Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I mentioned last week that the reappearance of Daughter pointed towards a potentially happy ending for Chalky. Of course this turned out to be false hope, and Chalky’s death closed out a rather great and surprising episode of Boardwalk Empire. This wasn’t a barnstorming episode centered on the war between Nucky, Lansky, and Luciano. Instead we got a quiet and somber episode that said farewell to two main characters and reaffirmed Nucky’s desire to fight.
So let’s talk about Chalky. After all that he has been through over the course of the series, and the changes to his character we’ve seen this season, there really couldn’t have been a more fitting end for the character. Perhaps it would have been a little bit more entertaining to see him go down in a hail of bullets after killing Narcisse, but the redemptive act that led to his death worked far better. Chalky isn’t a morally righteous man, and it was his own acts that tore his family apart. But sacrificing himself so that Daughter and her own daughter (who is almost definitely Chalky’s child) could have just a slim possibility of freedom from Narcisse is the best thing Chalky has done in years, from a moral standpoint. Chalky admitting to Daughter that he couldn’t even remember the sound of her voice, and then later closing his eyes and hearing her sing one last time before his death was incredibly touching. I don’t tear up very often while watching television, but I have to admit that it almost got to me…
Right on the other end of the spectrum was Mueller/Van Alden’s last hurrah. Van Alden’s storylines have been all over the place since he left Atlantic City all those years ago, but finally hearing him cry out his real name one last time was an electrifying moment. We all should have known that Eli and Van Alden’s attempted theft of Capone’s ledgers would end badly, and that’s exactly how it went as they bungled around Capone’s loft. After interrupting Ralph in a compromising position, there was actually some hope for the two lovable idiots. That all changed as soon as Capone returned from his night out, and it very quickly became clear that there was no way both of them were leaving that room. The ensuing chaos was amazing though as Van Alden started beating the holy hell out of Capone, only stopping after Ness’ undercover man Mike blew a hole in his skull. For a character who has been prone to sudden acts of violence, Van Alden’s death was almost as fitting as Chalky’s.
The flashbacks continued to give us a great look at Nucky’s rise to power, and another important piece of the jigsaw was added this week with the introduction of a young Gillian. At first I had thought the kid Nucky was chasing would turn out to be Mickey Doyle or another one of his future henchmen, so the twist that it was a girl was rather clever. I have been expecting Gillian to make an appearance at some stage, and after seeing that other young girl being dropped off at the Commodore’s residence, I’m not looking forward to seeing Gillian’s fateful introduction to Atlantic City’s most powerful man.
Nucky had a highly amusing yet slightly disappointing time this week as he got absolutely wasted in a dive bar. Nucky has had a lot of setbacks in the past and he always follows the same pattern: he gets knocked down, sulks for a while, reevaluates things, then comes back stronger than ever. Sally’s death definitely shook his foundations pretty hard, and it took a whack on the head from a grifter to make him come to his senses. I’m still not too sure about this new kid who Mickey Doyle picked up a few weeks ago. It would be amazing if he turned out to be a vengeful Tommy Darmody, but the fact that he helped Nucky pick himself back up here kind of goes against that theory. He had the perfect opportunity to kill Nucky but didn’t hesitate to help him. Perhaps he’s playing a longer game, but I’m beginning to think that I (and many others on the Internet) have been barking up the wrong tree.
If you had told me a month ago that the third to last episode of Boardwalk Empire would be this quiet, it would have really worried me. And while the episode wasn’t action packed, it had a ton of wonderful moments and killed off two main characters, paving the way for a couple of Nucky-focused final episodes. Other than Nucky’s fight for survival, the only storylines that really need wrapping up are Gillian’s and the flashbacks’. The way Gillian has now entered the flashbacks points towards some sort of crossover between her and Nucky in the main storyline. With so much history between the two of them, I’d definitely like to see them have one last conversation. Speaking of history, with Eli being forced to flee from Capone, his only destination would appear to be Atlantic City. Eli has messed up time and time again on the show. Now that Chalky has found some sort of redemption, perhaps Eli will too.
Will Eli re-join Nucky in Atlantic City, and how exactly will that reunion go? Let us know in the comments below.
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