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Athena

S05.E08: Eldorado

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I agree that the biggest flaw about this finale is the fact that it had to be done in an eight episode season.  So while I can understand the intent of having Tommy kill Nucky, it just felt underdeveloped.  In order for the pieces to fall in place, I need to speculate way too much which is not something I've ever really had to do with the Boardwalk Empire season finales before.  It had always managed to bring everything together in a way that they unfortunately couldn't do for the series finale.  HBO should have given them at least four episodes more and even that two season wrap-up would have been more satisfying.

 

 Richard and his wife could take Tommy, the boy might have had a good life, he probably would have had a chance with Richard.  But Nucky could never, ever just do the right thing, just because it was the right thing to do, and that was what killed him IMO.

 

Richard was a hitman.  A wonderful, complex, caring man who cared a lot about Tommy but he was a hitman.  He had some major issues.  The reason I bring this up is not to knock Richard's connection to Tommy but to say that Richard's wife was overall a better person.  She didn't have the same level of baggage and she was very caring.  There was nothing about her to suggest that being raised by her would be a bad thing.  Sure, something could have happened in the years he lived with her but it's a hole that needs filled with speculation unsupported by what I saw on screen.

 

He was kind of wandering around aimlessly this episode anyway. I figured he was just going to wander away and that would be that. No one wanted him. Margaret is clearly the only thing left of a friend that he had and she's got her own shit going on now, so it's not like she was getting back together with him.

I thought the show was actually moving Margaret back towards him. First, Joe subtly hits on her yet she deliberately chooses to interpret his advance as if he were offering her business instead of pleasure.  She goes directly to Nucky who tries to ascertain whether or not she'd be interested in living in the Eldorado and she immediately replies that it'd bring her closer to work. I think she'll be fine without him but their relationship this season has been about them going in the same direction for a change.

 

And part of me wanted the episode to end with that dance without seeing the ugliness that was to come.

 

But most of the deaths of historical figures have been accurate.

That's the reason they chose to base Nucky off of a historical figure but not actually make him the historical figure the way they did with Capone, AR, Luciano...etc.

 

I'm not super satisfied with that bit of the ending. Capone's tax problems were the result of a massive investigation with ledgers, witnesses, and a man who lived the most ostentatious lifestyle in Chicago. Nucky was too smart to make any of those mistakes.
According to Winter's interview with Hitfix, the IRS was following Nucky hoping to catch him the way they caught Capone who they also had followed.  It doesn't sound like the intent was for them to have anything on Nucky.  They just happened to be around.
Edited by Irlandesa
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Did you ever get the feeling that the BE cast didn't get along very well? The number of fragmented storylines (Margaret/Nucky in particular), and plus the way the cast has avoided appearing in public together, along with the rushed storylines, sometimes made me suspect that the frosty vibe the characters had towards each other wasn't really "acting."

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Well, I'm glad I decided to skip out on this season. I accidentally stumbled across the Tommy-kills-Nucky spoiler, so I figured I might as well read through this whole thread to see if my decision to skip this season was justified. I'm going to go ahead and say that I'm totally fine missing out on everything that's been discussed in here. I'll just live in my own little delusional world where the end of Season 4 and the beautiful/haunting scene of Harrow under the boardwalk with the sounds of the ocean playing into credits is the real ending for this series. Maybe some day I'll get around to watching this final season, but by the sounds of it, there's no one left I truly care about enough to want to know how their story ends. I'll probably Youtube Nucky's death scene and call it good.
 

Heck, knowing how it ends, you might like it more, since you'll be able to just enjoy the view and not worry too much about the destination.


Hmm. I do have a weak spot for this show's cinematography and art direction...

Edited by Curio

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Well, the final scene/Nucky's ending was dissatisfying in terms of who actually killed him... but the actual episodes were beautifully shot, there was some great acting- Gretchen Mol was a revelation to me in her few scenes, I'm going to look for more of her work- and I'd say it's worth watching the way the 5th season of "The Wire" is worth it: it's a little bit more time with some amazing characters, even if you have to mentally tell yourself to not care.  Heck, knowing how it ends, you might like it more, since you'll be able to just enjoy the view and not worry too much about the destination.

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I'm sorry - I"ve been reading the posts and maybe I missed it but, what the heck was with the TV woman? What was that about?

 

OK, and the young man serving Nucky was supposed to be a 14 yr old Tommy? Naw... I've had a 14 yr old boy and he didn't look like that.

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Winter said "the TV woman" was there to illustrate Nucky was a 19th century man and that he would never be a part of the future.

(IMO it didn't really fit, as though they just put that scene in there to create tension.  While watching it I thought it would be where he was going to be attacked by Luciano's gang.)

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Did you ever get the feeling that the BE cast didn't get along very well? The number of fragmented storylines (Margaret/Nucky in particular), and plus the way the cast has avoided appearing in public together, along with the rushed storylines, sometimes made me suspect that the frosty vibe the characters had towards each other wasn't really "acting."

Its so hard to say, it was always hard for me to see Buschemi (sp) in the role of Nucky.  He did a great job with the role, but there was always a part of me that could never fully lose myself in him as Nucky because it was so unbelievable to me.  I always imagined a different actor, someone with more of a leading man quality, Buchemi, (sp) while an amazing actor just never quite seemed suited to the role.  I always imagined more of an irish James Gandolfini type.  The magic of Tony Soprano was that he was somewhat good looking, but he had a certain charm to him, you knew he was a sociopath, but you could see that charm, you could understand why women would want to be with him, I mean, yes, he was bald, he had a big gut, but there was just something about him.  I actually think the actor playing Joseph Kennedy might have done a better job.  

 

But, I digress, I think for me, since I couldn't totally buy into Buschemi as Nucky, I couldn't really lose myself in all of his interactions with others, so its hard to tell if it was the cast, or if it was just that I wasn't feeling it.

Well, I'm glad I decided to skip out on this season. I accidentally stumbled across the Tommy-kills-Nucky spoiler, so I figured I might as well read through this whole thread to see if my decision to skip this season was justified. I'm going to go ahead and say that I'm totally fine missing out on everything that's been discussed in here. I'll just live in my own little delusional world where the end of Season 4 and the beautiful/haunting scene of Harrow under the boardwalk with the sounds of the ocean playing into credits is the real ending for this series. 

No death scene was as beautiful as Richard's.  Chalky's is a second, but Richard's death scene was superb.  

I stand corrected. Though that wasn't until 1941. And I didn't say he was admirable, just smart enough to stay out of the kind of trouble fictional Nucky was always in. He was also gregarious and charismatic, unlike the dour Nucky portrayed in BE.

You might be right, I know he took some pauper's oath when he got out so he didn't have to pay back the money he owed the IRS.  But Nucky seemed smart enough to have money hidden somewhere....although, it seems like he lived a pretty quiet life in AC until his death.  But I feel like, back then it was so easy to hide money in different countries

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I agree that the biggest flaw about this finale is the fact that it had to be done in an eight episode season.  So while I can understand the intent of having Tommy kill Nucky, it just felt underdeveloped.  In order for the pieces to fall in place, I need to speculate way too much which is not something I've ever really had to do with the Boardwalk Empire season finales before.

 

I very much agree.  Towards the end, you could almost feel the writers rushing to close as many storylines as possible.  That was a continuing problem with the show.  There was too big a cast, and the overall story needed better focus.  I also could have done without bringing Tommy back.  It would have been nice to think that Richard's death wasn't totally in vain, and he had managed to give Tommy a real future away from Atlantic City.  Instead, Tommy will likely be going to jail, done in (in a different way) by the same person who killed his father, and destroyed his grandmother.   

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But what struck me most about this finale  was the almost inhuman stress Nucky faced the day he handed Gillian over to the Commodore. Mable miscarries, Dad beats up Mom once again and Nucky realizes Dad will always be a danger to those he loves, Gillian runs away (to be spotted soon thereafter), and Nucky gets cruelly and unjustly taunted and fired by the vile criminal who runs Atlantic City. That's it; game over. But wait...what's this..? A sheriff's badge...?

 

 

That's how I saw it, too.  Nucky was beaten down in every aspect of his life that day.   On another day, he might have made a different decision, but that day he sold his soul for what he perceived as respect and status.

 

I think we're going to have to accept that they Tommy thing doesn't make sense from Tommy's point of view.  It's just a big old deux ex machina version of karma that came to bite Nucky.   The writers didn't think their way through Tommy's story and give him a story-thus-far consistent reason why he came to Atlantic City, etc.

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I really am not sure what to think about this one. I feel shortchanged a bit, this was a great season then it just ends. Huh? Why didn't get the normal amount of episodes? This would have been so much better with more time.

 

I did manage to find some nice things about it. I liked Nucky and Eli's scenes, and Nucky and Margaret. I liked Capone and his son bonding though Capone is a nasty piece of work he is a father and a husband. BE always did those interactions well with the families together. 

 

And was it mentioned if Tommy and Gillian even had spoke. How did he know what Nucky did? I guess that part is a tad confusing.

 

Overall little disppointed

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In addition to all the things that have been said about how illogical it was for Tommy to come back to AC, I want to echo this:

 

 

OK, and the young man serving Nucky was supposed to be a 14 yr old Tommy? Naw... I've had a 14 yr old boy and he didn't look like that.

 

Right! 12-14 year old boys, with the rare exception, still look VERY MUCH like children. They are all awkward limbs. That kid playing Tommy was 20 years old, at least. Just made an already unbelievable storyline even more unbelievable. Or at the least, that the writers didn't even do us the service of thinking about something as simple as logic.

 

I'm still mad that they killed off Jimmy (apparently I know how to hold a grudge). He was my favorite character because he was the most interesting character. Killing him off changed what this show was and I don't think it was for the better.

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Richard was a hitman.  A wonderful, complex, caring man who cared a lot about Tommy but he was a hitman.  He had some major issues.  The reason I bring this up is not to knock Richard's connection to Tommy but to say that Richard's wife was overall a better person.  She didn't have the same level of baggage and she was very caring.  There was nothing about her to suggest that being raised by her would be a bad thing.  Sure, something could have happened in the years he lived with her but it's a hole that needs filled with speculation unsupported by what I saw on screen.

 

 

True, but Tommy related to him.  Tommy felt close to him.  When Richard left Tommy at Julia's and left, Tommy didn't speak until Richard came back.  Hitman or not, Tommy loved him.  He was like a second father to him.  Sometimes people don't love the better person.

Edited by Neurochick
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True, but Tommy related to him.  Tommy felt close to him.  When Richard left Tommy at Julia's and left, Tommy didn't speak until Richard came back.  Hitman or not, Tommy loved him.  He was like a second father to him.  Sometimes people don't love the better person.

I get that he loved him but I think not having  him in his life, even though he's being raised by a kind woman, enough that he'd feel a need to seek out Nucky and eventually kill him was a leap too far for me.
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I get that he loved him but I think not having  him in his life, even though he's being raised by a kind woman, enough that he'd feel a need to seek out Nucky and eventually kill him was a leap too far for me.

 

I agree.  I don't know if Tommy went there to kill Nucky, or if he killed Nucky because Nucky rejected him.  Maybe Tommy was looking for another father figure.  His father was dead, as was his father figure, Richard.  Maybe Nucky's kicking him out was the straw that broke the camel's back for him.

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My biggest problem with the finale is the casting of a 23 year old actor to play the (in canon) 12 or 13 year old Tommy Darmody.  He should have looked the same age (or younger since women mature faster) than Young Gillian and just didn't.  I would have liked it better if Joe Harper just reminded Nucky of Tommy, or more likely Jimmy since he barely knew Tommy and wouldn't have thought about him in years, but Joe Harper was actually just a random Depression-era thug going for survival the best way he knew how.

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Right! 12-14 year old boys, with the rare exception, still look VERY MUCH like children. They are all awkward limbs. That kid playing Tommy was 20 years old, at least. Just made an already unbelievable storyline even more unbelievable. Or at the least, that the writers didn't even do us the service of thinking about something as simple as logic.

 

 

My biggest problem with the finale is the casting of a 23 year old actor to play the (in canon) 12 or 13 year old Tommy Darmody.  He should have looked the same age (or younger since women mature faster) than Young Gillian and just didn't.  I would have liked it better if Joe Harper just reminded Nucky of Tommy, or more likely Jimmy since he barely knew Tommy and wouldn't have thought about him in years, but Joe Harper was actually just a random Depression-era thug going for survival the best way he knew how.

 

Yes and yes! For a show that paid such attention to detail, this is a little mind-bendingly out of whack for me. And then when you add in all the issues of Tommy and Gillian and how and what Tommy knew . . . I won't say it ruined it for me because the series had a great run, but it sucks that it ended like that. I understand the beauty behind Tommy killing Nucky, but it seemed very forced and rushed, and one of the good things about the show is they didn't rush stuff. I remember the two seasons prior to this one I came close to giving up on the show (particularly during the Gyp season), but after about the fourth episode, everything really began to gel and come together. I realized I had to be patient and let them tell the story.

 

So maybe it would have been different if they'd been allowed another four episodes, but I have a hard time accepting a grown man playing a teenager. Even if they soap-opera aged him a couple of years, it was still a mismatch -- that guy wouldn't have passed for 16; the youngest he would have had would have been in my mind is about a senior in high school.

 

I do wonder what's up with HBO and the abbreviated final seasons. They did that to Treme, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. I gave up on True Blood so I can't say how the shortened season affected it, but I really think Treme and Boardwalk Empire suffered from the shortened seasons. I'm sure it's tough for writers who are used to a certain pace in story-telling to have the season cut down by a quarter or third. In both cases, I kind of think the series would have been better-served by calling it done in the last full season. But maybe HBO is reacting to Carnivale outrage (but I doubt it).

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In order for the pieces to fall in place, I need to speculate way too much which is not something I've ever really had to do with the Boardwalk Empire season finales before.  It had always managed to bring everything together in a way that they unfortunately couldn't do for the series finale.  HBO should have given them at least four episodes more and even that two season wrap-up would have been more satisfying.

 

 

This is how I feel. I'm trying to fill in the blanks but I don't feel like we should have to do so much fanwanking in order to make sense out of all of this shit. Sorry this is so long:

 

Right now I'm basically pondering the possibility that Richard told Julia and/or his sister about Nucky/Jimmy/Angela/AC and that one or both of the women dropped little tidbits to Tommy about his past over the years. A lot can happen in seven years and I know that it's nice to imagine that Tommy had this sweet and wholesome life down on the farm but everything that I saw from the way the kid played the character suggested to me that he was not happy where he came from and that he was likely lugging a host of emotional baggage around. IMO there has to be a reason apart from the Depression that he left the farm at such a young age and to me it's especially odd that he'd leave during this time when they'd likely need his help more than ever. If they lost the farm it still seems to me that Tommy would have wanted to pitch in some other kind of way to help the women who'd helped raise him unless they weren't in the picture or maybe his relationship with one or both of them didn't turn out as well as Richard would have hoped. (I suppose it's possible that he sent them the money that Nucky gave him the first time around but then IMO there should have been a throwaway line to indicate that rather than just having the kid shrug his shoulders when asked about what happened.)

 

Any number of things could have happened to change the dynamic and make it so that Tommy didn't like living on the farm and he might have even had enough memories of AC and the seaside that he would miss it. I can't imagine that life on a farm in frigid Wisconsin wouldn't have been pretty tough at times and Richard sister struck me as a cold, no nonsense woman. Maybe she was great with Tommy, totally possible, but I can easily see it going the other way as well. (And wasn't the sister pregnant anyway? If she was preoccupied with a baby I can see that causing some difficulties too.) Then there's Julia's role to consider there once Richard ended up not making it. What if she didn't take to life on the farm? What if she didn't get along with Richard's sister? What if she met someone else and Tommy didn't necessarily get on with his new stepfather? What if Julia died or Richard's sister did? I can see all sorts of things that could lead to Tommy wishing/wondering/thinking about getting away under the right circumstances.

 

Then there's the whole thing of Tommy's past and how much he remembers of it. I think this Tommy was supposed to be close to 15 if not already 15 even though that doesn't quite add up since that's what he told Mickey. So he was about 7-8 when he left AC definitely old enough to have memories. Even if he was 6 that's still old enough to remember a fair few things. I think Julia or Richard's sister might very well have been the ones who told him a few things about his past. Tommy could have brought up memories that he has and one of the women could have added to those memories by telling Tommy whatever Richard had told them. I can also see it being a situation where Tommy is just feeling like a frustrated teenager who is unsatisfied with his life and one of his guardians giving him the lowdown about where and what he really comes from, why he should be grateful, and why he should hope that he doesn't turn out like his parents or grandmother.  

 

Even if Julia didn't know the full rundown of Gillian's story, some part of her had to have noticed that Tommy's grandmother was very young to be a grandmother so it isn't out of the question that she'd make a comment about that one day to Richard. 

 

As far as Tommy's memories of his grandmother, prior to the third season they seemed to have had a nice and normal relationship and she was a regular babysitter that Angela and later Jimmy would rely upon. After Jimmy and Angela die, she turns her home into a brothel, and Tommy is suddenly being raised in an environment that is totally inappropriate and where he no longer feels safe. We see a scene that illustrates that Tommy is resentful of Gillian, he doesn't speak to her, and physically pulls away from her because he doesn't understand why he's being locked in his room or why gangsters have taken over their home. After this Tommy and Gillian don't interact IIRC until she decides to go and visit his school. When she's at his school she's in the most pathetic state. She's in withdrawal from drugs, she's just been to see the judge that she propositioned without success, her hand is bandaged from having cut it on the glass, and she looks very different from the always put together and pretty woman he remembered. Children are capable of great compassion (cruelty too tbf) and I can easily see that being a scenario where Tommy might well have acknowledged Gillian had he not felt embarrassed and had he not feared that responding her would be an indication that he'd want to go back to live with her which he most certainly did not. I wonder if that was a memory that he couldn't forget and when he looked back on it in retrospect if he ultimately felt sorry for her especially if he ever learned any details about her life and the circumstances of Jimmy's birth and how she had to raise him as a single teen mom.  

 

It's super unlikely, I know, but some part of me couldn't help but wonder if any part of him respected the fact that she let him go and gave up the fight when the lawyer said that one of the consequences of her fighting on would be that she could risk Tommy being put into one of the places for "friendless children". Once the lawyer put it to her that way she relented and decided to stop fighting for Tommy because she didn't want him to end up in one of those places saying how she "knows what it's like". I know he wouldn't likely know that part of it but I wonder if any part of him senses that she really did just want him to have a better life at the end of the day.

 

Tying Nucky into all of this is more difficult but I'm guessing that Richard told Julia that he needed to do one last job for Nucky Thompson and that this was a name that had come up before between Richard and Julia since Richard started working for Nucky while they were together. Furthermore, I'm assuming that Richard had to explain to her how he had Tommy in the first place and Nucky would indirectly come up in that as well. I also suspect that Richard probably told Julia something about Angela since that was a big loss for him and if that was the case then I'd have to think that he would have had to do a fair amount of explaining in terms of just how it is that Nucky is so entwined in the lives of the Darmodys.

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I hate to be a killjoy.  Although I'm glad that Narcisse didn't live to see another day, his death still wasn't satisfactory to me.  The idea that someone was shrieking, "Doctor!  Doctor!  Doctorrrrrr!" as he lay dying disgusted me.  I wanted that fucker exposed for the drug-dealing, woman selling creep that he was.

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Narcisse's death felt like fan service to me.  I would have been fine with him surviving, his final scene walking away from Chalky, not promising him anything.  Chalky was content right before his death, and that's all that really matters to me.

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I hate to be a killjoy.  Although I'm glad that Narcisse didn't live to see another day, his death still wasn't satisfactory to me.  The idea that someone was shrieking, "Doctor!  Doctor!  Doctorrrrrr!" as he lay dying disgusted me.  I wanted that fucker exposed for the drug-dealing, woman selling creep that he was.

 

 

It especially rankles when I remember the fact that he was responsible for the death of the preacher. 

 

Neurochick, I disagree that the minions of Narcisse will spread the word about what a creep he was. For the most part I think he think he was secretive about his private life and would basically play his men the way that he played guys like Purnsley and tell them things that they want to hear. 

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Avaleigh, your post about Tommy and the Depression now makes me see him as a young Dick Whitman. And when Mad Men retuns, in any flashback, I'll see Tommy Darmody :-)

 

Great post, by the way, but this/part of this should have been shown or at least hinted at. When viewers' creations are more interesting than those of the scriptwriters, I think that's proof that the script was not very strong. And in a series as good as this one has been, I hate that there are false notes in the finale... 

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What I find so upsetting about the finale episode and what I cannot seem to shake is the feeling of sadness over "Gillian" and "Tommy" and I feel that is a flaw in the writing. 

 

For me to have a finale work, there has to be a blend of sadness and happiness. This episode was just a total downer. After Gillian's heartfelt letter in episode 7, I think a better tie up would have been for Nucky to have offered her hope in some way. I heard TW discuss the scene and how Nucky got there too late to save her from that dreadful operation, but Nucky could have been written (in episode 7) to have read the letter in a more timely manner and to have saved her from that surgery. Gillian could have been left with a bit of hope... because he did say he would always be there for her.   

 

And well, didn't enough major characters die? When Tommy killed Nucky... all I could think of and speculate on was what would then happen to Tommy? He did not get away because we see him grabbed by witnesses, so that sad boy's fate was probably a death sentence. 

 

The series ended in total doom and gloom, and that just is way too sad for a series that was a masterpiece to end. Shakespearean tragedy all around.  

Edited by DakotaLavender
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I hate to be a killjoy.  Although I'm glad that Narcisse didn't live to see another day, his death still wasn't satisfactory to me.  The idea that someone was shrieking, "Doctor!  Doctor!  Doctorrrrrr!" as he lay dying disgusted me.  I wanted that fucker exposed for the drug-dealing, woman selling creep that he was.

It wasn't the best death, and I think many of the posts in the "How to kill Narcisse" thread were much better.  However, I just needed for him to die, so I give credit to TPTB for that.  If they had left him alive I would have had a fit, and no one would have cared.  Although, I love that he was in the middle of some long winded nonsensical ramblings designed to impress people when he got shot.  

Edited by RealityGal
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What I find so upsetting about the finale episode and what I cannot seem to shake is the feeling of sadness over "Gillian" and "Tommy" and I feel that is a flaw in the writing. 

 

For me to have a finale work, there has to be a blend of sadness and happiness. This episode was just a total downer. After Gillian's heartfelt letter in episode 7, I think a better tie up would have been for Nucky to have offered her hope in some way. I heard TW discuss the scene and how Nucky got there too late to save her from that dreadful operation, but Nucky could have been written (in episode 7) to have read the letter in a more timely manner and to have saved her from that surgery. Gillian could have been left with a bit of hope... because he did say he would always be there for her.   

 

And well, didn't enough major characters die? When Tommy killed Nucky... all I could think of and speculate on was what would then happen to Tommy? He did not get away because we see him grabbed by witnesses, so that sad boy's fate was probably a death sentence. 

 

The series ended in total doom and gloom, and that just is way too sad for a series that was a masterpiece to end. Shakespearean tragedy all around.  

 

I totally understand about the "doom and gloom" feeling.  The only one who left me smiling was shockingly Margaret, who irritated the hell out of me the last few seasons.  I saw a glimpse of the moxie and spunk that the character had in earlier seasons and got the sense that she was going to be find a way to survive no matter what happened when the market ultimately crashed.

 

My husband, who doesn't follow message boards or spoilers, actually said he was shocked and "didn't see that coming" when Tommy shot Nucky.  For me, the whole thing fell rather flat because it required me to suspend a great deal of disbelief in order for it to be plausible.  

 

As much as I had come to despise Gillian in previous seasons, Gretchen Mol has done an outstanding job humanizing someone I wrote off a couple of years ago as a total monster.  I hope to see her in other things.

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I'm still mad that they killed off Jimmy (apparently I know how to hold a grudge).

 

So do the showrunners.  

 

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No death scene was as beautiful as Richard's.  Chalky's is a second, but Richard's death scene was superb.  

 

 

You know, I can watch Richard shoot up the brothel with no problem. Great scene. I cannot watch his death scene again. I can't even think about it, because it is so achingly sad. You want Richard to finally find happiness and love, but in the end, it's not going to be. I can't believe a TV character has affected me so much. 

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You know, I can watch Richard shoot up the brothel with no problem. Great scene. I cannot watch his death scene again. I can't even think about it, because it is so achingly sad. You want Richard to finally find happiness and love, but in the end, it's not going to be. I can't believe a TV character has affected me so much. 

Thats how you know its so good....... achingly sad is a good phrase for it.  I still think about the ending of Six Feet Under and it makes me so sad.  Richard's death was beautiful, and so haunting.  Because for a while, I was really, really hoping against hope that he was alive.  And the first scene of him on the train you're like "oh, he made it!  hooray" and then as the scene goes on, you're like "well, this could still be reality, he could still have made it" and then you're like "wait a minute...." and then, when you see his full beautiful face, you just know, and all  your hope is gone and then they flash to him under the boardwalk.

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Richard's In Memoriam tribute by the production team still takes my breath away. Rendered as meticulously as he laid out his guns -- but tenderly, as well.  That editing!  That score!  All the more poignant, with the final chapter.

 

I can easily imagine the young Tommy's finding that he needed to return to Atlantic City, the shore of his dreams.  That he needed to see what was real about him, and his memories, and the myths he'd conjured.  I even think it's possible that over time, Tommy blocked the memory of Richard, who had a hand and half a face in every trauma and loss Tommy suffered there.  

 

In trying to make sense of the dreamscape by the sea, perhaps he best recalled the many and varied references to Nucky -- that odd name stuck in his memory and how it sounded, spoken at different times by his mother, his father, his grandmother, the Sagorskys and the phantom-man. Nucky the uncle, Nucky the boss, Nucky the devil, Nucky the kingpin, Nucky as Oz.  Maybe out there in Wisconsin, growing up in someone else's home, was the only person who ever conceived of Nucky as a  titan, as the man who made a legacy.  Except that Nucky's only legacy was Tommy.

 

I can buy that.  What I don't buy is that Tommy ran away, took himself to Atlantic City, got his wish and got close to the legend... only then to sit back and wait, keeping his own counsel, circumspect as a sniper.  The compulsion to get away, to get home, to get answers -- to pull that off -- doesn't then turn on a dime and pull up a chair, biding its time.  Not in a 13-year-old boy, and not with almost anyone.

 

For Nucky, Tommy had one question: "Do you know who I am?"  And one of the times he had the emperor to himself, one of the times Tommy thought he glimpsed and grasped at least half of the man, he would have said, "I'm Tommy. How the hell do you do."  

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I watched the finale again last night.   One of my main problems with it (other than that Tommy had no good reason to come to Atlantic City to murder Nucky), is Gillian.   In order for her to be an effective tragic character, I have to feel for her.   She's been so horrible and crazy over the years that I can't feel much for her, good or bad, anymore.   I know that the horrible and crazy behavior came from brutal abuse at the hands of the Commodore and profound betrayal by Nucky.  I should feel bad for her, but I just sort of feel numb towards her.  Too much.  Just too much from her over the seasons.  I don't care about her.   In the betrayal scene, I was more moved by Nucky...the young man who wants to do good, wants respect and status, who is beaten down to the absolute ground that day and makes a very, very, very bad decision and sells his soul to the Devil in the form of the Commodore.   That's the conflict and emotion I was feeling, not horror or empathy for or over Gillian.  I can't care about her anymore.  I probably lost the last of my ability to do so when she had sex with her son.

 

A side comment:  The actor playing the middle aged Commodore really did a great job with Gerald McRaney's accent and mannerisms.  Bravo.

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A side comment:  The actor playing the middle aged Commodore really did a great job with Gerald McRaney's accent and mannerisms.  Bravo.

 

Which is odd, because Dabney Coleman played OldCommodore.

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I watched the finale again last night.   One of my main problems with it (other than that Tommy had no good reason to come to Atlantic City to murder Nucky), is Gillian.   In order for her to be an effective tragic character, I have to feel for her.   She's been so horrible and crazy over the years that I can't feel much for her, good or bad, anymore.   I know that the horrible and crazy behavior came from brutal abuse at the hands of the Commodore and profound betrayal by Nucky.  I should feel bad for her, but I just sort of feel numb towards her.  Too much.  Just too much from her over the seasons.  I don't care about her.   In the betrayal scene, I was more moved by Nucky...the young man who wants to do good, wants respect and status, who is beaten down to the absolute ground that day and makes a very, very, very bad decision and sells his soul to the Devil in the form of the Commodore.   That's the conflict and emotion I was feeling, not horror or empathy for or over Gillian.  I can't care about her anymore.  I probably lost the last of my ability to do so when she had sex with her son.

 

A side comment:  The actor playing the middle aged Commodore really did a great job with Gerald McRaney's accent and mannerisms.  Bravo.

 

You know, I think I just have a tendancy to forget the anger I had at Gillian, or at really any of the characters.  I know from season to season I hated Narcisse, loved Chalky, was somewhat invested in Nucky and floved Richard.  But I think because there was such a wait time between seasons, and I don't go back and watch, each season, including this was was almost fresh for me.

 

So while I had always known that Nucky had sold Gillian to the Commodore, but I had never really thought of the age for some reason, or the specifics.  Since I had mostly forgotten all the terrible shit she had done (or I wasn't as emotionally invested in all the horrible shit she had done) I didn't have that same burning hate for her I had had previous seasons.  This allowed me to focus more on just how very fucked up her situation was.  She had run, and run and run all her young life and had done fine.  She finally saw some kindness and was so hungry for it that she finally trusted someone....completely.  And was totally betrayed.  These Gillian flashbacks have made me hate Nucky.  She was just a little girl, and I don't buy that he was so blinded by being fired or whatever, he wouldn't have handed over Mabel, he wouldn't have handed over Eli, but it was worth a young girl getting raped so he could get some badge.  And if I remember anything throughout the years its that Nucky has never made amends or apologies for what he did.  But it was truly terrible, she trusted him, and she was just a little girl.

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These flashbacks also reconfirmed something from last week: Leander Whitlock may not be the most despicable person to ever appear on this show, but he's now definitely up there.

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These flashbacks also reconfirmed something from last week: Leander Whitlock may not be the most despicable person to ever appear on this show, but he's now definitely up there.

 

I'm right there with you.  Every time that slightly-younger-Leander was on in these flashbacks, I was saying "Damn you, Uncle Junior!".  Yes, I still associate Dominic Chianese with The Sopranos.  

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How is it that Leander comes across to me as even more of a scumbag to me than Uncle Jun'?

 

Leander remembers everything.  And he also knows how to keep a grudge.  

 

Also, Leander seems to have begun from a position of monied WASP privilege within the town.  It's one thing to act as consigliore for a street-kid brother known as Johnny-Boy Soprano, and another to play the fixer for someone styled as The Commodore.  

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I have a question. I distinctly remember Gillian's story being that the Commodore drunkenly picked her out of a chorus line, and that's where Nucky procured her for him. This story was told some time in the first or second season. So where the hell did this parade shit come from?
 

I was okay with the ending at first, but the more I think about it, the more I don't like it. Yes, Tommy could be there trying to discover where he came from, to find some kind of connection. But if the plan was to kill Nucky, what would the motive be? Could he really have garnered a lot of knowledge from his early memories with Gillian? Would she really have told him anything about Nucky at all? And if he didn't plan on killing Nucky, but rather was giving him a chance to "do the right thing" and was just rejected by him, why on earth would he think that Nucky owed a stranger anything at all? He had already given him a shit ton of money as a severance. Then he comes back for more of, what exactly? You couldn't just be up front about who you are? You can call it karma if you want, but it doesn't gel at all for me. It was a cheap gotcha moment. Nucky being taken down by the IRS would have made more sense to me, since those men who rushed to him were IRS agents, and he did deal in a lot of shady shit.

 

I loved this season, I loved a lot of the finale, but that ending was fucky.

Edited by Mindy McIndy
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Gillian's story being that the Commodore drunkenly picked her out of a chorus line, and that's where Nucky procured her for him.

 

She told the story that she was one of king neptune's consorts at the annual season opening parade.

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I have a question. I distinctly remember Gillian's story being that the Commodore drunkenly picked her out of a chorus line, and that's where Nucky procured her for him. This story was told some time in the first or second season. So where the hell did this parade shit come from?

 

I was okay with the ending at first, but the more I think about it, the more I don't like it. Yes, Tommy could be there trying to discover where he came from, to find some kind of connection. But if the plan was to kill Nucky, what would the motive be? Could he really have garnered a lot of knowledge from his early memories with Gillian? Would she really have told him anything about Nucky at all? And if he didn't plan on killing Nucky, but rather was giving him a chance to "do the right thing" and was just rejected by him, why on earth would he think that Nucky owed a stranger anything at all? He had already given him a shit ton of money as a severance. Then he comes back for more of, what exactly? You couldn't just be up front about who you are? You can call it karma if you want, but it doesn't gel at all for me. It was a cheap gotcha moment. Nucky being taken down by the IRS would have made more sense to me, since those men who rushed to him were IRS agents, and he did deal in a lot of shady shit.

 

I loved this season, I loved a lot of the finale, but that ending was fucky.

I had the same feelings about the final Boardwalk episode but instead I liked it much more the second time I viewed it. Since I knew the second time around watching that Nucky would die at the end, I looked at everything a little differently. I saw Nucky 'tidying' up things for the people he loved, setting them up for their future, knowing he wouldn't have one for long. This knowledge was obvious in the first scene when Nucky starts swimming totally nude out to the depths of the Atlantic. He had reached that edge of the choice between life or death and chose to live it out, let the cards fall as they may. Nucky was sure that Margaret would be fine, she had a good career now on Wall Street (as an inside trader) and some cash in her pocket. He made certain that Eli wouldn't end a broken destroyed man by giving him enough money to live on forever with. He made sure that he had done all he could for Gillian and that bothered him the most because at this stage he couldn't really do very much for her. So he made some amends to those few that meant anything to him. After that, Nucky was like an old elephant that knows he's dying and is walking slowly to that burial ground.

 

This is what bothers me the most about this ending. Tommy Darmody was a kid that suffered through the brutal killing of both of his parents at a very impressionable age. The only other male that he was emotionally attached to, Richard Harrow, was also taken away abruptly. Tommy didn't want to be with Mema at all from what we had seen in Season 4 when he didn't even want her to crawl into the little teepee he had set up in the room of the mansion that Gillian ran as a brothel. After the shooting in Gillian's brothel, Richard Harrow takes the traumatized Tommy to the Sagorskys house. Gillian fought the Sagorsky's in court over the custody of Tommy and lost. Then she became a heroin addict and met the Pinkerton guy Roy. Gillian is arrested for first degree murder because Roy was undercover. So she went to prison for murder. I assume the Sagorsky's had custody of Tommy all the time up to when he killed Nucky. Tommy approached Nucky with the gun and started going on about his Mema and yet Tommy wasn't close to Gillian and didn't really care much for her when he was under her custody. So this leaves a bad feeling in my mind, that it just didn't make sense for Tommy to have any hatred and lust for revenge for Nucky about Gillian, but I think he would more need for revenge for Richard Harrow or Jimmy Darmody.

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I had figured that "Joe" was really Tommy from the beginning but it doesn't make me happy that he was the one to kill Nucky.  It would make more sense had there been a full season, or a split season with 8 more episodes to flesh things out and give us some plausible reason as to how Tommy knew to seek out Nucky.

 

Maybe Winter & Co. decided early on to have the show end this way, but were also expecting to have more time to lead up to it.. Assuming after the news that they'd only have 8 episodes to wrap it up, Winter decided to keep the Tommy-kills-Nucky ending but the only way logically play that out was to have the 7 year time-jump, which essentially was unnecessary in the grand scheme IMO.

 

With ^^that^^ speculation stated, I really did enjoy this season's flashback scenes. The casting was excellent and the insight into Nucky's early life was revealing and essential WRT how he became who he was.  Yes, it was sad but also poignant.  I got choked up several times knowing we were seeing the last of these folks we'd spend the last few years with.

 

I even softened up to Gillian. Like another poster noted: Enough time had passed that I didn't see her as the murdering/incestuous monster she was, or detest her as in earlier seasons.  The retelling of her sad youth and the nightmarish events in the orphanage, with the Commodore, in prison and later in the mental hospital were more that any human being should ever have to endure. I'd already been a Gretchen Mol fan and she was exemplary in this show.

_________________________________________________________________________

Edited by Fisher King
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Tommy approached Nucky with the gun and started going on about his Mema and yet Tommy wasn't close to Gillian and didn't really care much for her when he was under her custody.

 

 

Seasons 1-2 Gillian and Tommy's relationship seemed fine. It was after Jimmy died and the house became overrun with gangsters who wouldn't let them leave when Gillian tried to that everything changed and he began to resent her for keeping him locked in his room and away from Richard. 

 

We don't know what he remembers about his early life in AC, but if life on the farm didn't turn out the way that Richard hoped it would for Tommy then maybe Tommy ended up looking back on his few memories of AC and the seaside through rose colored glasses. There has to be some reason he left at such a young age.

 

It's really too bad they didn't give us more clarification. 

Edited by Avaleigh
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Yet somehow, he's decided he hates Nucky so much he has to kill him... a man with whom his only actual interactions were by 1931 standards almost saintly in their generosity.  In those Great Depression days, if a boss told you you'd lost your menial job of a few weeks at some strip club, but gave you a thousand dollars out of his pocket (something like a year's wages today), most people would take a bullet for a boss like that.

 

Good writing can surprise you, but after your initial surprise you look back and think, "Ah, of course! I should have seen it coming!".  That wasn't how this show just ended.

I am with you on this 100%. For those that believe Tommy was weighing up whether Nucky was a good guy or not and only decided at that moment  that he was being treated like an ass and needed to die; Nucky has actually been kinder to a random boy he doesn’t know from Adam and owes nothing to far above what anyone could expect.  After the $1000 bucks, he evens comes to pick him up from jail and give him some more money.  Even today, no regular boss would do this for a low level ex-employee that had only worked for them for a couple of months to begin with anyway. Would one of the Waltons do this for an ex-shelf stacker who worked at Walmart for a couple of months? I think not.

 

OTOH, for those that believe that Tommy came back to AC for the specific purpose of killing Nucky to avenge his dad, his grandma or Richard or all of them (at the behest of Gillian or otherwise) then his actions make no sense whatsoever.

 

Firstly, if that was the plan, why hang out with the hobos? (Instead of trying to get a job as a sweeper or janitor at the club, for example.)  He’d have no clue that a war with Luciano was about to get underway and Dolye would have come around looking for extra people to move stuff at that exact spot and time.  99.9% of the time this “great plan” to get to Nucky would result in him just standing around hobo junction in perpetuity.

 

Secondly, after getting an “in,” he has had plenty of opportunity to off Nucky prior to this.  He was alone with Nucky at least twice that we know of.  Once when he got the $1000 (and the bodyguard was already deceased), and another time when he found Nucky in an alley with no witnesses present after he’d been knocked out by the two barflies.  Rather than taking that opportunity, he concocts a plan to shoot him in front of hundreds of people instead?  Remember, he was just in jail where he would have been relieved of his gun if he had it on him.  So he must have pre-meditated it by stashing his gun beforehand close enough that he could retrieve it easily and catch up to Nucky before he disappeared again to who-knows-where, then purposely got himself arrested, then hope that they don't press charges so he doesn't go to jail for a few years for real before he got his revenge, then relied 100% on Nucky caring enough to come to his cell to pick him up.  Uh, really?

 

Either way, planned or spur of the moment assasination, the writers did a terrible job of inserting Tommy into the story to accomplish the symbolic ending they desired. Not saying I don’t like this show, it’ll still remain among the top 10 shows that I’ve watched in recent memory but the Tommy arc was terribly done.

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I seem to be alone in not thinking young Gillian is at all reminiscent of the merry, playful Gretchen mol. And I do not feel this da dum Big Choice even makes sense. We were originally told she was one of Neptunes consorts... I pictured a 13 year old who can pass for 16, in a swimsuit, and the commodore seeing her and sending Nucky to get her, that makes so much more sense to me than the Commodore preferring little girls who look like little girls... Why would one of them e a consort? And taunting someone who doesn't even really work for him to get him a girl. What if Nucky said no after all? Also, Gillian supposedly had her first kiss the day before, we learned last season. Well not this sober, serious girl, who would be likelier to go full on comatose after being raped than become a mistress and eventually a showgirl.

It all felt retrofitted. Also the initial impression of Nucky and Mabel's melancholia was that he was distracted by work. This Nucky seems desperately involved with Mabel. Doesn't fit, sorry I just liked the initial version of events better. Gillian was a random teen but he had enough goodness to feel somewhat responsible and handed her money over the years. If she was a pet of his wife's, how would Mabel not see her now and then, it's not as if AC is huge. I understand why they did it but I hated it.

Also even a tall 14 year old doesn't look 20. No way. Cheap, not Shakespearean. Dumb. Lacks all of huge sopranos ambiguity to tie everything up in a neat bow.

Why was Nucky saying goodbye forever to Eli? Seemed like just so the actor playing eli could cry. Made no sense.

When did Margaret go from being a secretary to a broker with an office of her own?

I would have liked Nucky and Margaret to get back together... She kissed him a few episodes ago after all. And not just because I like happy endings but because it's also for me more interesting than crime doesn't pay, you reap what you sow etc. Sometimes people do not reap what they sow in this life. Look at the bankers who caused the financial depression in 2008. Most of them are still very rich.

Narcisses death was meh. He's a martyr to his community, but at least he's dead.

I just really hate it when I can tell they're making it up as they go along. We know this wasn't planned from day one and I just feel it's not the story they told initially (any more than the Gillian and tommy who first reconnected in episode one had a drunken sexual encounter. No way, )

I did not think Nucky had the power to get Gillian out of an insane asylum. And I assumed shed been lobotomies as well as had her uterus removed.

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Tommy showing up, seeking to avenge either Jimmy, Gillian, or both, just doesn't feel supported by any on-screen action or dialogue we've ever seen.  It feels lazy, like they tried to shoe horn in some symbolic payback, but didn't do the groundwork

 

This encapsulated it for me. It wasn't earned, and there are way too many things that don't make sense about this story.

 

I didn't like their choice to have the final season comprised of a flash-back and flash-forward. The flashbacks should have been in the penultimate season, addressing all the questions about Tommy Darmody, if that's the way they really wanted the story to go. And then the final season could have shown the fall-out.

 

They made a lot more of Capone's sendoff than Nucky's, as befitting Capone's more entertaining and terrifying personality, and even gave him an emotional scene, whereas Nucky wasn't capable of much emotion.

 

I'm cool with Nucky dying - he never seemed to be having any fun anyway. Does that sound harsh? Truth is, the show was never the same for me after the loss of that charming psychopath Jimmy Darmody.

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I'm cool with Nucky dying - he never seemed to be having any fun anyway. Does that sound harsh? Truth is, the show was never the same for me after the loss of that charming psychopath Jimmy Darmody.

Nope, Chalky's death and Richard's death hurt me far worse than Nucky's death.  Maybe because I know in real life he was heading for bad times anyways, but probably more because I really didn't like him this season.

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The series ended in total doom and gloom, and that just is way too sad for a series that was a masterpiece to end. Shakespearean tragedy all around.  

It felt totally Shakespearean tragedy, which requires that the protagonist and most of the main characters die, usually due to poor judgment or a character flaw.  Of the fourteen characters who were in the opening credits on Season 1, Episode 1, nine died violently.  Plus Richard, of course, who arrived later. 

 

The stories were right and the endings were mostly right.  But it makes me not want to go back and re-watch the series, knowing how everyone ends up.

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But in shakespearean tragedy the deaths are inevitable, not here. Also, leaving Nucky alive would have left the possibility of a spin off, which would have been interesting. Nucky Johnson went to jail for four years then came out and lived for more than 20 more. People always forget that shit, as if people are defined by the big trial they had when often their lives to waaaaaay on. So yeah, Nucky may be a character of the 19th century in some ways but like many many people born in the 19th century he lived to see the rise of the Beatles and the Age of Aquarius and liquor commercials on television. The characters in Howard's End could have been sitting at the Howard Johnson's Don draper took Megan to (I know I've said it before, forgive me). Now THAT is fascinating stuff. To me it's just lazy to pretend people die during the eras we know them best for. Even if this Nucky was slightly older than the real one... 57... He could easily have had 20 more years or 30, lived throug WWII and Elvis. I'd have loved to see that.

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I finally got to see this, and am super proud of myself for not being spoiled all week. Man, that was tough. Overall, I really loved it and was on the edge of my seat for the final ten minutes. A few thoughts:

 

- Loved the scene with Capone and his son. That kid actor had great facial expressions and it broke my heart a bit. Although I did roll my eyes when Capone said that everything he had done had been for his son. Yeah, sure Al. Also, thanks to the poster above who mentioned that Capone intentionally wore make-up to cover his facial scars. I noticed the discolouration on his face and figured it must have been deliberate (there was no way the show's make-up artist was that sloppy) but didn't know the reason. Talk about attention to detail!

 

- I was satisfied with Narcisse's undignified end, right down to the awkward Family Guy-style death pose.

 

- I liked Margaret's conclusion, including the good job and being cordial with Nucky, but I really didn't understand a word of all the stock market talk, so that didn't have much of an impact for me. And kudos to the actor who played Joe Kennedy for not going full-on "Kennedy accent" on us. That wouldn't have been pretty.

 

- When Nucky was looking at his empty suitcase and closet full of clothes I expected Eddie to come in and apologise for not having everything packed and ready for him. You just know that Nucky was really missing him at that moment!

 

- I kind of loved the scene in the institution between Nucky and Gillian, and thought it was a brave choice to basically give them no closure. I actually DO think that Nucky realized exactly how much he had ruined Gillian's life, but that he could never actually face it or admit it to himself, and like everything else in his life he chose to deal with that issue by alternately throwing money at it and ignoring it. However, I was also really really hoping that Gillian would've looked him square in the eye and asked him how he could have done what he did to her. It would have been a fascinating exchange. She was definitely "out of it" during the visit, I guess due to whatever meds she was on, but at least she seemed at peace. With her new private room and trust fund, I guess that's the happiest ending she could hope to get.

 

- I agree with all the well-thought-out posts that the Tommy storyline doesn't hold up to even the most basic scrutiny, but I still loved it, and in the grand scheme of things I don't mind that they went for "the reveal" and karma over plausibility. If I hadn't been reading this forum I'm not sure if I would have guessed his identity, but as I mentioned before, the actor looks soooo much like the perfect combination of Jimmy and Angela that his face was its own spoiler alert. How did they find him? If I had to guess, I would say that he came to AC looking for answers and with revenge on his mind, but no actual specific plan. His integration into Nucky's world was a bit contrived (due to limited episodes) but didn't overly stretch credibility. It's possible that he could've picked up more information about his family too. Angela's murder may have been memorable to Mickey Doyle's men, since I remember all the other gangsters laughing about how Jimmy had been cuckolded by a woman, and Jimmy's murder was part of a high-profile trial, so he could've asked any long-time AC resident for some basic details. Also, there seems to be a fixation on his mention of "mima," but for all we know, rather than sympathising with her or being motivated by her version of events, maybe he blames Nucky for the deaths of his parents, which caused him to to be stuck with Gillian in what was the most traumatic and frightening time of his life. We could speculate forever and never know for sure.

 

- For me, the most tragic thing about Tommy killing Nucky is that the adorable little boy who drew pictures of rhinoceroses patiently waiting for trains would probably spend his remaining years in prison, while that jerkwad Willie got off scot-free. Grrrrr. 

 

- I love that the last thing Nucky sees is Tommy's anguished face.

 

- I was struck by the great parallels this episode. First, the stand-off between Nucky and his father was very reminiscent of the Nucky/Jimmy showdown, and even the Jimmy/Commodore showdown. And of course, it foreshadowed the final scene. Wow, this show really has daddy issues! Second, the final parallels between Nucky/Gillian and Nucky/Tommy were chilling, right down to hand gestures and the speech Nucky gave young Gillian about the Commodore, which she easily could've said to Tommy about Nucky years later, word for word: "There's a man here who's very rich and he's been good to me. He's offered to help us both. Would you like to meet him?"

 

Small things I would have liked to see:

 

- Eli and June reuniting. 

 

- Anyone in Atlantic City acknowledge Chalky's death. Even a snarky comment from Mickey Doyle last week, or something in the conversation between Nucky and Eli would've been nice.

 

- When Lucky was reminiscing about the 1920 meeting between the big bosses (aka, the pilot episode), I would have loved for him add something about meeting that hot broad Gillian, who had helped put the spring back in Springfield for him.

Edited by Cherpumple
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On 10/26/2014 at 11:32 PM, Growsonwalls said:

The scenes with young Gillian and present day Gillian were heartbreaking. You saw young Gillian -- a stubborn, spirited girl. Rough around the edges but she had hope. Then you saw Gillian in an institution, being an "extra good girl." It's like she had been returned to the orphanage for good.

 

In the space of just a couple episodes, the series stopped being about the rise and fall of Nucky Thompson and became the tragedy of Gillian Darmody.   The synergy between the actress who played young Gillian and Gretchen Mol was amazing.   The image of 12-year-old Gillian standing on the boardwalk in her parade costume, in her last hour of innocence, brings tears to my eyes.  

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