Tomorrow night the season 3 premiere of Boardwalk Empire is going to be televised on Sky Atlantic in the UK and I’ll be sure to be tuning in. I recently ploughed through a couple of mini sessions of season 2 over the last couple of nights and now I’m chomping at the bit to see what the implications are of the huuuuuuugggggge developments in the S2 finale.
**Warning – Guaranteed Spoilers to Follow**
Let’s get straight down to it on this one; the biggest plot line I, and I’m certain many others, are most eager to see picked up is the fallout from the murder of Jimmy Darmody.
Those two bullets fired by Nucky at the close of season two have far reaching consequences that will impact on a number of characters and narrative strands in the show and I’m confident the show makers will realise the dramatic potential of that fateful action. Let’s face it; the storylines that were centred on the Jimmy/Nucky dynamic were firmly in the driving seat of the show. It was a bold move to kill Jimmy; not simply because he was a lead character but also because he was such a compelling and engaging character (largely due to Michael Pitt‘s great performance), but that’s the way they went – and kudos to them for not chickening out of the storyline’s natural, some say inevitable, outcome because he was a popular character.
Jimmy was a key member of the ‘council’ of second generation gangsters; Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Micky Doyle. The implications of his death will be significant for these guys. For Luciano and Lansky it is the loss of their beneficial relationship in Atlantic City, which will presumably mean a return to relying on the patronage of Rothstein (and his relationship with Nucky) for access to bootlegged alcohol; they’re certainly not going to feel particularly bothered by the actual death as they are by it’s impact on their wallets. Capone had a friendship with Jimmy but whether we will see him take any action is doubtful – his loyalty is to power and money. Jimmy’s death I’m sure will simply be an occupational hazard in the eyes of Capone, but the writers may suprise me. One thing’s for sure though – the standing between these next generation mobsters and their desire to move from under the shadow of their patriarchs with be a mine of dramatic (and likely violent) potential for the show despite Jimmy’s death and it will be interesting to see how Jimmy’s removal from their cabal will change their dynamic.
Of course, there is someone who may look for revenge for Jimmy’s murder; Gillian Darmody and Richard Harrow. Certainly I’m looking forward to seeing Harrow’s reaction. His relationship to Jimmy was more than a mutually beneficial business arrangement and one of brotherhood, respect and loyalty. There is undoubtedly few in the show with as much talent for murder as Harrow (and the competition is tough!) and it is my firm belief that he and Gillian will conspire to end everyone involved with Jimmy’s death, which is going to make some great telly!
Gillian was a particularly interesting character for me in season two. To be clear; I wasn’t too switched on to the creepy grandparent and Oedipal stuff, but I was fascinated by her manipulations for influence and control. Ironically she is possibly the strongest representation of feminist power in the show; a woman truly playing ball in a big man’s game, and I foresee her drive for power following Jimmy’s death accelerated, further fuelled by the loss of a son she loved a little too much. With the skilled Harrow as her right hand enforcer she may be able to achieve what Jimmy couldn’t; he failed at being King, however maybe she can succeed as Queen. It’ll be interesting to see if the show goes in this direction – revenge is definitely on the cards, but there is scope for so much more from Gillian and Richard.
Speaking of feminism; one journey I’m less bothered about is Magaret Schroader’s. Aside from being kern to see the fallout of her betrayal of Nucky by signing the land over to the church Magaret became a bit of a drag through season two and her personal moral/religious exploration, while I recognise it’s thematic importance to the show, became sluggish and detracted from the sexier gangster stuff. I’d be keen to see this angle wind back a bit in season three, though I feel it’s unlikely I’ll get my wish.
Agent Van Alden’s story was another example of a plot strand that felt sluggish and distracting to me too. I hoping going on the lam will pick up this thread a bit for me; I anticipate some form of manhunt or evasion of law enforcement that the writers can explore for some suspense and action, although there is most definitely going to be further examination of his moral/religious journey too as it’s such a firmly established element to his character. In any case, there’s much that can be done with Nelson Van Alden, and if it moves his identity away from religious zealot and looks more into his reversal of role from Fed to Fugitive will make for some more intriguing storytelling for me around him.
And finally there’s of course Nucky. The trailer that’s been running on Sky states “You can’t be half a gangster” and suggests the quite compelling thematic strand of Nucky’s transformation from Machiavellian, unscrupulous Statesman to fully fledged mobster. The sheer tonnage of dramatic potential surrounding this possible storyline is massive and I know the writers will mine some golden telly with this idea. He’s going to have it from all sides. Margaret’s betrayal will cut deep; it’s a lucrative piece of land she’s given away and the one place to stab Nucky to do the most damage is his wallet, not his heart. Eli will be imprisoned and there will still be a healing to take place between them. And there will assuredly be a new contender to the Atlantic City throne (Gillian & Richard? Lucky & Meyer? Or this new Gyp character reported?) that will be stepping up to fill the Jimmy void.
In any case; Boardwalk Empire has proven for two seasons that it is addictive and compelling television, and with all of the aforementioned going on (and much more besides; I’ve not mentioned anything about Chalky, Owen Sleater & the IRA, or the Washington politicians all in the mix who will have a part to play in season three too) it’s undoubtedly going to be more of the same high quality continuing. Let’s see if my predictions are true…