It only took one pull of the trigger, and for Nucky Thompson, there was no looking back. From that point on, Thompson ceased to be a mere corrupted politician and became a full-fledged criminal. As the tagline for the third season of Boardwalk Empire suggests, “you can’t be half a gangster.” And so when season two ended with a mentor killing his one-time protégée, Thompson solidified his authority, marked his territory and took back his city.
However, when one acquires power, it’s inevitable that enemies will follow!
WARNING: This review includes a SPOILER ALERT!!!
When Thompson shot Jimmy Darmody and committed his first homicide with his own two hands, he welcomed in a world of hostility, betrayal and war. And that is exactly the world that this man inhabited in season three: Thompson was at war. Once the king and the toast of Atlantic City, season three saw Thompson gradually lose his grip on the empire he oversaw. Greed and profit brought in many colorful characters looking to get a piece of the lucrative pie that prohibition had created. It seems everywhere Thompson turned, a new rival sought to bring him down. Thompson once was a man where extortion and election rigging were his only vices to keep him rolling in the green. How quickly things had changed. With bootlegging reaching feverish, competitive heights, Thompson’s life became a game of survival. To protect what he had built, the one-time politician would be forced to do so at all costs. Hence, we saw the bloodiest season yet ofBoardwalk Empire.
Single hits turned into mass-murdering bloodbaths. Finely tuned smuggling operations became inevitable death traps. This was the world Thompson had let in the minute he first pulled the trigger. Immediately thereafter, the show went down a darker, bloodier path. Nothing embodied this shift more than the man we met as season three debuted. From the very beginning on the very first episode, we were introduced to Gyp Rosetti. One of those most terrifying villains to come around in a while, Rosetti is sinister, charming, erratic and ruthless all at the same time. A gangster in every sense of the word, Rosetti takes what he wants, when he wants it. Every time he appeared on screen, we were left wondering whether he would let his unsuspecting prey free, or brutally kill without warning. Rosetti came to town and liked what he saw. His goal: take it from Thompson. While he almost succeeded, Thompson pulled one more rabbit out of his endless hat. The new Thompson wouldn’t go down without a fight. And in one of the last scenes of the season, Rosetti met his demise.
From the minute Boardwalk Empire first aired on HBO, the elephant in the room was that of The Sopranos: would this be the show to fill the void left following the 2007 series finale? Needless to say, Boardwalk Empire had a lot to live up to and would be forced to find its own niche as HBO’s gangster-successor to Tony Soprano. I think it’s safe to say that season three solidified the kind of show we can expect in the near future. As previously stated, “you can’t be half a gangster.” Thompson knows this now more than ever.
Sure, enemies may still be lurking in the shadows and awaiting their strike come season four. But for the time being, Thompson appears to have regained his footing, his power, and his thrown. Welcome back to Atlantic City.