“Boardwalk Empire”: Resolution Review

By Jordan Magrath

Besides AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men,” I think that HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” is the best show on television. I’d even take arguments that it beats AMC’s Elite…but I’d slightly disagree.  It’s that good, though.  Many feared that last year’s huge finale, which saw (spoiler alert) Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) killing Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), had killed the show’s chances going forward.  If “Resolution” is an indication, “Boardwalk Empire” isn’t going down without a fight.

What better way to start the new season…and newish direction…by introducing a new character in the first scene?  Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) starts off murderously, too, as he tire-irons a good samaritan to death.  Later, we find out that Gyp isn’t exactly Nucky’s ally, which seemed like a pretty obvious direction for him to go.  Without Jimmy as an enemy (although we’d all like to think there was love in that relationship), it’s easy to understand why they’d get a guy (and an actor like Cannavale) to fill the void.

Some of the reservation for “Boardwalk’s” third season also had to do with the polarization of Nucky.  Yes, like many of TV’s anti-heroes, the main character is flawed.  However, by having Nucky actually murdering Jimmy – not just ordering the kill or being responsible for it – some feared we’d lost his sympathy.  Don’t look at me…as I’m still sort of (huge emphasis) rooting for “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White, so it wasn’t surprising when I hoped right back on the Nucky train.  And…he’s not done murdering either, as he shows us his darkly comedic and ever-increasing murderous side with his opening killing.

“Boardwalk Empire” also made it a big deal that it was becoming 1923.  This and the significant portion of the episode spent in Chicago got me curious, but I wasn’t educated on the historical context.  Turns out 1923 is a huge crime year for Chicago, making this episode a huge first step towards some pretty graphic upcoming stuff.

Speaking of the timing, I was surprised there was such a big jump between Season 2 and Season 3.  I think I caught them saying it had been a year and half.  I guess it’s a change of pace to other shows, and it gives them plenty of time to infer major developments…such as how far Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) and Nucky have diverged.

Although sexism has always been apart of the show, it looks as if it is going to take full flight (get it!?!) this year.  Carrie Duncan’s flight wasn’t just a historical benchmark – no, the show used it as a way of foreshadowing what is to come.  Is this finally the season where Margaret splits away?  The two seemed fine towards the beginning of the episode, but Nucky’s huge blow-up after the New Year’s party and, of course, his affair with the dancer, all point to things continuing to spiral out of control.

A few notable things before I go: Van Alden (Michael Shannon) reappeared and was immediately thrown into the Chicago part of the story. To me, it seemed a bit forced to see him help save Danny from Al Capone (Stephen Graham), but I guess I’d rather see it forced than have it slowly mature (in some instances, this is okay).

Also, how awesome is Richard Harrow (Jack Huston)?!  Time away made me forget about him, but I’m starting to think he is the most sympathetic character this show will ever have to offer.  There have been lots of people comparing him to “The Wire’s” Omar…and I am totally okay with his.

A lot of groundwork was laid in “Boardwalk Empire’s” New Year’s episode.  Although we didn’t see Chalky (speaking of Omar) or Eli, a new character (Gyp) and conflict (Chicago’s impending turf war) have this show leaving Jimmy’s death in the past.  Although there was plenty of mention of his passing – all through the eyes of his creepy mother – it appears the show isn’t going to let us dwell on it too much.  And after this episode, I’m thinking that is an okay thing.

Rating: A-

Follow me on Twitter @jmacle

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