Boardwalk Empire, Season Five, Episode 6

And so it comes to this. The end usually comes for gangsters in two fashions – death or prison. Boardwalk Empire features a number of historical characters, and therefore we know the fates of Luciano, Lansky, and Capone. But what of Nucky Thompson? His namesake, Nucky Johnson, alluded authorities until the 1940’s and lived into his eighties.

There are vast differences between Thompson and Johnson, so many that it’s safe to say that Thompson’s fate will likely have little to do with his historical counterpart. We’ll find out in two weeks what happens to him, but it’s not looking good. After all, how many times can a man survive a gang war?

I would venture to say that Nucky is about to be served a one way ticket to a lake of fire somewhere. For possible foreshadowing, this week’s episode went out of its way to remind us that the show has a history of raising the stakes by eliminating its fictional characters. I for one wish we hadn’t been forced to spend so much time with Nelson van Alden just to see him be unceremoniously whacked. It was a fate he richly deserved but one delivered in a manner that was a bit unsatisfying.

Chalky on the other hand had long been a dead man walking. Narcisse is one lucky bastard – had Daughter arrived a day, an hour later, Chalky’s suicide mission would have been successful. I love Jeffrey Wright as an actor, and I think if Narcisse had been introduced in season three, instead of the one-dimensional Gyp, we would have had a far richer series.

Overall this is the main problem with Boardwalk Empire. Its hodgepodge of historical and fictional characters means that we know what is going to happen half the time, and assume the worst the other half. It’s always lacked for dramatic balance in this regard. And with two weeks left, we’re fast running out of fictional characters for the show to eliminate.

(c) 2014 D.G. McCabe