10th Jan2015

‘Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fifth Season’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


When a season is proclaimed as the final of a series there are certain freedoms it is given, and high expectations from its audience.  With Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fifth Season we see the conclusion to the story of Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson (Steve  Buscemi) in some episodes that are easily the best the show has offered over the years.

Season five of Boardwalk Empire starts six years after the events of the fourth and it’s now 1931.  To close the stories and look to the future of the mob we see the fates of not only Nucky, but also Al Capone (Stephen Graham), Nucky’s brother Eli (Shea Whigham), Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) and a few of the other characters that have made it to the end of the show, or at least into this season.

With the skipping of years this season it is easy for the writers to be able to not have to focus on too many details, concentration can be given towards the end game and the finale of the story.  Eli for example after his past actions has moved to Chicago and works alongside Michael Shannon’s character, though as usual is messing things up and being an annoyance to those around him.  Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) is now in a mental hospital and although it would be assumed she would not have much power over the storyline may just be the most important person in the show, alongside Nucky of course.

Although various deaths, wars and trials take place over the course of season five the most important thing focused on is Nucky himself, a man looking to escape the life he has lead and past choices that have haunted him.  This is why we see constant flashbacks to his past, and most importantly his connection to Gillian and just what happened in his life to make him the man he became.  The conclusion to the flashbacks in the final episode and the result of the actions we see are some of the best scenes from the show and Buscemi’s performance is excellent.  The casting of Marc Pickering as the young Enoch Thompson is also very well-chosen, helping to elevate simple flashbacks into series changing events.  These scenes are powerful enough to change just what we think of Nucky and his actions, and it is easy to actually hate the man based on just what he did.

The acting in this season and the series as a whole is something that also should be applauded, especially the work of Steve Buscemi and the already mentioned Marc Pickering.  Though he only comes in for this final season, Pickering is one of the actors you will most remember when looking back at the show.  As in previous seasons though I still love the work of Michael Shannon, with his final scenes being typical of the character he played so well.  The same can be said for Stephen Graham and Shea Whigham too of course.  Gretchen Mol is heartbreaking as Gillian Darmody and we can’t forget Kelly MacDonald as Margaret Thompson the long-suffering wife of Nucky.  It’s nice to see the conclusion of her story and the success she builds for herself away from the influence of her husband.

Boardwalk Empire is one of those shows that gets the final episode right, and this is something that is rare, especially when the audience doesn’t want the show to end.  Nucky Thompson is a character that has been made unforgettable by Steve Buscemi and will always be the face of the show.  The fact is though through excellent casting choices Boardwalk Empire and performances, the show will be remembered as excellent television that actually manages to give a conclusion that hides nothing from the audience and gives them the ending they deserve (yes, I’m looking at you The Sopranos).

***** 5/5

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fifth Season is released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK from January 12th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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