Why we're still watching 'Boardwalk Empire'
November 30th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Why we're still watching 'Boardwalk Empire'

If you watched the Season 2 finale of “Boardwalk Empire" in December 2011, you were likely shocked that they killed off James "Jimmy" Darmody - and that actor Michael Pitt would have to find a new gig.

You might have cursed at your screen, and lost faith in the HBO drama altogether. If you're like me, you might have even vowed never to tune in again. So much for that.

What a difference a year, new characters and some awesome storylines can make. Sunday’s Season 3 finale promises to be one of the most exciting yet, and we have to tip our hats to the "Boardwalk" team and HBO for keeping us hooked despite our early skepticism. How did they do it? Here are the moments, characters and stories that kept us watching:

Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rossetti

With lines like, “Everything of mine is bigger than Nucky’s,” and some of most gruesome murders since the “Sopranos,” “Boardwalk’s” new villain has been the perfect fit to a series that needed a legit baddie to give the action a boost. What we love about Gyp is that he’s bad (and borderline insane). From his, um, sexual adventures to the plea for his life in front of Joe Masseria, we’ve grown to fear, laugh at and some times feel sorry for the Italian gangster wreaking most of the havoc in Season 3.

Van Alden aka George Mueller the bootlegger

Michael Shannon is giving one of the performances of his life and he’s doing it with a kind of creepy ease. Never - really - has there been a character viewers wanted to go from good to bad more than this Prohibition agent-turned-possible gangster. The awkward metamorphosis of his character has been a joy to watch.

Richard Harrow’s entire storyline

The man with half a face found love, took care of Jimmy’s son and made us realize that, even on a show where you can’t get attached to any character, it’s hard not to feel your emotions rise and fall with each of his successes, failures and kills. If he kills Gillian Dormody in the finale, he’ll be the fan favorite for sure.

Owen Sleater’s death

Like the death of Jimmy, Owen’s demise caught folks off guard. The charming, sweet-talking Irishmen, who captured the hearts of both Mrs. Thompson and the audience, proved once again that no character is safe, and that we shouldn’t open boxes delivered to our doorstep at 4 a.m.

Vulnerable Nucky Thompson

When the season kicked-off, we saw that Nucky had made the transformation from Atlantic City treasurer (doing seedy business) to full-fledged gangster. Finally, more killing and action from the show’s protagonist, right? Instead, we saw Nucky whipped by Billie Kent, utterly lost and confused after her death and now the biggest guy in AC is on the run from almost everyone but Al Capone.

Nucky had never looked as weak as he did on last’s week’s lead up to the finale. Hell, he was even sweating through his three-piece suit. The fact that Nucky wasn’t The Man, so to speak, this season showed us that story and production are bigger than just one character. And, as viewers, our love for the show wasn’t just confined to the genius of Steve Buscemi.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Stop Fibbing

    there are many viewers now...

    December 15, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. j51

    I watched the season finale last night twice just so I could jump and down one more time when Richard unloaded on Rosetti's gang to save Tommy. I was so afraid his character would be killed off in the standoff, but when he carried a sleeping Tommy to Julia's house and left saying "he's safe, that's all that matters", my heart broke for him. Nucky's character has taken so many twists and turns this season, but he has emerged intact and the bond between him and Eli is stronger than ever. Was surprised to see Margaret's character appear again at the end, but we were still left with the impression she doesn't plan to return to Nucky. I was relieved to see Rosetti and Gillian "get what they deserve" in the season finale so I can start to erase their characters from my memory before next year. Always hard to imagine what new direction the writers will take in the future, but as a loyal viewer, I don't intend to miss one episode. Just wish we didn't have to wait so long!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • at

      this whole series could have been great,but you left to many gaps in each one and you spend to much time on trying
      to make these gangters into family people,if you were going to add these family seen ,each episode should have been
      longer than (1) hour, The last episode should have been very very special ,you started off with people being shot down
      but you didn't show any good gangter fights until richard came end in and he wasn't even a gangter, but to me he saved a bad ending,everyone know the history of al capone,but for him and his men to come from chiago,for (5)min.
      of show time,you could made his part alot better,I love B-Empire but you had to many let downs.

      December 15, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chase Mitchell

    "Why we're still watching"? Uh, because Season 3 has been incredible. Just like Season 2 was incredible. You being a whiny baby because they killed off a character you like doesn't diminish the quality of last season. What about when Richard Harrow went off in the woods to kill himself? Or when Jimmy's wife and her lover met their tragic end? Or when we learned the truth about Jimmy's oedipal relationship with his mom? What, exactly, about last season did you NOT like? The is a great show and always has been.

    December 2, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Silly Me Moron That I am

    none stop x all night long or boardwalk empire....gee i have to think about this one. i'm such a moron sometimes.

    December 1, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. barcelo

    "Boardwalk Empire", to sophisticated for the regular american moron.

    December 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BronxWalk

      The regular American is the lead character, the guy grew up in Long Island, the people who make all these great shows are regular Americans, The reason so many European actors come here to play great roles are because a regular American made it possible. Finally the reason the show is still on the air is because Regular Americans tune in and give it Ratings. So In Your Opinion, Who Are Smart Viewers?

      December 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The main character may look weak

    but it could also be an act–you have to be careful of actors.

    December 1, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. GaryT

    I love that this show, like the Walking Dead, isn't afraid to kill off a main character. This add real drama and excitement to the show. Its very well done. I never thought I would find a show I liked as much as the Sopranos, but this one has done it. And like the Sopranos, the season goes by too quickly.

    December 1, 2012 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
    • at


      December 15, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Leif

    In other words, YOU are not WE.

    December 1, 2012 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. Leif

    I won't be watching it as long as I see headlines like "Why are WE", emphasis on "WE". doing anything.

    December 1, 2012 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Halina McCabe

    It breaks my heats to read the comments on this article and realize that I live in a country of morons. 🙁

    December 1, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joyce

    Sorry, but I just couldn't get into this show. It's trying to hard to be like "The Sopranos" style. For example, killing off major characters for shock value. I think the creator of BW was also on "The Sopranos" payroll. Although, I enjoyed Buscemi on "The Sopranos", I couldn't get into his character on BW. "The Sopranos" was truly classic TV!!!

    November 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. let's hope the show gets cancelled

    so hollywood can finally move on

    November 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. i agree

    my boyfriend and i watched it for 10 min and said forget it and hit the sheets

    November 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bad show

    we dont like it. i'd rather be with a man

    November 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bex

    Your forgetting one of the most formidable original gangsters on the series, Mr. Chalky White. Nucky would already be dead if Chalky and his boys didn't step up. But yes, Capone with his "I need a bath, some chow, then we talk about who needs to die." introduction was brilliant. This Sunday is going to be a good one for sure, it sucks that it's already over until again late next year! As for next season I do want to see a psycho tommy gun wielding Van Alden, being the righteous gangster that he's slowly becoming.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danitra

      I don't like the way Nucky treats Chalky. It makes my Dad really mad. Calling him "uppity". I hope Chalky takes over.

      November 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Badjer

    if you've got gangster skills, you deserve a Boardwalk Empire badge as a reward: http://www.badjer.com

    November 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  17. DB

    Jimmy D was right, you can't be half a gangster. For most of the season, Nucky was half a gangster. Wish the seasons were longer, but next will be huge with Capone becoming The Man in Chicago as his boss recently has been dreaming of retirement after a trip to Itay–can't be half a gangster. Van Alden, you gotta watch out for the quite ones, but as of now, he isn't even yet half a gangster (his wife on the other hand, don't mess with her or her family, yikes), but he, too will learn, it's all or nothing. Gyp is about a gangster and a half. I also love the way they mix in real historical characters and events (last week's suicide of the Attorney General's Chief of Staff, actually did happen and Gaston Means was a witness to it).

    November 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |

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