Thursday, September 18, 2014

What I’m Watching: Boardwalk Empire (Season Premiere)

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5, Episodes 1 and 2 “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” and “The Good Listener” (B)

This show is back for its fifth and final outing, a shortened order of eight episodes to conclude its Prohibition-era story. In order to ensure that things are still relevant and interesting, a time jump has been made, scattering the various personalities on the show but putting them pretty much in the places you’d expect them to be. There always seem to be a specific interest in Nucky’s past, as we frequently see flashbacks to his childhood as he began to work for the Commodore while his sister was dying. I’m not sure of the relevance just yet, but I can say that going back even further in time doesn’t do the show any favors. This has always been a dense series that, at its best, was furiously interesting despite its pacing and thick ensemble. Now, however, it’s not nearly as accessible. The overarching theme of this season, that Nucky is preparing to turn what was for so many years an illegitimate business into a legitimate one, is undeniably intriguing. He can’t escape his past, with frequent attempts on his life, but he is having important meetings where he is using his bootlegger status to his advantage as a standout point on his resume. At the same time, his nephew is preparing to become a district attorney, ready to take down the likes of his uncle who try to corrupt those charged with executing justice. Certain players like Eli, Al, and Nelson/George are around again, which makes sense, but I don’t know why we’re still following Gillian’s adventures while she’s incarcerated. These first two episodes didn’t really do it for me, but I’m hoping that the remaining six will help return this show to its former glory and let it go out with a memorable bang.

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