"Every story has a beginning, sir."
The first four episodes of the fifth and final season of HBO's Boardwalk Empire felt a little light on the body count for the normally bloody bootlegging drama. Sure, there have been a few grisly murders, like Tonino and Buck, as well as a mass shooting or three of nameless henchmen and/or hookers, yet Joe the Boss and Sally Wheet are the only two regulars six feet under. Hell, even calling them regulars is a bit of a stretch, with the former only having shown up sporadically and the latter being a rather late addition to the series. Forget 'No One Goes Quietly,' Season 5 started to feel like 'No One Goes At All.' And the trend continues in the "King of Norway." Not for lack of trying.
”It ain't a murdered body?”
Of course, there's so much more to appreciate about Boardwalk Empire than the violence, but it does seem like a lot of Season 5 hasn't been focused on the confrontations that we really want to see. Instead, the series is spending an awful lot of time in the past and - since the drama is all about repetition this year, I'll say it again - I don't care for the flashbacks. This week the sequences set in (and reinforcing the importance of) the past jumped ahead 13 years with Marc Pickering and a pair of fake teeth now playing Nucky. Or should I say, Deputy Sheriff Thompson. Once again, father figures figure into the thread with Mabel's dad disapproving of their relationship. He's not a fan of Nucky's ambition. The same ambition that makes him ask surrogate father Sheriff Lindsay to be part of the other jobs that he does for the Commodore. Origin stories! No young Gillian?
”They are in the body forever unless they're rooted out.”
And that brings us to the other tangential storyline in the final season. Doesn't visiting Gillian in the women's mental institution feel like visiting another planet? A shame, since I thought her character's journey came to a satisfying end last season. The story itself is compelling, taking a look at the horrifying conditions that women of the time who were deemed crazy and put in psychiatric 'care' were often forced to endure, but it doesn't fit at all with the rest of the narrative. Maybe I'm not seeing the big picture, and Gillian will be brought back into the fold. I don't think so though. Not with 'fixing her insides' as part Dr. Cotton's diagnosis. We saw how that went. That being said, Gillian was always crafty and, if history does repeat itself, she might find herself a way out of the terrifying situation.
”Well. I'll leave you two to catch up.”
The other storyline operating on the fringe of the main action this season found its way back in "King of Norway," with Chalky arriving in Atlantic City in search of, what else, revenge. Unlike Gillian's thread, Chalky's always felt like it was moving towards a reunion with the major players so it never seemed like we were being sidetracked with a non-essential story. And the "In Cold Blood" sequence with Buck (also directed by Ed Bianchi) was exceptional. This week, Chalky looks like his old self again, sitting in front of Nucky at the club in a nice three piece suit. I love how Nuck mentions how a man who really wants to sneak a gun in somewhere cannot be stopped, and we see this very thing unfold in one of the final scenes. Chalky hides it in his crotch. Insecure friskers. Finally, I thought we were going to see a big name bite the bullet this week but the doctor wasn't in. Daughter and Daughter's daughter were home, however. An interesting twist and another Maybelle reminder.
”History doesn't repeat itself. But it does rhyme.”
I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty good to hear the quote I've been using as the basis for my Boardwalk recaps worked into the dialogue. Nucky is trying to take control by asserting that history doesn't repeat itself, but everything suggests the opposite. Like my favorite odd couple, Eli and George, once again working for the law. Of course, it's not like they're actually wearing badges; they're the 'expendables' being sent on a suicide mission to grab Capone's books. It's perfect timing for Nelson because he was sick of being ruled by fear anyway, but Eli's got a loving wife and a baby on the way. I think June will forgive him for having sex with Sigrid if he makes it out of this season alive. George Nelson certainly doesn't seem to care. Like I said, this is all a welcome change for the former prohibition officer who finds it easier to hate everyone. I'm still laughing from when he told his kid he would sound better farther away. I want this buddy cop comedy.
”You're a man that knows how to return a favor.”
While Nucky's busy fighting a war and finding out about his mistress' death in Havana, his wife and new partner in crime seems to be coming into her own as a crook / insider trader. Margaret managed to take care of the problem with Mrs. Rothstein quite easily, as well as rope her dope of a boss into the illegal activities. Mr. Thompson had a bit more trouble with his business in "King of Norway," with his longtime friend Johnny Torrio helping the upstarts Lucky and Meyer to take him and Maranzano out of the picture in one drive-by-shooting. However, both of the targets survived the hit, and now the bodies should start piling up. Perhaps Torrio should have taken his own advice and (stayed) retired? And Arquimedes should get a raise for once again saving Nucky's life. Whose ear will he take first for this? The path to being a legitimate business man looks longer and longer every week.
"Maybe you just don't see the end of it."
The fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire continues with Episode 6, "Devil You Know," next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Created by Terence Winter, the series stars Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Vincent Piazza, Anatol Yusef and Stephen Graham.
Hit the link for a look at "Devil You Know"...