Boardwalk Empire, Season 5, Episode 3

There’s been a peculiar disconnect in Boardwalk Empire ever since the end of the second season.  The center of the story has gradually shifted so far away from Atlantic City that it might as well be called “Generalized Prohibition Empire.”  With the deaths of Jimmy and the Commodore, Nucky had no threats from within AC, and thus AC itself has become less interesting.

Tonight we saw that AC itself is disintegrating, not just as the focal point of the story, but as a place any of the outside characters would even bother with.  The Depression means fewer vacationers, fewer vacationers mean no jobs, and no jobs mean destitution.  Even the Onyx Club has been turned into a sleazy striptease.

It should come as no surprise that the owner of a strip club in a deteriorating seaside town isn’t taken seriously by a big fish like Joseph Kennedy.  There was a time when Nucky was a kingmaker – the undisputed ruler of a lucrative vacation destination – but he’s gradually abandoned any hard political power in favor of making as much money as possible.

But for what?  What has money done for any of the characters on this show?  Margaret took what she thought was another secure deal, but ends up having to go back to Nucky for help.  Capone has gone mad with power.  Even Chalky has been put in a position where he has to suffer dangerous fools just to get a few dollars.

The first three episodes of this final season have shown a startling amount of decay, especially when shown in contrast with the flashback scenes to AC’s glory days.  The center is rotten, and the various limbs won’t be able to hold out much longer.  With only five episodes left, its going to be one mammoth collapse.

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe