Be honest and true, boys! Whatever you do, boys, let this be your motto through life.
Both now and forever, be this your endeavor, when wrong with the right is at strife.
The best and the truest; Alas! Are the fewest; but be one of these if you can.
And so begins the first episode of the final season of Boardwalk Empire. Honesty and truthfulness are qualities that very few in Boardwalk Empire have shown, however the season opens with Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) reflecting on these words and his childhood, shown through the first of several flashbacks throughout the episode. He finds himself in Havana negotiating terms on a deal to legally sell Bacardi Rum in America once a rumoured referendum passes legalising the sale of alcohol.
If the theme of the season is to be making an honest living for oneself in a dishonest world, then Nucky certainly appears to have a difficult road ahead.
The show takes a seven year leap forward in time, but Nucky’s past still follows him as he is attacked in a street, whilst Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) also appears in the Cuban capital, with his apparent new wife, though not all is as it seems with his presence.
Meanwhile, Lansky’s former associate Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) is in New York hatching a plan to raise his stock and switch allegiance. Piazza’s screen time is brief yet powerful here, and it would appear that he is going to play an important role moving forward. Lucky Luciano has been used sporadically in the past but his developments in this episode are some of the most intriguing moving forward.
The years have not been kind to Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) however, now imprisoned in a chain gang the question is how far will he go to reclaim his former glory. Once an equal to Nucky he finds himself at quite the opposite end of the scales following his failed attempt on the life of Jeffrey Wright’s Narcisse.
Though Chalky’s path will most certainly cross with Dr. Valentin Narcisse’s, the latter is notably missing from the proceedings, along with Van Alden, Eli and Gillian Darmody.
And therein may lie one of the biggest problems with the seven year time jump. With only seven episodes still remaining a large portion of the characters still need to be re-established, and the main concern is that a show which so expertly and deliberately paces its developments may end up with a rushed finale.
We also catch up with Margaret Thompson (Kelly Macdonald), who is still working as a secretary as she witnesses her boss’s suicide. Margaret’s story at this point feels very detached from the overall arch. As a result of this there is work to be done in terms of integrating this character back into proceedings to ensure a satisfying conclusion to her story. She has been a key component of Boardwalk Empire, particularly in the earlier seasons, so hopefully this will be rectified.
The flashbacks to Nucky’s childhood employed through the episode give us an insight into what made him the man he is. Having watched this character develop over four seasons his back story is a path well trodden, however these flashbacks are effective in allowing us an insight into his psyche at the moment we join him, seven years down the line from where we left off. He is reflecting on past lessons to shape where his future is heading. As the opening voiceover suggests, his goal is to be the best and truest.
As an individual hour of television, this is classic Boardwalk Empire, with plenty of twists, turns and drama. Here’s to an exciting grand finale, with the tagline of No One Goes Quietly being touted it could be a bumpy ride.
Boardwalk is back with a bang.
Rating (out of 5):
Related Post: Look back on Boardwalk’s fallen heroes here.