Boardwalk Empire “Resolution” Review

“What the f*** is life if it’s not personal?” – Gyp Rosetti

The third season of Boardwalk Empire premiered this week and served as more of a catch up for the characters that lived to see the start of the New Year – 1923 to be exact. The episode was also an introduction to a few new faces that are sure to make this season exciting.

With the murder of Jimmy Darmondy in the second season finale, Boardwalk Empire simply became a show loosely based on real life mobsters for me. I was quite invested in Jimmy’s story and wanted to see him make it to the end of the series. Jimmy’s story as a veteran, victim of incest, a former college student turned fledgling gangster, etc. made the show much more than mobsters, bootlegging, guns and showgirls. When he made the grave mistake of partnering up with his aging, useless father and took part in the botched plan to murder Nucky, I knew the cherub-faced, World War I veteran would not make it out alive. His murder turned him to one of many faceless, nameless wanna be gangsters from any given time period who was cut down before his prime because of a bad decision. Although realistic, I thought his character deserved better than that.

Although I planned to see where the show went in the aftermath of Jimmy’s death, I’d decided I really didn’t give a crap about any of the characters left on the show – until Richard Harrow entered the screen in this week’s premiere. Well played, Terrence Winter.

Jimmy’s actual presence in Harrow’s life may have been quite brief but he definitely left a huge impact on the quiet sharpshooter. Harrow, thankfully, did not return to his suicidal thoughts after losing his closest (and perhaps only) friend. Harrow was a man with a purpose – to look over Tommy Darmondy and to set things straight with those that killed Tommy’s parents.

I felt better about the prospects of Tommy and Richard’s survival . . . until I remembered Gillian was still alive. Of course she would be. That woman is a lot of things but is first and foremost a survivor. My daydreams of Richard teaching Tommy how to be a sharpshooter, so that he could one day put a bullet in Nucky, Eli and Manny came to a crashing halt when I saw Gillian.

Gillian had completely taken over the Commodore’s house and seems to have transformed it into a brothel. Gillian was never a fan of Angela or aging, so it was not a huge shock to see that she’d instructed Tommy to call her mommy and chastised Richard for helping Tommy remember his past.

Am I the only one that wished Jimmy would have shared the secrets of his incestuous nightmare of a mother with Richard before his murder? In a perfect Boardwalk Empire world, Gillian would meet the business end of Richard’s gun.

Elsewhere in Atlantic City . . .

Murdering the man he once treated as a son seemed to allow Nucky to fully embrace his gangster status. Indeed, our reintroduction to Nucky in which he ordered the murder of a man who appeared to be stealing to support his struggling family showed that he was half a gangster no more.

We also learned that Nucky did not kill Margaret or divorce her after learning that she donated his lucrative land. Both characters appear to have embraced their loveless marriage. Margaret continues to assuage her guilt with charitable acts while Nucky finds comfort with showgirls – again. I wonder if Lillian Kent is the showgirl who was also the object of William Hearst’s affection? If you’ve looked into the real life of Nucky Johnson, you’ll understand the significance of that showgirl.

It looks like the fling between Margaret and Owen was a one time thing and that Owen is still with Katie. I suspect Margaret will need more than charitable acts, fancy parties and a female aviator to satisfy her. I hope that she gets an opportunity to put a few of those asshole doctors in their places and that it is not a setup for her to have another affair.

Margaret and Nucky weren’t the only Boardwalk Empire characters adjusting to new public identifies. George Mueller, aka Agent Van Alden, has taken up selling electric irons door-to-door. For students of mob history, Van Alden is in a hotbed of bootlegging and mob activity. I suspect he will not be able to resist the lure of chasing bad guys for long. Interestingly, Van Alden has officially taken up with the nanny and even had another baby! Here’s hoping we never have to look at Paz De La Huerta ever again.

Finally, viewers also caught up with the resident real life gangsters and even met a few new faces. Rothstein, Lansky and Luciano continue to rule the criminal enterprises in New York while Torrio and Capone hold down Chicago. Although we briefly saw him in season 1, it looks like Frankie Yale is officially part of the Boardwalk Empire gangster scene. I was really intrigued by the addition of Dean O’Banion to the show. If you’ve seen just one documentary on Al Capone, you know who O’Banion is.

Viewers were also introduced to Gyp Rosetti, who was quickly set up as Nucky’s primary antagonist this season. I love Bobby Cannavale but the quick tempered, over the top Rosetti left much to be desired as a rival for Nucky. That aside, I will always love the character’s reference to Luciano as “short pants.” Ha! A close second was his reference to Nucky as a bread stick in a bow tie. Rosetti clearly missed his calling as an insult comic.

A figure like Rosetti will not make it past a single season of a show like Boardwalk Empire where it takes more than guns to take down your rivals. In a world where the top gangsters have both brains and brawn, Rosetti will find himself outmatched. Unless the writers decide to deviate from history, which they have at times, I wouldn’t expect Rosetti to murder anyone of significance. I hope Harrow stays away from this nonsense and that Owen is not a casualty. Take Katie instead!

The season premiere was entertaining but the writers certainly jammed a lot into sixty minutes. Some of the stories could have been saved for later, such as the tension between Margaret and the doctors. I also think that the scene in which Nucky announced that he was moving into wholesale liquor distribution exclusively through Arnold Rothstein was a more than sufficient introduction to Rosetti. We could have done without the murder at the start of the show.

Rosetti may not be long for the boardwalk but his insults and one-liners will have a lasting impact. His quote from the start of this review summed up the the closing moments of the season 3 premiere. I doubt that any other scene this season will give me as much satisfaction as the sight of Richard Harrow putting a hot one in Manny’s head. Indeed, that was personal, well-deserved retribution for the horrible manner in which Manny murdered Angela and her lover last season. Avenging the death of Jimmy may prove a bit more difficult, as I assume his body remains missing. Where are Jack Huston’s award nominations?!?!?

Although I appreciate why the time jump was necessary, I feel a little robbed of seeing the reaction to two pivotal events that will shape this entire season. To begin, I wanted to see Nucky’s reaction upon learning that Margaret had the gumption to donate his precious land. Finally, I wanted to see how Gillian and Richard accepted the fact that Jimmy would never return home. A flashback episode would be greatly appreciated, Mr. Winters!

I also hope that Nucky being a full blown gangster does not mean that we will only see him being a full blown asshole. The half gangster Nucky had really sweet moments on screen with Margaret and her children. He also demonstrated vulnerability when facing his past. The absence of those elements of his character, along with the murder of Jimmy, would make him completely unlikeable.

What did you think of the season three premiere of Boardwalk Empire? Sound off below!