BOARDWALK EMPIRE “To The Lost” Season 2 Finale Review

As tonight’s episode of Boardwalk Empire, “To the Lost” began, I was really nervous. After such a great, although at times disturbing, detailed look into Jimmy’s past I was not hopeful about his prospects for making it out of Season 2 alive. After watching so much pain in his life, I really wanted to see something good, something less painful in his life. Truthfully, I thought about just waiting until the episode was over so I could hop on Google to spoil the ending before watching it unfold. After all the anxiousness and trepidation, I decided to suck it up and watch the episode in real time. No matter what the outcome, I know that it will be a well written, well acted episode.

What a season finale.

For more than half the episode, we saw Jimmy making things right, beginning with a very special delivery to Chalky White in the form of the three Klansmen responsible for killing several black bootleggers at the start of the season. I don’t know if it was the sense of urgency knowing that he was on borrowed time, the freedom from his father or finally taking a stand with his mother that did it but Jimmy seemed to really hit his stride – as fleeting as those moments ultimately proved to be.

I wondered a few episodes ago who was really in a position to make the claim that Atlantic City was their town. Tonight, it would appear that Nucky can make this claim due in large part to the efforts of Richard and Jimmy tonight. However, like Jimmy, Nucky has a nasty habit of underestimating people around him – particularly those who he perceives as being weak or gullible. Last week, we saw Nucky nearly miss out on a crucial piece of information from Harlan about Van Alden’s murder of Sebso. This week, Nucky thinks that he’s sweet talked his way into a compromise with Margaret and as we see at the end of the episode, he will be in for a huge shock when the next season of Boardwalk Empire kicks off.

It was clear that Jimmy’s time had come as he left to kill Manny Horvitz. He declined to take the always loyal Richard Harrow, an ominous thunderstorm began and we learned that he gave his dog tags to Tommy. I suspected that Nucky would be responsible for Jimmy’s demise after he sought Arnold Rothstein’s guidance and after Eli (once again) craftily lied his way out of his role in the assassination attempt on Nucky. It bothered me to no end that Nucky did not make more of an effort to corroborate Eli’s story. Eli was clearly prepared to kill Nucky at that same meeting to which Eli referred when he claims he came back to Nucky to make amends. Rothstein (through Luciano and Lansky) or even Doyle could have easily given Nucky some much needed insight into the decision to (try to) kill him. Luciano and Lansky in particular, would have probably noted that it was Eli that forced Jimmy’s hand. They’ve been questioning Jimmy’s leadership and heart this entire season and would have no reason to paint him in a good light. The meeting in which Nucky’s assassination was discussed was certainly not a shining moment for Jimmy. This, of course, is all wishful thinking on my part. In the end, it probably would not have mattered. As Jimmy noted, perhaps there was only one way it could all end.

I’ll admit it – I cried SO hard not only because of Jimmy’s death but because of the cold, calculated way in which Nucky did it. It was especially cruel to kill him at the veteran’s memorial where Jimmy had just recently paid tribute to the lost and to do so in front of an audience that included Eli and Horvitz was just twisting the knife. It is ironic that just last season Jimmy warned Nucky that he could not be half a gangster and expect to be successful in a criminal enterprise such as bootlegging. In the end, Jimmy proved to be half a gangster as his personal feelings and inner turmoil cost him the respect of his peers and ultimately his life. He clearly had no problem killing people, but I appreciated that it was difficult for him to want to hurt Nucky or even his father. Sadly for Jimmy, had he just been the gangster that he described to Nucky or cut the head off the snake as Capone advised him, we would not have had to witness his heartbreaking murder tonight.

I’ve been mostly tolerant of Nucky’s grey character and found him interesting to watch. I liked Nucky – his charm is undeniable. However, the cruel manner in which he killed Jimmy juxtaposed against his champagne celebration with his cronies bothered me. I don’t know if Nucky has turned a corner or if, as he told Jimmy, I really don’t know Nucky at all. What I do know is that I did not like this Nucky that is either newly emerging or has been there all along. Perhaps Maragaret’s guilt and the ghost of Hans Schroeder should have been a reminder that Nucky ordered the death of Schroeder without hesitation. Because Schroeder was a horrible, abusive husband it was easy to overlook.

I’m admittedly very disappointed with Jimmy’s death and the loss of Michael Pitt from Boardwalk Empire. It was another superbly acted episode for Pitt, especially the scenes at the beach with Tommy. Jimmy was clearly prepared for his untimely ending and I hope that as he moved to a place of acceptance that he made arrangements for Tommy beyond tearing up his father’s will. It is somewhat of a consolation that Richard Harrow survived and I hope that his final conversation with Jimmy will inspire him to make a life for himself and hopefully watch out for Tommy.

Final thoughts and observations from the season 2 finale of Boardwalk Empire:

-I love Arnold Rothstein.

-I was really hoping that when Nucky finished killing Jimmy he would then send Eli into the afterlife as well. Eli repulses me and a two-year prison sentence is just simply not enough punishment for him.

-Amidst all of my nervousness about Jimmy, I completely forgot about Fugitive Van Alden aka Mr. Mueller. I don’t think we’re done with him. Cicero, Illinois is where Capone and Torrio set up shop when things get too hot in Chicago. Van Alden’s relocation could be interesting.

-I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Esther Randolph. I think the anticlimactic end to Nucky’s trial is the calm before the storm.

-I wonder if Horvitz will make it to Season 3 and if he does, will he have both arms?

-As much as I hate Nucky and I’d like to give up on Boardwalk Empire now that Jimmy is gone, I think tonight’s episode will make the moment of comeuppance for Mr. Thompson that much sweeter when it finally arrives.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the season 2 finale of Boardwalk Empire. I’m not really sure how much I’m anticipating season 3 but I trust the writers. Where do you think the show goes now that Nucky is back in his element, albeit a little less wealthier than he planned?

To the lost…