Boardwalk Empire Review: Getting Ahead

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Seven years have passed since we last saw Nucky Thompson, but Boardwalk Empire Season 5 Episode 1 took viewers back to 1884 to start as we got a glimpse into Nucky's childhood in Atlantic City.

It was a fitting series of flashbacks, which gave all new perspective to what drives Nucky. The scenes at his home served to remind us how far he has come, but the roots of his relationship with the Commodore really showed where the desire to make that rise came from.

Nucky didn't want to be the one looking for handouts from the wealthy, he wanted to be the one sewing the sea with gold.

Business in Cuba - Boardwalk Empire

Taking the honest approach got him in front of the Commodore, but didn't yield him much. It was only after he was hauled up for fighting a young Jim Neary that the Commodore took interest in him, but Nucky's prior stunt with the hat did show his desire to be something different.

He thought returning the man's hat with the money still tucked inside would help him "get ahead." The dollar he earned for sweeping the porch of the hotel was a far cry from the fifty dollar bill he could have kept, but the education he would later receive from his new employer bolstered Nucky's bigger picture approach to life.

That outlook was what landed him in Cuba at the beginning of the episode, trying to strike an exclusive deal with the Bacardi family in 1931.

Nucky was looking to make a new life for himself, one based on legal enterprise. For this to happen he, of course, needed the government to repeal the Volstead Act and eliminate the very constitutional amendment that had helped him gain so much power and wealth in the first place. America's fragile state following the stock market crash of 1929 he hoped would be the impetus for his new edification.

If America's not about starting over where's the hope for any of us?


Nucky wanted to move on from his past and go legit, but there are still those looking to settle old scores we saw when an attempt was made on his life.

Meyer Lansky's trip to Cuba was revealed to be no vacation after Nucky met the prostitute who had been posing as Lansky's wife. Given their mutual drug interests, I have to think Lansky was acting on behalf of Narcisse and orchestrated the attempt on his life. With the death of Arnold Rothstein, it would make sense that Lansky would align himself with someone else in power. Especially when we learned that he and Charlie were not tight like they used to be.

A.R.'s other protege had been busy carving out his new path in life. When will mob bosses learn to never let guys go to the bathroom during meals?

It didn't end well for Sollozzo in The Godfather and Joe Masseria met his demise thanks to Charlie's plan to make Salvatore Maranzano the sole head of organized crime in New York City.

Kingdoms rise, kingdoms fall. Pretenders reach for the throne but only Caesar can rule and the pretenders fade away. What does it all mean? In the words of Marcus Aurelius, the universe is change, our life is what our thoughts make it. And my thoughts are this, everybody in this room, is going to get rich.

Salvatore Maranzano

Maranzano's speech about the rise and fall of kingdoms was very thematic of the entire episode. Chalky managed to free himself and will hopefully find his way back to Nucky before long, as the final season unfolds and the pretenders are weeded out.

It's interesting to note that Nucky's plan depends on a Democrat taking office. Where will he be without all his connections in Washington? Legit or not, his new business is being built on a foundation of crime. Nucky's sordid past came up more than once this week. I wonder if he will even last long enough to see the changes in government he needs to come about.

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Boardwalk Empire Season 5 Episode 1 Quotes

If America's not about starting over where's the hope for any of us?


The day repeal passes, I intend to be open for business legally, in the thirstiest country on Earth.