Boardwalk Empire Review: Under the Boardwalk

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As the tide went out on another season of Boardwalk Empire, fans watched the light in Richard's eye fade as well. 

Richard's death on Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 12 was just one a several such departures in what was a seriously blood soaked finale.

Boardwalk Empire Season Finale Scene

Eli beating Knox to death ranked right up there with Chalky and Dunn's struggle in Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 8. I can't recall ever seeing hand to handsaw combat before.

Eli saw to it that the Knox would never mess with his family again. The big question of the episode was this: would Nucky have gone through with killing his brother had Willie not walked in when he did?

I think Nucky would have done it. All the mentions of Jimmy reminded me how, when it comes to betrayal, Nucky has shown the ability to pull the trigger before.

Richard's hand froze up when the time came for him to do what he has always shown great skill at. The result, of course, was his accidental murder of Chalky's daughter. Part of me always thought Richard might be the one to outlive all others on the show. After seeing him say goodbye to Tommy, I realized that day would never come. 

Richard saw to it that Gillian paid for her sins. While he was no saint himself, I thought he deserved a better send off than he got. The final scene where he died under the boardwalk, as the episode faded to black with the sound of the ocean lapping against the shore, was great.

I just felt bad for him earlier as he was battered by Gillian's lawyer on the stand. That scene coupled with his final shot missing its target was not how I would have envisioned his final scenes.

There were a lot of arcs on Boardwalk Empire Season 4, perhaps too many. The erosion of Capone and Torrio's relationship seemed rushed and the exchange of favors by Rothstein and Margaret never really seemed to fit with the rest of the season.

Van Alden continued to float within Capone's criminal ranks, be it waiting on tables or picking up Eli at the train station.

As Chalky sat in his old friend's rocking chair, you got the feeling he might also be thinking about getting out of the game like Nucky,

All in all it was a good season. Good, not great, but I'll definitely be back for Season 5. How about you?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (33 Votes)

Did anyone get the "godfather" reference just before torrio got shot. He looked at his tomato plants and said he just sprayed them. Don corleone was spraying his tomato plants when he died.

@ Bob Doherty

Good catch!


Can you NOT put critical spoilers in the article taglines. This is the second time I've accidently read of a major spoiler before seeing the show, just because I was looking for another article!

@ Genevieve

Nobody is making you read them........................................

@ Genevieve

Thank you Genevieve! I was trying to pull up last week's review because I was a week behind on watching BE; wanted some thoughts and feedback before plunging into the finale. Totally ruined watching the finale for me. Hard to vote how I truly feel about it.


I waited with great zeal for the finale, just to be so disappointed! I absolutely hate the Narcisse character and may not watch next season, he so grates on me. No way would Nucky let Eli live AGAIN! Yeah, we completed the whole Jimmy story - everybody close to him is gone. Nucky now has no one. Wouldn't Harrow have been the perfect replacement for Eddie! BE's writers should realize that you need a few characters that you actually like. How can Eli be part of any organization knowing that he is such a dipSh_t. Jack Huston was great and I'll miss him so much if I watch at all. The story's gotta go to Chicago, I guess, and that'll do it for me. The Capone actor is just not believable to me - worst on the show IMO. Like so many great series...Mad Men, Weeds, Dexter, this one just continues to go down hill!


That was a seriously hectic final! I really can't believe they killed Richard. It was like they wanted to totally do away with the whole Jimmy storyline in one episode, especially symbolised by finally discovering his body. I guess the remaining characters from that part of the story have stumbled on for a few seasons past his death. Still, Richard added so much awesome value to the show, and considering how epic he was in the last finale, it's true as you say, they could have honored him with a more glorious send off. Would have far rather lost Chalky then Richard. I think there needs to be a spinoff story about the New York and Chicago gangsters - I honestly find them so much more fascinating then most of the Atlantic city ones with the exception of Nucky. I guess it's hard to stay loyal to Atlantic city characters when they kill off half the cast, and sent the other half to New York, Chicago, and remote hideaways. At this point who is even left in Atlantic city? the Knoxx scene was really gory and I think it dragged on a little two long... we got the point. I don't really think this finale did the season justice, it really felt like it was halfway through the season, not the finale. When you compare it to how totally amazing the last finale was it leaves a lot wanting. I did love the rest of the season though. I just think we needed about 4 more episodes with the Capone-Van Alden, Margaret-Rothstein and Luciano-Masseria stories to accurately cover what needed to be told. Another episode with Nucky actually in Florida would have been good too. Oh well... I agree, not a great episode but good enough, and its still so beautiful, I will definitely be back next season.


Chris, thanks for your writing this season. I hate that we'll have to wait until next fall for another season....................UGH. I agree with you that Richard deserved a better send off than that and I'm surprised they did his character that way. Only light at the end of the tunnel is that Gillian won't get Tommy. I've mentioned before that I was dismayed at the lack of Margaret this season. Didn't Eli have a run in with Van Alden before? Van Alden sure looked nervous when picking him up? I wasn't surprised Nucky didn't shoot his brother. He's just pulled Will deeper in I guess. I knew Nucky would figure out what was going on. So what's Chalky's next move? He won't think Nucky had his daughter killed(which he didn't it was meant for Narcisse) he'll think it was Narcisse. Would love to hear a few of your thoughts, Chris, on what you think will happen next.

C f ohara
@ Terrie

I'm pretty sure Chalky was in on the plan to shoot Narcisse. At one point he looked out into the club as if to try and signal Richard. Can you recall the last time Richard missed a shot like that though? Granted it would have hit Narcisse and Richard couldn't see Maybelle being lead into his shot, with his lack of vision. I just thought he deserved a better death than to catch a stray bullet from Narcisse's man. I think next season will def focus more on Capone, Lucky and Meyer. like @ThatGuy420 mentioned, Eli creates a bridge between the two cities like Jimmy did at one time.


One thing that wasn't mentioned is that Van Alden picking up Eli is symbolic of uniting the Chicago and Atlantic City stories and organizations for next season.

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Boardwalk Empire Season 4 Episode 12 Quotes

Hoover: You've actually pulled this off.
Knox: You seemed surprised Edgar.
Hoover: Organized crime? I'm merely exhibiting a healthy skepticism.

Chalky: So he yo nigga now, that right?
Nucky: Not right.
Cghalky: So you his nigga. Think I like that better.