The fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire is three episodes in; only five remaining. If you haven’t watched any of the episodes, perhaps you’ve been too busy watching The Roosevelts documentary, really all you need to know is that Nucky = Grumpy Cat, it’s 1931, Joe Kennedy is involved and the young bucks of season one (Capone, Lansky, Luciano) are coming up in the world.
With that out of the way, some questions are out there that need to be answered about where the show currently stands, where it’s headed and what to make of it’s main character, Nucky Thompson.
Nucky is kind of…well…Nucky is acting kind of pathetic this season.
That’s not a question.
Why is Nucky acting so pathetic this season?
That’s better. I’ll answer that question with another question- hasn’t Nucky always been kind of pathetic? Especially when he decided to go full on gangster? Nucky was never meant for the gangster game. It never suited him; never made sense for him, especially once he ventured outside of the friendly confines of Atlantic City. Big fish, little pond syndrome. As soon as Nucky entertained the “half a gangster” side of him, he was out of his element. And now this season, well he’s been completely out of his element. Whether it’s comparing himself to Rothstein and Masseria or trying to go legit, he seems woefully out of place. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s almost laughable when Nucky talks about Rothstein and Masseria, two legitimate gangsters, as equals and fears for his life because an attempt has been made on his and both of those gangsters were murdered. Of course….
Wait, isn’t an attempt on Nucky’s life a legitimate reason for assuming someone wants to kill him and kill him for reasons pretty damn similar to why Joe the Boss and Rothstein were killed?
Yes. I don’t have an issue with Nucky trying to figure out who tried to kill him. Maybe it was sunlight! He looks like a vampire! I just think that for me, Nucky isn’t of the same ilk as the dudes he’s comparing himself too. I don’t know if this a story telling issue or the part being played by an actor not being able to do the kind of heavy lifting that’s needed. I think it’s most likely a little bit of both. Either way, it just isn’t believable to me.
Name me two or three actors who would have been suited to play Nucky (not counting James Gandolfini, who is the obvious choice) than Buscemi?
First off, Steve Busemi would have been an awesome Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller. He could have hit notes that Michael Shannon only wishes he could get close to. And Shannon has been great as Van Alden/Mueller- but Buscemi would have killed it.
As for two or three better dudes to play Nucky…
Also known as Brody from Homeland and Dick Winters from Band of Brothers, Lewis would have classed up the joint and would have definitely been more believable as a smooth talking, ladies man than Buscemi.
Locke from Lost might be a little too old to be Nucky, but I still think he’s an interesting choice. There aren’t many actors out there who can contemplate as interestingly as O’Quinn can.
A stretch, but McNulty from The Wire could have brought some fresh energy to Nucky. Plus HBO loves to keep things in house and recycle actors. And no, it’s probably not because they’ve already filled out W2’s and that makes payroll easier. It’s because they generally have some of the best actors on television at any given moment. I think West would have made for a real interesting Nucky Thompson.
Now take a quick second, just a quick one, and imagine George Clooney as Nucky Thompson.
– pause –
Pretty cool, huh?
I kind of just of think that this season Buscemi has been exposed as a one trick pony in his portrayal of Nucky. He’s all grimaces and forlorn glances. Is he at all sympathetic and someone we’re supposed to root for?
Is Nucky Thompson sympathetic and someone we’re supposed to root for?
If you were to ask the show’s producers, I bet they would say yes. However, I would say that Jimmy Darmody was sympathetic; he was someone to root for. So was Richard Harrow. Chalky White is as well. I’m sure you could name one or two other characters that were also sympathetic and are someone we’re supposed to root for. But Nucky? I’m not sure an egotistic, conniving, whiner is all that sympathetic of a character. And as for rooting for him? I guess that all depends on where you want Nucky to be when the show ends. If you want him to be successful and back to living happily in the Ritz in Atlantic City- then I suppose you root for him. If you want him just not to be dead, then that’s debatable. If you want him to die tragically, while handing over the keys of his fortune with his last dying breaths to his nephew, Willy, then it’s very debatable if you are rooting for him or not.
So on that note, how do you see Boardwalk Empire ending?
I don’t know. On one hand, Nucky Thompson is based on Nucky Johnson. Johnson ended up going to jail in 1941 and passed away in the late sixties. So if the show wants to circle back around and bring Thompson the character and Johnson the historical figure closer together, similar to how they were when the show started, Boardwalk Empire will most likely end with Nucky standing on the boardwalk, looking out fretfully at the Atlantic Ocean. Kind of like how season one ended. It’s a near-perfect image for Nucky- someone who never seems to happy or satisfied and always looking out at the horizon for a better opportunity.
But…Nucky could end up dead.
But…no really, he could.
But…who would kill him?
But…who wouldn’t kill him? Luciano, Lansky, his brother Eli, his nephew Willy, Sally, Margaret, Margaret’s crazy son Teddy, one or two other people I can’t think of right now. Nucky dying at the end of Boardwalk Empire isn’t that far-fetched.
Although main characters dying at the end of television shows has kind of become a thing and as a result, some of the impact gets lost. [SPOILERS AHEAD] Walter White dies at the end of Breaking Bad. Tony Soprano maybe died, maybe didn’t at the end of The Sopranos. Jack dies at the end of Lost. Even Bill Henrickson dies at the end of Big Love. If the people behind Boardwalk Empire want to make a stand- Nucky lives.
How do you want Boardwalk Empire to end?
With Nucky alone, back in the Ritz, sitting at his desk. He ends up right where he started.
What is the most interesting plot line on the show?
Well last year, when doing my weekly plot line power rankings, anything involving Al Capone was always at the top of the list. So far this season Capone has only appeared briefly, although it was incredibly entertaining because Stephen Graham, the dude playing Capone, is effin’ amazing at doing so. The Luciano/Lansky stuff is interesting, but also kind of anti-climactic because you know how it’s going to end, at least as far as the show is concerned. So is Chalky White’s story the most interesting? Yeah, I think it is. He’s the heart and soul of the show and his road to redemption is the one I’m most emotionally invested in.
Yay or ney on the Nucky flashbacks?
Sure, why not. They’re kind of interesting.
What are you dead character power rankings?
I’ll do the top 5.
5. Dunn Purnsley
4. Eddie Kessler
3. Arnold Rothstein
2. Jimmy Darmody
1. Richard Harrow
Richard over Jimmy?
Just barely. Mainly because he was around longer and as a result, created more of a connection with the audience. Jimmy was like a one night stand. Richard was a month long relationship.
Why is Gillian still involved?
Don’t know, don’t care.
Of the following characters- Van Alden/Mueller, Eli Thompson, Willy Thompson, Chalky White – who is most likely to die before the show’s over?
I would have said Eli.
No. I bet he somehow makes it back to Atlantic City.