With this last episode, we say goodbye to the best series based on prohibition gangsters ever. I won’t go on to detail why this series was cut short. You can read about my thoughts on that -> here <- But, although I cannot agree with the decisions made in the series, I can admit that I will miss it more than anything. It is the end of an era and the end of a great show, for what its worth. And even with this lagging episode that could have been so much more, they did find a way to please us all, with some sort of satisfaction.
Lucky is in his prime, sitting at the top of his reign with Atlantic City right in his pocket. Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel are at his side, and as expected, and they are closing in on their syndicate. Anyone who does not want a part of it will be eliminated. Bugsy is a bit overzealous about removing people that have control over territories that would be beneficial to them. Amongst the names called, Waxy Gordon, Dutch Schultz, Narcisse, and even Johnny Torrio are mentioned. Bugsy sees Torrio as dead weight. But Luciano doesn’t exactly give him the go-ahead, as he has his manicure finished.
Lucky will have his first syndicate meeting with all the big bosses. Bugsy is still itching to take someone out. He asks Lucky what they will do about their “friend”. Lucky suggests a public assassination with two shooters. I’m guessing, to get the word out to everyone. Who is this mystery target? Could be any of the names mentioned before.
Funny enough, two men begin to follow Nucky around, but seem to disappear when he acknowledges their presence. It isn’t till we see the hands of two suited men pushing through a crowd of church folk, that we realize who they were speaking of. At the center of that crowd, outside of a church in Harlem, Narcisse is quoting the Bible as the people around him tell him how blessed he is. The biggest hypocrite of all, whore house toting, people killing a gangster, doesn’t even see as the two white men finally pull up in front of him, and pull out their guns. Narcisse, who is shot several times, takes off his hat, walks outside the gates of the church, and is shot in the face before the shooters take off.
I was satisfied with his death but would have liked to have heard the reactions of others. If they had taken out Narcisse earlier, Chalky would have relished his demise. Wishful thinking!
This all gets handled before Lucky heads the syndicate meeting. In a private restaurant, all the big bosses across the states meet with Lucky. He announces the final plan. The plan for the future. The future and the past, being the moving themes in this episode. Lucky explains that the ways of the past are behind them and that things will be different moving forward. They will decide in this commission, who gets killed and who doesn’t. There will be no boss of bosses.
These have to be the most ingenious ideas ever seen in a gangster. The realization that egos lead to anarchy and eliminating any one person from being the leader, are most definitely concepts of the future. In addition, Luciano rids the commission of having any of the old world mentality that the “mustache Pete’s” (Maranazano and Masseria), had with doing business with only Italians or Sicilians. In Lucky’s eyes, any good business for the commission is approved, regardless of the ethnic status of their partners. This is also a great business minded idea.
And that’s where the show leaves us with Lucky, at the beginning of his reign.
Capone received his subpoena for tax evasion. He sees the subpoena as something that could be fixed by his lawyer or by paying off a judge or another. But Ralph, has already dealt with the IRS and knows that this is a completely different league. You would think he would have been hurt to find out that Mike D’angelo, his most trusted henchman, was actually a fed, but Capone, was more peeved that D’angelo was actually named Malone, and therefore, was Irish.
As always, Capone jokes and seems to have everything under control, but when he gets home, he begins to prepare. He feels he may spend some time in jail and speaks to his kid. We haven’t seen Capone’s son since he was a baby, way back when Darmody would visit him. Capone’s son has learned sign language and has exceptional schooling, thanks to the big bucks he puts into his son’s education. Capone tells him that he did it all for him. This is Boardwalks attempt at showing us what the human side of this man must have been like. Making it past the poverty that he once lived, in order to provide everything for his family.
In an all-white suit and cigar, Capone prepares himself in his car, before heading to the courthouse. Capone’s nerves are wrecked, but he still puts on a show for the media. And he still boasts, how he is going to beat the case, even though he knows, he doesn’t know if he can. In the background, D’angelo (Malone) watches with all the other feds and bows his head slightly in Capone’s direction. Capone tips his hat back to him. You can see the pain in Capone’s eyes because he truly trusted D’angelo. Capone had thought that loyalty ran in his blood and would have rather believed Eli or Van Alden to have betrayed him on their own before he would have ever thought him.
That’s the last we see of Capone. They leave us at the opening of his trial that will end with him being sentenced to serve prison time. Later, he would go on to die of untreated syphilis.
The Mayflower corp is in a state of alarm when they find out they can’t tell if Roosevelt or Hoover will be president. if Roosevelt is president, there are chances that prohibition will be revoked and they can produce alcohol legally. This is causing an uproar among Joe Kennedy’s partners, who all want to sell their stocks while the goings good.
An infuriated Kennedy shows up at Margaret’s job, to find out if Nucky is trying to buy out the shares of the company, which is leading the board members to eagerly sell their stocks. Margaret doesn’t admit to Nucky being responsible for the shares being bought (remember Nucky bought those shares under an alias), but she gives Kennedy a business proposition. His board members are going to sell, no matter what he thinks, so it would be wise, for him to sell his stock at its prime, and pick it back up when its dirt cheap.
He follows her lead and then proposes that they continue doing business together. The business that Kennedy has in mind requires a bedroom. He may have forgotten that he’s married with 9 kids, but Margaret doesn’t allude to those facts. She turns him down by suggesting that he can contact her during business hours for her to be the liaison between the brokers at her firm. In other words, I’m not interested, buddy.
And so it seems that Kennedy, will, in fact, come up with Nucky in the stocks scheme. Because a few hours later, the radio announces that Roosevelt intends on removing prohibition altogether, which will raise his chances of becoming president.
Nucky & Young Nucky
Young Nucky has come full circle to the moment that led him to the downward spiral of who he becomes. At the same time, Nucky has reached the end of his reign as the king of Atlantic City.
Adult Nucky is basically packing up and tying up loose ends since he has given up all he has to Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Nucky looks into a New York apartment, in hopes of being near Margaret. Who never confirms whether she would consider being with him again. But she allows the idea to remain in the air. Margaret tells him at the apartment viewing that he has made 2 million off the stock share tactic they had conspired. She, in turn, has made 29,000 herself. Even if she doesn’t get back with her husband, she has a nice little nest egg to work with.
Young Nucky is proudly moving his way around the boardwalk expecting the Commodore to reward him with the position of Sheriff at any moment. But the Commodore has never liked Nucky. He feels that he expects rewards based on good work. Isn’t that the way it should be? What really bugs the Commodore is that Nucky is so polished and well-mannered. The Commodore prefers to reward those that are deep into bad business.
Adult Nucky shows up at a small building near the boardwalk with a brown paper bag. The two men that had been following him are seen for a quick second before he enters. This little place is Eli’s new home. Nucky is saying his goodbyes to his brother permanently. As in, he doesn’t intend to ever make contact again. It is possible that he doesn’t want Eli’s fugitive status to implicate him in the future. And most likely, he just doesn’t want to deal with Eli’s issues. Nucky leaves him the paper bag and tells him he must try to make amends with his wife. The family is everything, after all. Then why is Nucky leaving his brother forever? Eli opens the bag after Nucky leaves and finds roughly thousands to a few million dollars. What a goodbye present, eh?
Young Nucky returns home and finds laundry on the floor covered in blood. Uh-oh, remember Mabel is pregnant. Mabel is in the kitchen looking pale and spaced out. She had a miscarriage. I was a little disappointed in realizing that we would never see Mabel’s breaking point. She loses her mind when their first child dies shortly after being born. According to the writers of the series, they feel that Mabel would have had many miscarriages before finally giving birth to their son. Young Nucky is upset that Mabel didn’t call for him. This is the moment when she initially points out that he is never around. His ambition to move ahead eventually ruins his family life because Mabel is left alone to fend through life problems on her own.
Eli interrupts this discussion to get Nucky for their mom. As Mabel had said, he is always so busy. Back at his parents home, Nucky’s mom is sporting a brand new black eye courtesy of his drunken father. Nucky approaches his father and tries to fight it out. His father’s abuse is something that he has always wanted to get control of. Nucky’s dad eventually points a gun to Nucky’s head, to the point that no one is sure whether the drunkard is capable of shooting his own son. When Nucky’s dad lets him go, he begins to cry about not being told he would be a grandfather. Young Nucky warns him what will happen to him if he ever lays his hands on his mother again. I will like to assume that Nucky’s dad sees this as a real warning and this is the last time he hits his wife. At least it would make sense if that’s the way it happened.
Adult Nucky who is walking through the boardwalk finishing business and avoiding the men that are following him, meets a beautiful woman who claims to be from the future. She is dressed like a mermaid from space and takes him into her futuristic tent. Inside the tent is a television that is playing a recording of the young woman singing. A very odd scene, but very symbolic in showing that the future is for the young people that are up with the advancements. The TV has not yet been invented and his mind is frazzled at how the woman is now appearing from this small box. Nucky’s era is done.
Young Nucky returns to the boardwalk for the Neptune festival and notices that one of Neptune’s consorts is actually Gillian. When she notices him she begins to run away, but he manages to catch up with her. He doesn’t intend on sending her back to the orphanage but is amazed that she believed that he would have never seen her. For a little girl that has dealt with nothing but abandonment and poverty, the parade is a moment to look pretty and an opportunity to have fun for once. When Nucky returns to speak with the Commodore, he not only rejects the idea of him becoming Sheriff, but he also takes away his deputy badge. Now in the midst of his wife having a miscarriage, he has no job.
Adult Nucky finally goes to see Gillian, who had sent him a letter asking for his help weeks before. As they sit in the resident living room, Gillian is looking fondly at her hand, as a ladybug walks up and down her fingers. Nucky begins on the defense, obviously dripping with guilt for all he has caused her in the past. Instead of showing some compassion, he instead resorts to telling her how he owes her nothing. How he has helped in the past, and right now, being that he has lost his power, he cannot help her leave the asylum. He doesn’t want her to contact him again and as a gesture of his good faith, he has left some money in a fund, should she find a way out of the asylum. But it never registers with Nucky that Gillian is not herself. That she had never said a word during his rant. She had written him a lengthy letter for help and now didn’t even suggest anything.
The attendant comes back to escort Nucky out and Gillian tries to rise to leave. “TRIES” is the key word because she is in pain and can’t get up without help. Dr. Cotton had gotten to Gillian and performed surgery on her. Nucky was far too late and now she is as close to insanity, as anyone who experienced that sort of violation without true reason. Gillian makes a remark about the kindness of people in the world and those are her last and only words to Nucky before she goes back to her room.
The deflated Young Nucky walks away into the crowd on the boardwalk, after being fired, possibly fuming with disappointment at the Commodore and his life. The Commodore’s right-hand man taps Nucky and presents to him the Sheriff badge. It will belong to Young Nucky if he can adhere to the Commodore’s rules in regard to his insatiable lust of young girls. He must bring the Commodore a girl. The ultimate sin for someone as straight-laced as Nucky. Within seconds, Gillian who is standing on the boardwalk looking toward the sea is in Young Nucky’s view. He knows she’s an orphan and there will be no one to care if he lets the Commodore have his way with her. And all the while, I am nothing but grateful for the scene back in season two, when Gillian smacks the Commodore non-stop after he had his stroke and can’t speak.
Young Nucky then approaches Gillian, who is eager to get in the water. But he is conning her to take his hand and go with him. It’s the moment that you want to yell at the TV screaming for Nucky not to do it. Because the consequences will plague him for many years to come. But his ambition gets the best of him and he trudges forward with his hand extended.
Adult Nucky’s final stop is at what used to be the Old Rumpus, The Onyx Club, and Babette’s. He is going to pick up what he has left, with the permission of Lucky Luciano’s men. While in his old office, he gets a call stating that someone needs his assistance, although he is no longer in power. Nucky finds himself picking up Joe Harper, who’s drunk and caught for stealing. Nucky gives him a speech about being poor, knowing too well how bad it was when he was young. He then gives Joe Harper some more money, in addition to the thousand dollars he gave him the last time he saw him. Joe Harper tears the money up before Nucky’s face. Nucky wishes him luck and washes his hands of the matter since the boy won’t use his help.
Joe Harper begins to talk about his Mee-Maw. How those words ring so familiar. But Nucky is too busy looking at the men that had been following him, and have now shown up again. Joe says he couldn’t understand if his Mee-Maw hated Nucky or loved him. His who? His grandma. That’s when Nucky focuses and asks who Joe really is. And he says, “I’m Tommy Darmody.” The most beautiful words that I have ever heard. Then Tommy pulls out a gun and shoots Nucky into a corner, before finally, shooting Nucky in the face. On the cheek, the same way Jimmy Darmody died.
The two men that had been following Nucky, come running and grab Tommy who is trying to charge at Nucky for more. The two men were federal agents. Like Capone, these agents are tailing Nucky to try to get him for tax evasion and end up witnessing his murder. Thus ends Nucky’s chapter.
The real Nucky Johnson doesn’t die, so this is a change from what happened in real life. But, I was satisfied with the connection made between Tommy and Gillian, in the end. Nucky’s biggest mistake causes his own death in the end. Very Satisfying! I would have done other things with the other cast members but its too late for that now.
Revisit the Board Walk Empire series here
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