"Walk out while you can."
Up to and including last week, the lack of main characters kicking the bucket in Boardwalk Empire's final season was becoming a bit surprising, especially since 'No One Goes Quietly' was plastered all over the promos for the bootlegging drama's fifth year. In the first five episodes, barely any of the series regulars met their untimely end, but that trend finally came to end in "Devil You Know." The sixth installment featured a few bloody showdowns and it finally feels like no one on the show is safe, not even those hiding behind the shield of history. Remember, some of the characters, including our protagonist, are only based on real figures which leaves creator Terence Winter some wiggle room in crafting an unexpected ending. But instead of speculating about Nucky's (or anyone else's) possible demise in the remaining two weeks on the Boardwalk, let's talk about those that lost their lives in Episode 6. To the lost!
”You the only devil I know.”
People die in a lot of different ways on Boardwalk Empire, and rarely is it dignified. But on occasion, some of the fallen 'heroes' get to have their final moment in the sun. Richard went out this way at the end of last season, and Chalky was given similar treatment in "Devil You Know." There was something almost reassuring about the way the fan favorite was put to rest. Almost. Chalky no doubt felt a bit redeemed in being able to trade his life for his second family's freedom, as Daughter and Daughter's daughter Althea - I had to - got a way out from under Doctor Narcisse's thumb thanks to his sacrifice, and her record might finally get some airtime. That's if the Doctor keeps his word, of course. He may have been 'victorious' this week, but one can dream he loses big before the season's over.
”This has not been thought through.”
The other major character to bite the bullet this week also got to go out in a rather dignified manner, as Van Alden at least had the chance to play the 'proby' again for a few seconds before 'Agent D'Angelo' blew his brains out. Not everyone gets the chance to slap Al Capone around and Nelson can take solace in knowing that he played a key part in bringing down the real Scarface. I, on the other hand, can't stop picturing that exit wound. Gross. Van Alden's exit is especially sad because his partnership with Eli was probably my favorite part of the final season and I'll miss the moments of levity that the disastrous duo brought to this sometimes stuffy period piece. Once again, the pair delivered the best thread of the episode.
While the other storylines were popping off, Nucky took the night off (so to speak) after narrowly avoiding being blown to bits by Lucky, Meyer and Johnny, and hearing the bad news about Sally. He sneaks away to a seedy bar for some cheap drinks with some cheap broads. Who knew Nucky could be so funny? It was nice to see him let loose, since Buscemi usually plays him so tightly wound, and I especially enjoyed when he returned to reciting Longfellow only seconds after knocking another man unconscious. Things looked good for Nucky for a while; too bad for him the broads had other plans and left him bruised and babbling. It was also the second time we heard the phrase 'nothing personal.' Not much is for Nucky these days.
The moment at the end with Joel Harper and the fifty was obviously a callback to the way Nucky first found his way into the Commodore's life, and it would probably have landed better for me if the flashbacks were not my least favorite part of every episode. I don't want to be reminded of the flashbacks, like Nucky, I want to forget the past. Boardwalk once again spends too much time with young Nucky, with every sequence bringing the series' momentum to a halt. This week's flashbacks felt especially clumsy, as they painted the Thompson brothers as angels in order to show how far they have fallen. Eli calling Nucky out for using bad language was laughable, and I joked last week that this would all be leading to Gillian's origin story. Or should I say Jimmy's? I'm guessing that saving 'Nellie Bly' from the hospital will be Nucky's big redemption moment. For now, he's saddling the troops.
"I'd call surviving a victory."
The fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire continues with Episode 7, "Friendless Child," 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.
Head over to the next page for a look at "Friendless Child"...