Boardwalk Empire Review: Forgive and Forget?

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It should've been Gillian.

The season finale of Boardwalk Empire asked us to drink a toast "To the Lost." There have been lots of lives taken over the last 12 weeks, but only few have been as horribly moving as the most recent deaths of Angie and Jimmy. The tragic ending to a stellar season was all too fitting, as the series has become a little darker each week.

Unfortunately, this episode was not the best representation of the drama as a whole. For the most part, there were no surprises. Yes, Jimmy's death was shocking, but it wasn't unexpected... not even for Jimmy.

Nucky on the Move

Jimmy spent the majority of this episode saying his goodbyes. He made things right with Chalky, and even then Richard told him that it won't be as easy to smooth out his relationship with Nucky. Jimmy knew it, and we knew it too. But that didn't make Jimmy stop from trying to make his former father-figure happy again. Killing Neery wasn't so much about self-preservation because Jimmy always knew what would happen if his plan to take over the city failed. His actions were more of an apology, a way of showing that he was sorry for picking the wrong father.

Jimmy finally opened and exposed his inner turmoil to the people who mattered most to him. He admitted to having his doubts about the Commodore and how his only joy came from one moment of fatherly pride. Jimmy spent some quality time with his son and left Tommy with a little memento of his dad. He tried to reach out to Richard to keep him from letting the trauma of the war overtake him. In his final words to Nucky, Jimmy admitted that his life really ended during the war:

I died in the trench, years back. I thought you knew that.

But I think part of Jimmy died before that... like when his mother seduced him, screwed him and abandoned him with the shame of it. It should've been Gillian, but perhaps she'll understand the part she played in her son's death. It was a sad and violent end for Jimmy, and even though we expected it, I couldn't help but wish that Nucky's coin toss had a different outcome.

Jimmy's character brought an emotional depth to the show that can't be easily replaced. The crazy family drama that he played out in his mind and in real life added so much to the plot. Not only were his storylines intriguing to watch, he was such a flawed and complex character. From a fan's perspective, I hate the decision to kill off Jimmy. Yet, in the context of the story, it wouldn't have made sense for Nucky to forgive Jimmy.

Was it a bad move to kill Jimmy?

Jimmy's death wasn't the only part of the episode that felt predictable. The quick disintegration of the case against Nucky was also an anticipated outcome, although not as fluidly handled. I did like the great juxtaposition of Randolph practicing her opening remarks interspersed with scenes of her case falling apart, but it just felt too neatly executed. This trial has been looming over Nucky's head all season and it was resolved far too quickly.

Also, we knew that Nucky and Margaret's marriage was the only option for keeping Margaret's mouth shut and Nucky out of jail. However, I didn't expect her to cave quite so quickly. Having tried the angry, shouting tactic in attempting to reason with Margaret, Nucky took a softer approach. In seeming honesty, he confessed that he loved her and that his new family was more important than anything else. He expressed remorse for his actions and fear for his future in hopes that his vulnerability would win Margaret over. She wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe him. But it all felt a little too rehearsed and well-timed.

I'm sure Nucky does love his little family very much, but he will always put himself first and his money second. This became quite clear to Margaret as well and she enacted her own little revenge. I can't wait to see the results of her decision to sign over his deeds to the church next season. 

It did become clear that Margaret feels much less for Nucky now than she did even just a few episodes ago. And I actually feel the same way. His decision to kill Jimmy definitely fit with everything we know about his character, but it was so coldly executed that I can't find much to enjoy about Nucky anymore.

How do you feel about Nucky now? And what's going to happen with the "Muellers" (aka Van Alden and Nanny) next year?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (80 Votes)

I agree with many of the other posters that Jimmy was by far the character with the most depth and likeability. Don't get me wrong, I think the last episode was the by far the best of a surprisingly uninspiring season 2. Basically Jimmy saved Nucky's bacon from wasting away in a federal prison and this is the thanks he gets from Nucky. What a dick! Angela, Jimmy, and Richard were the only likeable characters on the show. I'm not sure I can watch another season of sketchy writing. Bring the Sopranos back! This show ain't even close!!


I really dont think that with HBO having such big success with all their awards with boardwalk empire Would really want to get rid of the main star, jimmy was coming up since the show began and everyone started getting into jimmys story line and season 2 came and every episode jimmy was becoming the most liked character. Till he became the best character, and everyone was watching just to see jimmys story lines. And boom? ? Hes gone. Yeah right. If he is they are so stupid for throwing the show out the window. I mean come on. I have to fast forward thru nuckys and margarets scenes. Its so dull and boering and not where the fans wanted the show to go. So if jimmy is dead. Say good bye to your biggest hit tv show on hbo. Cause no one wants to waste their time watch margaret cry and show what a lady was like back in. The early 1900's. Puthetic. Either jimmy isnt dead and the show will become bigger and bigger. Or jimmy is dead. And so is the show. And all it could of been. And that = no more audiences for the show.


@Irweezy Duh? It said Cicero, IL for a reason.


Apparently the town that Van Alden setup in is soon to be the new booze hub for Al Capone's operations. I read that in an interview with one of the show's writers.


imho, the show did not progress according to the baseline story set up and the writers went along and jumped on the this past season's television series bandwagon killing off a prime character! to be honest, I am not interested in Margaret's problems and do not want to bear up to another season of her constant whining and nonsensical behavior! when Nucky shot Jimmy I felt really duped sitting through a complex backstory on his character and then just BANG BANG he's killed off. I feel like the writers are throwing out (up) ideas for each episode to see what BS sticks on the wall. they need to sit in a room to work together because the writing appears obviously fragmented and incohesive just like when Mad Men totally fell apart. I would like each series to end after ONE season.... I do not appreciate being dragged along year in and year out by a disappointing TV show! HBO should reprise The Sopranos with the same style of great writing to hold the views attention and not this brand of illogical BS!! sorry to say it but BE either needs to step up or simply get out of the way!


Jimmy's final shots are interesting and offer a lot of room for speculation. First of all, when I saw Nucky pointing this tiny revolver at Jimmy I was thinking "this looks ridiculous"! Why not blast him with Eli's shotgun? Or a big caliber automatic like most people seem to carry around? No, it's this "lady" gun (bet it was only a .22, more likely a .38 "snub nose"). Second, a head shot (normally) kills immediately - but here the victim's just losing consciousness while hallucinating. A head shot doesn't have to be a deadly wound! Just think about Richard who lost half of his face and still lives! In a symbolic/cinematic sense there are also some interesting aspects! A fade to white doesn't necessarily mean death. Besides, Jimmy said he died IN the trench. But his vision is actually about LEAVING the trench! For an upcoming season with him still being alive this would literally mean what he admitted to Nucky before - him being a living dead. And still, him returning in flashbacks or visions. Remember what he said about having enough people or booze around! We'll see...


I'm going to miss Jimmy. Eli was forgiven too quickly/easily. The court case ended abruptly. Great ending.


Nucky forgiving Eli and not Jimmy felt odd and just out of place. We saw Eli beg for forgiveness and Nucky threw him out the door, yet now they're all "buddy-buddy" again? Especially right after Eli was going to agree to testify against him? Not only that, but Nucky knew Eli lied to him when he said he had nothing to do with the shooting. It can't just be because he's his brother. Eli would have guaranteed Nucky spend his life in jail and the only reason that didn't happen was because Jimmy prevented it from happening. It seemed to me that Jimmy did much more to deserve forgiveness than Eli. And choosing Manny Horovitz over him? Please, how does that make sense? Manny is a fly on the wall that Rothstein, Waxie, Doyle, Luciano, Jimmy and Lansky would have all liked to see dead. I think this was just played out wrong. I think the writers have fundamentally misunderstood their own story. Nucky IS James' father, not 'The Commodore'. Despite Jimmy's failings and treachery, Nucky would have/should have forgiven him in the way that a loving father would forgive/be blind to his son. The TRUE arc would have been for Nucky to turn his gun on Horvitz (who killed his 'son's' wife and true love) and for James to truly explore the father/son dynamic and the oedipal complex. One word - "disappointed".


Yes but the gunshot wound to the face could have been some elaborate mask, like Richards' maybe they were trying to fake Horvitz out....I pray that it is all a bad dream, where can the Boardwalk lead without Jimmy Darmondy Alas! TopherC
December 12th, 2011 11:39 AM Is Jimmy Darmody REALLY dead? No, I'm not suggesting a Dallas (the series, not the city) style "Oh, it was all a bad dream" scenario. But, could there be another twist. We know Nucky is more than willing to order a murder, but have we ever seen him terminate someone at his own hand? Why didn't he leave the task to one of his minions? Could this have been a conspiracy by Nucky and Jimmy to passify Horvitz, who would surely never stand for Jimmy to remain alive? Will we find out next season that Jimmy is tucked away out of town, back in the Army or otherwise on the lamb? Elements that support this scenario:
Jimmy insists that Owen leave the room when he meets with Nucky. This could allow an opportunity to hatch a secret plot. Jimmy goes to meet with Nucky (and Horvitz) alone, without the aid of his friend Richard, who might have instinctivly shot Nucky. Jimmy shows up without a weapon. Elements that would be difficult to overcome:
That bullet hole in Jimmy's left cheek. Read more:


Jimmy was the reason I watched this show! Granted I love Nucky, but I don't know if the show can redeem itself now.

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Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 12 Quotes

Flip a coin. When it's in the air, you'll know what side you're hoping for.


If there really was a God, would he have given me this mug?