Final Thoughts About ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 4, Expectations for Season 5

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The HBO series ‘Boardwalk Empire‘ concluded what avid fans would call a mediocre fourth season this past weekend. The show, which has seen a steady decline of viewers over each season, has already been renewed for a fifth season and the question is – can the show rebound from a rather lackluster season?

The fourth season had all the potential in the world to be great after a tremendous season three finale, however it fell short in many ways. The primary problem with the show is the number of storylines running at the same time. It’s become so watered down it’s hard to really get deep into any particular character aside from Nucky. In the past, the scenes with Rothstein, Masseria, Lucciano, and Lansky have been some of the most captivating of the series. This season that foursome probably appeared in only half the shows – at most.

The Gillian Darmody storyline in season four was painful. Yes, the ending was surprising, but it was also far-fetched. You mean to tell me that Roy Phillips was playing her all the time knowing that after he proposed, fake shot some guy, Gillian would finally confess a murder? Were those guys hiding out in Gillian’s place the entire time? Yes, it was nice to see justice served, but to spend so much time with that character (probably the least popular character on the show) was a terrible mistake. I am hoping Gillian is done after this season, and I expect her to be.

The Chicago side of the season wasn’t terrible. I think my biggest complaint there would be watching Al Capone’s character constantly accommodate his runny nose from drug use. That’s going to get old real fast. That story, with Eli and Van Alden in the mix, should be fit for some awesome scenes next season.  Overall, I enjoyed that storyline particularly when Van Alden had his meltdown.

That brings us to Eli’s son Willie. My guess is the entire season was designed to have Willie emerge next season as a major character working under Nucky, which right now I’m not thrilled about. I just don’t think Willie is a great character. If you think of all the complex awesome characters in the show, Willie is not one of them. I expect him to be a regular next season with a lot of story around him, which is very disappointing. Nucky’s character is always great. Buscemi does a tremendous job with him. I expect him to be involved with Patricia Arquette’s character next season, which worries me. Her revealing cleavage is both confusing and distracting every time she appears on screen.

Connecting to that story was Eli’s final betrayal of his brother Nucky, and the involvement of FBI agent Knox. Knox was a pretty weak attempt to get J. Edgar Hoover into the story. We’re talking about an intricate ring of bootlegging and all types of sinful activities and the FBI’s involvement is the result of Willie getting caught with his pants down with some ugly girl then seeking revenge. Stupid. The build up between Nucky and Eli, however, was a pretty good part of the story. Overall, I just wasn’t thrilled with the entire story.

I must comment on the fact that Vincent Piazza (Lucciano) and Anatol Yusef (Lansky) didn’t have a large role on the show. Piazza is one of the most underrated characters in the entire show and he appeared in only four episodes. I think next season he’ll be a bigger character with Masseria, but this year was quiet. Same can be said of Rothstein – that story with Margaret was pointless and stupid. Thanks for keeping them in the loop.

I will comment on Chalky and Dr. Narcisse. Dr. Narcisse’s entry into the show was brilliant. His interaction with Chalky early on was some of the best of the season, but in the end it was a downer. Chalky’s decent into chaos, which was spurned by his affair with Daughter, as well as Narcisse’s role in Atlantic City was interesting, but the end to the story left you wanting more. I hope the second to last episode with Chalky and his mentor plays a role next season (which is will) because that entire episode will be a total waste. Chalky isn’t going anywhere and it’ll be curious to see what happens with him next season. Is Narcisse back? Not sure.

Finally, (see how long it’s taking to cover anything) we will bid farewell to Richard. In the end, you had to know that Richard was going to get killed at some point. It makes sense that some background work was done with him this season, but Richard needed to die heroically not after accidentally murdering Challky’s daughter. That, to me, was tragic. Richard was an incredible character that fans loved and he died in such a pathetic, crappy way. Pretty much sums up the entire season.

I guess after slamming the entire season I should say that I am a very big fan of the show. I will tune in next season because I think we’re clear of the Gillian/Tommy story, as well as some other uninteresting story lines. Overall, season four was set up to be edge of the seat exciting and it just didn’t come through. From Chicago to Tampa to Atlantic City, there was potential there for great TV that came up lame. Season 5, which could be the last, should be much better (a lot of Lucciano, Masseria, Rothstein, Nucky, Chalky) and you should give it a shot.

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