‘Boardwalk Empire’: ‘Eldorado’ Provides Closure [Review]

Boardwalk Empire
Boardwalk Empire provided closure to its five-year Prohibition Era saga on October 26 with its ultimate swan song. The gritty HBO drama about gangland life had consistently dark undertones that spanned the course of the series’ five-year life span and concluded with an aptly titled finale episode, “Eldorado.”

The pay cable series provided a satisfying and well-executed goodbye via addressing unresolved issues and providing the audience with proper closure. The series finale picked up where the shocking and monumental penultimate episode left off, as Nucky Thompson, who was played by the multifaceted actor Steve Buscemi, agreed to hand over his Atlantic City holdings to New York rival Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, who was portrayed by Vincent Piazza, in order to save his nephew, Willie. As a result, the Boardwalk Empire finale, stripped of its distinctive opening credit sequence, became an exploration of Nucky’s past interwoven with flashbacks as he tied up loose ends with his brother Eli (Shea Whigam), attempted to set things right with Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), and made plans to relocate to New York City (NYC) and live a secluded life, thanks to the $2 million stock deal he concocted with his estranged wife, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald).

The HBO period drama followed the highs and lows of politician-gangster Enoch (Nucky) Thompson. The character was a fictionalized adaptation, which was loosely based on an actual, yet often overshadowed feature from the time period named Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. The real-life counterpart on which Thompson was based in no way was the lethal and ruthless gangland figure depicted on Boardwalk Empire. However, Johnson was certainly a politician and manipulator who associated with such menacing and deadly figures. In the end, Johnson would be prosecuted and imprisoned for tax evasion, much like real-life mobster Al Capone, who is portrayed in the series by actor Stephen Graham. Following his prison term, the real-life Johnson would go on to live out his life in seclusion and obscenity.

In fact, Boardwalk Empire was always intended as a flaccid, fictionalized version of events during the historic era. However, the show provided the audience with a unique perspective on the time period, and made the viewers relate to how the characters and society as a whole were affected by the various historical events.

As Boardwalk Empire provided closure to the series with “Eldorado,” which was co-written by Series Creator Terence Winter and long time writer Howard Korder, as well as directed by Executive Producer Tim Van Patten, fans of the artfully depicted gangland drama were also given closure, as many loose ends and unresolved issues were satisfied. The Harlem hypocrite and sadomasochistic Dr. Valentin Narcisse, played by the versatile actor Jeffrey Wright, finally got his comeuppance when he was gunned down for his role as a FBI informant against black radicals. Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Meyer Lansky achieved their goal of an all-powerful organized-crime commission that would reign for decades. Meanwhile, Al Capone got a touching and heartfelt last interaction with his deaf son before turning himself over to the authorities for his violation of the U.S. Tax Code, which would essentially end his reign.

Additional satisfaction was achieved in the poetic and full circle nature of Boardwalk Empire‘s finale. Nucky Thompson was killed in the same spot where, in 1897, as an ambitious young sheriff, he made the decision that would chart his path in life. Nucky opted to pimp out an innocent 13-year-old Gillian to the lecherous Commodore in exchange for job security. Moreover, his assassin was none other than Nucky’s latest protegé, “Joe Harper,” who revealed his true identity as Tommy Darmody, just prior to murdering the man responsible for his entire family’s torment.

As Boardwalk Empire provided closure to its five-year Prohibition Era saga on Sunday, October 26 on HBO, fans of the series were given a proper goodbye. As Nucky and Margaret were granted one last dance and chance to reconnect at The Eldorado, the new apartment building that would be Nucky’s new home in NYC, the gritty drama suggested that hope might still be on the horizon. However, true to the nature of the series about gangland life, which had consistently featured dark undertones that spanned the course of the series’ five-year run and concluded with a finale episode fittingly entitled “Eldorado,” that future was not in the cards. Boardwalk Empire has concluded its Season 5 and series swan song, which aired at 9:00 pm EST on October 26, only on HBO.

Opinion and Review By Leigh Haugh

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