Boardwalk Empire Review: A History of Jimmy's Violence

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Violence seemed to be the order of the day on "Gimcrack & Bunkum." The gruesome and emotionally harrowing scenes occasionally made me cringe and cover my eyes in shock. But all that brutality made this episode just as entertaining and enthralling as last week's.

The tides have changed for Jimmy, as he faced some humiliating tests of his leadership ability. Nucky forced the unprepared Jimmy to make an impromptu speech at the World War I memorial dedication, and Mr. Parkhurst uses his cane to scold Jimmy with a knock to the head. Each man thinks Jimmy is just an impertinent and disobedient kid.

Gimcrack and Bunkum Scene

But Jimmy isn't a child, and boy did he prove it. After a pep talk from dear old mom, he took the first step towards reclaiming his manhood and his position as a vicious leader. Jimmy's silent confidence and steely resolve are the best parts of his character, but those traits can take him to some pretty dark places. Watching his cold execution of Parkhurst's scalping was equal parts terrifying and unnervingly satisfying for me.

This scene made me wonder, are we supposed to root for Jimmy? Jimmy clearly wanted to prove that he will do whatever it takes to stay on top. It was nice to see Jimmy regain his confidence after that thump on the head from Parkhurst, but I can't imagine Boardwalk Empire without Nucky Thompson in power.

However, I could definitely imagine the show without Eli, whose sniveling apology to Nucky was not only too late but also showcased how easy betrayal is for Eli. In the end, his groveling only served to add to his humiliation when Nucky callously rejected him, and it led to the inevitable violent confrontation between the two siblings. Another oddly gratifying moment of violence.

Less brutal, although just as disturbing, was Richard's trip to the woods. He seemed resolved to end his life, but the weird sequence of events that transpired (a random dog stealing his mask?) led him to cling to the only tie that matters: his friendship with Jimmy. Although not the most stable, Richard's character brings the most life to the series by reflecting how much a person can lose. His tragic circumstances add an extra layer of dramatic tension to the show and all of his scenes are electric with quiet tension. I'm glad he was saved out there in the woods.

Boardwalk Empire has really reached a high point in the season, leaving us with lots of questions for the upcoming episodes. To wit:

What about Horvitz? Jimmy may have put Parkhurst and the old boy's club in line, but Horvitz seems like a much more formidable opponent.

Eli's "accidental" killing of George could have serious consequences. What's going to happen to Eli, and who will be implicated in his crime?

Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that Nucky's deal with the new prosecutor won't go as smoothly as promised. Will Nucky really get off so easily?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (33 Votes)

The directors will not betray the true history of Atlantic city during the 1920's. Thus far, they have maintained a keen sense of history from the way the boardwalk truly looked in the '20's to the actual character of Nucky (i.e. "Enoch Johnson").
Will he win: Yes. If the writers want keep on par with history which they have in the character of nucky...all the additional participants are for entertainment. The entire show revolves around certain themes and they all circle around the question of what, even the ancient Greek philosophers pondered: What is the measure of a man? IS Nucky more evil than good? Is he more "good" than evil? if not, why?
The show does a great job of making people of any generation search their heart and soul to answer the question: "IF you had the chance for ultimate power, money, fame...would you take it?"
There is a sublime point that the writers are, I think, attempting to pass along for reflection to the viewer. Hence, the grand quality of the show. In virtually each character, fighting their own personal demons, we learn more about not just the "roaring '20's," but rather those human traits that arise in any age.
There have been many "Nucky's" with different names and in different places. The key question is: What do these characters tell about us all? They show the weaknesses, strengths, and ask the perennial question of "what is right and wrong?" Can a small bit of "evil" contribute to a greater good?
Jimmy will not die but will be humbled. I think many of the characters are in a position of being humbled, as Nucky was. Atlantic City in the 1920's was a great choice to expand upon many qualities of human nature. Many of the questions that arise from the personalit of the characters are not unique to the '20's. They are very much alive today.
I don't think there are concrete answers. The writers want us to ponder and think about human nature. TV isn't always about mere entertainment. It is a reflection of who we, as a people, really are. When we lay at night and wish upon a star...what are your deepest desires? Power, money, glory? someway or maybe just one? This is the essence of show...the magical quality that makes it "come alive." It "comes alive" because even we that live in the second decade of the 21st century can very easily identify with the emotions of those that lived, smiled, loved, and came of age during the '20's. They had no idea what, in 10 years, would change their world forever, that is, the Great Depression. Technology has changed our lives. It has progressed further than human emotion has. The series captures this fact, well... and, it should leave us all with questions about human nature and not concrete answers. Great philosphical unertones. Great show!


That was quite gory! Katy and Owen hooked up finally. Nucky's trying to get work done and shaking his head derisively at all the carousing in the next room :]

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Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 5 Quotes

Jimmy: Alright, Mom.
Gillian: Alright, leave me alone, or alright, I understand what needs to be done.
Jimmy: Both.

Is this to be our life?