19th Aug2014

‘Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf


Looking at Boardwalk Empire, especially before I started to watch it I thought it was Sopranos in the probation era, but in truth it’s much more.  Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season reaches a time when organised crime was growing and the government was slowly taking notice.  The rise of Al Capone was taking form, and although we do see his rise to power, for the most part this is still the tale of Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson and his Boardwalk Empire.

Having started to watch the show in the third season luckily I knew where the story was up to so far, or at least could place enough of the pieces together.  Nucky played by Steve Buscemi is fixing a lot of the problems created by going on the offensive in the previous season and his deal with Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) is in place in the form of Chalky’s new club.   Season four focuses on new powers rising including the Bureau of Investigation and the dangerous Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) who’s first attempt at gaining power may be aimed directly at White, but soon encroaches on Nucky’s empire.

The fourth season at times felt like it was somewhat slow, most of the dealings are about building trade lines between different territories and stabbing each other in the back when they could get away with it.  As is usual with Boardwalk Empire though this slow burning method of building up tension between the different groups is what leads to the explosion of violence that we can tell is coming.  Happily for me my favourite characters Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham) are in the thick of it.  Mention has to also be made for Patricia Arquette as Sally Wheet who out of all the new characters makes a big impact on Nucky and steals many scenes she is in.

It may seem strange to pick some of the less important characters as being my favourites, but in truth they are the most interesting.  Richard Harrow is a character that has closure in this season but still uses his skills to his best advantage.  He holds a certain amount of respect from Nucky and White and uses this to gain a lot.  As ever though the characters who try to pull themselves away from the lives they’ve led end up having the most to lose, as we come to see with Harrow.

Nelson Van Alden is probably one of the strangest of characters in the show and in Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season his quest to stay out of the trouble as usual is a failure.  It’s interesting to see his path cross with Al Capone and his family as often as it does, to the point he becomes a close member within Capone’s organisation.  Both Michael Shannon and Stephen Graham as Capone do a very good job at being two of the least stable characters and the deadliest in the show.  It’s a shame that Boardwalk Empire is heading into its last season as you would expect there to be much more to the Capone campaign of terror that is to come, maybe enough to have a spin-off?

With all the entwining storylines and new characters there is always the danger that Boardwalk Empire could get too confusing, the way the show is structured though and the methodical way the story is told makes sure the audience can keep up with what they need to know and understand.  There is a reliance on events from past seasons, but the script does work hard to at least give new visitors to the show a chance to understand connections between characters, though some story lines due suffer slightly if you lack knowledge.  It will be a shame to see Boardwalk Empire end with its final season almost on us, but with story lines that have its roots in the fourth season it’s sure going to be an explosive and fitting end to a very good show.

***** 5/5

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fourth Season is available in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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