Boardwalk Empire Series Finale Review: Point of No Return

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Given the current financial status of Atlantic City's economy it seemed fitting to be saying goodbye to Nucky and the gang on Boardwalk Empire Season 5 Episode 8, "Eldorado." 

Last week with Willie's life in the balance, Nucky gave up all his holdings in his home city without hesitation. He had seen enough blood spilled in his life. He admitted defeat this week that the war was over.

Leaving AC - Boardwalk Empire

In the end we do what we have the nerve for or we disappear.

The Commodore

Nucky had lost his nerve to do what it took to get ahead in his world. He had designs on leaving it all behind and starting over, but he had long since swam out past the point of no return. He had been treading water this entire season, but he would never again reach the safety of shore.

We saw the current turn against Al Capone, but he put on a good face in front of his brother, his men, even his wife. The Capone we saw emerge from the car at the trial, boasting a cigar-filled smile, was the one the public and his men expected. The one person he couldn't hide his feelings from was his son. Above everything else he was a father.

Remember all I did was for you. To leave you with something better. And that can't be for nothin.

Capone

As Al turned to leave, Sonny put his fists in the air and implored his father to fight. Just like Al had shown him how to do years ago when he was being bullied at school. At the courthouse Agent Malone gave Capone a nod and Al returned it with a tip of his hat. It was like two boxers touching gloves before a fight, but this fight Capone knew would not go his way.

The country was on the brink of major change. Roosevelt was headed toward the White House and repeal was coming. In the same spirit, if not on the same moral level, Charlie ushered in a new age of his own. To survive, he and the other heads of of organized crime would have to put aside their differences, their personal hang ups and come together. To stand alone meant elimination, as Narcisse found out as he met his demise.

Joe Kennedy knew the future would be bright for The Mayflower Grain corporation if they kept a stiff upper lip, but it took Margaret to convince him that he was alone in his beliefs. Despite being right, had he stood his ground alone he would have missed out on the opportunity Nucky and she had orchestrated. Margaret also reminded him that while the country was moving forward, women like herself still had a long way to go.

Joe Kennedy: Three things are difficult to understand. The work of the bees, the movements of the tide and the mind of a woman.
Margaret: Here is an experiment for you. Think about the things you want in life, then picture yourself in a dress.

Nucky made his peace with her in the end as the two shared a final dance.

Nucky: My circumstances have changed. There are things I won't do anymore. You understand that don't you?
Margaret: There's what I know, what I suspect and what I don't think I should ever hear.

Nucky asked Margaret if she expected him to say he was sorry. She replied that she knew it was not in his nature to do so. She also acknowledged that all he did was offer her a way out of her old life, she was the one who took it. She was a grown woman who knew what she was getting into when she got involved with a man like him.

This was the difference between Margaret and Gillian. Nucky mislead Gillian in bringing her to the Commodore. He promised to always look out for her, but his actions back in 1897 served to only benefit himself. The Commodore had stripped Nucky of his badge so he would know what it felt like to be nothing. So when Leander approached him with their offer to make him sheriff, Nucky took it, despite knowing what the job entailed. He betrayed the trust of a 13 year old girl to get what he had always wanted, to get ahead.

As he visited with Gillian one last time, you could see that sin still ate away at him. Gillian didn't even need to say a word before Nucky began asking what it was she wanted from him. He had set up a trust for her if she got out, but he told her she was not to contact him or seek him out. Gillian had no plans to do so, she just wanted to see him squirm in her presence one last time.

Nucky wanted to bury that part of his life once and for all, but as Tommy made his true identity known, Nucky realized some things just do not stay buried. The Commodore had a vice and Nucky fed it. He later would provide liquor to the masses when it was illegal to do so, quenching others' vices. Nucky built his empire on bootlegging, but its roots were seeded by the sacrifice of Gillian's innocence. He paid for this ultimately with his life.  

Nucky did make one final thing right before his death though. As he said his goodbye to Eli, he left him with a bag full of cash and a shaving razor. The combination of the two spelled out a chance for a fresh start to his brother - a chance to not be like the father they had both grown up with, but something better.

It was a fitting finale and a tremendous finish to what was not only one of HBO's best series, but television in general. Be sure to let us know what you thought and for those not quite ready to say so long you can always go back and watch Boardwalk Empire online.

Eldorado Review

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Boardwalk Empire Season 5 Episode 8 Quotes

In the end we do what we have the nerve for or we disappear.

The Commodore

Joe Kennedy: Three things are difficult to understand. The work of the bees, the movements of the tide and the mind of a woman.
Margaret: Here is an experiment for you. Think about the things you want in life, then picture yourself in a dress.