Boardwalk Empire Season 5 Review “What Jesus Said”

The influx of familiar faces continued on last night’s episode of Boardwalk Empire. It is astonishing and almost comical that Mickey Doyle has survived this long. Not only is the gangster still alive, but he continues to thrive in his middle-management role within Nucky’s enterprise. In Harlem, we checked back in with Dr. Narcisse, who found himself in the cross hairs of the Luciano/Lansky/Siegel push for expansion in New York. Despite the ongoing parade of familiar faces in this final season of Boardwalk Empire, the writers continue to remind us that this show is ultimately about Nucky Thompson.

In his effort to cement his post-Volstead Act plans, Nucky spent more time this week with Joe Kennedy. If you are a student of history, particularly the Kennedy family, then I’m sure you appreciate the incorporate of Joe Kennedy into this season of Boardwalk Empire and that you might find the idea of him serving as a moral compass to Nucky a bit giggle worthy. In five seasons of the show, I don’t know that there’s ever been anyone to whom Nucky was so differential. Nucky is usually self-assured, set in his ways and I don’t think we’ve ever seen the character so quickly and openly following the lead of someone else. The exchanges between Joe and Nucky are more than the shocking sight of Nucky turning down alcohol after learning that Joe swore off public consumption of liquor to avoid being labeled as a drunk Irishman. In sharing his views about life and legacy, we get to see Nucky reflecting on his own life choices. With Margaret’s return to Atlantic City, it will be interesting to see if Nucky mentioned the kids to Joe because he remembered a time when he wanted to be a family man and wanted a legacy to leave behind, or if he simply mentioned their names in his continued effort to fit in with Joe. Nucky appeared genuinely happy to see Margaret at the episode’s end. That, of course, might change once he realizes that she’s there because of her dealings with Arnold Rothstein and the threat posed by Rothstein’s widow, Carolyn. I wonder how long it will take for Nucky to call out Margaret’s hypocrisy.

The flashbacks continued to provide interesting insight into what we’ve learned about Nucky over five seasons. This week, his family life took a backseat to his time spent as the Commodore’s errand boy. In a matter of a week, young Nucky fell in love and saw his first murder – very interesting. Unless it’s a sheer coincidence, it that Nucky’s first love ended up being his first wife – Mabel.

The recurring theme of Nucky splitting himself between his legitimate ventures and the gangster underworld of Atlantic City continued this week as well. When Nucky wasn’t bonding with Joe Kennedy, he was instructing Mickey Doyle to bring some muscle over to the club and hire homeless men to load liquor trucks. Of course, the 15-year-old boy who was eager to offer his services to Mickey stood out. With only five episodes left this season, I’d prefer not to go down the Nucky/Jimmy path once again. It looked as though Will would fill that role, but Nucky seems to have acknowledged and accepted that Will is following his own path and that he is not going to be the one through whom Nucky’s legacy is preserved.

With Nucky gearing up for war and the attack on Narcisse’s brothel, I suspect these two will find themselves part of an uneasy alliance sometime soon. I’m sure that alliance will become complicated once Chalky makes his way back to Atlantic City. Speaking of Chalky, I am SO relieved that he has freed himself of the very unstable Milton. The entire exchange at the house between Chalky, Milton and the two women was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Chalky still appears to be very world weary, which is understandable after what happened with Maybelle. No matter what happens next for Chalky, I’m just glad it won’t be with Milton at his side.

Until next week!

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