace seemed more tentative than long lasting.

And here we are, at the beginning of Season 2. Last night's episode, “21”, showed us that Season 2 looks to be a puzzle box, as there are betrayals poised upon ruses, built upon plain old lies. A whole bunch of allegiances are going to shift, and in the end it looks to all point to Nucky taking a hit in some way, shape, or form. Just after we're shown images of everyone in full swing of the high life, with everyone smiling and flush with good times and money, the KKK unleash a hail of gunfire on Chalky White's operation. Unlike Season 1 though, Chalky isn’t waiting to be saved and takes instant revenge, winging a Klansman as they’re driving away. If one thing’s clear from the top of the show, it’s that Chalky’s tired of waiting for justice, and is ever so eager to dole it out himself. Here’s hoping there’s more of that this season, because Chalky was sorely underused last season.

Nucky seems to have a lot on his plate, moreso than last year. On top of settling into family life, he and his friends are planning a huge land grab that’ll put them all in the pink once they sell it back to the State. Meanwhile, behind his back, the newly formed power triangle of Elias/Jimmy/The Commodore scheme to overthrow his rule. (With The Commodore and Jimmy being their own secret faction to overthrow both Thompson brothers and take the city back for their family name.) The fact that at the end of the episode Nucky was arrested for Election Fraud probably figures into this conspiracy somehow, but we’ll see as the season goes on.

In Mob Land, Jimmy is doing well for himself in the liquor business. Well enough that he and his family have moved out to a beachfront house. (It’s much more convenient for his mother and his wife to argue over who he should listen to when there’s tranquil waves crashing in the background.) Richard is still by his side, dreaming of "The Perfect Family" as he sees Jimmy living that very dream before his eyes. (Let's hope he's not being turned into a twisted figure seeking love and acceptance in all the wrong ways.) Al Capone is starting to step up some more in Torrio’s organization, but he’s still very much an agent of the family, as he isn’t too pleased that they seem to be moving towards cutting ties off with Nucky and the gang.

And of course, what would Boardwalk Empire be without everyone’s favorite nutso IRS agent, Nelson Van Alden! When we last left him, he’d knocked up Nucky’s ex, Lucy; and as we see later on in the episode she’s still very much knocked up. But not before we see Nelson trip the light fantastic with his wet rag of a wife as they celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary! (Apparently, nothing gets the Missus hotter than her husband performing a raid on illegal alcohol.) Van Alden seems to be doing what all Religious men do at one point or another… succumbing/fighting the very demons that he is trying to fight. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall from grace, particularly with his own wife, who we all remember was baby crazy in the last series.

So, Season 2 seems to be setting itself up for a running theme of parental guidance and Children growing up to become the Adults of Today; and we’ll get to see Jimmy, Al, and even Lucky Luciano growing into the mobsters we know they’ll turn into. Season 2 also seems to be setting up the fall of Nucky Thompson, or at least a crushing blow to the man’s powerful grip on the city. This could be Emmy territory for Steve Buscemi, so voters take note. If you were a fan of Boardwalk Empire at the end of the last season, you don’t have to worry about them taking the True Blood route and alienating fans.

Next Week!:

*See Nucky get paranoid, and Margaret act as Consigliere!

* See The Commodore and Elias plot to take A.C.!

*See Jimmy make nice with Rothstein!

*See The Van Aldens on Ice!

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.