Boardwalk Empire, Season 5, Episode 8, “Eldorado”
October 26, 2014, 9:00 pm, HBO
“You never wanted to be here, not from the start.”
Last week, I thought the ending of the series would come down to Nucky atoning for his guilt over Gillian. I was slightly wrong. It was a big wrong, but it was true that everything stemmed from younger Nucky’s chosen ignorance towards the Commodore’s actions, and his delivery of Gillian into his rapey arms. But first - let’s dissect how perfectly the show wrapped up it’s characters story arcs.
In a world of terrible men and terrible fathers, Capone was a terrible man, but a wonderful father. The scene where he says goodbye to his son, before his arrest, explaining how it was all worth it to provide for him and give him the things he deserved, tears welling up in his eyes, persona completely toned down. It was moving to say the least, and Stephen Graham has done some phenomenal work with this character.
Luciano has his meeting of the seven, at a round table to show no one sits at the head, reminiscing prior to it with Lansky on their humble beginnings, they set forth to eliminate all in their way - including a well-deserved Narcisse, gunned down in the street.
Margaret is now a mover and a shaker, and has now shifted in a position of power over men. The smile of respect Joe Kennedy has for her when she strategically moves stock, the pride in Nucky’s voice when he says “you’re awfully good at it,” discussing her money making skills, gives her the happiest ending of the show, and she deserves it. She tells Kennedy to picture all the things he wants to do with his life, then picture himself in a dress. It’s a perfect piece of writing, acknowledging all at once the show (and the time’s) misogyny towards women.
Nucky spent the episodes saying his goodbyes. He and Margaret share a sweet last dance, he visits Eli in his one room apartment, above the boardwalk, lets him know they won’t see each other again, but gives him one last piece of advice, speaking as if he’s already dead and gone, handing him a paper bag full of cash and a razor. It’s a tense, bittersweet moment for the two who have shared so much bloodshed and hatred over the years. He visits Gillian, and doesn’t give her what she wants. He tells her she shouldn’t look to him for help, that she was clever, and did what had to be done. He’s given her money, and a private room, but she doesn’t care about the money. He came too late and couldn’t save her. She’s already been mutilated by Dr. Cotton. His pleas for her to leave him alone and demand what she wants from him sound like he’s asking for himself. The look she gives him from below, as he stands over her, while she clutches at her wounded stomach is gut wrenching in the most literal sense. She’s broken, and forever lost.
And Nucky’s end? Who saw this coming? I really didn’t, but it’s brilliant. He was a terrible man, who caused pain to a lot of people, caused the deaths of Jimmy, Gillian’s soul, Richard Harrow, everyone Tommy Darmody held dear. Tommy has been biding his time, looking for his opportunity. I knew there was a reason this eager, hired by Mickey, young lad’s face slightly reminded me of Jimmy’s, with Angela’s eyes, his voice was so similar too. He did what his father planned to do in season 2. As the episode nearing its end moves frantically faster between past an present, towards the climax of just what Nucky does to Gillian, unsure as he approaches her innocent looking face, promising he will always look after her, a bold faced lie, and to Tommy enacting his vengeance after calling him from the police station, explaining how he couldn’t tell if the way his grandmother talked about Nucky was with love or hate. “Who are you?” Church bells sound, “Tommy Darmody,” bang, bang, bang. The sounds of plunging into the ocean, Nucky stares, life fading as Tommy manically enraged still runs towards him, held back. Cut back to young, innocent, impoverished Nucky in the ocean. End.
The show has had a slow-burning, beautiful run, and you can’t ask for a better series ending for this show. It’s been an absolute pleasure to review this final season.
The show has had a slow-burning, beautiful run, and you can't ask for a better series ending for this show. It's been an absolute pleasure to review this final season.