Boardwalk Empire: Farewell Daddy Blues – A Fine Farewell Indeed

**SPOILER ALERT**

With a show like Boardwalk Empire, there will certainly be some bumps and bruises throughout the year, however, this year’s finale is the reason to stick with a show with such astounding production value and brilliant performers. This finale provided a huge step forward for the series in what should be known as the strongest Boardwalk entry to date, providing the audience with a tragically effective payoff, while launching the series forward into a new direction.

This episode is exactly the reason why this is such a difficult program to evaluate before it runs through a season in its entirety. Not only did this latest outing provide a sense of closure, it also tied just about everything together that has been happening throughout the 4th season while propelling other important characters into new and exciting opportunities.

Lets take a look at some of those important characters right now in the final rundown for this season of Boardwalk Empire.

Boardwalk Empire

Nucky Thompson

The former treasurer of A.C. was certainly provided some challenging moments, including one extremely intense sequence involving him and his brother Eli. I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit here though as the episode opens with Chalky putting Enoch in a corner (and nobody puts Enoch in a corner!). This particular scene combined with a few things that happen later make it somewhat difficult to determine what Nucky’s true intent is. The “conversation” between Nucky and Chalky involves an apparent setup of an assassination attempt aimed towards Dr. Narcisse and Nucky clearly needs to play both sides. The issue with Nucky remains evident. While his life is threatened in the beginning, he’s actually in a win-win situation because he’s on the winner’s side no matter what happens.

I should be clear that Nucky quite obviously is rooting for Chalky to come out on top since he could retain some of the power that he had lost throughout the year. However, Nucky remains, and will always remain, selfish and overly consumed with making shrewd business decisions. He takes and takes, and never gives back unless it allows him to take some more.

This was a characteristic of Nucky that was quite blatantly observed and pointed out by his own brother Eli. Oh and by the way, all the while with a gun pointed at his head by his older brother.

With the events throughout the year, there was absolutely no way there was not going to be a showdown between the two brothers due to Eli’s cooperation with Agent Knox. Eli is a character who has nothing to lose and Nucky doesn’t agree or care. Before Nucky has a chance to pull the trigger and kill his brother, Willie runs in, preventing the death of his father (there is nothing that will convince me Eli would still be alive had his son not interrupted). Of course if Nucky would have gone through with killing his little brother the trust of his nephew would have been disintegrated so Nucky naturally made the correct business decision, telling his brother to clean up the mess (and oh how he cleans up).

Yet another business decision Nucky makes is to allow the body of Jimmy Dormady to be revealed, which is a small thing, but had a huge effect on the rest of the plot, which will be discussed later.

Steve Buscemi’s character remains a perfect conduit through which to view the world of organized crime and bootlegging and he remains an important background instigator involved in all facets of the program. Including…

Chalky White vs. Valentin Narcisse

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Chalky looking an awful lot like his blind mentor from the penultimate episode.

So there was finally an endgame to the big feud of the season; sort of. After Nucky was able to organize a meet between the doctor and Chalky, there was one of the many heart attack inducing scene involving the two businessmen in what was now Dr. Narcisse’s club.

Much of this season has been spent trying to determine which of these two had the advantage, however it appears in the end they were equals, both of whom possibly tried to obtain too much power at once. Audiences may be surprised that neither of these characters were killed off, however one could certainly argue that the futures of both could become worse than death, with Dr. Narcisse turning into an informant for J. Edgar Hoover and Chalky having to live with the tragic death of his daughter.

On a more personal note, it’s nice to see both of these characters to survive, if only because it’s great to see the two performers soak up the screen.

Eli Thompson

Poor Eli really had a rough season, and this episode was no exception (he literally had a gun held to his head twice in this outing, with both people at the other end being legitimate threats to pull the trigger).

First off, Eli is forced to confront his older brother as Nucky already knew the plan that was set in motion. In just a few sentences Eli was able to identify who Nucky Thompson was; that he had everything taken from him by Nucky.

Yet there was one thing that Eli did have that Nucky still does not; a family, which in the end is the reason why Eli survives his confrontation.

Boardwalk Empire

Another confrontation Eli was able to survive is the duel between him and Agent Knox. The two get into a brutal and bloody fight in the middle of Eli’s living room that lasts a very long time and ends with a bashed in head of Agent Knox.

As the episode moved on it became more evident that Eli was likely to survive and continue with the show and it appears that the show may gradually move towards Chicago more than any of the other cities as Eli’s final scene involves him getting into a car with Nelson Van Alden (Van Alden remains awesome).

Al Capone

In the middle of all that was going on in this episode, the audience is also given the quick rise to power of the famous crime boss. This is the episode in which Al Capone is given the entire operation for which he has been preparing and desiring.

The real question that came to mind with this takeover is what exactly happened with the multiple shootings. In the previous episode the show hinted that Torrio may have been behind the assassination attempt of Capone and in this finale Torrio was shot multiple times and it was presented in a way that leaves open the possibility that Capone was behind the shooting of his boss.

I don’t know if there’s anything to this, but the manner in which the assassination attempts occurred left something to think about.

Gillian Dormady

So last week’s episode wasn’t quite the end of Gillian Dormady as this episode showed the woman revert back to the person audiences all know and hate. Her tragic life continues with her ready to be put away forever (although I’m not entirely sure it was a death sentence).

Daughter Maitland

Daughter shows up for a brief scene near the end to say goodbye using that soulful and beautiful voice. The montage near the end of the show fades in and out with different endings for different characters, reminding the audience of the multiple journeys through which the cast was put. After the song was over, there was just one loose end to tie…

Richard Harrow

The end of Richard Harrow’s life was of course something that was tragic, yet, much like the death of Jimmy, necessary for the show to move on. It wasn’t an altogether sad ending either because even though Richard is the one who put an end, albeit accidentally, to Chalky’s daughter’s life, he also quite probably saved the life of Jimmy’s son by making sure Gillian would never be able to interfere again.

Richard’s arc feels like the most complete and well drawn out storyline the series has accomplished so far.

His family is safe, he no longer has to be on the run or in hiding, and he no longer has to live with the pain and memories that have come from his line of work. He more than made up for his past by giving a child a good home and providing refuge for his family.

So, even though we are forced say goodbye to one of the best characters the show had presented in it’s 4 year run, the series feels as though it is headed for big things in the next few years. I, for one, am more than ready for the next season to begin.

Boardwalk Empire

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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I'm Kevin Licht, a graduate from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor emphasis in Film Studies. When I'm not working I watch and write

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11 Comments

  1. RIP Richard. His death was beautifully done and a great send off to an amazing character. Can’t wait till Season 5! 😀

  2. Elmer Page
    0

    It is very frustrating that no one can have a happy ending.

    Was it so hard for the creators of the show to have Richard leave with his family? Hasn’t he suffered enough and he had to die so young?

    In this show it would be bold if they ever have someone that ends up being happy…

    • The problem with that, is that if they let Richard go live with his family and be happy, people would always want to know what Richard is up to, and wondering if he is coming back on the show. THey wouldn’t have closure. So, in a sense, he had to die.

      • Kevin Licht

        Yeah, I would actually argue this was about as happy an ending as possible for this particular character assuming what he saw in his visions was in some ways real.

        I don’t really think a happy ending is really appropriate for this show either since it’s about people getting dragged into an environment that doesn’t allow anyone to truly be happy.

    • I have seen plenty of people saying Richard’s ending was beautiful (not a word I personally would use for it), but I haven’t heard anyone say it was his happy ending. I think most are in agreement that it was tragic. Richard’s committed sins mean he doesn’t deserve a happy ending. None of the characters on this show have gotten, or will get, a happy ending. Maybe with the exception of Margaret because she is as close to a good soul as we’ve seen, even thoough she has her major faults too.

  3. I would definitely like to see more of the black and Harlem gangsters that come into play. Maybe a young Bumpy Johnson?

  4. GhostDancing
    0

    Nucky is all alone now. The commodore is dead, jimmy is dead, Richard is dead, Owen is dead. Eddie is dead. Margret won’t talk to him, it is doubtful Eli’s gonna stay tight with him. Chalky who has always had Nucky’s back is probably never gonna talk to him again. All he has now is Patricia Arquette who he barley knows and Eli’s bitch ass son Willy. So the next season should be interesting.

  5. Levi Daniel
    0

    Hoover making Narcisse turn against his cause and saying “yes sir” did not make me feel well, despite the fact that I wanted this character to be defeated. You could see in his face that any hope of him making a difference to the racial climate of America was completely erased by that interrogation. I get that he is still a selfish criminal that may stretch his moral compass to justify his actions, but it cannot be denied that he has a sincere passion for bettering his people, or enlightenment in general. The incredible hardships of gaining his status as a black man in prohibition America is nullified by Hoover’s agenda. Sad scene.

  6. M Gutierrez
    0

    I wish they would have killed off Gillian last season. I wound up fast-forwarding through all of her scenes because it was 20 minutes of plot stretched out over an entire season. The whole plot line just felt like filler to pad episodes up to an hour.

    I haven’t been a fan of Narcisse, either. He reminded me of a wannabe Gus from Breaking Bad. As silly as Gyp was, at least he was genuinely scary and entertaining in his insanity. Narcisse was just another well spoken, well dressed, cold, calm, calculated bad guy.

  7. Richard Harrow is one of the best characters on modern television in my opinion. The balance between his cold blooded actions and his often warm hearted feelings and gestures is perfectly measured and the show won’t be the same without him! RIP

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