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Boardwalk Empire Season 4: A Look Back And A Look Ahead

With Boardwalk Empire poised to premiere its fourth season on HBO this weekend, it's time to take a look back at where things left off when Season 3 wrapped up, and speculate over where things are headed for the drama as Season 4 gets going. We'll start with a look back at where things left off when Season 3 wrapped up, then move on to what we know about Season 4 and offer up some plot and character speculation.

HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Revisited' does a great job recapping the many, and often bloody, events that took place last year in (and around) Atlantic City. The video takes viewers on a detailed trip through the past (in a relatively short time), reminding everyone about Nucky Thompson's increasingly troubled personal, political and, uh, business relationships. After committing the ultimate gangster act, Nucky decided to limit his exposure when it comes to the criminal side of his life and this protective measure ends up being the very reason that things once again spiral into violence on the Boardwalk.

Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Canavale in an Emmy nominated performance) takes exception to the new rules and wages war with the boss of AC. He fought hard but, in the end, falls victim to one of his own lieutenants. And an unexpected assault from the one and only Richard Harrow. Even though Nucky narrowly managed to take care of one upstart gangster there's still the fall-out and other would-be-kings vying for the bootlegging throne, not to mention many other prohibition related conflicts breaking out across the east coast. 1924 is going to be a bloody good year for Boardwalk Empire. HBO even brought in a couple of writers from The Wire to make sure.

Season 4 starts with that horrible excuse for a person, Gillian Darmody not only seeking custody of Tommy but also struggling to keep her business afloat after it was overrun by Rosetti and then everyone inside was murdered. To that end, Roy Phillips (Ron Livingston) is a new to town business man who might run the Artemis Club and woo Gillian. She's the worst. Nucky is, once again, trying to lay low but that obviously won't happen on the Boardwalk with challengers coming from all directions. One of the new threats comes from rookie Federal Agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty) who arrives in Atlantic City and doesn't seem to mesh with Agent Sawicki's corrupt way of doing things. It's not long before Knox finds himself in Washington meeting with the no nonsense, acting director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover (Eric Ladin). Oh yeah, there's also Nucky and Chalky's newest venture, the Onyx Club.

The success of the Onyx brings the newest 'big bad' to Atlantic City, Jeffrey Wright's Harlem crime boss Dr. Valentin Narcisse. Narcisse immediately clashes with Chalky and Nucky but also brings along a a sexy jazz singer named Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham) to perform at the club. While Chalky is romantically intrigued by the singer, his right hand man Dunn Purnsley simultaneously being courted by the doctor. And the rival from Harlem is hardly the only problem coming from New York, with Nucky also dealing with his various criminal relationships (current and/or former allegiances) across the George Washington Bridge. Oh wait, that doesn't exist yet.

The Rosetti war caused many rifts for Nucky in New York, which means the beginning of the fourth season will probably be spent making peace or war with Joe Masseria as well as the Arnold Rothstein crew. Of course, with Boardwalk Empire being based on real life, we could look up what actually went down but I've committed to letting Terrence Winter and company fill me in on all the blood-soaked history. And because I don't want to spoil things for the audience while recapping the show. I've never been attached to Masseria so I can't say I'd be too upset to see him dealt with but if Rothstein, Meyer Lanksy or Lucky Luciano were to meet their ends (this season) it would be a bit sad. At the same time, however, the fact that anyone could die keeps everything exciting.

The Chicago storyline keeps drifting further and further away from the action in Atlantic City but that doesn't make it any less integral to Boardwalk Empire. Stephen Graham's Al Capone has always been a central figure in the series, going from Johnny Torrio's number two to the man in charge over the last three seasons. This year the Italian versus Irish feud with Dean O’Banion continues to escalate and Capone has brought in his brothers Frank (Morgan Spector) and Ralph (Domenick Lombardozzi) to help fight the rival gang. Michael Shannon's former agent Nelson Van Alden/current gangster George Mueller is still working for O'Bannion but gets closer and closer to the Capone crew. And not in a violent way... well, there will probably be violence.

Tampa. Tampa? What? Although there is no regional trailer for the new location, Nucky will be going south to take advantage of a lucrative but extremely dangerous business opportunity in Florida. Aren't they all? Dangerous, I mean. Contacted by transplanted bootlegger Bill McCoy, Nucky heads to Tampa to look into investing in some real estate and during the visit he runs into Tampa speakeasy owner Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette). I wonder if the bootlegging lady is in need of a new supplier or will take offence to Nucky's arrival? Will she help expand his business or do what Rosetti couldn't? Who knows, she might be packing a lot of heat. It is Florida. Sorry, Florida.

Boardwalk Empire returns for its fourth season Sunday, September 8 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Created by Terence Winter, the series stars Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Vincent Piazza, and Michael Stuhlbarg.