HBO: Boardwalk Empire Season Finale Review: Episode 2.12 “To the Lost”

Boardwalk Empire wrapped up season 2 last night. While much of the season at times felt like a slow crawl, the last three episodes were pretty eventful. If you haven’t watched the finale yet, stop reading because we’re going to talk about the shocking events at the end of the episode.

So it looks like Nucky has finally taken Jimmy’s advice, and become a full gangster now. Nucky’s second bullet extinguished Jimmy’s life, along with any sympathy I may have had left for Nucky. He came off like quite a monster in this episode; he got Jimmy and Richard to do his dirty work by taking out a witness before his trial; he used Emily to manipulate Margaret into marrying him so that she wouldn’t testify against him and insisted to her that he changed his ways, only to turn around a day later and coldly lie to her face about Jimmy’s fate. Most damning of all was his cold, emotionless execution of Jimmy, a man who had once been like a son to him. If anything, Mr. Thompson now seems more like a cold-blooded reptile than a human being. He is far more dangerous, and far less likeable than ever before. Margaret, at least, seems to have recognized this, and sets into motion what I assume will be a continuing silent war against her husband’s interests by signing away to the Church the land deed he gave to her for safe keeping. I’m going to have to side with her on this; Nucky’s not the kind of guy I can root for any longer.

Killing off Jimmy was certainly a bold move, but was it the right one? I’m not so sure. Jimmy was one of the most interesting characters on the show, and Michael Pitt did a great job in the role. Showrunner Terrance Winter implies in his interview with Alan Sepinwall that Nucky had no choice but to kill Jimmy. I don’t agree with this; Eli was just as responsible for the aborted hit on Nucky as Jimmy was. If spilling blood was required to show everyone that Nucky was back in charge and not to be trifled with, Eli’s would have fit the bill just fine. Nucky seemed perfectly willing to choke his brother to death during their fight a few episodes ago, so I’m not sure why he decided to spare him. Eli seemed to remain defiant and resentful of his brother’s success, while Jimmy came crawling back Nucky for forgiveness. Jimmy was broken by Angela’s death. He would have followed Nucky again, unquestioningly, and did in fact when he and Richard killed a key witness in Nucky’s trial. Eli, on the other hand, is still a threat going forward. Nucky, as we saw from this episode, is cold and calculating. Surely, he could have seen this? Why didn’t he kill Eli instead? I don’t know exactly where they’ll go from here, and again, I think dropping Jimmy was a mistake, but I know I’ll be watching next season just to see how they try to fill the hole left behind by his death.

Poor Jimmy. This season should really have a subtitle: “the rise and fall of James Darmody.” I guess he really did die somewhere in the trenches of France; it just took a few years before he stopped breathing.

A couple thoughts:

* Former Agent Van Alden will still be in play, I suppose, as he and his nanny have run off to the Midwest. They’ve settled in Cicero, which according to the interview I linked above, is the neighborhood in which Al Capone ran his crime syndicate. I’m sure that’s going to come into play. Will Van Alden wind up working for Capone?

* It was very satisfying to see the Klansmen squeal in terror as Chalky and his men pulled them out of the back of the pickup truck.

* I feel awful for Jimmy’s son, who is now left with his incestuous grandmother. I hope she doesn’t screw him up too.

* What’s going to happen to Richard? The only two people who even remotely understood him, Jimmy and Angela, are now gone.

* And Nucky, you cold reptile you…No emotion at all. You, my friend, are now the villain.

John is a TV blogger for Raked and an Entertainment and Sports contributor here at The TMR Zoo. You can follow him on Twitter at @raked_jc