As the saying goes, no one stays on top forever. Such will be the underlying theme as HBO’s crime-drama, Boardwalk Empire, enters its fifth and final season. Slated to take place seven years after season four, the main protagonists (at least those still alive) find themselves caught in the first few years of The Great Depression.
Since debuting in 2010, Boardwalk Empire has widely been considered as HBO’s attempt in filling the void left by The Sopranos. And much like that show’s final moments, questions will be swirling as to the fate of many, particularly head honcho, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi).
But since several characters in Boardwalk Empire serve as fictional versions of real-life figures, it will be interesting to see how HBO plays this one out.
Consider, season five begins in 1931, two years before the end of prohibition. Al Capone (Stephen Graham) eventually goes to prison in 1932 and later dies of cardiac arrest in his Florida home. Charlie Luciano (Vincent Piazza), Meyer Lanksy (Anatol Yusef) and Bugsy Siegel (Michael Zegen) all go on as central mafia players in the following decades. Nucky Johnson, the inspiration for Buscemi’s Thompson, did not see jail time until 1939, and would succumb in 1968 at he age of 85. Will Boardwalk Empire follow suit and stick to the history books, or rewrite its own?
When HBO first introduced us to 1920s Atlantic City, bootlegging was the business, and business was booming. Now, some of the most ruthless, greedy and power-hungry people in history find themselves with the chance to grab one last piece of a lucrative, yet diminishing pie. As the final flappers flap, the last martinis are downed and the concluding band takes its bow, America is in for the ultimate wakeup call. The carelessness and carousing of the roaring 20s will soon set the scene for a looming depression. The party is nearly over. It’s almost last call. Yet, there is still so much left for the taking. Who will prevail, and who will meet their ultimate demise? Those are the questions we face come Sunday night. And as the tagline for Boardwalk’s final season suggests, no one goes quietly.