Well... I'm gonna... try to get through this... without breaking down... in tears. Let me just... clear my throat. (Get a grip Guaps!) I'm... good. (You sure?) Yeah, I'm good now. Hello everybody and welcome to Infinite Wisdom on Boardwalk Empire. As you guys should know I'm your host El Guapo. If you are reading this you probably just witnessed the season finale of Boardwalk Empire and you wanted to read the Guaps' wisdom on that shit. Or maybe you haven't watched it and just wanted to read what happened via spoilers. To be perfectly honest that kind of attitude bothers me. (Yeah it does.) But I don't want to risk losing readers so I'll just leave it as a "to each his own, I guess" thing. A lot of shit went down in the finale. If it's one thing the writers of Boardwalk know how to do it's bookend a season. Let's just look at their track record. The season 2 finale killed off Jimmy (that will come up later in the recap) and had us tearing up. The season 3 finale gave us Richard Harrow going Terminator on Gyp Rosetti's gang and ultimately the death of Gyp. Even season 1's finale, the worst of the bunch, was at worst a solid way to cap off the season. If you remember it, it includes the deaths of the remaining D' Alessio brothers. But more than anything it was a sneak peak into the amazing story line that was to be the following season. (Jimmy's only betrayal of Nucky and Eli's first.) So without further delay let's kick off this recap and see how this finale stacks up against the others.
Okay, let's start off this recap by finishing business in Chicago... for now. In the aftermath of the shootings on the Capones, Al Ralph and Van Alden discuss who might be behind the attempt on their lives. The consensus is Dean O' Banion's men as Torrio comes into the scene briefly to put in his two cents. Later at Johnny Torrio's home a hit-man comes through to take Torrio out. The motherfucker shoots Torrio's driver and then shoots Johnny Torrio several times in front of his wife. This dude doesn't finish the job however and runs out of bullets. (That's why you bring two pieces like Chalky!) The man dips but Johnny is now on the floor bleeding. At the hospital Al, Ralph and Nelson wait outside Johnny Torrio's room when Torrio's wife comes out to tell Al that Johnny wants a word with him. When inside Torrio tells Al that he wants out. It's a young man's game and Johnny has no place in it, he says. And with that Al Capone inherits the whole business. Al is now the undisputed King of Chicago. (He's grown so much.)
Now that we've wrapped up Chicago let's finish season 4 in Atlantic City. We open with Nucky on the phone with Sally discussing him moving south with her. The phone call is interrupted, however, by Chalky White with a gun against new/not-as-good Eddie. (I forgot the dude's name already.) He's mad and he's mad at Nucky, believing it was he who set him up. He pulls out his SECOND gun (that's how you do it) on Nucky, not really giving him a chance to explain. But Chalky only wants one thing. He wants Narcisse so he can get back to his family. And Nucky is going to help him out. Meanwhile Eli and Warren Knox, the young looking lad who will never get the approval of one J. Edgar Hoover, talk through the set up they are having for Nucky and his business partners scheduled for the following day. It's pretty apparent that Eli is getting cold feet about this whole ordeal but Knox is the only thing keeping Willy Thompson out of prison. Later that night Eli and Nucky go see Mickey Doyle to pick up the collection. Nucky asks Eli about the meeting and Eli confirms that everything is taken care of. Out of the blue comes Richard Harrow asking for a favor. Prior to coming to see Nucky, Harrow was giving testifying against Gillian Darmody in court about Rodger, the young man she killed in her bathtub. She hysterically started screaming that no one was there and that the man she allegedly killed was actually her son who overdosed on heroin. Now Richard wants Nuck to give him the location of Jimmy's body. Nucky gives him the location but for a price.
At last we get to see Jimmy again! (Sort of.) The authorities find and identify Jimmy's body by the screws in his leg. The next morning Nucky meets with Dr. Narcisse in Mayor Bader's office. And in true Nucky fashion he kicks the mayor of of his own office. (Bawse!) Narcisse and Nucky discuss Chalky White and Nucky tells him that he just wants this war to end and that Chalky wants to sit down and talk to him. Nucky implies to Narcisse that he can off Chalky if he wants to. He further baits Narcisse by telling him that Chalky knows the whereabouts of Daughter Maitland. Narcisse is hooked and we are ready for another showdown. Meanwhile Richard is seeing off Julia, her father and Tommy at the train station. I gathered from their conversation about being with Richard's sister that they are heading west to be with Richard's sister. (Bet you couldn't figure that part out.) Richard's not coming however, at least not now, presumably because of the undisclosed deal he made with Nucky. (Foreshadowing led me to believe that Richard not might make it back.)
He's not the only one who's moving though. Nucky is getting all his shit packed for the move south. But now before taking care of one last piece of business. Nucky calls Eli to come pick him up for the meeting. Willy asks what Nucky wanted but Eli was kind of rude to his seed. He goes to pick up Nucky but is surprised to find no security there. He pulls out his gun and walks into a quiet and dark house. Once he gets into the living room Nucky emerges and asks him to put his gun away. He then tells him of his plans to move with Sally. But that't not the biggest shell he drops. He also reveals that he knows that Eli's a rat. Nucky pulls out his piece and doesn't want to hear any of it. By this point I'm thinking, "Oh shit, we haven't even reached the half hour point and Eli is going bye-bye?!?" (Looks like it.) Nucky gets Eli on his knees (not like that) and before he can pop it Willy comes to the rescue. It is then that Eli has his chance to explain the whole situation about Warren Knox and his threats on Willy. He also pours his heart out on his feeling of betrayal when Willy came to Nucky after his arrest instead of his father. Morale isn't too good for the Thompsons but Eli lives to fight another day. (Which he will have to.)
Warren Knox is a little upset, though, as he awkwardly waits in the hotel where the meeting was supposed to take place. It's apparent to all the other agents there that the meeting is not happening. Knox's career is on the line so he is going to go after the person he thinks screwed him over. When Eli returns home looking for Willy an angry Knox is there waiting for him. He sends his wife upstairs so the two can talk. Feeling like he was duped, Knox promises to put Willy in jail where he will be popular with the other inmates. (He means rape.) Once again Eli has a gun pressed against his head, but this time he strikes back and we have another exciting fight scene that involves saws, toy trucks and vases. In the end Eli, the stronger of the two, strangles Warren Knox and then beats his head. And thus Warren Knox/ Jim Tolliver is dead. (Good riddance.)
We still need to see Chalky White and Narcisse one last time so we head to the Onyx Club where Narcisse is sitting comfortably as the new Chalky. Chalky claims all he wants is free passage to see his daughter get married. In exchange Chalky will give Narcisse Daughter Maitland. "A daughter for a Daughter," Narcisse cleverly says. (Not that impressed.) Little does Narcisse know that Richard Harrow is up in cover ready to snipe him like Richard knows how. But this isn't the same Richard motherfuckin' Harrow from season 1, 2, 3 or beginning of season 4. Naw, this is the new change of heart Richard Harrow whose main priority is to love and care for Tommy and his new wife Julia. So the dude has a little trouble pulling the trigger. Meanwhile Narcisse reveals that he has Maybelle, Chalky's daughter, and brings her out. Well, this is terrible timing because Richard has just regained his composure and pulls the trigger hitting Maybelle instead of his intended target. Heartbroken at the sight of his dead daughter, Chalky struggles in tears as his men pull him out of the club while Narcisse's goons shoot at Richard. Richard gets hit on his side but he still makes it out of the club alive.
Narcisse is alive but he does get taken by the feds. The doctor gets questioned by the one and only J. Edgar Hoover and is given an ultimatum. He's going to give Hoover information Marcus Garvey, a political leader, or Hoover is going to pin Knox's death on him. Narcisse, who has been adamant about the preservation and uprising of the negro, agrees to give Hoover information on his compatriot. Later we learn that Eli has gone west to be safe with some friends in a conversation between Nucky and Willy. Nucky tells Will that he is the man of the house now. (This shouldn't be new since Will already took care of the family when Eli was in jail.) We are then treated to the annual season finale montage that we love so much. In this montage we learn that Margaret has moved her family to an apartment owned by Rothstein. We learn that Chalky is back in Maryland at Oscar's house. We learned that Daughter Maitland is out there singing again. But the biggest nugget we get is that Eli is now in Chi-town and guess who picks him up. Nelson. van. Alden. (Season 5 is going to be fun!) But the season isn't over yet. Now we see Richard on a train, presumably heading to see his family. He gets off the train and sees his whole family in this big house. Julia walks up to him and we see his face. All of it. Perfect face, no mask. We get tossed back into reality and Richard Harrow is under the boardwalk the morning after the failed shooting. The whole scene was imagined and we spend the last scene watching one of our beloved characters die.
1. Al Capone (Last Week: NA)
In a finale where there were more losers than winners, Al was definitely one of the winners. And not just in this episode but throughout the whole season. This dude had a lot going for him. He beat out Dean O' Banion in the duel and got Van Alden in his pocket. Now, with Johnny Torrio out of his way, Al Capone can finally emerge as the Al Capone we are familiar with, the boss of Chicago. Sure he lost his brother along the way, but in Boardwalk everyone loses somebody.
2. Nucky Thompson (Last Week: #2)
Once again things work out for our protagonist. (Sort of.) He survives and he avoids getting knocked by the feds. Warren Knox is dead and so far peace is restored now that Narcisse was captured. He might have to hold off on his trip to Florida though.
3. J. Edgar Hoover (Last Week: NA)
This guy... He puts Narcisse in a corner so I appreciate that. Warren Knox is dead and let's be honest Hoover never really liked him. He'd tell you he had a solid week.
4. Margaret Thompson (Last Week: NA)
She got approximately 4.37 seconds of air time but she was winning in those short seconds. She's looking swaggy in her new home. One of the few people that ended happy this week.
5. Mickey Doyle (Last Week: NA)
Why not? He survived another season and that in itself is an accomplishment.
Now before we move on to the Historical Fun Facts segment, I've decided to tally up everyone's rankings this season to present The First Annual Mr. Boardwalk Award! Our second runner up is... Al Capone! Our first runner up is... Warren Knox! And unsurprisingly our winner for the Mr. Boardwalk or Boardy as we like to call it is... Nucky Thompson. Congrats to Thompson!
Historical Fun Facts
In Narcisse's interrogation scene J. Edgar Hoover asks the doctor to give him information about one Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican-born political leader heavily involved in Black nationalism. He founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. He also founded the Black Star Line which advocated a return to Africa by the African Americans. Interestingly Garvey had better relations with the Ku Klux Klan than he did with W.E.B. Du Bois and the NAACP. Garvey felt Du Bois had a problem with him because of his darker skin. Garvey accused Du Bois of hiring saboteurs to fuck things up at the Black Star Line. He acknowledged the Klan for their honesty in their hatred towards blacks while other white organisations hid their racism. (Good shit, Wikipedia.)
Wow! What a finale. A lot of shit happened that I didn't like, but they needed to happen. It's like what Batman would say. We got the finale we needed, but not the one we deserved. (Right?) I'm so amped for next season because I know Chalky is going to come with the fire. Once again Nucky squeaks by without a scratch. I wonder who is going to be next year's villain. Is Narcisse going to come back? He ain't dead. I hope they don't just abandon him like they did with Esther Randolph. I think she needed more airtime. In fact, I want to see a lot of people get more airtime. Will is probably going to be a big player next season, even bigger than this season. This season was all about creating a wedge between the Thompson brothers. Next year he'll be the right hand man that Jimmy and Eli could never be. To be honest though I like the pairing of Chalky and Nucky Better. Eli and Nelson van Alden might make a great duo out in Chicago. I was glad to see Knox dead but I was HEARTBROKEN when Richard died. That was the biggest loss of the season. I was already hurt when Eddie Kessler died and I didn't think it could get much worse. It did. This death hurt more than Jimmy's. Jimmy's was okay because 1) he was only on for two seasons, (Harrow was on for four) and 2) Jimmy's life was going down the tubes. Angela had just died. We learned about his incestuous relationship with his mother. He had lost the war with Nucky. Harrow was making his way up. He just found happiness in Julia and Tommy. All he needed to do is kill Narcisse and head west on a train to be with his new family. But that didn't happen and that's why it hurts. Plus we have to think about Tommy. So far his childhood sucks. Dad goes to war. Mom goes lesbian. Dad comes back becomes gangster. Mom gets killed. Dad gets killed. Crazy grandma raises Tommy in a whorehouse. Gets saved by war vet. War vet that loves him gets killed. That's not a fun childhood! I'm not crying about it (yeah, you are) but I wasn't a fan of Richard Harrow's departure.
Well that wraps up season 4 of Boardwalk Empire. I'm so thankful to everyone who has followed along with my blog. It means so much to me to have my work be put out their for people to read, even if it's not that many people I still appreciate it. (Don't get too sappy, now.) Boardwalk will be back next fall and I am pleased to announce that Infinite Wisdom on Boardwalk Empire has also been renewed for another season. So mark your calendars because next fall not only will this amazing show be back, but also this amazing blog. I know it's months away but you can find other ways of entertaining yourselves. In the meantime you can check out my main blog Infinite Wisdom From El Guapo's Brain. The link is on the right or you can just type www.guapoknowsall.blogspot.com in your url. Check me out on Twitter, follow me @ELGUAPO3. I'm also on Instagram and you can follow me @CAPTAINCRUNCHTIME. You can also find me on Tumblr by typing sirelguapo.tumblr.com in you url. Please leave comments in the section below. I want to hear your thoughts on the finale, the season, even the series as a whole. If you have any comments on the blog itself please feel free to comment. Until next September, this is El Guapo signing off. Have a wonderful year and stay Guapo out there!