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Steve Buscemi as Enoch Nucky Thompson

Boardwalk Empire has strong final season premiere

burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief In just a couple of weeks it'll be over. Eight weeks to be precise, as the final season of Boardwalk Empire has been cut short. So there'll be lots of ground to cover. But as always, the season starts nice and slow with the "origin story" of Nucky.

As we prepare for the final climax, lots has happened in Atlantic City. We've jumped all the way to 1931 after The Great Depression, and well, we do not actually spent much time in Atlantic City at all.

I will not rest until I see you in your graves. Boardwalk Empire, the final season

Cuba and Atlantic City

Because of the time jump we're reintroduced into some characters lives, which makes for a bit of a slow buildup. Chalky is doing penal labor as a prisoner — not for long though. Lucky Luciano is moving up in the world, as we already saw him taking on Nucky in the trailer. And Margaret Schroeder is still working at the bank, though her superior is killed off instantly. As is Luciano's boss, by Luciano himself.

Nucky on Cuba in the final season of Boardwalk Empire
Nucky on Cuba in the final season of Boardwalk Empire

Meanwhile, Nucky is on Cuba, still with Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette), bribing American politicians and fearing his life as a wealthy American on the Cuban streets. He walks into Lansky who makes up some excuse as to why he's there. Is he gonna take on Nucky as well later in the season?

The young Nucky Thompson
The young Nucky Thompson

The Young Nucky

What was one of the more interesting parts of the first episode was the "origin story" of Nucky. Growing up we see him being an honest and smart boy. He's taking care of his sick sister, treated harshly by his father and just playing around with his friends. But again and again he's finding out he's not quick and strong enough to compete, while he already has the need to move up in the world. That's when he meets the Commodore, and as a young boy he's already setting up for his future.

Final Season

All in all it's a solid though unspectacular episode. Some great casting of the young Nucky, as we've seen before with Eli's son and his friends. And gladly we didn't spent the whole episode on Cuba — as I found the episodes in Tampa last season pretty terrible as well.

As there are only eight episodes left, you have to wonder what climax we can expect. Many of the great characters have been killed off or moved on to a pretty boring life without Nucky — although a much happier life maybe, who knows.. There doesn't seem to be much room to introduce new interesting characters like Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) or Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale).

Series Peak

I'd argue Boardwalk Empire peaked in the season of Jimmy Darmody's death, or the one thereafter — season 2 or 3 respectively. At some point you've told everything you can about the main characters and you start repeating yourself. Boardwalk Empire introduced some intriguing new characters, but never reintroduced the spark it started with — as show the ratings, going down every season. Plus, the look into the "fresh" new world of the early 20th century Atlantic City starts to wear off too. At some point you've seen all the million dollar sets, and aside for Chalky's place last season, there haven't been many impressive new ones. Hell, I can't even remember the last time we saw the actual "Boardwalk Empire".

I think you don't even know the rules. Boardwalk Empire Season 2

Why the story of young Nucky?

Boardwalk Empire has always focused on the big money, greed and the need for power. Terence Winter suggested this would be the theme of the final season as well. So why did we see the young Nucky in the first episode? To show he was trying to be a good boy, but something changed along the way. Or was his greed there all along?

Luciano moving up in the world in the final season of Boardw
Luciano moving up in the world in the final season of Boardwalk Empire

Many storylines are open now that we've jumped so far into the future. Is there even a Boardwalk left? What about Al Capone, or the brilliant Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Narcisse? And will Nucky finally and forever be defeated?


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burnsting burnsting Editor-in-chief

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