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Monday, December 12, 2011

Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale: Stunner!

I love being wrong in my predictions about how plots and seasons end on television - it's a large part of what makes television great.

And, yeah, did I get the end of this superb season of Boardwalk Empire - its second season - wrong.

I predicted that Nucky and Jimmy would have a rapprochement.  Jimmy had no love for the weaklings in his would-be empire who were out to sink Nucky.   Jimmy would welcome Nucky's help in paying Manny back for the murder of Angela.  All of that was was true.  And yet-

As that seemed to be coming to fruition, Nucky inviting Jimmy to a place out in the rain with Manny waiting, bound, for the slaughter, Nucky kills Jimmy instead, in one of the all-time most stunning endings to a television season.

Before then, the ending was very Godfather-like - Nucky through his agents wrapping up all of his business after the charges against him are dismissed (the judge declares a "mistrial, without prejudice," which means the charges can be brought against Nucky again).  But Jimmy certainly appeared to be one of the Nucky's agents - someone who, unlike Eli earlier in the season, had been the recipient of Nucky's forgiveness.

But it turns out, as Nucky says to Jimmy before he fires the second shot into Jimmy, that Nucky does not seek forgiveness.   Nor does he forgive.   Nucky didn't forgive Eli and he didn't forgive Jimmy.  But Nucky knew he could control Eli more than Jimmy, that weak Eli was less of threat to him than was Jimmy.   If I were Eli, though, I wouldn't feel too confident about my future, either.

Nucky was probably telling the truth when he told Rothstein on the phone - I love seeing those old phones, hearing them ring - that he had a decision to make.  I doubt he actually flipped a coin in the air, as Rothstein suggested - not Nucky's way.   But Nucky realized his future was safer with Manny and no Jimmy than vice versa.

The ending was still like the Godfather in other ways - Nucky smoothly lying to Margaret about his deeds.   But Margaret is no Kay after she first married Michael.   So Margaret, though married now to Nucky, deeds the AC land to the Church, the land Nucky gave her for legal safekeeping before the trial.  I can only imagine Nucky's response to this - but we'll have to wait until next year to find out.

Did Jimmy know what Nucky intended for him? I guess his coming unarmed to the meeting suggests that.  Unable to protect his wife, disgusted with his mother, Jimmy had no reason to live - or, as he says to Nucky, he already died in the trenches overseas.  But it's also a little hard to believe that Jimmy wouldn't have welcomed someone else's weapon to shoot Manny out in the rain, and wouldn't have wanted more time with his boy, and wouldn't have wanted to leave her in Gillian's control, especially given her predilections.

A great season indeed - and a shout-out to Dominic Chianese, Uncle Junior on The Sopranos, who played Leander in Boardwalk Empire.   I'm glad he survived the taking care of business of Nucky's enemies this time around.

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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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