Boardwalk Empire: “Margate Sands”
Boardwalk Empire's third season comes to an end!
December 3, 2012 11:17 pmTerry Yates
I’m just going to come out and say it, I didn’t much care for large portions of Boardwalk Empire’s third season. It’s a superbly acted third season, no doubt, but I just didn’t care for the whole season’s arc. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the frequency of the channel flipping narrative that plagued every single episode of this season. It was fine in the early part of the season, as we were feeling around the characters and the general motivations they would inhabit. But to have that constant A.D.D. infused channel flipping follow through all the way to the last minutes of this season finale, was maddening.
I suppose this season, like most serial television, is meant to be marathoned through, without that seven day delay between episodes. Perhaps this constant need from the writers to see what each character is up to at any one time plays better when you’re not waiting for another narrative to come back. I find that kind of hard to believe, with my most damning proof being Gillian Darmody in this episode. Yet again, her narrative teeters on “this character needs something important to do” and just padding out a weak ending to the Nucky v. Rosseti/Masseria war.
While it is HBO, Boardwalk Empire has a television show sized budget. Which I understand completely. Surely, it’s a lot of money to pay extras to be strapped down with blood gibs and fancy turn of the century wardrobes and the like. So the quick cut of Capone and Chalky’s men gunning down chunks of Rosseti’s army was fine. But then we pull away to see what various other characters are up to, aside from Van Alden, which made me dislike this episode even though we get a generous helping of “Richard Marrow: One Man Army” slaughter fest!
Margaret appears to abort Owens baby, thereby ending the Pouffles line in America for the time being. When Nucky comes to claim her at the end of the episode, he lays on one hell of a pitch adding “Money doesn’t mean anything” to which Margaret says otherwise. She knows all too well what she’s done, to herself and her family for the sake of not being alone to raise her children in utter squalor. On one hand, you feel for her, as she’s tried all season to make good on the utter evil that is her husband. But all of her aspirations this season have crashed and burned in front of her. The last of those being the baby she was hoping to carry on in to a new life with Owen. It should be interesting to see where she goes next season, but I didn’t really need her narrative arc this season to be tied up so neatly in the face of everything else going on in this episode.
Luciano’s cop problem turns out to be a bigger problem as those cops are in the pocket of Rothstein, who uses all the heroin Luciano got a hold of to buy off Masseria and to get his men to pull away from Gyp, leaving him open to Nucky to attack. Again, the bow that Boardwalk Empire is attempting to tie up all nice and neat is way too heavy handed, even for Boardwalk Empire, and kind of makes it feel cheap and definitely takes the heft of the payoff. We’re not even going to make Nucky sweat even a tiny bit narratively speaking?
Speaking of Rothstein, he’s handed Mellon’s secret distillery Overholt Brewery, well 99% of it, to get leverage on Nucky to get Masseria to back away from Rosseti. What he doesn’t know is that Mellon sends Esther Randolph a message to shut it down, and whomever is on the premises. Looks like Rothstein’s legal trouble are far from over. Who’s dangerous now?
With all the bloodshed and warring, Nucky decides to further isolate himself by not dealing with anyone that’s outside of the trusted group. So, Nucky’s doubling-down on the isolation that propelled him through most of this season. That has plagued his relationships both romantic and business. This need for isolation and arms legnth from the criminal underworld is what started this whole Rosseit mess in the first place! To double down on this seems foolhardy for Nucky, even if he's proven smart enough to rise above it before and again this sesaon. When a man recognizes him on the boardwalk, he rips out his carnation and wanders down the way blending in with all the other schmoes inhabiting it. He may desire to rid himself of being the public face of Atlantic City’s criminal element, but we all know better, Nucky Thompson runs the place...and everyone knows this.
Gyp Rosseti’s reign in Atlantic City was brief, and he hardly got to enjoy Nucky’s sweet desk in the Artemis Club very long either. He surely had to be aware that his demise was on hand as Masseria reminded him that he had lost twelve of his men, to Nucky’s.well, none. Rosseti seems confident that since Chalky’s men barely count, they won’t stand for much either. Masseria reminds him of something that Rosseti never thought of: the men are protecting their home, it’s going to take a lot more than just shoving a bunch of money and rage at them to get them to budge.
As Rosseti hangs out on the beach at the end of the episode, defeated, I wondered why he didn’t wander away further, perhaps to that vaunted “out west”, he was talking of. More likely, he probably knew he was doomed and was just waiting for Nucky to show up and finish him off. Hell, Rosseti couldn’t even finish off Gillian when he took her syringe away from her!
I will say that Richard Harrow’s siege on the Artemis Club, ridding it of every Rosseti man that got in his way, was indeed the highlight of the season. It was the one narrative arc that I thought actually paid off. I wish he would’ve finished off Gillian as well, but this boy will have to continue to dream. The bloodbath winds up presumptively costing him his relationships with Julia, but at least Tommy is safe, and away from Gillian’s weird bullshit.
I suppose that Boardwalk Empire’s third season was all right, I just wish it didn’t spend the bulk of it’s time puttering around trying to find it’s bearing until the last two episodes. I’m not the biggest fan of it’s constant flitting about between characters and their narratives, it doesn’t make the turgid momentum of the season any quicker, and when the writers leave characters like Van Alden out in the cold after spending a fair amount of time with him, you have start wondering should the writers just excise him completely, or perhaps refine their narratives better so we don’t have to squeeze characters out in place of others in order t attempt and tie everything up neatly by the end of the season.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10