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Boardwalk Empire “Farewell Daddy Blues” Review (4×12)

25 Nov

Boardwalk-Empire-Farewell-Daddy-BluesBoardwalk Empire is a show about corruption and crime. When corruption and crime are present, there’s only one way out: death. And so it goes for Richard Harrow.

Still, let’s start with Nucky. He’s the kind of guy that will, at one point, manipulate Valentin Narcisse with feigned, over the top racism, identifying and latching onto that weakness and twisting the master manipulator to benefit himself. At another point, he’ll attempt to use that same type of manipulation on his family; the thing is, it won’t work. He keeps insisting that he’s doing the right thing, but for him, like for all businessmen, doing the right thing requires something in exchange. Of course, Eli can see through the bullshit; he knows he’s the one that truly cares about the family, and Nucky’s trying to manipulate that weakness. Nucky’s like the parent that buys his kid a bunch of presents to make up for a bunch of bad decisions and help him feel better about himself. He doesn’t like getting his hands dirty, and, unlike in previous seasons, he isn’t as successful at the end as he wants to be.

In fact, not really anyone ends up better off after this episode, save for maybe Al Capone. Chalky and Narcisse are the two criminal masterminds clashing over a pot of revenge, lust, and anger, and they both wind up worse off; you’d expect one of them to come out on top, but at the end of it all, they’re both beaten into the ground in their respective ways. Narcisse is forced to submit to the “white man”, the epitome of all his hatred and the very weakness Nucky exploited, and Chalky loses his daughter, forcing him to hide out and live his life in constant fear.

It’s not a very happy ending, and it’s made all the worse by Richard Harrow’s death–kudos to Jack Huston for portraying such a brilliant character over the course of the series. He’ll be missed. Harrow’s a guy that came back from the war and had nothing waiting for him; all he had was the skills he learned, and all he wanted was to somehow fit in with and function in society. He was actually able to come to terms with who he was without becoming someone like Nucky, and that just make his death hurt all the more. The worst thing is that he died having accidentally killed an innocent woman; it’s something I’m sure some of these other characters wouldn’t give a second thought to, but for Richard, he has to die with that guilt. On the surface, he may not seem much better than the rest, but he is. The problem is that it doesn’t matter in this world.

Nevertheless, that ending is in line with the themes of the show, and my, what a fantastic ending it is. In a sequence similar to the one in “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, Harrow dreams about the life he never had and the face he never had, but when reality kicks in, we realize he’s now waiting for the waves to roll in.

GRADE: A-

SEASON GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Kudos to Jeffrey Wright and Michael Kenneth Williams for creating one of the most riveting television dynamics I’ve seen.

-Eli killing Knox is extremely satisfying; in fact, the similar “gun to the head” scenes draw parallels between Knox and Nucky; they’re both seemingly powerful people getting caught in this web of crime, and you realize how little they actually possess.

-Torrio got shot like, 50 times, and still lived.

-I know it wouldn’t really fall in line with his character at that point in his arc, but part of me really wanted to see him going on another shooting rampage…and then Van Alden pulling up in the getaway car with Richard’s family in the back, and then a tearful reunion while Van Alden glowered in the background, and then all of them driving off into the sunset while everyone else cried.

-I’m looking forward to the Van Alden-Eli dynamic, as well as more Margaret-Rothstein.

-Thanks for reading, guys. See you next year for Season 5.

Credit to HBO and Boardwalk Empire for all pictures. I own nothing.

 

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