Eldorado, the 57th and final episode of Boardwalk Empire, ended with a bang. On a show so focused on organized crime and the inner workings of back door politics, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. But on a show with so much violence, it was always the characters that drew me back in. This show, maybe more than any other show on TV, had so many great characters. Jimmy and Gillian Darmody; Al Capone and Charlie Luciano; Richard Harrow, Chalky White and Dr. Narcisse; Eli Thompson and Nelson Van Alden; Arnold Rothstein and Mickey Doyle; Owen Slater and Gyp Rosetti; Eddie Kessler, Margaret Thompson, and the only character to be in every episode of the series, Nucky Thompson. Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson was never the most charismatic or interesting character, but it was clear from the very first scene of the series that he was the most important. His actions moved the plot along, just as his actions kept Atlantic City thriving and in turn kept his pockets filled. In the end, his greed and incessant need for notoriety are what did him in.
I was worried when HBO announced that the 5th and final season Boardwalk would be a shortened season, mainly because it felt like they had so much to wrap up from the end of Season 4. Terrence Winter, the writer/director/creator of Boardwalk, was also one of the main contributors to another HBO hit, The Sopranos. Would Terrence Winter end Boardwalk the same way his collaborator Chase end The Sopranos? Those fears were put to rest last night, as Nucky’s past finally caught up with him. As Josh Kurp at UPROXX pointed out, the Nucky/Gillian scene was very reminiscent of the Tony/Uncle Junior scene at the end of the Sopranos. The difference between the two being that Uncle Junior was not in the assisted living home because of Tony, but because of his failing mental and physical health. In Boardwalk, everything that has happened in Gillian’s life can be traced back to that day on the Boardwalk when Nucky told her he would always look after her. While Nucky got away unscathed (at least physically) from Luciano, Lansky and Siegel’s take over, he ultimately could not escape the horrible things he had done in his past. He got his closure with the people closest to him, Eli and Margaret, but it was a bullet from Tommy Darmody, the son of Jimmy and the grandson of Gillian, that sealed his fate. The reviews have always been mixed concerning Boardwalk Empire, but more times than not, it delivered. Nucky and Co. will be missed.